I'm about to introduce you to Thor #499, which is just breathtakingly bad. Be warned, gentle reader, for if you are not prepared for it, the sheer awfulness of Thor #499 will hit you like an unexpected punch in your bathing suit area. This book is so bad that I cannot adequately cover it all in one post. That's right - this is the first two-part review here at Dave's Long Box. That should tell you something.
Making a book this shoddy, this God-awful, is a team effort. The blame or credit cannot rest on one person's shoulders. In this case, the culprits are writer William Messner-Loebs, artist Mike Deodato, Jr., and editor Bobbie Chase. I'm going to leave the letterer John Babcock out of this. He did what he could do. Before I slam their work any further I'd like to offer my usual cowardly disclaimer and say that Mike Deodato is capable of producing nice work. I am actually a big fan of William Messner-Loebs, who was one of the workhorse writers of the eighties-nineties that seemed to write everything. Loebs had a fantastic run on Wonder Woman, and his comics in general were wry and fresh, often exploring what happens when the mundane meets the fantastic. So, props to Loebs, I wish him well.
However... This issue SUXXIT.
A little background here: Mike Deodato was one of the hottest new artists in the 90's. As the kids say, Deodato "blew up big time" on the aforementioned run on Wonder Woman, and he was suddenly in high demand. He worked on a ton of books and I think he stretched himself too thin, because his work started to look really rushed and slapped together. He even started putting out stuff with art by "Deodato Studios," using other pencillers who aped his style. I'm not saying that he didn't draw this issue, but the thought crossed my mind. Eventually I think Deodato pulled his shit together and now he draws Amazing Spider-Man, and draws it well. But for a while there, it was pretty bad...
Here's the thing: Mike Deodato is Brazilian, and likes to draw his women "Rio style," i.e., in thongs. He speaks Portugese, or maybe Spanish, I don't know. If you're Bobbie Chase, the editor of Thor #499, you have got to know this. Right?
Not so much.
"Making a book this shoddy, this God-awful, is a team effort."
Take a look at the cover. Yikes. Aside from the awful coloring and the freaky-in-a-bad-way dragon thing, look at the purple ass on that woman. She's got a Deodato thong on, but the chaste Norteamericanos at Marvel can't have that filth on a comic book cover. The time-honored solution for such situations is to De-Nudify the cover. If you color a naked ass purple, it's not naked anymore, right? The De-Nudifying happens throughout the entire book, to hilarious effect.
Hey, what's up with that goofy dragon, anyway? It looks like Deodato used a Boris Vallejo calender for photo reference or something. And it sure is big. Call me a cynic, but I think somebody was in a rush and didn't want to draw backgrounds...
Let's move on to the comic itself. (Aren't you glad I'm breaking this up into two parts? Seriously, how much can one guy write about a bad comic book? Quite a bit, I guess.) Here's the story, in a nutshell. Thor is transported to the strange "fictional" Asgard of Wagner's Ring opera, which is populated by twisted, gold-hungry versions of the Asgardian gods we know and love, including an evil Thor. Joining him on his adventure are his father Odin, who is a drunken amnesiac, and three women; NYPD Officer Kim Gaunt, as well as Sylvia and Annie, who both hate each other.
I've identified the three women for easy reference. Take a look:
I forgot to mention that when they get transported to Wagnerian Asgard, our characters are inexplicably dressed in horrible medieval disco clothes. The women's clothing changes subtly throughout the comic, victim of Marvel's De-Nudifying program.
And HOLY SHIT! What is Thor wearing? Is that like, a boob guard held on by a string of pearls? He looks like he just jumped out of a cake at a bachelorette party.
Sylvia rightly points out that, "I look like a Cimmerian hooker." It's true, but is that good writing? It seems sort of out of character for her to make a Conan joke. Not to be a dick, but how many women care enough about Conan to bust out with the Cimmeria joke? I think Bill Loebs just had this funny line that he wanted to throw in, so he just made her say it even though it doesn't make sense, which is always lame.
Okay, moving on. Our party is attacked by dwarves on steroids. Annie is molested by dwarves and screams "Eeeek!" Despite their animosity, Sylvia runs to Annie's assistance, clobbering a dwarf with the battle cry "Taste five years of dance aerobics!" It's supposed to be funny. Work with me here.
The dwarves grab Sylvia and "vanish - like the very air!" I don't know, does air actually ever vanish? In the next panel (below) Annie, the brunette, is bummed because the dwarves allegedly took Sylvia, the blonde.
"Sylvia..." she says. "They took her."
Ummm, I hate to be the one to point this out as opposed to, say, the editor of the frickin' comic book, but Sylvia is right there! In the same panel!!! The dwarves on steroids didn't take her at all!!!
God help me, it gets worse.
Disco Thor leads Kim, Annie, the missing Sylvia, and a drunken Odin across this weird "mirror universe" Asgard. The green caption box is Thor's narration - he's bitching about his drunken dad. Annie feels guilty for hating Sylvia, who saved her from the trolls. If only she could tell Sylvia how she feels... IF ONLY SYLVIA WERE IN THE SAME PANEL AS HER!!!
Gasp in awe:
And man, what is up with the coloring?
Perhaps Wagner visualized Asgard with purple skies and bright orange clouds and the artist is just being faithful. Mike Deodato is credited as "artist" for this book, so I'm assuming he (or Deodato Studios, n'cest pas?) is responsible for the coloring job on Thor #499. It's about as subtle as a velvet blacklight painting. Plus, none of the characters notice the HUGE DRAGON in the sky behind them - possibly because it's obscured by a word balloon.
God, it hurts. It hurts so bad that I must give it "The Pain Award:"