Thor (2018) Volume 1: The God of Thunder Reborn! Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Mike Del Mundo (issues 1-4) and Christian Ward (Issues 5-6).
Things are back to normal, more or less. The Odinson has reclaimed his position as the God of Thunder! He's still not exactly worthy, per se, but he's got a whole bunch of hammers and a job to do. There's only one thing standing in his way: His ne'er-do-well step-brother Loki. Who, in his usual twisted manner, is trying to help. By sending Thor to Hel!
Thor is back! But after the events of The Mighty Thor volume 5, chaos is spreading throughout the ten realms.
Asgardia has been destroyed, and Odin's stockpile of the most powerful and destructive weapons known to gods and men has been scattered throughout the universe.
So, naturally, now that he's reclaimed his mantle, it's Thor's first job to reclaim these disasters in the making.
One tiny problem... The first weapon he's searching for just happens to have landed in the temple of Cyttorak. Which means the freshly re-minted God of Thunder has to handle his Avatar: The Unstoppable Juggernaut!
Obviously, this ends REALLY well for Thor.
And after a day of smiting the unsmiteable, Thor just wants to relax with a beer.
Another tiny problem.
His step-brother, and current Asgardian Pariah Loki has stopped by, to ask a little favour. Things are obviously super chilled between these two, and everything goes down with absolutely no punching at all. Then, through no fault of anyone's, they both end up in Hel...
But things aren't too grand, in the lands of the dead. The War of the Realms is raging, and after decimating Nidavellir, Cindr has set her sights on Hel. Thankfully, the Odinson is there to stop her. Along with a few more of his brothers than you might think.
So grab your hammer and join the fight, to save the realms of the dead. But don't forget to bring a suit, because I can hear wedding bells, in the distance.
For the final tale of the volume, we jump ahead to the end of time. Where a weary All-Father Thor is ministering to his last few followers. But darkness is spreading throughout the universe; Entropy is claiming what little light there is left. And what the laws of nature don't destroy, will meet a very different kind of Doom.
Why this book is so good:
Thor Volume 1 is an odd book.
The book starts off with what promises to be a fun arc. The Odinson, finally Thor once again, journeying around the ten realms to reclaim lost weapons of Asgard. In just the first issue alone, he clashes with Juggernaut and Namor! That's one hell of a start right?
The arc isn't so much an arc as it is an issue. The story begins and ends in issue 1 and is then never mentioned again, until it's repurposed post-WoTR as the entirely forgettable "Punisher: Kill Krew", which is a real shame. Because it felt like there was a lot of fun to be had with that concept, and after the brutality of War Thor and Death of The Mighty Thor, and before the heartbreak of War of the Realms and King Thor, it feels like the readers really could have done with a single light arc, just to ease us back into the swing of things.
Sadly, this arc is over before it could start, and once again we're drawn into the soap opera that is the internal struggles of the Odinson clan.
The second arc of this volume is... Really odd. I mean, when you're dealing with Norse Gods, and Marvel and all that, you expect some strangeness, but this was pushing it, even for me. In this bizarre tale, Thor and Loki are sent to Hel, where they meet up with Tyr and Baldur, and try to get Hel on their side for the War of the Realms. But, Hela comes back, and the only way to get remedy the situation is for Baldur and Hela to get married. There's also lots of fighting, Thanos makes a brief appearance, and everything gets set on fire. Also, Thor kinda, temporarily dies. A bit. For those keeping count, I believe this is death number 9. I know Aaron is better at long-form stories, and tends to take a while to get going. Just look at the first few volumes of The Mighty Thor if you don't believe me. but even with my "I'm sure he'll make it work, in the long run" outlook, this is a hard arc to swallow.
On the plus side, it's a very funny arc. So that's something. Although, I have to say 90% of the humour comes from my favourite new character, and undisputed best dog in Marvel: Thori, the Helhound.
But all is not lost. Because while the first four issues are a little hit and miss, the final two issues of this volume are pure Asgardian gold.
All-Father Thor is one of my favourite parts of Aaron's Thor run. Seeing the older, weary Thor slowly remembering how to be a hero just reminds us that even if he doesn't believe it himself, Thor has always been worthy. And when you have him go against absolute powerhouses like Phoenix, Logan, and Final Doom, it's such pure fan-service, that it's impossible to hate it.
But of course, Aaron never does anything just for fan-service. Everything is in service of the greater plot. So, while this is a lot of fun, it also lays the groundwork for one of the greatest comic arcs in a very long time. The capstone to Aaron's run: King Thor. But more on that, later!
Last, we have to address the elephant in the room.
When Aaron started, in The God of Thunder, he teamed up with artistic legend Esad Ribic. The ultra fine linework and muted colour palette gave his work a realistic and supremely clean look, that I absolutely loved.
We then moved on to The Mighty Thor, and Russel Dauterman. Initially I was a little worried. The lines got a little thicker, the colours a bit more intense, the overall effect was very "comic booky". And while I was initially unsure, Dauterman's work spoke for itself, and his light style and excellent character designs won me over fairly fast.
But then, in Thor (2018) Dauterman stepped down, and Mike Del Mundo took over... and, for me, it just didn't work. His watercolour-esque style works for large panels, and landscapes. For a series as action packed as Thor though, I feel like it just doesn't convey the action as well as it could, and it drags the pacing down a lot. He gets better, over the course of the run, but seeing Christian Ward's art for the All-Father Thor sections just highlights my dislike for Del Mundo's style.
Kind of ended on a downer there, didn't I? Ah well, it's not going to get any better next time. Because Loki has a plan to keep a young Thor from ever returning to Midgard, but it's going to backfire in a way he could never have guessed!
So, join me next time for Thor (2018) Volume 2, which apparently doesn't have a subtitle...
If you want to read along with me, you can find every issue of Aaron's Thor Saga on Comixology, Amazon, or better yet, at your local comic store!