Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why Thor?

Oh c'mon. Do I really need to explain why?

Adapted from Viking mythology, Marvel Comics' hammer-wielding God of Thunder was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby in the early 60's and in that time he's survived Ragnarok, grown a beard, survived (and benefitted from) a J. Michael Straczynski run, and is starring in his very own blockbuster movie, aptly titled Thor. In truth, he's not a character I've ever liked. As a kid, I barely understood the words coming out of his mouth - a little too Shakespearean for me - and the mythology was all a little too complex from me; Asgard? Midgard? Valhalla? And I've never quite been sure of how to pronounce the name of Thor's hammer: Mjolnir, anyone?

It wasn't until Thor: The Mighty Avenger was published that I developed any sort of affinity for the character. Writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee infused so much humanity - and just enough mythology - into their short-lived series, making it the unquestionable comic hit of 2010. It hooked me, got me craving more Thor - which has resulted in my recent purchase of the Walter Simonon Thor Omnibus as well as the Dan Jurgens trades being put out periodically by Marvel. Thor What I'm learning is, although creators have different takes on the character of - how essential is his human side, how essential is his Asgardian heritage, etc - there are common themes prevalent throughout his history, some of which we'll discover over the coming week as our tenures and Play-At-Home scripters present their work.

Thor is a tough nut to crack. There is, potentially, a lot of continuity to contemplate. There's a lot of mythology to be explored. But that's what makes him such an exciting character; his potential is almost limitless.

Let's see how we go.

 


15 comments:

  1. To pronounce Mjolnir, all you need to remember is that Nordic people pronounce J's as Y's :)

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  2. It still sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth!

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  3. I was expecting this, especially since I know that Iron Man was used first when he had his movie coming out.

    I'm glad to see my expectations were on the mark. I'm currently assuming that something similar will be happening during the weeks that the Captain America and Green Lantern movies come out (though in the later case, I'm guessing it won't be something a lot of people are looking forward to based on all the profile entries I've read :-P )

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  4. M-YOL-NEER!

    @MK - Man, I've written nearly 50 scripts straight, I don't want to have to sit out for Green Lantern. Lame. :\

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  5. Probably a good thing I'm not tenured, then, because if I was, I'd absolutely pick Green Lantern for right around that time if no one else did it first. <__<

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  6. Thor: Burden of Gods

    PAGE ONE

    1) A television screen. It displays a live news report -- the word "LIVE" should be prominent -- of a war-torn Third World country.

    THOR (CAPTION): I am not a man.

    TV REPORTER: --fourth such attack in as many days...

    THOR (CAP): I am a god.

    2) Don Blake sitting in his hotel room, watching the TV. He has the same look of helpless desperation we all get when watching such news reports.

    THOR (CAP): I am not bound by the laws of mortals.

    TV REPORTER: --death toll increasing every time. Local authorities are powerless to--

    THOR (CAP): The borders of nations mean nothing to me.

    3) Large panel. The television again. A mother and child, looking pleadingly at the camera, crying.

    TV REPORTER: --tense political conditions make it impossible for foreign intervention. But that means little to those who are beaten, killed, or worse on a daily basis.

    THOR (CAP): I answer to a higher authority.

    THOR (CAP): At times, this can be difficult. I am often tempted -- strongly -- to intervene in the affairs of humanity...

    THOR (CAP): I tell myself that one must teach a child, not coddle it...

    TV REPORTER: Reporting live for MNN, this is--

    SFX: BLAM!

    4) Close-up of Blake looking alarmed at the TV.

    THOR (CAP): But they are not children...

    TV (OP): AAAAHHH!

    TV (OP): They're back! Oh God! Help us!

    TV (OP): BLAM! BLAM!

    5) Close-up. Blake grabs his stick.

    THOR (CAP): And I must sometimes stand beside them, not lord over them.

    END OF PAGE.

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  7. The Mighty Thor – Against the Ocean - By MK Stangeland Jr.

    Scene is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It has RAN (Technically a new character, but based on the sea goddess of Norse Mythology, she’s just never had an appearance in any Marvel Comics before) who has just recently returned from being away from both Asgard and Earth for the longest time and more recently fighting NAMOR. She’s also been kicking his butt, though THOR has just shown up to turn the tide of battle against her.

    Each panel reaches all the way across the page horizontally. Due to who this is a fight between, it is important that there be a real sense of power and impact to each panel.


    Panel 1: Panel looks up at THOR in the sky, swinging his hammer in a circle as a storm has formed above him. A lighting bolt is streaks out of the sky towards the panel as it has been aimed at RAN, who is off-panel.

    SFX: Krack-BOOM!

    Panel 2: RAN, standing on the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge, raises a barrier of water out of the ocean to block THOR’s lighting bolt. Water erupts outward from the impact zone, and electricity flows throughout the barrier.

    SFX: Kra-SPLOO-KRshhhh!!!

    Panel 3: Panel looks out past the barrier from in front of RAN. The ocean barrier has begun to fall apart as it retreats back into he ocean. THOR flies through an opening towards the panel with his hammer straight out in front of him. In a sense, we’re getting a picture of what RAN is seeing, and since THOR is flying at RAN in order to hammer her, it should feel to the reader like THOR is flying at them and they’re about to be in for a world of hurt.

    THOR: I say thee!

    Panel 4: THOR reaches RAN. As he does, he swings his hammer upwards so that it hits her from the bottom of her jaw. She starts to lift up off the ground and go backwards as a result (she’s a goddess, she can take it).

    THOR: NAY!

    SFX: WACK!

    (END PAGE)

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  8. @JD - Not a bad little script. Almost felt like a movie trailer, and a damn good one at that. The voice on the TV really worked for me.

    @MK - Such violence against women, tut tut, ha. I like this page. It's probably the first thoughtballoons page where SFX make up the most written space. I guess we all love our voices so much we don't write for the artist, or the letterer, ha. I like the image of the lightning hitting the water and dispersing. This is a cool page.

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  9. Thor MAX: The Long Road Home

    Last issue: Odin, seemingly returned from the dead, invades Asgard with an army of frost giants and trolls, deposing Thor and hurling him down to earth before sending his army down to finish the job. This issue: six widescreen panels stacked one on top of the other capture the cinematic feel of the page.

    Panel 1: Close up on ODIN’s head and shoulders as he sits on his stony throne. This ODIN doesn’t look like the one we know. His skin is gray, shot through with veins. A bear pelt is wrapped tightly around his shoulders, and his leather armor is cracked and faded. His one good eye is the strangest part. It looks like a chunk of ice carved into the shape of an eye, with only a single pinprick of cold light giving any indication that ODIN is alive.

    FANDRAL (Off-Panel): He’ll be back.
    ODIN: My forces will stop him.

    Panel 2: Low-angle shot from behind THOR. A bus full of people hurtles through the air and slams into his outstretched hands. The metal twists in his grip. We don’t have a good look at THOR MAX’s costume, but a massive elk fur cloak billows out behind him, the horns stretching out magnificently from his helmet. Behind the massive figure of the bus is the looming silhouette of the enormous, looming troll that had just thrown it.

    CAPTION (FANDRAL): He’ll cut a swath through everyone and everything until he gets here.

    Panel 3: Front view of THOR tearing the bus in half, holding one part in each hand. People spill out of each side. This is the first good view we’ve gotten of THOR’s MAX costume, and it gives off a warrior vibe rather than a superhero one. Pretty much everything is furs and leathers, with rusty metal interspersed. The costume centerpieces are the elk-horn helm, the massive elk pelt, and the MAX replacement for his chest-disks—frost giant faces skinned off of their dead skulls.

    CAPTION (FANDRAL): Like a forest fire.

    Panel 4: Extreme close-up of THOR’s hand. His grip on the bus is ungodly tight, and lighting snaps from his fingers into the hull.

    CAPTION (FANDRAL): Like a thunderstorm.

    Panel 5: THOR hurls one of the bus halves into the troll’s chest, sending it reeling.

    CAPTION (ODIN): Then we will be ready.

    Panel 6: The second half of the bus careens into the troll’s head, ripping it off the shoulders and sending it flying directly at the reader.

    CAPTION (FANDRAL): You can never be ready. Not for him.

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  10. @Aryeh - Wow. This feels pretty cool, got that MAX terseness to it and adapts the character in a new way. I like this page, and you actually make me care what Fandral says (and of course Fandral in the MAXverse would be hung like Errol Flynn and everyone, man and woman, would know about it, surely).

    Is this the first time someone has done a MAX script on here? If so, shame on us all.

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  11. JD - nice use of the TV report to set the scene / build the attention while addressing the classic superhero dilemma of involvement in world politics. This applies to Thor, being an outsider and not actually aligned to any specific country, more than it would, say, Iron Man... but it's the kind of story that could have no neat resolution.

    MK - a visually powerful page and one I could picture as you laid it out. I actually resisted using the classic "I say thee nay!" catchphrase as post-Straczynski they seemed to have moved Asgardian dialogue away from thees and thous... but it seems so right for the character, and has the weight of history behind it, it fits perfectly here.

    Aryeh - man, that was epic.

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  12. A quick one this week. This is my homage to Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee's “Thor: The Might Avenger”. A series cancelled far too soon.

    Thor and Jane are getting milkshakes in a diner. That's all the lead-in you should need.

    The page is laid out in three rows. The last row can be a little bigger to lend some additional emphasis. Panels 1 through 3 are on the top row. Panels 4 and 5 are on the second row. Panel 6 is its own row.

    1 – Thor and Jane are sitting across from each other in a booth at a diner. They each have a milkshake in front of them. Thor is gingerly sipping from his straw. Jane sits, waiting to see Thor's reaction. No dialogue.

    2 – Same angle. Thor stops sipping, a look of surprise on his face. Jane sits expectantly, wearing a knowing smile.

    JANE: Well?

    3 – Same angle. Thor brings the glass to his mouth, chugging the entire milkshake down in one go. Jane is taken aback by his gusto. No dialogue.

    4 – Switch to a shot of only Thor. Finished, he slams the glass down onto the table.

    SFX: SLAM!

    5 – Same angle. Thor wears a huge grin, smiling from ear to ear.

    THOR: This...

    6 – Return to the original angle, but closer in. The two are leaning towards each other, nearing the centre of the panel. Thor's grin continues, perhaps slightly bigger. Jane smiles at him, blushing.

    THOR: This “shaken milk” is everything you claimed it would be and more!

    JANE: I'm glad you agree.

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  13. @Grant - First thing that comes to mind:

    "This script, I like it. ANOTHER!"

    *Throws computer against the floor*

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  14. @Grant. Damn, way to make with the funny. I can see Samnee drawing this one for sure. I can also see the series living a healthy future life in fanfic, I guess we have that.

    Really top quality, Grant, I wish I could rate individual scripts in these comments because I'd give you 5 stars.

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  15. Grant - you've accomplished two things here...

    1) You've made me smile in a similar way that the Thor movie did.

    and

    2) You've finally convinced me I need to buy that Langridge / Samnee Thor book.

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