In this issue, former environmentalist turned Agent of Wakanda, Roz Solomon, kills a Frost Giant and then confronts the C.E.O of Roxxon Energy about his ties to the upcoming War of the Realms.
I’m going to start with the disclaimer that this review was incredibly difficult to write. There’s a lot to praise about this issue, and one very big thing to damn it. Bad reviews are much harder to write than positive ones, and because comics are such a collaborative form, good artists often suffer for the interior work of their partners. And sometimes good artists blot their own work by succumbing to a major blind-spot.
So. Let’s start with the good.
I have been really impressed by the art in this series. A few artists have worked on it, and they’ve all hit exactly the right tone most of the time. I’m not really a fan of this psychedelic, painterly style (I generally prefer a more grounded tone) but Mike Del Mundo has really won me over with his line-work and coloring. In this issue he strikes an excellent balance between the nuanced acting of the figures and the drama of a fight. His facial expressions can sometimes be a little pop-eyed and cartoony (especially in close-ups, such as during Jane’s conversation with Roz) but they fit with the operatic tone of the writing and he’s especially effective at setting an ephemeral, otherworldly tone in the scenes involving Giants, Gods, or Trolls.
He’s also got a knack for depicting many varieties of women. Roz is elfin and small, Okoye is regal and strong. She-Hulk looks like she can tear a keg in two. As she should, being a Hulk. And the image of the dead giant was brutal and gruesome.
Good job, Del Mundo. Consider me a fan.
I don’t think that letterers get enough credit for their work. This has been bothering me for some time, so I’m going to start giving them more credit in my reviews. Joe Sabino knows his work. He shapes the speech bubbles around the drawn figures in such a way that they place nuance and emphasis on all the right words without detracting from the impact of the scenes. That’s a big deal. Write a tweet or a letter without any punctuation, read it, and see if you believe me. ‘Let’s go eat, grandma’ is a very different phrase from ‘Let’s go eat grandma’. I’ve read loads of books that Sabino has worked on and they are always beautifully (invisibly, expertly) done.
Ok. Onto the bad stuff. The writing. This is a complicated problem, because the actual words are fine (occasionally funny, poignant, or even beautiful) and the script works. I love that the evil Minotaur quotes Donald Trump. That was good. In this case, we see the text develop a faux-feminist focus on a cast of ‘strong women’. We get to see Thor’s environmentalist ex-girlfriend become an absolute badass.
And she is a badass. She believably murders a Frost Giant.
You see. Aaron doesn’t let her claim the kill. The ‘environment’ murdered him.
She does all of the work. Thor just shows up for a page at the end of the book.
Every major player is a woman. Everyone, here, with real power, is a woman. Roz even calls Jane for advice on Giant-murdering, instead of Thor, because she was so good at it.
So far, so excellent.
But here’s where things get insidious and terrible: ask yourself why Roz called Jane for help, instead of Thor?
It’s the same reason that Roz chooses not to live in the Avengers’ mansion — even though it would be a lot more convenient for her work. She is still so hung up on Thor that the idea of seeing him with his new girlfriend is enough to absolutely obliterate her professionalism. And this isn’t a throwaway thing. She isn’t ‘strong’. She’s shown to be wearing a mask of badassery because there isn’t a strong man with a hammer there to support her.
Now, you could dismiss this by saying that this book is about Thor, and therefore shouldn’t the characters have a level of emotional connection to him in order to add spice and realism to the plot? But here’s the thing: the stakes are already pretty damned high, for everyone. Certainly for an Agent of Wakanda.
More importantly, it’s only Roz who’s tortured here. Like Erika the Red, her whole life and story revolves around a man, who has left her, and how she serves him. Yes, this is Thor’s series. But male characters are given their own motivations. Male characters aren’t emotionally or physically hurt to further the emotional development of other men.
The problem, here, isn’t the writing. It’s the writer. Jason Aaron probably considers himself to be a feminist. Certainly, he stacks the pages with women. But his ideas of what women are, what they are for, are frankly insulting.
The examples of sexism here, in all fairness, are not as egregious as they were in the issue with Erica, but they were strong enough to add cement to my opinion.
This writer needs to do better.
This issue's beautiful art and stellar plot are tarnished by some rather insidious sexism. Reviewed by Bethany W Pope
Thor #9: Refrigerator Women
Writing - 5/105/10
Storyline - 7.5/107.5/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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