Pick of the Week
What did the
Art by Esad Ribic
Cover by Esad Ribic
Size: 32 pages
Lo, on a day in which most of the heaviest hitters in all of comic books lumbered into the arena to engage in glorious battle to decide the best comic book in all the land (this week at least), the god who wielded two hammers was the last man standing.
Really, how could there have been any doubt? Two hammers. Two.
Thor: God of Thunder #11 wraps up the epic eleven-part storyline that kicked off Jason Aaron’s run on the character that he now, looking back, seems pretty obviously born to write. I’ve been reading Thor comic books off-and-on for nearly 25 years and I cannot think of a Thor story that I have loved more than this tale of deicide, hypocrisy, and three Thors plucked from various moments in his life and made to stand side-by-side with the fate of all of the universe’s gods hanging in the balance. And that includes Walter Simonson’s rightfully legendary run on the character. That’s how good this story is.
When last we left the three Thors—old King Thor, current Thor of the Avengers, and Young Thor—they seemed to have failed in their attempt to stop Gorr The God Butcher from igniting his God Bomb which, once unleashed, would kill all of the living gods in the universe, and for good measure it would also kill all of the gods who had ever lived throughout time. It was a pretty powerful bomb. Wielding both his Mjolnir and the Mjolnir belonging to his older self, King Thor, Thor of the Avengers had entered the God Bomb to destroy it before it could go off.
As it turns out, the Thors successfully stop the bomb, defeat Gorr, and save the day just as we always knew they would. But the devil’s in the details and Thor: God of Thunder #11 perfectly encapsulates why this series has been so amazing and why we have sung its praises like a bunch of drunken Vikings.
First, let’s talk about artist Esad Ribic who was doing great work before this series on books like Ultimate Comics The Ultimates but who has leveled up into some sort of rarefied artistic stratosphere with the ten (out of eleven) issues that he drew here. There is a mythical quality to his art which, obviously, is appropriate for a story in which the fate of the gods lies in the balance. The sheer weight of the story comes through on every page—you can see the cracks and missing pieces in Mjolnir, Young Thor struts with overconfidence but his eyes also bulge wildly with fear, and each mighty blow—whether from fists or from magical hammers—reverberates off the page. I also continue to love that we can see Ribic’s pencil work beneath the coloring. It lends the work a wonderfully tactile feeling and adds a rough quality to his generally elegant line. Speaking of Ribic’s line, if Jae Lee draws with an ethereal elegance that gives his characters a light and airy feeling then Esad Ribic is his polar opposite—his characters have a delicate elegance that carries a tactile weight, both physical and emotional, that is almost contradictory. There is so much great body language and facial acting in Ribic’s work that you almost don’t need the script to follow along.
But oh, what a script.
It’s clear that writer Jason Aaron really gets Thor. He gets the mythical quality, he gets the reckless abandon, he gets the love of beards, he gets Asgard and its divine denizens. When gods do battle the stories should feel epic, they should feel important, and they should feel like everything hangs in the balance. When I read an epic Thor story like this one I should feel like I did when I first watched The Lord of the Rings on the big screen, I should feel like I’m watching magical being in whose every action hangs the fate of the world, or in this case, all of the worlds.
That’s the feeling I had reading this storyline and this issue.
Despite the fact that I knew that, of course, the Thors would prevail against the God Butcher it was still tense up until the very end. How would they—and every other god in the universe that existed and ever existed—survive the detonation of the God Bomb? What kind of emotional toll would this entire affair have on the Odinson? What would the young Thor, the middle Thor, and the old Thor have to teach one another? In the end it was the final two questions that had the most resonance for me because, after 11 issues, Aaron had crafted three distinct versions of the same person, each with their own personalities shaped by their experiences but also still all so clearly Thor. It was exquisite character work and I am going to so miss spending time with these three Thors; they play off of each other wonderfully.
As it turns out there is a lot of emotional fallout when you team-up with time displaced versions of yourself to save the lives of every god that has ever existed and when you are faced with those other versions of yourself you see that maybe not all of your hopes and dreams will be realized or you see all the squandered potential or perhaps you find renewed vigor to become the man you always hoped to be. In the end that was the real genius of this storyline that was brought to such a satisfying conclusion in Thor: God of Thunder #11—it was the story of a man who had to quite literally face himself in order to save all that which he held dear, and to do so he had to accept that man he was, is, and is destined to be.
No easy feat. Even for the God of Thunder.
Why do the two Thors have to leave us? WHY?