Thor #621 should not have been its own single issue. It’s all ending — not that it’s just the last part of a story, but in an in medias res “we are now reaching the climax of the story” sort of way. More likely, it should have been published with #620 as a double-sized issue. I still stand by my hypothesis, by the way, that “The World Eaters” will make a fantastic hardcover that will surely come out just in time for the film in May.
Which means my opening complaint will be for naught, but it’s good to explain this for the sake of posterity. Given a month between issues, it’s easy to forget the little details (who has the time to go back and reread every issue leading up?) and suddenly to be thrown back into a huge battle where everything is red — RED! — and in sprawling double-page spreads. So, the arc may go down as one of the greats, but it’s not difficult to find it a bit slight in its form as a serialized, $3.99 a month comic book.
Have we appreciated this story arc enough? I think not — which is a shame, because Fraction and Ferry have really delivered on it. We have an epic god battle with raining blood, Odin’s pained bellows reverberating across the mortal plane and Thor commanding a giant god robot to slash the World Tree in half. Not to mention some really big fucking hammers. And kudos to Fraction himself for taking on a story where his knack for dialogue and character interaction can’t quite be the biggest draw. With Thor, he has to do a fair amount of hitting and cleaving as well, but hopefully future issues will show that just because they’re not human, the gods aren’t quite as stuffy as casual readers would think. I’ll freely admit I’m part of that group, but it doesn’t help that Marvel’s main output is street-level superhero fiction.
The World Tree bit is the first big move in Fraction’s run, which is going to (confusingly) continue into The Mighty Thor #1 while Kieron Gillen and Doug Braithwaite return to this series, now retitled Journey into Mystery. By giving the World Tree a fixed position in the universe, we can expect more interaction with crazy Norse mythological sci-fi fantasy craziness, which is why Thor is even of interest to begin with. Granted, Fraction’s next arc deals with Galactus, but whatever. Epic Marvel sci-fi is just as good.
Salvador Larroca joins Ferry on art duties, but I didn’t really notice his presence in the book. In fact, I thought his name on the cover was a misprint. Either way, Ferry’s soft, sketchy line work is reminiscent of hand-drawn animation and, coupled with his consistent figures fluid storytelling the comic feels like Disney’s Thor. Who do you think would record the requisite music? I’m imagining that Disney stopped returning Phil Collins’ calls and sprung for Peter Gabriel.
At first, after a few months of incessant red — RED! — I was tiring of the color job by this final issue, but I suppose that’s the point. If I’m feeling worn down by the colors just looking at them, imagine having to fight dark gods from beyond the Nine Worlds while living in it! But patience is, as always, a virtue, and there’s a lovely payoff to Hollingsworth and Arreola’s colors once the red skies finally subside and the world returns to normal (sort of). More importantly, it’s an honest-to-goodness relief to see more (beautiful) colors take over by the end.
“The World Eaters” has been — in its monthly, piecemeal form — a story arc that didn’t really bother easing readers into the world but instead thrust them into the cosmic craziness. Solid stuff, but maybe not the best jumping-on point for new readers. That should come in April. Galactus? Bring it on.