Review by Jamie McNeil
While Matt Fraction was writing The Mighty Thor (and Iron Man and X-Men) in 2012, Kieron Gillen was working on Journey into Mystery. It was the same title in which Thor made his 1962 debut, marking 50 Years of Thunder. To celebrate Fraction and Gillen teamed up for Everything Burns, Fraction ending his run at the same time.
A lot has changed in Thor’s world. Odin is gone and Asgard has undergone many changes, now located above Broxton, Oklahoma. The New Republic of Asgardia is ruled by the All-Mother- a trinity of the goddesses Freya, Idunn and Gaea. Loki has been re-born as a young boy, but the spirit of the old Trickster follows him as the magpie Ikol. In her chambers Freya wakes screaming from dreams where the world is on fire. Down in Broxton Thor fights fires he can’t douse while Loki watches magpies fall burning from the sky. Freya remembers a time when the Aesir went to war with the Vanir. To resist the Odin-folk the weaker Vanir made a pact with Surtur, Lord of Muspelheim. Asgard burned before peace returned. Now Surtur has returned and the World Tree is aflame, civil war engulfing Asgardia. Inadvertently it may all be Loki’s fault even if he had good intentions. Now the fate of Asgardia and Earth lies in Loki’s hands but will he be the hero or once again the villain?
Matt Fraction’s work on The Mighty Thor was often interrupted by crossover events. Most of them were his doing via Fear Itself and they hurt his run. Those problems haven’t disappeared, but by joining Journey Into Mystery we suddenly have a lot more information to work with. With Kieron Gillen co-writing the dialogue is less poetic, still clever but more fun, and in particular good banter between Thor and Loki, a believable bond existing. Loki’s speech mixes modern teen lingo with Asgardian formality, so is often amusing. The plot is predictable to a certain point, though Heimdall’s gift of farsight is used to justify this. The most jarring aspect is that many plot elements originated elsewhere. In Journey Into Mystery to be exact, so unless you followed that you’ll puzzled more oft than not.
With the story spread over two titles, there is more than one artistic team involved. Alan Davis provides pencils with Mark Farmer inking, their art bright but flat looking. Where they win is with an interesting panel layout that’s dynamic and eye-catching. Carmine de Giandomenico provides art on the Journey sections, angular and darkly shaded for an aura of emotional heaviness. Of the two styles it’s much more appealing and far more character centric. Stephanie Hans also contributes with watercolours that become more beautiful as it progresses. Unfortunately none of the art entirely convinces us of the emotional strain each character is facing.
As a Thor story Everything Burns is okay, readable and lightly entertaining, but it’s the irascible Loki’s tale that steals the show. And if reports are true, actor Tom Hiddleston agrees, but he’s probably biased. He plays Loki after all.