COMICS RETROSPECTIVE: Midgard Vic-Thor-ious! in War Of The Realms: Finalé!
War of the Realms: Finale covers the events of:
War of the Realms #6: Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Russel Dauterman.
Thor #14-16: Written by Jason Aaron. #14 Art by Scott Hepburn.
#15-16 Art by Mike Del Mundo.
Avengers #21: Written by Jason Aaron, Art by Jason Masters.
The final showdown with Malekith is here! The Accursed has Odin and Freyja sealed within Stonehenge, and only Thor can pass through his shield safely...
But who's to say only one Thor can come in?
Spoiler Warning: Thor wins.
But there's a bigger question, behind all this: What do you do, AFTER you've won? How do you pick up the pieces and return to your normal lives, after something as huge as the War of the Realms? Well, the Avengers have an idea.
Second spoiler warning: It's a Hot Tub.
Malekith has Odin and Freyja. He also has The Wild Hunt, a magic infused Symbiote blade, and an army of Symbiote-enhanced Dark Elves. Thor has one eye, a melted arm, and a plan that's just crazy enough to work.
Malekith's barrier prevents anyone that isn't Thor from entering, and the Odinson isn't strong enough to fight everyone there all on his own. So, there's only one way to beat him, and it's a plan that's worked well in the past. And the Future.
UNLEASH THE STORM OF THORS!
Because there's no problem that can't be solved, if you throw enough Thors at it!
And so, the new Thor Corps take the fight to Malekith, and WHAT a fight it is. Split between War of the Realms #6 and Thor #14, showing the same battle from the viewpoints of Odinson and Viking Thor, we bear witness to the greatest battle this realm has ever seen.
But Malekith is no pushover. One of the greatest Sorcerers in the ten realms, empowered his Symbiote Blade, he may be too much, even for Thor.
But something is coming.
A Force has been building, from the farthest reaches of the universe, it slowly grows as it makes its way towards Midgard.
The combined powers of Viking Thor, Avengers Thor, and King Thor have drawn it here: The Mother Storm. The God Tempest. The greatest storm in all the realms.
And as it approaches Midgard, it passes by the Sun, where hours before, Thor had nailed himself to Yggdrasil. Where he gave up the most important thing in the universe: The final, tiny shard of his beloved Mjolnir. The last remnant of his worthiness. Of his greatest honor and his greatest shame. Sacrificed to the sun, in exchange for the path to Victory.
So, when all seems bleakest, when Thor's final hammer is taken, and it seems like he has no hope...
The God Tempest arrives.
Its power explodes through the sun, forged by the heat of a star, imbued with the power of The Odinforce, Thor's greatest ally and oldest friend returns!
But of course, there's more than one Thor in this fight. Would be a shame to focus on Avengers Thor, right?
While Avengers Thor handles Malekith, and King Thor jumps from fight to fight hitting things and being surly, Viking Thor is beginning to feel somewhat out of place.
Back in his own time, he has finally given up on Mjolnir, that most hateful of mallets.
But then, dragged into his future to join the epic final battle, he finds himself surrounded by enemy forces far beyond anything he's clashed with in the past.
For the first time, Viking Thor begins to know fear...
But when Freyja, the one person in the realms that he cares about more than himself is in trouble, he doesn't hesitate to jump into the fray. feeling the power of the God of Thunder flowing through his veins, he lays waste to Malekith's gods.
But something feels a little different, now. He feels more powerful than he's ever felt. More... Worthy.
But of course, this is the War of the Realms. Not "Thor hits Malekith a bunch." There are other fights going on. And they're not all going as well as the Storm of Thors.
In Times Square, the final fragments of Midgard's defenders have taken out almost every threat. Which sounds great, until you find out that the only one left is Laufey, King of the Frost Giants, who also happens to be the wielder of the Box of Ancient Winters: a FEROCIOUSLY powerful magical artifact with the power to freeze Midgard in moments.
But when things are looking their frostiest, an ally emerges from the last place they could have imagined, and just might save everyone!
In Thor #15, The War is over! The realms are safe once more... And no one is entirely sure what to do with themselves.
Jane Foster, who uses the powers of The War Thor one final time, before the Hammer shattered, covering her with its shards, and is shocked to find that she may have absorbed some of the pieces of that otherworldly hammer. And that a new role may be calling to her.
After the death of Laufey, the Jotun find they have a new king, and it seems like no one is exactly excited about that. Their new monarch least of all!
Malekith's soul has returned to Hel. But it seems Hela and Karnilla, the new Queens of Hel, have a rather imaginative punishment reserved just for him. One that will make even Malekith, who long believed himself free of fear, quake in his boots and BEG for mercy.
And then, there's Thor.
Mjolnir is back, the Realms are safe, the War if OVER! So, why is he more scared now, than he ever was facing Malekith?
With new responsibilities ahead of him, and new challenges to face, will he be able to rise to the challenge? And will his constant struggle to be worthy ever, truly end?
In Avengers #21, everyone gets some well deserved rest.
Thor, Tony, and Cap take a break from saving the world all the freakin' time, to test out the Avengers new Hot Tub. I won't ask what part of the dead Celestial they're currently using as a base has been repurposed for that task, though.
Soon, they're joined by She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, and Ghost Rider, in a rare moment of calm, between the ongoing storm of chaos that is life as an Avenger.
But it's not a day of rest for ALL the Avengers. While the others are content to slowly turn into soup, their fearless leader Black Panther is on a pretty dangerous mission.
You see, it's not just me that hates this new Phil Coulson. T'Challa is a little worried about him as well. He's also not to hot on the idea of the increasingly ever more likely showdown between The Avengers and the Squadron Supreme.
Yup, there is definitely something very odd going on, with Director Phil. Something not right at all.
And Mephisto just might be behind it all...
But that's a war for another time.
Now, we return to Asgard, where they're throwing a party in Thor's honor!
A party that he, of course, has decided not to attend. Instead, he is doing what he does best: flying around The Realms, helping those that need it. And whether it's helping to build a ruined church in the U.S., or feeding war orphans in Svartalfheim, Thor will do anything, to avoid an official Asgardian party.
Of course, that doesn't mean they're not still having one! Everyone else is there, getting drunk, giving speeches and generally having a blast.
And so, with everyone safe and happy, the last thing left to do is send the two time-lost Thors home.
Viking Thor returns to the past, now with a real understanding of what it means to be worthy. And an unquenchable thirst for mead and viking maidens.
And Old King Thor returns to a bleak and desolate future. For him, there will be no mead. No buxom wenches. No grand welcoming committee.
All that waits for him, is NecroLoki!
But more on that, next week.
Why this book is so good:
The war is finally over! After years of build up and months of utter chaos, the war reaches its grand, epic, emotional climax.
I've got to say, reading it through again now, it's still every bit as amazing as it was, the first time around.
The showdown with Malekith is everything I was expecting and hoping it would be. From Mjolnir's return, to Thor's new titles, it all just felt right. After so many of these Marvel events being all build-up and then falling apart at the final hurdle, it was great to read an event that actually got better as it went, and ended at its highest point.
Seeing the differing sides of the battle, in War of the Realms #6 and Thor #14 was a great choice. Having Avengers Thor deep in the conflict, doing all the crazy hype stuff, bringing back Mjolnir and dealing with events on the grand scale felt like a huge conclusion that the event required.
But then you have Viking Thor, fighting off to one side. His arc really works as clarification to everything going on in the main book, and honestly, everything that has happened in Aaron's whole run. His moment of worthiness, while obviously not as grand as Avenger Thor's was still a brilliant moment that we've been waiting for for many years now. To see them both happening at the same time like this, with one informing on the other, was a moment of perfect duality that so accurately summed up what is great about Aaron's run.
Nothing is done without reason. There's always a greater motive behind his actions. While Viking Thor's return could so easily have been use as comedic fodder (and in parts was), tying it in to the overarching question of Aaron's run "What does it mean, to be worthy?" bookends the whole run in an amazing way.
And then, in the following books, we deal with the fallout of the war. It was nice to see the impact that even the smallest events had, and how they're remembered. Seeing a Dark Elf child praying to "Cul The Liberator" warms the heart a little, and seeing Thori contemplate a world with no more Trolls to chew on is a confusing, but emotional scene. One that sadly, wasn't built upon further.
And I have to say: I wasn't sure how they'd deal with Malekith, seeing as this whole arc began with him escaping Hel, just killing him off was never going to work.
But I should never have doubted, I'm VERY pleased with the way his arc concludes. Jason Aaron certainly has a gift for cruel and unusual punishments, and Malekith most assuredly got what he deserved in the end!
You might note, that I didn't include "War of the Realms: Omega" in this review. While I did initially consider it, Omega serves more as a jumping off point for the three books that span out from War of the Realms (Jane Foster: Valkyrie, Loki, and Punisher: Kill Krew). So while it IS technically part of the event, it's more used to set up the epilogue, and thus I didn't feel the need to include it in the review.
Overall, I was very pleased with the way The War of the Realms concluded. I was somewhat skeptical about making an arc that was so central to Thor's character a Marvel-wide event. I was worried that they would need to compromise the story, in order to give it more "mass market" appeal. But, I should have learned by now to trust Jason Aaron. The ending was as good as I could have hoped for, and left me feeling perfectly satisfied...
But, there's one final arc to cover, before we can put Aaron's Thor saga to bed.
So join me next week, when we journey to the darkness at the very end of Creation. For the final part of Jason Aaron's epic 7 year Thor Saga: King Thor!
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!