(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Jason Aaron
Artwork by Esad Ribic, R.M. Guera, Simon Bisley
Although technically the final issue of this glorious run, issue #25 is more of a bookend bridging one amazing chapter in the epic saga of Thor’s life to another intriguing and increasingly tantalizing chapter full of exciting potential. The next time we see Jason Aaron’s name on the cover of a Thor book it will be a brand new number one and unless you have been off world you know that this will be a very different Thor, a very imaginative Thor and a very female Thor. That in and of itself is not so groundbreaking, I mean Sif is certainly a very Thor-like female character as is the newly imported to the Marvel U. Angela but this new “Thor-ette” will be wielding Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer and therein lies the huge difference. So in this issue Aaron takes a look back over his Thor run and frames a couple of thoroughly entertaining and decidedly darker tales featuring characters from that run, most prevalently Thor’s three grand-daughters; Frigg, Atli and Ellisiv, collectively known as the Girls of Thunder. They provide much more than a framing device as the girls bring a touch of gallows humor to lighten the macabre material just a touch.
The issue begins in the future with the Girls of Thunder passing some time in the Library of Asgard; this is not a unanimously popular destination for the often rambunctious trio as Atli makes it known that she would much rather spend her time elsewhere doing adventurous deeds instead of reading about others’ deeds of daring do. Aaron uses this clever bit of set-up as an introduction to two very different stories; the first is the darker of the two by far, It features the bleak origin of Malekith and it is one of the most vile and fittingly heinous origins I can remember, however Aaron crafts the ghastly narrative with poetic flare and an almost tangible desire to feel compassion for this retched ghoul but any sympathy we are able to muster for the boy Malekith is soon snatched away by the awful adult he becomes. He is the only surviving child of thirteen, twelve of his brothers have fallen on the fields of various battles and much to his crone of a mother’s dismay Malekith is finally taken away presumably to meet the same fate. However, it is not a mother’s love that is behind her pleading; she wants compensation for her son and strikes a deal to relinquish her sole surviving child to the horrors of war. Malekith is spared battle and is instead given the vile job of corpse burner which he doesn’t keep very long as he commits a living but badly injured soldier to the flames and for this reprehensible act he finds himself locked away in prison. This is not the end for one as evil as this Dark Elf, far from it, Malekith rises to powerful and unexpected heights before his tale is told.
Artist R.M. Guera captures every sinister inclination of Malekith with his edgy style. His sketchy yet somehow still precise line work is a perfect fit for Aaron’s unsettling narrative. Giulia Brusco’s eerie use of blues and greens give the entire piece an almost frozen effect thus enhancing the cold isolation felt by the young Malekith before being consumed by evil. In contrast Simon Bisley’s use of vibrant colors heightens the chaotic sense of battle while conveying a similar frigid feeling with the blues in which he renders the Frost Giants. Aaron’s story here focuses on a young Thor who is eager to fight regardless of the future consequences involved. In fact it isn’t until the final panel of the last page that these implications are hinted at. Both of these stories are ripping good yarns and entertaining as they are exciting to read. Aaron has proven that he has a firm grasp on these characters and has certainly earned my trust going into this next chapter of his Thor saga.
The issue ends with some pretty intense drama centered on King Thor and his precocious grand-daughters to whom he issues a rather stern reprimand for nosing into volumes better left alone. It seems the Girls of Thunder could not resist when they are faced with a huge tome wrapped in chains they give in to temptation and tear the book open. Inside the contents seem almost prophetic, especially when we see a gorgeous two page spread by Esad Ribic featuring the new, female Thor. The issue ends with an equally stunning splash page of Thor, now branded “unworthy” struggling unable to lift Mjolnir, the hammer he has carried into battle countless times.
The final issue of Thor: God of Thunder features some great set-up woven into some engrossing and brilliant storytelling. Aaron and series collaborator, Esad Ribic do their usual inspired work joined this time by fan favorite Simon Bisley and welcome addition R.M. Guera who all do a bang up job of capping this chapter of the Thor story while building some pretty heavy anticipation for things to come in Asgard. If you missed out on the beginning I suggest grabbing the trades and starting fresh with the new number one but, if you just can’t wait for some exciting and macabre tales from Asgard, then certainly by all means go out and grab this final issue. You will be glad you did. Until next time True Believers, Excelsior! (4.75/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.