Hey…can I let you in on a secret? There’s a way to get your comics that isn’t on your computer/tablet/phone/watch/magic viewing screen. I know! You can get them – hang onto your butts – in PAPER FORM! I know! So, for the very first time, Marvel Comics, purveyors of fine digital comics, have turned one of these digital comics into a rare, printed version for your convenience! Thor vs Hulk: Champions of the Universe is now available in trade paperback format! I KNOW!
All the sarcasm aside, this is a really funny and clever comic. Thor and Hulk are doing Thor and Hulk things, smashing asteroids that are being hurtled towards the Earth by mysterious alien invaders who, rightly so, hate coming to Earth because of all the scary, weird stuff that happens within our little planet’s sphere of influence. Said aliens are proved correct by Hulk and Thor who are then trapped into a semi-final match of skill to determine who will face The Champion, an elder of the Universe and last of his race. They are trapped by the true main character of this story, The Promoter, an elder of the Universe and last of her race. Lots of that going around these days.
Cover-to-cover, the book is flat-out funny. Having old-school Thor and Hulk banter back and forth while punching things is pretty much what audiences want to see, as evidenced by the film Thor:Ragnarok, and writer Jeremy Whitley does not disappoint. In addition to the banter, there is a nobility and love in the fight not only between Thor and Hulk, but also in the tasks they are given by The Promoter. Thor and Hulk really are BFFs and understand each other on a fundamental level, working together when they need to and bickering like siblings when they don’t.
The art, by Simone Buonfantino and Alti Firmansyah, is nicely consistent throughout, especially in character work and design, allowing for a smooth transition from issue to issue. They both work hard to capture the action in each of the challenges, with both getting a chance to draw pretty much everyone who has ever wielded Mjolnir, save Captain America.
In the end, having this comic in print will get it into more people’s hands, and that is a good thing. It is a solid story with good art and color, fleshing out the relationship we’ve seen build in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a heart-warming ending that would even make Bruce Banner proud. Speaking of Bruce, by the by, kudos for the short, but serious, exploration of his personal guilt and depression brought on by the destruction caused by Hulk. He clearly explains how Moonstone messed with him in challenge #3 and how depression isn’t something that can be forgotten or placed aside. Well done, Jeremy Whitley, for clearly explaining how mental illness isn’t something to be ignored or pushed aside easily.