The Mighty Thor Volume 5: The Death of The Mighty Thor. Written by Jason Aaron, Artwork by (takes a deep breath) Russel Dauterman, Walter Simonson, Daniel Acuna, James Harren, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Andrew Maclean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel, Matthew Wilson, Dave Stewart, Ive Svocina, Jen Bartel, Ramon Perez, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Jane Foster, The Mighty Thor, is on the edge of death. She knows that to take up Mjolnir one more time, to become the Goddess of Thunder just once more, WILL kill her. So, she makes the hard call, and gives up the hammer for good.
But what she doesn't know, is that Asgardia is facing its greatest threat. The Mangog, the Ultimate Judgement of the Gods, has arrived in the realm Eternal, and he won't stop until Asgardia lies in ruins.
Volume 5 is a story in 3 parts.
The tale begins with The Mighty Thor, reverting to Legacy numbering to mark anniversary issue 700. An issue so packed with cool stuff that they had to expand it to 50 pages, and only ten pages of that was the list of artists contributing to the issue...
The story follows a moping Odinson, as he goes to seek the Wisdom of the Norns, and their large-hatted queen Karnilla.
Only one TINY problem. Malaketh doesn't really buy into the whole "Fate" thing, and has decided the best thing for his upcoming war is to brutally murder Karnilla and all her Norns, so that no one will know their fate.
Thankfully Odinson, his trusty axe Jarnbjorn, and his bloodthirsty Helhound Thori are there to defend the queen of the fates from a potentially grizzly end.
In the second arc of issue 700, we see Mighty Thor going toe to toe with Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk. There isn't a huge amount of story in this arc, but it's a fun fight and Jen's design is excellent. Honestly, I'm surprised Aaron didn't carry on with that design for his Avengers run. But that's a question for a different time.
The final major arc of Issue 700 centers around poor Volstagg, returned to Asgardia and starting to recover after his time as War Thor. Sadly, this doesn't last long, as the Hammer calls him away again, to the ruins of Old Asgard. But what has called him there? Why does his need for combat bring him to these deserted ruins. Who could be there, waiting for him?
The final tale in this volume is "Mighty Thor: At the Gates of Valhalla," a one-shot issue of collected short stories, designed to act as a capstone for the end of The Mighty Thor's run. We get to see the Goddesses of Thunder traveling through time, we get to see more tales of Viking Thor, Malaketh being a pantomime villain, and Dario Agger being the world's biggest tool. Not a bad way to wrap things up, all told.
But, the main body of the issue comprises of the second arc, The Death of The Mighty Thor. Ohh, boy. We all knew this was coming, but it's still a rough arc to read.
As we saw in the last volume, Jane Foster's health is failing, fast. Every time she transforms herself into the Mighty Thor she is weakening. And now, it's reached the breaking point.
Swearing to leave the hammer behind for good, Jane leaves Asgardia to return home and take up her treatment. She promises to save the heroics for a later date, and spend all of her time and energy to beat this disease once and for all. But she has one last score to settle, before she can leave...
But, Norns or no, fate has a way of interfering with the best laid plans of mice and men.
The War Thor attempts to stop Mangog. It does not go well. After one of the most brutal fights in Thor history, Volstagg is left broken. Totally, utterly, and possibly, irrevocably broken.
And Jane isn't doing much better. After a heated argument in front of Asgardia's royal palace leads to her collapse, Jane is rushed to the finest Doctor in the ten realms: Doctor Stephen Strange, the (temporarily ousted) Sorcerer Supreme.
He gives her the bad news: Her time as a hero is over. If she transforms even one more time, her body will not be able to handle the stress, and transforming back will kill her. The only way she can survive this, is to give up the hammer for good.
And, at almost the exact time that Jane is swearing she will never again lift the Hammer of Thor, Mangog is tearing through the best defenders Asgardia has.
OH BOY, if you thought his fight with Volstagg was bad, you're not ready for what's to come.
Heimdall, Cul, even The Destroyer, all fall before the unchained rage of the Mangog.
Until only two Gods remain conscious in all of Asgardia. Its two greatest defenders. The King, and the Prince.
Odin, and the Odinson.
But they're not enough.
We all know, there's only one God that can stand before the unrelenting hate of the Mangog.
Thor must fight. No matter what it costs her.
Why This Book Is So Good:
Wow, where do I begin? From the moment she removed her helmet, and we all found out that it was Doctor Jane Foster swinging the hammer, we all knew how this story was going to end. Aaron had made it all too clear throughout this tale just what he was going to do to us.
But still, seeing it happen before our eyes, it still hurts.
The recurring theme, throughout Aaron's run has been "What does it mean, to be worthy?" What is it about the Odinson, that allowed him to carry his hammer? What was it, that caused him to lose that? And what did Jane have, that allowed her to lift it, when he couldn't?
And this question is answered, over and over, in a million subtle ways. We see the young Viking Thor, slowly able to lift the hammer higher and higher, lamenting that he can't find enough trolls to slay. All the while not knowing that his kill count has nothing to do with his worthiness.
We see Avenger Thor, lamenting the loss of his hammer, STILL not understanding what it meant to wield it.
We even, in an upcoming issue, see the event that will finally push Viking Thor over the edge, and allow him to claim that accursed mallet (all the while, still totally oblivious to WHY),
And then, through it all, we have Jane. Amazing, mighty, hammer swinging, Odin slapping Jane.
Who shows us, over and over again, just what it really means to be Worthy.
And, as you would expect from the latest in a long line of worthy souls to swing Mjolnir and smite their foes with righteous thunder, when Jane does finally go down, she goes down like a Goddess.
But if the Odinson has taught us anything, it's that killing a God of Thunder is pretty hard. Getting them to stay dead is all but impossible.
That's what makes this run so damn good. The way Aaron layers the story, spins out this epic tale over the course of nearly a decade is nothing short of a masterwork. I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: Marvel NEEDS to start keeping writers on titles for longer runs. It's fine swapping out authors after an arc or two, if you just want decent books with average stories. But if you really want an author to put their mark on the character, and tell a tale that will stand the test of time, you need to let them build to that.
That's why Aaron's run was so good, and that's why I will always defend his saga of The Mighty Thor. If you look at the arcs individually, sure, there are some real weak spots. But, if you take the run as a whole, it's a truly legendary tale.
And the best part is, it's not over yet!
But sadly, we're not just saying goodbye to The Mighty Thor with this volume. The Mighty Thor Volume 5 also marks the last volume that Aaron teams up with the amazing Russell Dauterman. I wasn't sure anyone would match the epic-ness of Esad Ribic's artwork in The God of Thunder, and I felt like Dauterman's style was far too "comic booky" for a tale as epic as Thor's. But I have to say, he very quickly won me over. And never was this more clear, than on his work in The Death of Mighty Thor. From the brutal fight scenes, to the epic scenery, to the idyllic vistas of Valhalla, Dauterman never ceased to amaze me. And I'm really going to miss him, going forward.
And not just because I cannot stand Del Mundo's artwork...
So join me next week, when the Odinson reclaims his title, in The Mighty Thor (2018) Volume 1: The God of Thunder Reborn!
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!