“The Fine Print” (part 1)
This current offering of Thor has upped the ante on what is considered a great comic book featuring the Norse god. Much of what the Asgardians have taken for granted has been left in utter ruin thanks to the events that played out during the Siege storyline. In its aftermath the Asgardians have been in a persistent state of upheaval as they have tried to come to terms with their current predicament.
The opening sequence showing Thor, Balder, and Tyr laying to rest their fallen brethren sets the tone immediately for the remainder of the book. You do feel a sense of dread and trepidation as the future for these gods does seem very bleak. Balder, the reigning lord of Asgard (or what’s left of it) commands Thor to “light them” and the Thunder God dutifully wields Mjolnir while summoning bolts of lightning to incinerate the corpses of their fallen allies. Afterwards the three disperse to a quieter setting to pay their respects to the fallen Loki. Thor offers his take on the legendary relationship the two shared and mutters that Loki may have lived a fool’s life but died that of a hero as he did attempt to save Asgard in the end.
The drama filled story doesn’t end there, however, as we witness the Disir, demons who feast on the flesh of Asgardians. As it turns out the realm of Hell has been split into two factions--one belonging to Mephisto and the other to Hela. The Disir are not permitted to obtain their sustenance by any means other than the deceased Asgardians who end up in Mephisto’s realm. Unfortunately for them Loki had managed to pull one over on the Disir and the end result is that they were sanctioned with certain guidelines that would make their obtaining of Asgardian flesh nigh impossible. However, the Disir are currently enslaved by Mephisto and the enigmatic mythical legends connive against Mephisto and obtain his permission to cross into Hela’s realm providing they become totally subservient to Mephisto and his every whim. As you could only imagine these Disir jump at the opportunity and invade the Asgardian Valhalla and begin to tear the warriors apart. Hela summons Thor and his fellow Asgardians to her aid where they are met with warning from the Disir: Leave them alone and live or fight them and be feast upon!
This was a stunning issue in every regard. The writing was topnotch and this was Gillen’s shining moment thus far on this title. I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of Matt Fraction but after reading this I now wish Gillen had some more time on this title as he really has seemingly hit his stride. The pencils provided by Rich Elson have to be seen to be appreciated. There is a strong sense of regality in his interpretation of Thor and his ilk and rightfully so. Every panel contains an emotional resonance whether it is in the touching paying tribute to their fallen kinfolk or the rage in an attack by the Disir.
The amount of detail poured into this book artistically is evident in leaps and bounds. It is the small nuances from a chip in the blade of a sword or rain dancing down a brow that brings the pages to life. The colors only enhance the overall appeal by utilizing a palette that perfectly compliments the tone of the story and the mythical elements that encapsulate the Asgardians as a collective.
This is definitely one of the best issues of Thor that I have read in a good long time. There was a perfect mix of all the elements you would expect to find in a book dedicated to Thor and the legendary tribe of gods and warriors that he is a part of. A modern masterpiece of Norse greatness!
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