What is clear from Thor annual: Tales Of Thunder is that the world of Asgard is beautiful and fascinating when realised by any artist. The world that Thor inhabits is very surreal while somehow striking a familiar chord with many at the same time. When done right, the world of Asgard connects with the part of people’s psyche that is filled with hopeful stories of some higher power and a place better than Earth. In short, the stories of Thor are perfect escapism. The first story in the annual throws the reader straight into the fantasy world of Asgard, the initial panel being a burning Viking longboat escorting the last of the Dark Elves on his final journey across the stars. We join Thor eons after the version of him we know best. At this point he has taken over from Odin as All-Father and is ancient. He stands in stoic silence, watching with his one eye as the boat sails away from the floating citadel with the iconic Rainbow Bridge in the background. Yes you heard that right, Thor wears an eye patch like his father, Odin did. What is it with bearded Norse Gods that they also have to have one eye? You would think after Odin lost his eye that his son would be a bit more careful around pointy things. This story explores the troubles of someone who is deathless. Living for centuries sounds awesome does it not? Well actually there are some drawbacks, for one everyone Thor once knew on Earth has died. Midgard was once his second home, a place he helped protect with the help of The Avengers. Now it is empty, he visits it now to think referring to it as his “silent garden”. An incredibly troubled, deeply scarred character is instantly sympathetic to any audience. Readers can connect to a flawed character with issues. It was fascinating to get this look into the Thunder God’s future. This annual really fleshes out the character as we get a look at events from Thor’s past and future as well as a story from the present focussing on the woman to take up Mjolnir after Odinson becomes unworthy of the hammer. The first story had a really interesting concept that ended with a really clever twist. To cheer up the depressed Thor, his granddaughters brought life back to the barren planet. They created animals out of some kind of mystical clay, doing their best to recreate the animals from Earth’s past. However, there was some clay left for Thor to do with what he wants. Thor uses the clay and his great power to create two humans, this story became a rehash of the Biblical creation story. This was a very deep story with an emotional core to it, fantastic. This is an example of the character at its very best. Once again Jason Aaron takes a character we know very well and shows us a side of it we have never seen done before in the wealth of content. Timothy Truman also did a fantastic job in bringing these concepts to life. The section of the annual that focussed on the new Thor was a fun short story. Writer Noelle Stevenson did a fantastic job at creating an interesting dynamic between Thor and The Warriors Three that felt very believable to the situation. It felt genuine that The Warriors Three would be reluctant to accept the new Thunder God right away, initially testing her with a series of initiations. Finally we had CM Punk’s debut in the pages of Marvel comics. I am a huge fan of Punk, from his professional wrestling, with his electric pipebomb promos and the GTS, to his TV appearances and the infamous Colt Cabana podcast. I am obviously a big Marvel comics fan as well so I was excited to see what CM Punk would do when I learned that he would be authoring a Thor story. I can honestly say I am not disappointed. This story took famous characters and reinvented them, recreating them with a cool style while retaining the spark that made them compelling in the first place. Punk once again proved his unique creative skill with this story. It was unique to the wealth of serious Thor stories. With a great comedic style and some great nuances in the characters it delivered a fun little story chronicling some of the hijinks in Odinson’s formative years. Rob Guillory brought his unique art style to this story. It looked amazing. What he is great at is adding physical nuances to the characters, take a look at Loki for example. When the panel is focussing on Thor and his friends, Loki can be seen in the background, glaring at his with seething, burning jealousy. Also with this kind of physical character stuff Guillory helps get across the friendships to the reader. Guillory’s art style and Punk’s hilarious grasp of the characters works together like a tag team to endear the reader to these characters. I look forward to see what Punk does next at Marvel comics. With his MMA debut incoming comicbook writing may take a back seat for a while, so it seems we may have to wait in eager anticipation for that Punisher story he has been telling us he wants to write. By the way if you are planning on getting the Thor annual after reading this, firstly you definitely should, and secondly try reading it while listening to the soundtrack to the Thor films.