cover image HAMMER OF THE GODS: Mortal Enemy


Michael Avon Oeming, . . Image, $18.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-1-58240-271-0

This riff on Norse mythology and Viking lore attempts to re-create their epic scope for a new generation of comics readers too young to remember Jack Kirby's classic Thor. A miserable family on windswept, godforsaken Earth receives a visit from Skogul, a beautiful Valkyrie in disguise, who imbues their infant son, Modi, with both god-like power and a curse: if he should ever pick up a weapon, he will lose his soul. Eventually, Modi sets out on a journey of adventure and matures into a hero, only to return home to find his parents murdered by ice giants, their cries for help unheeded by the Gods. Outraged that the Gods have abandoned humankind to suffering, the square-jawed hero vows revenge and sets off to find them in their Norse home, Asgard. Along the way, he encounters Loki, the devious prince of lies, and the lovely Skogul. Oeming replaces the Spandex and capes of previous Norse superhero yarns with more vaguely historical grungy Viking regalia. The story has a clever touch—the secret of Modi's power—but there are some problems. The storytelling can be clunky, the dialogue weirdly anachronistic ("The Gods are screwing us!") and Modi has a limited expressive range: either mute brooding or ap0plectic rage. Although Oeming's art is dominated by dull browns and earth tones, it is nonetheless dynamic and evocatively moody. (Mar.)