Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Alan Davis (p), Robin Riggs (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens in the nation of Slokovia, where a small group who had taken to worshipping Thor are gunned down by government troops, as punishment for their pagan worship & unlawful assembly. As this tragic encounter is heard by Heimdall, and he in turn relays what he heard to Thor, we see the Thunder God decides that dying prayers that were made to him deserve a response, and as such the ruling government of Slokovia & its military find themselves facing the wrath of the gods of Asgard. However, given Slokovia is located right next to Latveria, the U.S. government see a disaster in the making, as they believe Thor's activities are sure to get Victor Von Doom's attention, and when Dr. Doom is feeling threatened the entire world starts getting nervous. To this end we see Iron Man is brought in with the hope that Tony will be able reason with Thor and get him to stand down. However, when Thor dismisses Tony's arguments, and continues his actions against Slokovia, we see Iron Man is contacted by Dr. Doom, who makes it clear he's not pleased with this situation. The issue ends with Iron Man arriving in Slokovia, where he issues a direct challenge to Thor.
I'm not as dead set against crossovers as some fans I know, as most times I already collect the other titles involved. In fact the only time I don't care much for crossovers is when it's clear that half the books have only a peripheral involvement in the big event and are only involved to boost their sales, while the real plot advancement occurs in the main titles. My attitude when it comes to crossovers is in for a penny, in for a pound, and this looks to be the case on this latest crossover. Plus, given one of my main problems with the recent Thor arc has been the overall lack of reaction by the rest of the Marvel Universe to Thor's momentous decision, this crossover couldn't have come along at a better time. Thor fans will also be quite pleased by how strongly this crossover ties into the book's continuity, and as such there's no real disruption of the plot, though I guess they could grumble about having to purchase two other books this month that they normally might not pick up. Still this opening issue does a very nice job of establishing the event that triggers the big showdown between the big three Avengers, and I can't imagine any fan not being at least a little bit excited by that final page declaration by Iron Man.
Dan Jurgens has done a wonderful job on this book when it comes to his examination of the idea of how far is too far. I mean there's no denying that Thor's intentions are entirely noble, and that he's doing far more good than harm. However, while Dan Jurgens hasn't given much play to the other side of the argument, the idea that Thor is overstepping boundaries. & treating humanity like children has been discussed, and it looks like it'll be the primary source of any conflict that we see during this crossover. I also have to say that given he's my all time favorite villain, it's great to see Doctor Doom looks to be playing an active role in this story, and that this time he's not the clear cut villain of the piece. Now Iron Man's arguments with Thor do sound a bit weak in the aftermath of the opening scene, where we see the cruelty that Thor has overthrown, but the book does do a very solid job of explaining why Tony would take such an active stand against Thor, and there's a great little teaser dropped on the readers during Tony conversation with Doctor Doom, where we learn Tony has been preparing for this confrontation before he was even asked to by the U.S. government.
Another great thing about this crossover is that a single artist has been lined up to provide the art for all three chapters, which will provide a nice sense of artistic continuity on this crossover. It also doesn't hurt that the art is being handled by Alan Davis, who is easily one of the best artists currently unattached to a monthly title. This issue he's called upon to deliver the sense of majesty that one expects to find in the pages of Thor, and Alan Davis delivers several very impressive moments in this issue, from our opening shot of Thor in all his imposing glory, to the highly charged final page confrontation scene. In fact this final page deserves full marks for actually making Iron Man look like a creditable threat, given his opponent is Thor. There's also some nice work on the sequence where the warriors of Asgard lay into the hapless troops of Slokovia, as the art conveys a nice sense of raw power. I also enjoyed his take on Doctor Doom, as while it's only a brief visit, the art manages to place the good doctor in a technological nest that would've done the late Jack Kirby proud, and the same goes for that giant cannon that the Slokovian troops use against the gods of Asgard.
I've been waiting for the rest of the Marvel Universe to start showing an interest in Thor's rather hard to ignore activities, so this crossover is just what the doctor ordered, and it doesn't hurt that the entire premise of this crossover centers around the idea that Iron Man, Thor & Captain America are slated to come into direct conflict with each other. Now Dan Jurgens doesn't offer up any real surprises in this issue, but the idea that Thor actions have placed him at odds with Iron Man is nicely realized, and while the idea that Mike Grell will be handling the next chapter has me a bit concerned, this issue does a pretty fair job of bringing the tension right to the point where the two look to be seconds away from trading blows. My only real problem with this material is that Dan Jurgens is still playing up the idea that Thor's actions are as pure as driven snow, and as such it's difficult to accept the rather empty sounding arguments that are made by the other side. Doctor Doom's involvement in the story made for an unexpected surprise though.
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