This week Jane Foster’s Thor and Thor Odinson team up to fight Apocalypse in Ancient Egypt, and Kyle Higgins returns to Nightwing with Nightwing: New Order!
Generations: The Mighty Thor and the Unworthy Thor #1 (Marvel Comics)
Jason Aaron’s ongoing Thor saga has made for one of the few truly consistently great Marvel titles, so the news that he would be writing the Generations: The Mighty Thor and Unworthy Thor special is a welcome one. Despite the fact that Jane Foster’s Thor has teamed up with the Odinson plenty of times before, this special, featuring art by Mahmud Asrar, takes Jane Foster back to the distant past to meet a Thor that has yet to learn what it means to be worthy. It leads to an action packed issue that finally has some ties to the upcoming Marvel Legacy special, and serves as the best Generations special so far.
Much of Generations: Thor has Jane Foster and the Odinson teaming up to help a group of Vikings fend off En-Sabah-Nur, aka Apocalypse. Yep, this issue features two Thors, fighting Apocalypse, in ancient Egypt. If that doesn’t pique your interest in this special, I’m not sure what else can, but it adds an awesome element to this issue that Jason Aaron has a ton of fun with. There are fun asides between the two Thors (the running joke that Odinson doesn’t understand anything that the modern Thor is talking about is pretty great), and it doesn’t hurt that the action is fantastic either.
More so than the action though, this is the first Generations title to really feel like it matters. Both Jane and Odinson seem to get something out of their shared adventure, and Jason Aaron crafts a beautiful moment about Jane’s battle with cancer in the middle of the issue that makes you not only feel sad for her, but completely understand her reasoning for maybe wanting to remain Thor forever. Not only that, but the final pages look to directly tie into the upcoming Marvel Legacy special, making this the first Generations book that I’d say is probably going to be an essential purchase.
Mahmud Asrar has made quite the name for himself at Marvel, and Generations: Thor is a great example of why. Asrar fills the page with dynamic panels of our heroes in action, whether they’re bickering with one another, leading an army of Vikings into battle, or smacking a giant Apocalypse in the face with Mjolnir. This was a book that demanded an artist that could do big and exciting artwork, and Asrar more than meets the task.
Generations: Thor is a welcome surprise, and after the diminishing returns of the previous Generations specials, it’s nice to have one that I can wholeheartedly endorse. It’s essential for those following the Thor saga at Marvel, as well as those who just like good comics. Jason Aaron and Mahmud Asrar knocked this one out of the park.
Nightwing: New Order #1 (DC Comics)
Dystopian futures aren’t unique to comics (or fiction in general), but it is unique to see it focused around a character like Nightwing. Writer Kyle Higgins and artist Trevor McCarthy’s new miniseries Nightwing: New Order features a futuristic DC universe where all super powered beings are kept in check by a special medicine, and patrolled by a group called “The Crusaders”, lead by Dick Grayson. Grayson has long given up being Nightwing after a mysterious event in Metropolis, and is now a celebrity figure. But something big is coming to shake up Dick Grayson’s life and family, and it will change everything he knows about the world around him.
Kyle Higgins is well known for writing Nightwing during the New 52 era of the character, so he’s got a lot of knowledge of how Dick Grayson thinks and acts. But even then I have a hard time buying that Dick Grayson would be the one behind this new world order. While Dick has always been a little more hot headed and emotional than Batman, I can’t see him going to the lengths that Higgins hints at in this opening issue. Of course, there’s still plenty of time to find out just what occurred to get Dick Grayson into this position (just like I’m sure we’ll discover the identity of his son Jake’s mother), but New Order seems like an alternate universe story that would be better suited for a character like Superman, Green Arrow, or even Green Lantern than Nightwing.
At least the art does a great job of building up the world and the story. Trevor McCarthy’s style is able to walk between being loose but also remaining just realistic enough to be believable. There’s a great sense of mood and scope to his panels, and it works wonders when Higgins uses him to set up the world that Dick Grayson has created around him. Some of the action looks a little muddled under McCarthy’s pencils, but it’s not so bad that you can’t figure out what’s happening.
So far New Order has more in common with Kyle Higgins’ C.O.W.L. Image series than his original run on Nightwing, but I’m willing to stick it out for a few more issues to see where the overall story is going. I’ll admit to being thrown off guard by the subject matter of the series, but every now and again it’s good to shake up these characters and place them in a different scenario. Nightwing hasn’t had too many of those, so it’s probably good that he’s gotten a new one to play around with.