First, Russell Dauterman launched with Greg Rucka Cyclops (2014-2015), a comic book series focused on the young Cyclops, transported in our time with the other four original X-Men, travelling with his newly discovered father Corsair through space. Then, with the author Jason Aaron, he drew seven amazing issues of the new Thor (2014-2015) comic book series, in which Thor isn’t the god we know but a mysterious masked woman. The comic book ended with the eighth issue, like many Marvel series ended because of the gigantic event which is Secret Wars. In that time, if Russell Dauterman‘ s drawings are not to be seen in any Marvel series, Jason Aaron is still busy with the series Thors and Weirdworld. The artistic duo will be back for a relaunch of the Mighty Thor, still featuring a female Thor, this November.
How could Marvel starts a new series featuring a female version of Thor without focusing a little on the previous Thor, now known as Odinson ? On the blue area of the moon rests Mjolnir, at the exact spot where Odinson left him after Nick Fury whispered him a terrible secret. It must have been something horrible for Odinson not to be worthy anymore of the hammer and its power, but we don’t know what it was. Not yet anyway. That is where we find him again, kneeled before his hammer, desperate to move him. Secluded from the other Asgardians, Odinson doesn’t have to hide his feelings. The despair is the first impression the reader could have when he looks at this layout. It expresses itself through Odinson’s gaze, his posture and his gestures, trying to reach out Mjolnir’s handle, so close and yet so far away. The simple style of Russell Dauterman, without any frills and with accurate and hard lines, strengthens this feeling. Despite all this, a form of poetry transpires through the drawings. Russell Dauterman succeeded in taking us in a journey during which we are the privileged witnesses of Odinson’s melancholy.
The new Thor hides her identity behind a mask. Thus, Odinson doesn’t know who Mjolnir has judged worthy of its powers. Some clues indicate that Thor’s mother, Frigga, might be under this mask. She’s as blond as Thor, she disappeared from Asgardia some time ago and who is the most suitable to replace Odinson as Thor if it isn’t his own mother ? With such thoughts in his head, we understand his surprise and his shocked attitude after Thor kissed him. This kiss revealed that Frigga wasn’t the one acting as the new Thor. So who is she ? And where is Frigga ? This kissing scene is important not just because it excludes one potential woman, but also because we learn that Thor has feeling for Odinson. Why would she kiss him if she doesn’t liked him ? As an attempt to disturb and confuse him on his search for her true identity ? I don’t think Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman saw this scene like that. It’s like the reunion of two old lovers, as the speed with wich Thor rushed into Odinson’s arms witnesses. It’s a deliberate act, something she wanted to do for some time, and not a sneaky plan to hide herself.
Speaking of Russell Dauterman, look how great the all scene is drawn. The hair of the characters reminds me of the Art Nouveau, specially Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) and his well-known posters such as Spring (1896).
The Art Nouveau inspiration of Russell Dauterman‘s work is even more strong in the next layout, when Odinson visits the sick Jane Foster on Asgardia. The first panel itself looks like a fusion between the Art Nouveau and the entrance of some fairytale palace. The trees with their heavy foliage, the water falling on the arms of two mermaids, everything give the impression that Asgardia is out of space and time. Unlike the chaotic and dirty Midgard, Asgardia is peaceful and smells like freshly cut flowers. But even in the most heavenly location, sickness and death still exist. Jane Foster, in bed, is receiving a touching visit from Odinson. Under the pencils of Russell Dauterman, Odinson looks more like a shiny knight than a murderous and hot-tempered god of thunder. He’s as peaceful as his environment, even with his bare muscled chest and black robotic arm, which has been forged in the same metal as Mjolnir, the uru. One last detail about this layout : if you look closely to the second panel, you can see some resemblance between Odinson and his counterpart in the movies, Chris Hemsworth : same hair, same beard, same worried look and same frown. Did Russell Dauterman draw his Odinson with the australian actor in his head ?
Odinson’s arm has been cut by Malekith in the first issue of this Thor series. Malekith, king of the dark elves and ruler of Svartálfaheimr, is involved in a mysterious business with Dario Agger, CEO of Roxxon and a new Minotaur, around the skull of Laufey, the king of the frost giants. They found an arrangement in order to both achieve their goals : Malekith wants to conquer more and more realms, whereas Dario Agger’s company will strip mine every one of them. This layout shows the travel around the ten worlds Malekith has taken Dario, to finally reach Alfheim, the land of the light elves and the first realm they’ll conquer. This journey is wonderfully designed : Malekith’s body loses his cohesion, and like a vicious and dark ribbon crosses each and every one of the ten realms which Yggdrasil carries in his foliage. Like darkness itself, the malevolent duo travels, leaving in its wake some darkness, which soon will taint all of the realms.
Russell Dauterman‘s drawings don’t only depicted calm and peaceful scenes. The first two pages of the last issue represents the final battle between Thor and the Destroyer, send by Odin himself. Luckily, Thor isn’t alone. Odinson came to rescue with a squadron of super-heroins, who were all the potential Thor according to Odinson’s list. They are goddesses (Frigga, Angela), mutants (Scarlet Witch), super-heroins (Captain Marvel and Spider-woman) and Valkyries (Brunhilde, Hildegarde). The three occurrences of the color pink, for the Destroyer’s visor and body, strike me. It’s a luminous flash on a black and white layout, and I don’t understand why Russell Dauterman put it there. The manifestation of other character’s powers doesn’t appears with a pink glow like this – only Mjolnir and his unpredictable movements on Thor #2, p.9 is depicted that way. The attack against the Destroyer is violent and fierce, specially the one from Ondinson, his axe over his head, ready to strike his enemy. The chaos of the battle is enlightened by Russell Dauterman‘s hard lines around every character, which allow us to identify every single one of them.
Russell Dauterman proved once again how talented he is with his run on Thor. Luckily for us, he’s not ready to hang up the pencils and it’s with a great joy and a growing eagerness that I’m waiting for the Mighty Thor, the sequel of this comic book series, written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Russell Dauterman.