The World According to Thor, by Marc Sumerak & Illustrated by Freddie E. Williams II
Insight Editions’ “The World According To…” series occupies a strange place in comics fandom, situated somewhere in the purgatory between collector’s items for diehard fans and character introductions aimed at those who’ve just seen the latest blockbuster superhero flick and want to know more.
The World According to Thor, by Marc Sumerak, is no exception to this. There’s plenty for both sides of this equation to like, but it still struggles to find the right balance. The presentation feels aimed at longtime fans, but the content is a broadstrokes overview that really only touches briefly on Thor and his supporting cast. (And yes, I said “his” – The World According to Thor doesn’t cover Marvel’s shakeup with the new Thor comic series that kicked off late last year.)
Written from the perspective of Thor himself, the book offers a brief summary of his origin story: a Norse god who was made mortal and sent to Earth in order to learn humility, before regaining his godly powers and magic hammer Mjolnir once he proved his worth, thus becoming the popular superhero. From there, Thor takes the reader on a guided tour of his world, explaining the history of Mjolnir, introducing the likes of Odin, Freyja, and some of Thor’s numerous friends and foes, and offering a brief look at each of the nine realms in Norse mythology.
The World According to Thor covers a wide breadth of topics, but doing so comes at the cost of detail. Each subject gets a twopage spread, but due to the (admittedly lovely, but I’ll get to that) layouts, text is fairly sparse. If your familiarity with Thor begins and ends with the Marvel films, great, this book will open you up to so much more of the character, even with its brevity.
In saying that, the book strangely avoids some key aspects of Thor, namely his role as one of the Avengers. There are a few references to the superhero team throughout The World According to Thor, but it never deigns to actually explain who they are or how Thor came to be part of that group. You could argue that this is common knowledge, but in a book that seems largely intended as an introduction, it feels like an oversight.
For the longtime fans, the big draw will be the presentation and little Easter eggs dotted throughout. Like I said before, the layouts are great to look at, thanks in no small part to fantastic illustration by Freddie E. Williams. Even if what you’re reading is nothing new, the artwork gives Thor and all his compatriots a fresh, unique feel.
And then there are the “amazing special features!” that the cover boasts about. Some of these are really neat; Loki’s list of “mischief to be made” in particular had me bursting out loud repeatedly, with such pranks as “cement Thor’s hammer to the ground, make him feel unworthy” and “dye Captain America’s costume less patriotic colours.” Other special features are less worthy, like a cardboard model of Mjolnir with folds that don’t quite match up, and is difficult to remove from the book without tearing the page it’s glued to.
For those unfamiliar with the character, The World According to Thor is a great introduction, with great presentation and stunning illustrations making up for a few overlooked details. For Thor fans, there’s less on offer; some (but not all, sadly) of the special features are great, and again, the artwork is great, but this still definitely feels more like Thor 101 than any sort of musthave collector’s item.
REVIEWER: Matthew Codd
The World According to Thor, by Marc Sumerak and illustrated by Freddie E. Williams II, is published by Insight Editions, Marvel. RRP is $29.99.