I knew Michael Avon Oeming as the guy who draws Powers. I like his art, but it's very stylized and i think it might seem "too cartoony" in the wrong setting. When i initially heard he was going to be writing some Thor comics, i passed. I have a low opinion of artist-turned-writers. This is a result of the Image era, and it isn't fair to let them spoil everything for everyone else, especially as some of my favorite writers started off as artists - John Byrne, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson. Also, i have this impression of new comic book creators who start off in the indie or vertigo areas and then come in to work on mainstream superhero comics. My impression is that they really don't like or care about that characters, they're only comic in to do it for the money, or to "subvert" the stories and are not really intersted in adding to the marvel legacy - they're sloppy with continuity and characterization, for example. Warren Ellis and Grant Morrision are the two that have really solidified that impression for me, but it's also been true of others like Paul Jenkins and Peter Milligan. On the other hand, creators who are overly respectful and concerned about making sure they don't contradict anything already written tend to write stories that are boring and precious - the low end of Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid, for example. I know our new friend Jake won't agree, but i think Bendis has found the right balance between those two extremes.
So i stayed away from the Oeming Thor story when it first came out, but as a result of newsgroup buzz and previews of things that were going to happen in Fantastic Four, i ended up getting the trade. And lucky i did, because it's fantastic. Not only is the Thor story an engaging epic adventure, but it is sooooo embedded with Thor comics history. Very "respectful". The Marvel Thor is different in many ways from the original Norse myths, and it's clear that Oeming is very familiar with both and was able to integrate them whereas other writers might have accidentally wound up contracting one or the other. The subject of the story is Ragnarok - the death of the gods in Norse myth. Of course every writer of Thor has done a Ragnarok story, and each time the Gods have struggled and narrowly averted it. This time... it's different (trying not to give too much away). It's very interesting idea and it looks at the Thor/Donald Blake connection in a new light. I just don't know how they can ever bring Thor back from the dead after this.
One thing i will say, looking at that cover of the trade, is don't get too excited by Captain America and Iron Man being in the picture. They're not a central part of the story.
Based on the strength of that, i then got the Beta Ray Bill trade by the same team. Beta Ray Bill, for those of you who don't know, is "the horse who looks like Thor". He's a cool character even if he looks silly to your cynical eyes. This story is not quite as good as the Thor saga but it's a good read and very long time reader friendly while still being a good read on its own right. You've got to love stories where the main characters are fighting so hard that they are destroying small planets around them. Again i won't say much about the story since i know you'll want to read it, but i will say this: In the Annihilation mini-series, currently in progress, a bunch of heralds of Galactus show up, and three of them i had never heard of. Initially I complained about all the extra heralds (I mean, Galactus had the Silver Surfer for thousands of years, and then in the course of a few years, Marvel Time, he's picked up like 6 more). Well, it turns out that one was from the mediocre but not terrible Galactus The Devourer story that Louise Simonson wrote a few years ago (which i read but apparently forgot all about the herald. I mean, come on. "Red Shift"? How about "Short Shrift"? That'd be a good name for a herald) and the other was from this book (the third i'm still not so sure about).
Oh, and the art is terrific on both. The artist's name is Andrea Divito. Haven't heard of her before, but it's a great classic style, not too trendy or stylized, but not old school comic book, either. Maybe one day she'll write her own fantastic Thor book.