War of the Realms part two covers the events of:
War of the Realms #3-5. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Russel Dauterman.
Thor # 13 (2018). Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Mike Del Mundo.
Avengers #20. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Ed McGuinness.
Things don't look great, for Midgard. The War of the Realms is burning through the world. Malekith's armies have taken Manhattan, Ulik the Troll controls Australia, Sindr has taken control of large parts of Asia, and the undead are swarming over Africa.
As if things couldn't get any worse, Thor is still missing, Odin is gravely injured, the Bifrost is destroyed and basically, to sum things up, Earth is getting its ass KICKED. So hard.
But as any number of failed supervillains can tell you, you can never count out the earth's mightiest heroes.
So, what do you say, shall we see how they survive this particular dance with destruction?
We begin with War of the Realms #3: The Search for Thor. Because, if you're going to have a war, you've got to get a Thor involved.
And so, Captain America, Spider-man, Wolverine, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage are sent deep into the frozen heart of Jotunheim, to track down our lost God of Thunder.
It would seem to be something of a doomed task, though. How are you supposed to find a single person, even a god, when you've got a whole realm to search and precious little time?
Turns out the answer is actually quite simple. You prick up your ears, and listen for the endless screaming. If that doesn't work out, you can follow the river of Frost Giant blood. It'll lead you right there...
The Rainbow Bridge has fallen. Travel between the realms is severely limited. For the good guys, anyway.
Malekith however, has the Black Bifrost, and is using his travel advantages to stay one step ahead of the forces of Midgard. This cannot be allowed to go on.
And so, Freyja, She-Hulk, Ghost Rider, Blade and Punisher take on a daring mission: Sneak deep into the wilds of Svartalfheim, find Malekith's bridge and blow it up!
I'm not exactly sure why they thought She-Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Punisher were the best picks for a stealth mission, but what can you do, they're working with limited resources. I'm sure everything will be fine. Mostly fine. Okay, they're probably doomed. It'll be a REALLY fun read though.
Next, in Thor #13, Jason Aaron decides to play with our emotions a little. Because he's the devil.
Last we saw him, Cul God of Fear, aka The Serpent, aka the Borson that is somehow more of an ass than Odin, aka The actual Worst Asgardian, was deep behind enemy lines. He'd snuck into the Swamps of Svartalfheim to track down the Black Bifrost, to allow the strike team from WotR #3 to attack.
Now, we follow Cul for this mission. Along the way we'll also get a few interesting flashbacks, find out a bit more about this giant Asgardian douche, and gain a slight measure of sympathy for a character who has often been regarded as one of the more powerful, but annoying, villains in Thor's pantheon of nasties.
Which, of course, can only mean one thing...
We stay in Svartalfheim now, for War of the Realms #4. The Stand At The Black Bridge.
Things didn't go well, for Lady Freyja's strike team. Because of course they didn't.
Lady Freyja has taken up The Bitterblade, and now controls the Black Bifrost. She's sent her defenders away to gather allies, and send them to Midgard to assist in the war effort.
And while this was the right choice, and means the battered forces defending Midgard will receive some much needed backup, it does mean that the Lady Freyja is now left defending the Black Bifrost on her own. Thankfully, Lady Freyja is a freakin badass. And when things look their darkest, when all seems hopeless, she might have some help on the way, from someone very close to her.
And while the reinforcements are a huge help to Midgard's defense, an army is no good without its leader. And there's only one person fit to lead Midgard's final defense. Well, one God!
We take a bit of a break now, for Avengers #20. Much like how Thor #13 was a look deeper into Cul, God of Overly Large Axes, Avengers #20 is a solo issue, diving deep into the mind of Jennifer Walters, best known as She-Hulk.
During the course of a long and very odd conversation with Daredevil, currently known as "The God Without Fear", Jennifer explains her current, more bestial appearance, and why she's in no rush to return to her former, more svelte form. (Even if some artists insist on still drawing her that way...)
Along the way Daredevil, who is clearly not acting as a mouthpiece for Jason Aaron, hints that the Celestials had a very good reason for making her this way, and drops a few breadcrumbs for upcoming arcs that he has planned for The Avengers. Then the issue comes to an end with some trolls getting punched. No symbolism there. Not at all.
We finish our adventure this week with War of the Realms #5. The World Tree is Burning. GREAT title.
Thor has returned! And boy is he mad. He has summoned a storm that covers the planet, and is spending most of his time flying around, giving frost giants lightning lobotomies.
While this is no doubt incredibly satisfying, and has done wonders for the moral of the defenders, it's not enough to win the war.
So, Thor and Daredevil have taken a boat to the sun. Because, using his new godlike powers of sight, Daredevil has noticed something amazing: Yggdrasil, the world tree, is reborn. And Thor knows that if he's truly going to turn things around and defeat Malekith, what he really needs is knowledge. And there's only one surefire way for an Asgardian to gain a lot of knowledge, really fast. But it's going to cost him.
Meanwhile, in the ruins of Asgard, Jane Foster is taking a walk with Heimdall. They talk on the current state of the war, things lost, things reclaimed. And Jane makes another in a series of noble but dangerous decisions, that will help bring this war to its glorious end.
But Malekith hasn't been slacking. He may be losing the war on many fronts, but he's a tricky thing, and he still has one last gambit left to play.
So, encircled in Stonehenge, one of the most magical sites in the world, he throws down the gauntlet and sends out a challenge to Thor.
Lets settle this, once and for all.
The War ends, now.
Well. Next week.
Why this book is so good:
Ooof, this was a big one, wasn't it? While Part One was more about establishing how savage Malekith was in his initial assault, and how woefully unprepared Earth was to combat him, Part Two is all about showing that when pushed, Earth will always find a way to push right back, twice as hard.
This time around, the core books are all about the noble sacrifices of the Family Odinson. Doesn't matter if it's Freyja making her last stand at the Black Bridge, Odin suiting up to go help her, or Thor nailing himself to Yggdrasil in exchange for knowledge, War of the Realms was all about showing the best of the Family Odinson. And I think this was an excellent move, because one of the main complaints I hear about Aaron's Thor run was that he made so many of the side characters unlikeable, specifically Odin. So to see them in this arc, doing everything they can to protect Midgard, feels a little like redemption.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Aaron manages to balance the stark severity of the war with touches of humour, that bring you back up and stop the whole series from feeling too grim and dark. Thankfully, he doesn't go too far the other way, either. There is some brevity to the situation, but not enough to undercut the weight of what happens here, and make it feel too quippy and lighthearted.
Then, we have Thor #13. Where all pretense of balance, and maintaining our mood is shot out of the freaking window. I've never been Cul's biggest fan, but seeing his actions in this issue really makes me reconsider. But not for long; I still think he's a tool. But now, he's a tool that had some goodness in him, so that's nice. It's just the latest in Aaron's long history of throwing in a single issue, to make us vastly reconsider how we think of a specific character.
Although I have to say, this chapter wasn't as good as the history of Gorr. That issue made you really see Gorr's side of things, and understand why he did what he did. This chapter didn't quite go that far, but still makes Cul seem like slightly less of a tool.
Lastly, we have Avengers #20. When this issue came out, the reception was not good. Which is kind of hilarious, when you think about it. I didn't really see it at the time, but everything about this issue screams "Aaron goes Troll baiting".
The fact that this issue features She-Hulk, who is no longer a sexy piece of broccoli and now actually has a physique in line with the other Hulks, beating up the King of the Trolls, while he spouts lines like "Thor is his name, not a title, you can't just give it away" is almost too hilariously perfect for words. And the fact that the very people who were saying those things themselves had such a visceral reaction to this issue just shows that his barbs were hitting home.
Of course, Aaron never does things for no reason. And while there did seem to be a lot of jabs at certain parts of the fandom front and centre for this book, there was also some amazing breadcrumbing. It's great looking back at this issue now, almost a year later, and seeing how many of the events Daredevil teases have since come to pass. The best part, is that Aaron seems to be using these events to build up to something bigger, which by all accounts seem to nearly be here.
So, yeah. Can't wait to see what that is!
Overall, the second arc of the War of the Realms was excellent, building on the foundations he laid in the first parts, showing Midgard slowly bringing the war back into their favour, and setting up for the EPIC conclusion.
So join me next week, when the war reaches it's legendary climax and a storm of Thors descends upon Malekith! In War of the Realms: Part Three!
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!