Some badass art for your consideration: Thor Vol. 1, Ex Machina, and White Haired Witch

Here is a short report on what books and movies I’ve been enjoying lately.

Thor Vol. 1

Firstly, a note: it would be really great if Marvel came up with a naming scheme to take into account each different run of a comic rather than simply calling every re-start “Vol. 1.” Turns out it’s pretty difficult to figure out the chronology of the story if you don’t already know it.

I read Thor #1 some months ago, missed #2, and never got back into the book. So when I was looking for something to read this weekend, I picked up Thor: Goddess of Thunder Vol. 1 and caught up. I am loving the fresh start for Thor. Man-Thor was always a tired character, as are all “superheroes” who are merely mythological gods brought into a modern universe. Volume 1 only collects the first five issues of the book. Its entire arc is the confusion and initial battle over a woman wielding the hammer.

That said, it’s great. I wanted to see some medieval/mythological knights and dark elves and giants fighting and here it is. I do appreciate that the Marvel team had to address the old Thor / new Thor conflict right away so much of these issues involves Man-Thor fighting Thor. We get the impression from the final scenes, that Man-Thor has decided to accept Mjolnir’s decision and leave Thor alone for a while. That’s good news as it frees Thor up to do great Thor stuff in subsequent issues.

I can handle Thor when he or she is not part of the superhero world. Thor is just Thor, a superman/woman with some control over thunder and lightning. I don’t want to see him/her be part of the Avengers or teaming up with an above-average archer or anything like that.

My only problem with this arc was that it didn’t feel like much of an arc. It was more like two battles: her against the Frost Giants and her against Man-Thor. I think that’s just how Marvel does TPBs. They aren’t necessarily collections of a larger arc. Just the issues of a related story. Nonetheless, I look forward to Vol. 2.

Ex Machina

I saw Ex Machina on Sunday. It was phenomenal. Quiet, creepy sci-fi is difficult to make succeed. If it’s too quiet or based-too-much on an abstract concept, it’ll start losing viewers. Ex Machina made sure to crank up the tension after every moment that it doled out the exposition. It helps that its premise is not too far out there. An eccentric billionaire founder of a search engine company decides to make an artificial intelligence? Totally believable. The casual nods to the surveillance culture of the tech world also made sure to hook viewers in. This is believable and terrifying sci-fi.

White Haired Witch

This was a random choice one day when I was swiping through Netflix. I have no context for a movie like this except Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Is “magical samurai” a genre? I turned it on and was hooked. I love the “wire-fighting” acrobatics of battles. The magic itself is subtle and not present as a super power of the protagonist. This makes it even more reliant on the physical fight scenes which were usually huge and superb in the way they handled the details. I’ve been on a quest ever since to find another movie like it on Netflix. Any suggestions?