This Tuesday, May 17, sees the release of Thor: Tales Of Asgard on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Tales Of Asgard was the name of a back-up feature that began in Journey Into Mystery #97 (Oct. 1963) and ended in Thor #145 (Oct. 1967)
*Journey Into Mystery was renamed Thor beginning with #126 (March 1966), it was common practice to rename a series and continue the original numbering*
The feature focused on a younger Thor and Loki. Their trials and adventures were shown every month with a some of the focus being on Loki and his growing hatred for Thor.
The Marvel/Lionsgate animated feature also focuses on the young Thor and Loki yet goes back to the time when they were not just brothers but best of friends.
The story follows Thor who only wants to prove his skill on the battle field. After being denied the chance to do so by Odin he convinces Loki to join him as he stows away on the ship of the Warriors Three who claim to be going after the legendary Sword Of Surtur.
It turns out that the Warriors Three actually go to a pub where they listen in on others talking about their battles. They then return to Asgard and make those tales into stories of their many battles. Once discovered by Thor and Loki they are easily convinced to go on a real quest to find the Sword.
So, here are a few thoughts I had about it:
This is easily the most epic animated Marvel feature to date in terms of the story. It’s a real character piece showing us where these characters are and easily setting up where they will eventually end up. Thor’s actions cause a war to break out between Asgard and the Frost Giants forcing the young god to humble himself in an effort to correct the mistakes he made.
Loki, meanwhile, begins to show some of his true nature and even origin for those with a keen eye.
Story-wise this is a great one to watch, the scope and scale are magnificent. The development of the characters makes me wonder (and hope) that this could become a DVD series. There are certainly endless tales to tell from this time in Thor’s life.
The voices are something different. What I’ve always liked about the Marvel Animated features is they don’t rely so heavily on celebrity voices. I always prefer to hear the character talk and develop on it’s own rather than see a character I recognize but have them sound like an actor I’ve been in dozens of movies or TV shows. That always destroys the fun of the stories for me. In some ways the voices here seem off but they quickly fall into place.
The look is a little different as well. The colors are toned down a little and, after viewing the ‘Making of’ feature, I understand why. They wanted this to look kind of like a flashback. This also explains why Asgard looks like it’s still being organized. The grandeur and scope of the Asgard we are familiar with isn’t there yet. It certainly helps set the tone of the picture.
The one thing that always got be was the animation of these features. This is the eight, and final, Marvel Animated movie that was part of the deal with Lionsgate. After eight features the animation didn’t really improve much. Granted, these last few looked a lot better than the Ultimate Avengers and Iron Man features but there are some big missteps in the animation in this one. Nothing that takes you out of the story, mind you, but you would think that after eight features they would worked these kinks out.
There are a few features on this release including two audio commentaries, one with Supervising Producer Craig Kyle and Screenwriter Greg Johnson and the second with Supervising Director Gary Hartle, Animation Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Phil Bourassa. There is a behind the scenes featurette and an episode of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes…the indrotuction of Thor episode.
Overall, this is a pretty fun feature to watch. The Warriors Three are easily the most entertaining characters in the whole thing while Loki is probably my personal favorite of the two brothers while Thor is certainly a very interesting kid as well. Some points in this feature it almost seems as if Thor might go on to fulfill Loki’s role in Asgard.
This may not be for everyone, Thor usually isn’t, but I hope more than just the fans of the comics check this one out. Specifically the folks who saw the live action movie. This will give them a chance to see the beginning of Thor as it should be, more like the comics and less like Hollywood.
There are a few things, here and there, that keep this from being perfect, near constant music in the background and the story drags in a few places, but overall it’s an entertaining adventure with two future legends.