For the third post in my ongoing series readings, I want to continue to look at the art of Russell Dauterman and coloring of Matthew Wilson. The aspect of the amazing art in the current Thor series that I want to discuss in particular is the way that it just completely disregards standard panel layout. Dauterman just plays by his own rules when it comes to page layout and the effects are pretty glorious. Again, this will be a pretty image-heavy post by necessity, but keep scrolling through!
In the image that focuses on Thor fighting frost giants, the central focus of the page is Thor herself in the bottom right. Her billowing cape breaks into the panel above her, and the panels form this amazing starburst effect that pushes the action through a collage into this final moment of her catching her breath and taunting the frost giants. In the oddly shaped panels, Thor is a tiny figure that may have gone unnoticed if not for her red cape, kicking the butts of giant creatures triple or more her size. The layout and slowly increasing zoom on Thor makes it feel almost like the panel is a spiral staircase, giving it something of an endless feel - perhaps tapping into the endless fight of Thor (in the sense of however holds Mjolnir rather than the specific character) versus frost giants. Additionally, it shows the near-futility of this tiny person battling literal giants, building up to this final, zoomed-in moment that shows how Thor also cuts an imposing figure in her own right, and maybe evens the odds a little.
The next panel I want to discuss features Odinson on the moon, with a floating Asgard in view in the background. Several things struck me out this page. First, the obvious cool town mutes even Odinson’s ragged red cape into a almost purple color and gives everything a cold, isolated feeling of “sameness” and futility. It fits nicely with the page-high image of Odinson contemplating the loss of his beloved Mjolnir in total isolation before being interrupted by Volstagg. The panels on the right side of the page conform to a more structure grid, but even they are not perfectly uniform. What I think is spectacular, though, is the gutters of these panels. Instead of blank white space, the starry background and distant Asgard are visible between the the panels.
Finally, in this panel Odinson tries to coerce Heimdall to reveal the identity of the new Thor. Again, the background image is visible between the two panels at the top and around the long panel at the bottom. Aside from this effect, the panel layout on this page is probably the most standard of the three I brought up in this post. This page is significant though because it really showcases Willson’s coloring. The middle section is zoomed on Heimdall’s face, but the shadows cast by his helmet have been replaced with swirling nebulas. Until this moment, I didn’t even know coloring in comics could be so intense and beautiful. And then he immediately tops it in the bottom panel with the most amazing image of the Bifröst that I can even imagine! The splashes of color are beyond description, but this page was so intense that I immediately reread the series with a closer regard to the coloring. Combined with the art, it lends this series a touch of intense magic and mystery that is a large part of why I intend to keep reading it as long as it is being published!