Monday, April 23, 2012

Falstaff in Comicbookland

Thor Visionaries Walt Simonson Volume 4: written by Walt Simonson; illustrated by Walt Simonson and Sal Buscema (1986; collected 2004): The fourth collection of Walt Simonson's 1980's run on Marvel's The Mighty Thor marks sort of a slight pause before the last major arc gets fully underway. Norse death-god Hela's curse on Thor would supply the impetus for the final ten-issue arc, and she does curse the Thunder God herein, but most of the collection is concerned with other things.

One of those things is the Simonson/Sal Buscema four-issue Balder the Brave miniseries, part of which takes place during events chronicled in the previous Visionaries volume. It's a pretty entertaining adventure for the Norse sun-god, while also setting up events and situations that lead back into the regular series.

Meanwhile, in the other four issues collected here, Thor teams up with Simonson's homage to Judge Dredd, Judge Peace (who would later appear during Simonson's run on Fantastic Four), to battle two old Thor enemies to save an even older supporting cast member. Most of two other issues tie directly into the line-spanning Mutant Massacre X-Men storyline.

One of Simonson's more endearing side-projects -- his fleshing out of the fleshy, comic-relief Norse god Volstagg -- also proceeds here. Sal Buscema's pencils continue to impress here. He's no Simonson, but the art remains solid and professional throughout, with some unexpected flourishes at points. Recommended.

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