By J.Michael Straczynski (writer), Olivier Coipel (artist), Mark Morales (inker)

The Story: In this thematic prequel to “Dark Reign,” Loki hijiacks the title for an issue and meets with Hela in Las Vegas.  There, he asks for her help in sending him back in time in order to confront the demons of his past, and maybe even create them.

The Good: Thor continues to be one of the most well-produced comics out there.  Straczynski’s characterizations of the Asgardians are dead on, epic and otherworldly. He captures the stoic detachment of gods forced to walk the Earth and interact with humans.  Likewise, Coipel’s art is absolutely stunning to look at.  Thor has never been more regal, more powerful, and more intimidating than Coipel’s rendition of him. The same goes for Loki in this issue as well.  In the hands of such a stellar creative team, Loki is a truly malicious villain, moving with ease from moments of great cunning to horrible brutality in pursuit of his goals.  When he insists to Hela that he is close to bringing down Thor once and for all, I actually believe it.

The Not So Good: Thor is not meant to read like a traditional superhero comic.  Straczynski’s scripts are tightly structured and methodically paced, and a new reader may grow frustrated with the lack of action and speed they’ve come to expect from other comics.  Also, longtime readers of the title may even consider this issue something of an oddity, a sub-plot at best that was allowed to be stretched out for the sake of filling pages.

Conclusion: This issue was a dark look at the thoughts and actions of one of Marvel’s most notorious villains, and longtime readers of the series will probably enjoy the experience.  To be fair though, it’s not for everyone, and new readers may want to wait for the next collection to hit the stands before reading it.

Grade:  C+

-Tony Rakittke