Geek Speak: Classic Game Distraction Tactics

Some of my comics flirt with being autobiographical. This one doesn’t so much flirt as buys it dinner, takes it out dancing, then home for a nightcap where they fall into bed and make passionate, floor shaking, wall thumping love. Which is really long and colorful way to say, “this be a true story, folks.”

I was in the kitchen working on something, which is hardly unusual, the kitchen is kind of like my man-cave. Some days it’s where I go to get away and unwind. I don’t think Mildly Sensational minds so much because my unwinding in the kitchen usually produces things like dinner, or dairy free vanilla custard (made with coconut cream instead of whole milk, it’s awesome!) Over the holidays I even experimented with baking my custard in pumpkins.

All of which sounds way more exciting than, “I was in the kitchen doing dishes,” which was more likely the case. As it turns out, feeding a family of four means there’s a steady stream of dishes needing to be washed. I turned around to grab another dish of the stove and Mildly Sensational was standing there holding out our son, Moderately Amazing. She looked me in the eye and said in a perfect deadpan, “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.”

Those who’ve grown up playing video games probably get the reference right away, for others it might take some explaining.

Yes, that is a Miskatonic University shirt Mildly Sensational is wearing.thor

Comic Book Review: THOR!

Publisher: Marvel
Issue: 1 through 5
Price: $3.99 (Yikes)
Recommendation: Recommended

I will confess that prior to the relaunch of Thor late last year I had never read the comic, nor had I really ever wanted to. Big muscled blond guy in tight pants who happens to be a god defends the earth, which he calls Midgaard, by beating things up with a magic hammer. To me that’s what Thor’s stories always boiled down to…yawn. In the hands of the right team I know that he’s had some good story lines, but overall I feel that, as a character, Thor has typically gotten lost in a field that is full of muscle-bound white dudes beating stuff up.

Ok, the Hulk is technically green, but stay with me.

When it was announced that Marvel would be trading in Thor’s mighty thews and passing the hammer to a female lead I took notice. I’ll admit to wrestling with whether or not to pick up the book at the risk of buying into what might or might not be a marketing stunt intended to boost a title with flagging sales. I mean, come on. It’s comic books. They do crazy stuff all the time to try to sell more books. Those of us who read books in the 90’s will remember rushing out to buy holographic foil print covers of X-Men because “they’ll be worth something someday.” I’m glad I ultimately decided to ignore that instinct and pick up the book.

While the writing doesn’t exactly blow me away it’s┬ásolid, with a good hook in the form of not immediately revealing the identity of the new hand that grips the hammer. The writers are obviously enjoying the dual nature of the new Thor as her inner monologue is that of a modern woman, while her speech is that of the Norse god(dess) of Thunder. As the story unfolds we’re given bits and pieces of information that are clearly intended to lead up to a much larger event, but right now work well as standalone female-thor-first-appearanceadventures to introduce us to the new Thor. What I like best about the writing so far is that Jason Aaron accomplishes something really difficult. He crafts a story such that the reader is drawn into the character of Thor as she learns about what it means to wield the hammer. Aaron places the reader in the character’s boots as she questions her powers, tests their limits, and discovers that, for all practical purposes, she really has none. As it should be for a goddess.

While it doesn’t have the fun cartoony quality of Ms. Marvel or the gorgeous colors, line work, and lighting of Death Vigil, I am really enjoying the artwork in Thor, provided by Russel Dauterman with colors by Matthew Wilson. They bring us into the world of the new Thor with classic comic book bravado. Their compositions accurately pace the action with relatively quiet moments feeling relatively static and confined, while action sequences feel chaotic and larger than life. Key moments are pulled off brilliantly, such as the first appearance of the new Thor after she has just picked up Mjolnir from the surface of the moon.

If I have criticisms, they’re nit picky at best. If the woman holding the hammer is mortal, how did she get to the moon? The hammer goes to those who are worthy to wield it, but she picked it up as though it were already hers. How did she know she would be worthy? I feel like we should have reached a point by now that we could all accept that boob armor is impractical and looks ridiculous.

Really that’s about it.

It would be impossible to write about this comic book without touching on some of the social commentary that has come up around it. The same cynical, misogynistic, knuckle-dragger who brought us GamerGate wrote what I will only call vile opinion piece on this book for the online news-ish outlet, Breitbart. I won’t link to it here. You can find it pretty easily in a Google Search. Take my word for it. You are a better person for not having read it.

The decision to pass the hammer from “he of the thundering pectorals” to a female lead would at first appear to be fairly bland marketing gimmick to boost sales. After reading the book and thinking about it I believe that Marvel’s decision is not only bold, but important. What makes this important is the thing that surprises me most about some of the reactions from fans and critics alike. I’m shocked that today, in 2015, we still have to come out and say that yes, in fact, a woman can be worthy of the might of a god.