Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thor #3 - Retcons for the masses

Everyone's been waiting for the Thor vs Iron Man showdown. A little bit of schadenfreude for the reader masses as we take enjoyment in Tony Stark's comeuppance for the one unforgiveable consequence of "Civil War": the death of Captain America. Of course throughout the entire issue the death of Steve Rogers is not mentioned or even obliquely referenced. Naturally, one could imagine that Thor probably takes exception to having his DNA used to create a clone, the infamous "Clor" and will have words with Iron Man about that. And he does.
Iron Man goes into his typical spiel about registration and demanding that Thor gets on board. Fisticuffs follow upon Thor's refusal. The sheer [unintentional] comedy that follows can be summarized in spirit as follow:
- Thor is much more powerful than Iron Man remembers from the past. It's actually kind of hilarious that this is possible. Thor was a Gladiator, Black Bolt, or Hulk class being. Iron Man is formidable but he's not that class. When Thor humbles Tony Stark with relative ease his response to Stark's query about his upgrade in power is "I was holding back, I'm not holding back anymore" or words to that affect. This is a retcon of the most insidious kind. This essentially states that all the times that Thor got his a$$ handed to him in the past could have been prevented if he hadn't held back. Many of the times when the Avengers went down, perhaps they were shortchanged by their most powerful member holding back. Does this make any sense? Would a god who loves humanity, who fought alongside Captain America, who assembles with others to face foes no one hero could face alone hold back? Is Thor undefeated in combat to this point in Marvel history? No, I don't think so. It's one thing to play possum during a fight and then pull a "Ha! But sir, I'm not actually left-handed!" it's another thing to say that all this time through nearly four decades you weren't giving 100%.
- Continuity being such a flexible thing one shouldn't linger on the errors on it too much. This is after all serialized fiction in a shared universe and while adherence to continuity is appreciated it shouldn't necessarily compromise too much the ability to let the writer tell a compelling story. However, didn't Tony Stark get crushed and imprisoned by World War Hulk? Isn't the Hulk taking out everyone as we speak. He's taken down Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange (!), Iron Man, humbled the X-Men (a ludicrous tie-in built on the premise of "I'm going to come and smack you down for what I think you would have done to me given a chance" proving that Hulk might be the strongest there is but he's still stupid) and held Manhattan hostage to serve as fuel for a personal feud. Does not the God Of Thunder have something to say about this? It's easy to give a pass to continuity inconsistencies that arise when comparing two disjointed titles, say what's happening to Wolverine in New Avengers on Earth when he's on Breakworld with the Astonishing X-Men. We can live with that, it's the nature of the beast. However, World War Hulk is a Marvel Universe wide crossover which has spawned its own Frontline. As Thor returns to Earth shouldn't he be aware of the two biggest events of the period (CW/Death of Cap and WWH)? Yes on the former, no on the latter, apparently.

The art is nice, but there's something about Coipel's Thor that doesn't ring true. For one thing, he's not blond enough and his proportions don't seem very Thor-like. I'll address that more clearly another time. My subconscious has already come up with this conclusion, and I'll just have to figure out why on a rational level.

In a bit.

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