Issue #10, Page 9: Balder Confronts Thor in the Throne Room (Splash Page)

©2009 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

THOR (2009)
by J. Michael Straczynski & Olivier Coipel
Issue #10, Page 9: Splash Page
Balder Confronts Thor in the Throne Room
Graphite and ink on board
Signed by Olivier Coipel
17" x 11"

The evolution of Thor from Norse God to modern superhero has placed him at the heart of recent comic book milestones, but it was television writer Michael J Straczynski and European artists Olivier Coipel and Marko Djurdjevic who made him contemporary.

J. Michael Straczynski is the creator of Babylon 5, the most influential sci-fi program since Star Trek. In 1999, he entered the world of comic books, with Rising Stars, a 24 issue series that brought Marvel calling to offer him the reigns of their flagship series Amazing Spider-Man. This led to a stint on Fantastic Four and ultimately to Thor, where he perfected the blend of Norse Mythology and post-modernism by banishing the stilted dialogue that had plagued the character since his introduction in Journey Into Mystery back in 1962.

Straczynski’s gift with dialogue and plotting is immediately apparent, and his understanding and appreciation for the tenets of drama make him the perfect writer for a truly epic tale. Never before have immortals been so believable, and never before has an artist captured the Viking might of the thunder god quite the way that Olivier Coipel has. He’s massive! Well, he should be –he’s a Viking God! Why has that been lost on every artist who preceded him? The success of this teaming (completed by cover artists Marko Djurdjevic) was the prime motivator for greenlighting the Thor movie, which ties directly into the new Ultimates franchise at Marvel Productions, culminating in The Avengers.

Straczynski distills the legends of the Norse eddas to retell the origin and downfall of the Asgardian pantheon, and he has a little fun with the task. Loki’s latest incarnation is female. Thor reawakens Asgard six feet above the ground on route 18 in Broxton, Oklahoma., but with the halls returned empty, he must go on a global mission to find the other gods. Balder is tricked into acceding the throne, and Kelda falls in love with a local Okie, which carries mortal consequences. JMS’ Thor is compassionate beyond compare, and the genuineness of the Broxton locals forgoes simple stereotypes to tell a very human story about man’s relationship to the gods. The series won the 2008 Eagle Award for Favourite New Comicbook.

The page above is a full page splash from the incomparable Olivier Coipel, who gained fame on Brian Michael Bendis’ House of M, and followed up this run on Thor with Bendis’ Siege. Balder has just been told by Loki that he, not Thor, is the true heir to Odin’s throne. He has thrown open the doors to the King’s chamber to confront his brother Thor with this information which might just kick-off Ragnarok. This is a pivotal moment that is sure to be recreated in the forthcoming film, and unlike any other in the vast pantheon of American comic book legends: capturing the guilt of a well-meaning hero.


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