Created and written by Rich Johnston
Illustrated by Michael Netzer
Lettering by Steve Wands
Colouring by Space Goat Productions and Cirque Studios
Covers by Mark Stafford and Fred Hembeck
Published by Boom
the three cents.
Johnston’s zany though surprisingly insightful spoofing of the Marvel movies continues with Scienthorlogy, as a fun melding of the Americanized Norse mythology with L Rob Hubbard’s Scientology cult proves to be quite possibly even more entertaining than the source material. Loosely following the framework of the screenstory, Thor and his low key brother are sent by their All-Father to Earth, getting mixed up in Hollywood and politics along the way. But far more than mere wackiness ensues, to be sure.
A great parody of the entertainment industry, as well as sharply calling out Scientology for the perverse sect it really is, the story is stuffed with all manner of humor, from one-liners galore to visual puns to barely buried social commentary. Johnston even sneaks in a plug for his BleedingCool blog, calling to mind the seemingly endless similar plugs that early Image comics gave to Wizard magazine. Arriving on “Midgeeack”, the spoof Thor assumes the identity of his onscreen portrayer Chris Hemsworth, with perpetually cute Natalie Portman equally reprising more than just her Marvel-based role. The Thor movie is lambasted, as are the core actors, and the supreme powers of both religion and popular culture are both playfully indicted for the near-destruction of the world as we know it. But Johnston’s Thor is still very much the hero in spite of the madness of his church, and the issue ends with a direct lead in to the upcoming Avengefuls team-up comic.
Netzer’s pages are really just so darn pretty to look at- that’s the immediate impression. Very well-organized and smartly laid out, and his likenesses of famous folk are always incredibly spot-on. I’m fully aware he’s handled plenty of different genres in his years, but the whole parody thing is something I’d love to see him do more of. From the small details like tons of wadded tissues on Loki’s bunk-bed to the borderline raunchy but wholly obligatory sex scene to the surprise villain and ensuing fight sequence, these pages are nearly crammed with inventive energy and fun personality. Wands is errorless with his typography, and the colouring teams blended well with every nuance of every scene. This is a great package, altogether.
Johnston and Netzer may not be receiving any invitations from Marvel anytime soon, but their work here is a kick in the pants for the discerning reader who appreciates intelligentsia punnery. This entire set of one-shots Johnston is doing for Boom Studios is, I think, a stroke of genius. The movie franchises are certainly big enough to be able to take a shot, but whether they can handle this onslaught of cracking wise and general flippancy, all of which seems to be presented as both smart and genuinely funny, only time and a team of highly paid attorneys from Disney can know for sure. Much fun and worth a read, totally.