Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thor #618

Finally, this issue addresses a problem this series has had for I don't know how many years.

Several years ago Thor's father Odin, the ruler of Asgard, was "killed" and exiled to some strange version of the afterlife, wherein he fought a never-ending battle with Surtur the Fire Demon (if I'm remembering correctly).

The idea was to put the throne in Thor's hands and spin some stories out of that situation. To be honest, I always thought it was a terrible idea, right up there with Spider-Man unmasking and teen Tony Stark.

Most ongoing comic books are all about the appearance of change without actually changing anything permanently. That's why Spidey unmasking was a bad idea (it cut that character off from his supporting cast and his civilian activities), teen Tony was a bad idea (do I even need to explain that one?) and "killing" Odin was a bad direction.

Odin is necessary to maintain Thor's home (Asgard), the status of his friends and fellow warriors, to provide impetus for missions, answers to questions, provide a judge to render punishments and perhaps an occasional tender family moment.

With Odin gone, Thor had all those things hanging around his neck, and writers had to go through contortions to relieve Thor of those responsibilities. The smart thing to do, of course, would be to return Odin to the throne - and perhaps that's what we're seeing unfold in the latest issue.

We also see Thor returning from his last mission - returning Loki to the land of the living - and now he and the Asgardians learn about an invasion that threatens the nine realms.

Up to now, Matt Fraction's story has been laying the foundation for the coming war. With this issue, the plot really starts bubbling.

The art, as always, is terrific. Pasqual Ferry creates some amazing vistas, strange and terrible creatures, and some great heroic shots of the title character.

This story's been a bit slow in developing, but if it ends up bringing Odin back (as I'm hoping), then it'll be well worth the wait.

It takes a while, but usually companies wise up eventually. They erased everyone's memory about Spider-Man's identity, and we haven't seen teen Tony in decades. Just one more to hit the trifecta...

Grade: A-


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