In Thunder in Her Veins, a final ally was added to the elf Malekith’s evil alliance, treachery occurred in Asgard, and Thor was kept occupied by a number of threats that in the end didn’t matter. Malekith’s partner on Earth is Dario Agger, CEO of all-purpose industrial and technology firm Roxxon, from whom little has been seen since Who Holds the Hammer?, but he’s an appalling individual whose effect on Asgard has been devastating. It turns out, however, he’s but one of a cartel of industrialists, and his colleagues aren’t happy he’s been holding out on them. These are the Lords of Midgard referenced in the title.

So where’s Thor in all this? She has troubles brewing that she’s unaware of, and in tracking down Agger runs up against one of those other CEOs. Shingen Harada runs the family company, and has the status of the new Silver Samurai. He’s very arch about his business: “I’m wearing two billion dollars worth of cutting-edge technology, and you’re coming at me with the third best invention of the stone age!” Anyone would think he’s been taking lessons from Loki.

Jason Aaron has a lot of fun exaggerating the arrogance, pomposity, sense of invulnerability and plain macho wank of business culture and security agents amid a terrifying threat, for New York at least. It’s an awful lot of fun, and what makes this memorable, quite apart from the excellent art of Russell Dauterman, is that while it makes use of mythical and superhero elements, the staging and mood is very different for Thor.

Unfortunately that’s not the case for the opening chapters, which form a two-part Viking myth of old. The conclusion has the feel of something that may later feed into the ongoing saga Aaron’s weaving, but the legend of Bodolf the Black is filler, no more, no less. Illustrated by Rafa Garres in a blurry painterly style, it has a suitably ancient feel about it, but so does the plot.

The contentious aspect is the way Aaron writes his way out of a corner he’s backed the main plot into. It’s presented as a surprise in context, so let’s not ruin it, but suffice to say it requires a belief that something that’s never occurred in over fifty years of Thor comics conveniently does so for the first time. Aaron immediately supplies an explanation in the form of another Asgardian myth, this nicely drawn by Frazer Irving, but however it’s wrapped up it doesn’t merely stretch credulity, it shreds it, stamps on the pieces, and has them chewed up and excreted out by an Asgardian goat. It’s plain dumb after all these years.

So, Lords of Midgard is a mixed blessing. The primary plot continues to brew effectively, but is dragged down by the less than compelling detours.