Thor and Sif fight against the Silver Surfer and Galactus in “The Mighty Thor Volume 1,” written by Matt Fraction and penciled by Olivier Coipel. This volume covers the popular Galactus Seed arc.
I picked up this volume for a few reasons: I’ve been told that Fraction’s Thor run is an essential read for any thunder god fans; I was lured by the MCU depictions of Thor and company on the jacket; one of the back cover reviews promised ‘a more grownup adventure;’ and the summary promised to explore the relationship between Thor and Yggdrasil (the World Tree).
I’m a fan of epic, expansive mythology in my Thor comics, so I was pleased to find such a promise fulfilled in this collection of “The Galactus Seed” comics.
Thor and Sif attempt to secure an artifact called Worldheart (with the help of a young Loki). Thor becomes injured during this dangerous journey, but he tells only Sif. With this injury, Thor faces battle against the Silver Surfer and Galactus himself.
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“The Galactus Seed 1: The Silence”
The story is immediately a set in contrast: an intolerant preacher (Preacher Mike) in Broxton on the left folio and the Silver Surfer observing blood-and-coal destruction on the right. The sleek, otherworldly, three-dimensional nature of the Silver Surfer is tangible (credit to colorists Laura Martin, Justin Ponsor, and Peter Steigerwald).
The outer space and otherworldly backgrounds present in the comic also seem real. The colors and perspective change to make the reader feel at peace, filled with bright, sunny hope, or alone.
While the Asgardians endure this colorful task, they wear spacesuits. These suits and bubble helmets include their regular motifs (wings and horns, respectively). While they look cool, a brief explanation of their purpose might have been useful. Overall, they did convey the precarious nature of their mission – if it was just regular old outer space, Thor wouldn’t need a fancy spacesuit, right? Apparently the innards of Yggdrasil are a bit different.
“The Galactus Seed 2: Neighbors”
While it becomes evident that Sif is dressed and drawn for the male gaze (at least in this issue), she is actually the one to issue orders to the Brigade of Realms – while still having attention to spare for Thor and his mysterious wound. In this, Thor is the one confined to a warrior/gender stereotype, proclaiming he’s well although he is clearly not.
A conversation between Heimdall and Odin is also interesting when considering gender: what was actually called a seed is revealed to be an egg. The wise Odin makes this revelation.
Fraction sets up the next issue briefly and effectively using the Silver Surfer. With his own texture, the Surfer continues to look out of place and foreboding wherever he goes.
Much of this issue is devoted to dreams and portents, which are effective storytelling vehicles that allow the reader to enjoy a break from a linear format.
“The Galactus Seed 3: The Stranger”
This volume begins with Volstagg. I love Volstagg! Who doesn’t love Volstagg?
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So…apparently not everyone loves Volstagg, thanks to the hateful attitude of the preacher man. (The Silver Surfer’s warnings probably didn’t help, either.) It’s a real kick in the feels to see Volstagg wander off like a kicked puppy.
We also see the bellicose Thor, drawn in solid and deliberate lines, contrast with the Silver Surfer and his fluidity, asserting a peaceful solution. NBD, Odin, just surrender the Galactus Seed and Galactus won’t eat your realm.
This issue also emphasizes bodies and size, implying that everything’s relative. Thor and Silver Surfer measure up (Odin even calls them out on it), we see Galactus chilling beside Earth’s moon (he’s….a lot bigger than it), and we see more of Volstagg’s voluminous belly as he strides along all puffed up, ready for war against Broxton. We also see a mostly nude Lady Sif as young Loki wakes her and consequently almost dies.
The Asgardians and allies get some more extra special armor; again, there’s not much of a reason for it described, but it does look pretty cool. The armor differs significantly from their normal wear and aforementioned space suits. Odin’s noble golden armor is worth observing if you can avoid being distracted by Fandral.
Thor continues his “I am fine” line of response towards Sif, who again recently saw him naked (of course – I think pre-battle sex is mandatory on Asgard, providing yet another reason for defending it against Galactus).
“The Galactus Seed 4: To Duel Against Galactus”
“…but my brother and Sif want to kill me now,” says Loki. Story of your life, bro.
After facing down a naked Sif in one of the previous issues, young Loki is asked if he was able to ‘man up’ and get Sif’s hair from her. That’s an interesting colloquialism used in this context, as strength and masculinity are often intertwined even in this fictional version of Norse-inspired culture. (That doesn’t mean it’s limited to men in any context, of course, but the theme is particularly prescient here not just in imagery but in most obvious ways, like this example.) What is strong? That’s a theme here – a seed or an egg?
As the epic nature of battle against Galactus and Silver Surfer finally appears on page, there’s a marked symmetry in the way the Asgardian characters are drawn. While the Silver Surfer’s lines are precise, they are moving and/or diagonal, and panels involving Galactus are strewn with a chaotic tableaux that cannot solve his insatiable hunger.
As Odin and Galactus battle, it’s clear that they’re not just using force, but mental and metaphysical attacks. An entire page is devoted to Galan, and some of it is communicated in a brilliantly vintage style, complete with late Silver Age coloring. The nostalgia feels automatic.
“The Galactus Seed 5: God of Carnage”
Each character’s language is exceptionally his or her own in this installment. I especially enjoy Thor accusing the Silver Surfer of “endless bloviating.” Sif interrupts the two “boys” (as she addresses them), and her disapproving glare complements her words.
Thor also says: “Father, there are times I hate you with the passion of ten thousands suns. But I will escort to Hel Personally anything that torments you more than I.” These lines of dialogue illustrate the history and relationships of these characters. While they’re masterful, I wish Fraction would have tossed a few of these gems into earlier issues.
“The Galactus Seed 6: The Proposition”
Scenes involving Galactus become completely entrenched in his shade of purple: reflections, the night sky; the color looms. While I don’t want to give away the ending, it is worth noting that the language becomes more balanced as the characters resolve their confrontations.
As a fan of Thor, I definitely enjoyed this volume. It’s definitely essential to understanding the scale of beings in the Marvel Universe; this will prove useful to MCU fans as the movie-verse expands to villains and spaces far beyond the scales of Earth and Asgard.
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Author’s note: Expanded main credits for this volume are as follows:
- Writer: Matt Fraction
- Penciler: Olivier Coipel – with Khoi Pham (Issue #5)
- Inker: Mark Morales – with Dexter Vines (Issues #5-6) & Cam Smith (Issue #6)
- Colorist: Laura Martin – with Justin Ponsor & Peter Steigerwald (Issue #1)
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
- Cover art: Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales Laura Martin
- Assistant Editors: Charlie Beckerman & John Denning
- Editors: Ralph Macchio & Lauren Sankovitch