Dave Gibbons
Thunderbolt Jaxon
Medium: comic
Year: 2006
Country: UK
Keywords: superhero
Writer: Dave Gibbons
Artist: John Higgins
Format: Five 22-page episodes
Website category: Comics UK
Review date: 1 March 2021
It's another Albion spin-off. DC was making a brief, unsuccessful attempt to revive some almost-forgotten British comics characters they'd bought the rights for. This one was a superhero who also happened to be the Norse god, Thor. (In case you were wondering, this version of Thor predates the better-known 1962 Marvel one.)
Thunderbolt Jaxon was created in 1949 by Amalgamated Press to tap into the popularity of American superhero comics. It didn't really work. He popped up from time to time, then dropped out of sight after 1965. Grant Morrison killed him in Zenith, under the impression that Egmont had bought the rights to the character from IPC. They hadn't. (See also Robot Archie and many, many other old British comic strip characters that complicated the legal situation about reprinting Zenith.)
Jack Jaxon is an orphan, sent to reform school for a crime he didn't commit. Finding Thor's magic belt of strength, he becomes a superhero and fights evil, including his wicked uncle Jasper.
(In 1964-65, he appeared in Buster comic as "Johnny Samson".)
Jack Jaxon is an ordinary teenager in a very modern Britain. He has a violent stepfather who likes beating up this "lazy bastard stepson and his whining mother". Surprisingly, though, this stepfather is one of the Aesir and his idea of a night out is ultra-violent gang wars with other immortals from the Norse pantheon.
"You sad old git," says one of Jack's friends at one point. "All that time and that's all you could think of to do?"
Jack finds a belt that can turn him into Thor. (This has nothing to do with his stepfather, so you'll probably be laughing yourself silly at the astronomical coincidence level.) Jack's less happy about this than you'd think, since these are alarmingly realistic recreations of savage bastard Vikings. It's not about glory, honour or anything else like that. They're just a bunch of thugs who like killing. Thor couldn't care less about mortal lives, so the belt scares the living daylights out of Jack and he's reluctant to use it even when the gods capture one of his friends.
I quite enjoyed this. If nothing else, it's amusing because it's a far more brutal, authentic take on the familiar concept of Thor as a comic book superhero. It has problems as a standalone story for general readers, though, because the Norse gods get defeated by Christian theobabble that has nothing to do with our heroes. Furthermore, Jaxon's terrified of Thor and spends almost the entire story not being him. This is a marketing problem. If you're expecting the title character to be a superhero, you'll be disappointed by this.
It didn't sell. It amused me, though.