Thor: Vikings – An Uncompromising Tale of Unimaginable Violence
Thor: Vikings came out in 2003. I am letting this one go. Once in a while, I will sort out my comics and let go (I mean sell) those I prefer not to keep. Or, in other words, the non-key issues. I was sorting out some of my comics and found this.
Let’s read it one more time and this would be considered as be a throwback review 🙂
Within the Marvel Universe, Thor has fought innumerable foes whose powers were significant enough to tax even his godly abilities. Opponents such as the Destroyer, Surtur, and the Hulk have battled the God of Thunder in epic bouts that have, in some instances, leveled cities. Rarely seen, however, were civilian casualties that would naturally result from such titanic clashes.
In 2003, Garth Ennis put collateral damage front and center in Thor: Vikings, a five-issue miniseries. The story begins with Harald Jaekelsson, and his band of sadistic Viking raiders ravaged a village of Lakstad, Norway, slaughtering the entire population. As they leave for the New World, the lone survivor of their assault, the village wise man, curses them to “sail for a thousand years” without reaching their destination.
The Norsemen spend hundreds of years on the ocean, eventually arriving, in a state of living death, at the South Street Seaport in modern-day Manhattan.
Their vessel has barely docked when Jaekelsson and his bloodthirsty band begin pillaging the city, quickly discovering that the locals, even New York’s Finest, are no match for the tremendous power with which they have been mysteriously imbued.
Seeing the bloody attack, Thor enters the fray but is easily defeated single-handedly by Jaekelsson. As the Viking band continues to pillage and plunder, the badly beaten Thunder God receives aid from a certain master of the mystic arts.
Harrowing Images In Thor: Vikings
This horrifying tale of bloodlust and wanton destruction gives artist Glenn Fabry ample opportunity to show off his abilities to depict carnage. Severed heads on pikes, a throne made from human bones, and other gruesome imagery appear throughout the series. Fabry’s style is well-suited for these horrific visuals, his artwork reminiscent of classic EC Horror Comics. Also echoing the style of ’50s horror titles are his layouts, which consist of traditional rectangular panels and well-framed shots that provide a great sense of fluidity to the visual flow.
Fabry’s artwork conveys the horrors of war in graphic detail, which is hardly surprising for Garth Ennis fans who are familiar with his work in Battlefields, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, and other war comics. Ennis teaches readers of superhero comics a history lesson by showing them the impact of war in all of its unadulterated ugliness. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, are slaughtered and maimed in this miniseries for reasons that rational people cannot easily comprehend.
September 11 Revisited In Thor: Vikings
The fact that Ennis stages this savage attack in 2003 Manhattan should not be dismissed lightly. It was published just two years after the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, Thor: Vikings can be viewed as a re-telling of real-life tragedy. Like the terrorist attack, New Yorkers find themselves the unsuspecting victims of mindless violence on a massive scale, with several nameless characters uttering the familiar refrain, “Why us?”
Even Thor himself hints to September 11 in issue four when he observes, “This town has seen its share of woes and more.” Meanwhile, Ennis’s treatment of the God of Thunder may not please some as the character is ineffective on his own, his mythic status undeserved, and his bravado unjustified.
In this miniseries, the Thunder God is a divine force that is impotent when faced with evildoers who have turned their backs on their gods. While necessary as a dramatic device, this depiction of Thor as an underdog is rather ill-suited for a character of such great stature, making the story a frustrating affair.
While an exciting departure for the Thunder God, Thor: Vikings is far from essential reading and is only recommended for completists.