Review by Ian Keogh
The concept of what Thor is has undergone a thorough hammering since Jason Aaron started controlling his destiny in 2014, and the three volumes of this series almost complete his fall and rise cycle. Actually, the ‘rise’ portion is a little presumptuous at this point, although God of Thunder Reborn begins with Thor in a slightly better place than he was in The Unworthy Thor.
Yes, we’re now back to the male God of Thunder, or 90% of him as he’s still short an arm, although doesn’t appear handicapped by his replacement. Being declared unworthy to hold his traditional hammer wasn’t the start of his troubles, but with that hammer now gone he decides it’s time he had another. Not that he was doing too badly with an enormous battle axe. The Asgardian gods have been sidelined as the Elf Malekith wages war on the other eight realms, their power limited, their connections fewer, and distrust between some of them at an all-time high. ‘Epic’ barely touches what Aaron set in motion, and the three chapter journey to Hel that might be the climax to the plots of another writer are just a staging point for Aaron.
Mike Del Mundo’s art is impressive, but picking up the pace to work on what was originally produced to monthly deadlines has meant the precision seen on other work is lacking here. His use of light is a level beyond most Marvel artists, and he’s adopted a method of blurring elements to direct focus, which is an interesting technique, but when combined with the vivid and sometimes abstracted colour, distracts rather than guides. Otherwise, beyond Chris Bachalo’s more recent work, it’s a look almost unique for Marvel, and all the better for that.
Amid one hell of a battle, Aaron surprises by staging a wedding, another twist of the knife for a long-running supporting character, and then shocks with a cameo from someone unexpected. It’s not as unexpected, however as the surprise the Thor of millennia in the future has when he discovers who’s now in charge of the universe, or what’s left of it. Let’s just say it’s someone Aaron has worked with before, and another surprise awaits. The final two chapters are trailed with an interlude after the first, and as what happens in them has a significance for the rest of the series that’s best discovered through reading them, the revelations on the back cover blurb notwithstanding. Christian Ward’s art is superficially similar to Del Mundo’s with its swirls of bright colour, but although Del Mundo’s the better artist technically, Ward’s pages are easier to read.
If there’s been a point where Aaron has disappointed with Thor, it’s certainly not here. He twists both Asgardian and Marvel legends very satisfyingly, sets up furtherplots that almost make us forget he’s still not dealt with Malekith’s machinations, and has us panting for more. That’s found in Road to War of the Realms.