Thursday, 28 January 2016

Thor: God of Thunder, Volume 4: The Last Days of Midgard Review (Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic)

This one’s the last of Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder series but, because Marvel’s numbering isn’t at all confusing, it’s not his last Thor book so there’s no need to get all misty-eyed, Hammerheads! After this follows the two Goddess of Thunder volumes, one volume of Thors (a Secret Wars tie-in so you know it’s quality) and then the numbering goes back to #1 again for a relaunch of The Mighty Thor, which is the current ongoing Thor title. 

The Last Days of Midgard is two storylines: present-day Thor (heretofore referred to as Thor) and current girlfriend (but not really – itsa funnee jooooke) SHIELD Agent Roz Solomon battle comically evil CEO Dario Agger, head of Roxxon Energy Corp, who wants to do terrible things to Thor’s beloved town of Broxton; and many years from now when humanity has disappeared, King Thor and his granddaughters, the Girls of Thunder, battle Galactus who wants to finally eat Earth (you should be hearing Metallica during this storyline – King Thor Vs the purple-hatted one!! You can’t get more metal than that!). 

This book surprised me because I haven’t been a huge fan of the series so far but I actually liked both storylines even though they haven’t got a thing to do with one another. I think we get the King Thor storyline, 1) because King Thor has been a feature of this God of Thunder series and, as this series is ending, it’s sort of a last hurrah for the character, and 2) why the Hel not? It’s so fucking cool! That’s really all there is to say about the fight to end all fights. Marvel at its glorious, silly best (with a call back to the God Butcher storyline that fans will love). 

I may not love artist Esad Ribic’s style but he does perspective better than anyone at Marvel. He beautifully conveys a strong sense of distance and scale so seeing King Thor compared to the sheer size of Galactus is amazing. The panoramas of Broxton at night were also quite breath-taking - it’s like you could feel the wind whipping Thor’s cape at that altitude. My problem with Ribic is that once you get close-up to the art, his thin line-work, which is part of how he achieves the illusion of distance so well, looks insubstantial. But he does great work in this book. 

There’s actually not a lot to the Thor/Agger storyline either. The CEO is such an intentionally one-dimensional, over the top villain, it’s funny. How could you not laugh at a character who wants to own all the water AND he transforms into a minotaur?! He’s literally bull-headed like the charging bull statue near Wall Street – that’s how subtle Aaron/Ribic are with this character! 

It’s amusing how Aaron introduces nuance to Thor’s world – the concept of restraining orders and corporate lawyers – momentarily halting the God of Thunder’s actions to save Broxton – and then just says, fuck it, and has Thor go to town with his hammer as he normally does! 

The volume closes out with a short story about Malekith’s origins, drawn by Aaron’s Scalped artist RM Guera, which was my favourite part of the book. It was well-written, making the villainous Malekith disarmingly vulnerable, presented the fascinating world of the Dark Elves, and was wonderfully illustrated by the incomparable Guera. There’s also a short featuring young Viking Thor drawn by the legendary Simon Bisley. Great art aside, this was the only part of the book I didn’t care for. Thor fighting Frost Giants, just ‘cos. Whatevs. I guess we needed to see this version of Thor once more? 

The Last Days of Midgard has some hints of the succeeding Goddess of Thunder storyline towards the end (though the crucial moment when Thor becomes “unworthy” happens in the event book Original Sin), and things happen to geographically alter Thor’s world, but otherwise this is a more-or-less standalone, solidly entertaining Thor book, and a fine send-off (for now) for King Thor. A comic fit for a god! And, y’know, Galactus. (Creeping Death starts playing. Stops. I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts begins.)

Thor: God of Thunder, Volume 4: The Last Days of Midgard

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