Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Esad Ribic | RM Guera | Simon Bisley
The final issue of Thor: God of Thunder is comprised of three stories. They are held together by a framing sequence of Thor’s granddaughters in the “far future” of Asgard, reading up on their history in a great library. “The 13th Son of a 13th Son” shows the beginnings of Malekith the dark elf. When his family is torn apart by war (his father, twelve uncles, and twelve brothers are all killed in action), his mother sends him away and he is pressed into service as a corpse burner. Captured by trolls on the battlefield, he meets a wizard in prison. The two escape and he becomes the wizard’s apprentice, eventually surpassing him in skill. Malekith kills the wizard for speaking of peace, but the wizard marks him with his last breath. Later, Malekith goes back home to visit his mother, and repay her for sending him away as a child.
In “Blood and Ice” a young Thor sails with vikings when the waters turn to blood and ice; frost giants are near. Thor hefts his mighty axe, Jarnborn and leads the vikings into battle. Meanwhile a frost giant wizard plots to use the blood spilled by his warriors to raise their dead leader Laufey from the dead. The vikings win the day, and the wizard is defeated, but Laufey’s skull is lost to the bottom of the ocean.
The granddaughters of Thor get bored of reading and seek adventures of their own when another book that they have never seen before falls from the sky and lands on the table before them. Wrapped in chains, they cautiously open it to see what is inside. They see glimpses of “dark kings rising”, “old enemies gaining new power”, and a lady with a hammer. Suddenly Old King Thor shows up and kicks the girls out. He closes the book and dusts off its cover revealing the title: “Unworthy”. The story ends with current Thor trying to lift his hammer on the moon and failing.
Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to read some of the classic runs on Thor like that of Walt Simonson, but I have to say I’ve loved Jason Aaron’s tenure so far. It’s been epic in scope, the way a character from myth, a god, should be treated. Showing us Thor in three different time periods has made from some really interesting story telling and introduced some great new characters like Thor’s granddaughters. In this issue, though, they are merely window dressing. The best part of the book is the origin of Malekith. We see his tragic childhood and begin to understand how he sees himself and defines himself by war. He doesn’t become a sympathetic character, but at least you can see where he’s coming from. The second story seemed mostly like fluff to me. Thor fighting frost giants is something we’ve seen plenty of times before. The third story is just frustrating because it teases what’s going to be happening in the new Thor series with the female Thor, without actually telling us anything about who she is or how she became Thor. In a story titled “Unworthy” we don’t even find out what Thor did to become that way. Not the strongest way to close out a run, but I think the Malekith story was worth it.
The regular artist for this book, Esad Ribic, is relegated mostly to the framing sequences of Thor’s granddaughters, which is a shame because his art is so beautiful. Case in point, the two page spread featuring female Thor and the enemies she will most likely be facing toward the end of the book is fantastic. It would make a great poster. RM Guera’s work in the Malekith story is excellent. It suits the dark, tragic tone of the story perfectly. You feel the pain of loss in Malekith’s youth and the rage he feels as an adult equally. Colorist Giulla Brusco provides a pervasive blue tone to the story that makes it feel extra dismal and dark elfy. The art in “Blood and Ice” is immediately identifiable as that of Simon Bisley. Everything has a rough, painted quality to it with vibrant colors. His frost giants are some of the coolest I’ve seen, and a scene of Thor splitting one in half from the head down is quite awesome.
Being the final issue of this Thor run, I was expecting a little more closure. I suppose it only makes sense that things are left open ended since Thor’s story isn’t actually coming to an end. Like most super heroes, his situation is always in flux, and the new Thor series that starts soon is just another phase that these characters will be going through.