Today’s Super Comic — Thor #337 (1983)

Writer/Artist Walt Simonson had a legendary run on Thor…and I confess I’ve read only a couple random issues of it. I know! Shame on me! And I call myself a Marvel fan!

To be honest, I’ve always liked Thor more as the Avengers’ tank than as a solo character, so I’m not well-versed in his series. But since I’ve been correcting some of my oversights lately, I figured I’d take a look at the first Simonson issue, Thor #337, in Marvel Unlimited.

And yeah, this is a strong start—definitely makes the case that I’ve been missing out.

The high concept is wonderful: What if someone else was worthy of wielding Thor’s hammer?

The cover gives it away. Yes, there is another. An alien, in fact. An alien named Bill—Beta Ray Bill, that is.

Simonson is just as strong on the art as he is on the story. He brings a dynamic style that’s in the vein of Thor’s original artist, the late great Jack Kirby, but there’s no mimicry here. Simonson achieves his own distinctive flair. (“Beta Ray Bill” is a pretty Kirby-esque name, too, come to think of it.)

The cliffhanger works great, too, leaving Thor in genuine peril, his fate uncertain. (Well, as uncertain as a title character’s fate can be, I suppose.)

I may have to check out some more.

Writer/Artist: Walter Simonson

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Thor by Walter Simonson Volume 1 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Nova #16 (2014)

I’m still reading Nova for the first time, and the series continues to serve up textbook YA fun with each issue.

Issue #16 wraps up a storyline that showcases how the young new Nova (Sam Alexander) is trying to be responsible, even as he keeps making mistakes. But the important thing is that he goes to great lengths to fix those mistakes.

This particular space-based adventure brings him into contact with Beta Ray Bill, an alien who’s worthy of wielding Thor’s hammer (that goes back to an old Thor storyline I haven’t read). Bill provides guidance and serves as a role model to Sam, and they’re not so busy saving the day that they can’t enjoy the overall experience.

And just as everything seems to be resolved, a new problem arises on the final page, one that no amount of super-powers can fix.

So far, Nova is a brightly colored book with a positive tone. Even though life is never easy for its protagonist, the series remains upbeat. A great option for YA readers.

Writer: Gerry Duggan

Penciler: David Baldeon

Inker: Terry Pallot

Cover: Paco Medina

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Nova vol. 3: Nova Corpse (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up