by J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Marko Djurdjevic (pencils & inks), Danny Miki & Allen Martinez (inks), Christina Strain (colors), and Joe  Sabino (letters)

The Story: Bill’s final fate is determined while Sif and the Warriors Three battle the doombots.

What’s Good: If you approach this book as just another 22-page issue of JMS’ run on Thor, it really is pretty solid and is consistent with the series’ quality as of late, at least as far as the writing is concerned.  It’s also got a couple of moments that’ll have you saying “hell yeah.”

Chief among these scenes is one involving a very angry and very naked Volstagg that is a perfect combination of comedy and pure awesome.  It is, of course, that same combination that defines the character himself.  The sequence is outrageously badass, but maintains Volstagg’s characteristic charm.  Oh, and Hogun and Fandral are absolutely on fire this month with the fat jokes.

Most readers are probably coming to this issue most concerned about the fate of Bill.  At first, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed.  That said, if you expected him to scream “I HAVE THE POWER,” turn into a god, and battle Doom, you’ll be sorely disappointed, but really, such an ending would be just a little stupid.

Instead, Bill’s ending is the best he can manage by just being Bill, and so Straczynski maintains the integrity of the character and his sub-plot.  Make no mistake, he is a hero and, ultimately, he is accepted as an Asgardian, but he does so without abandoning his humble roots or acquiring superhuman powers.  Bill’s tale has always been about being a mortal, a little guy in a world suddenly populated by the very large.  Bill’s fate is only so poignant because JMS retains this theme; Bill remains that little guy, but even so, he manages become a hero among the biggest of the bigs.

Meanwhile, JMS leaves us hanging regarding Kelda.  I think we all suspected she was more powerful than she let on, and now we’re going to see that in action.

What’s Not So Good: It’s hard not to be a little underwhelmed by this issue.  JMS’ run has had such an epic quality, that it’s hard not to expect his final issue to be grander.  What we get isn’t really any sort of massive flourish or cataclysmic ending.  Rather, we just get another solid JMS issue that simply lives up to the quality of his previous issues, no more and no less.   This final issue really has no feeling of closure and though the cover may say “finale,” that’s not what we’ve gotten.  That said, the issue also didn’t contain the sort of “hot potato” landmark shift in status quo that writers often leave off their runs with.  Ultimately, this feels like the last issue of a story arc, but certainly not the last issue of a run.

Finally, this may be the worst looking issue of Thor that Djurdjevic has drawn.  While the art is by no means unbearable, it’s weak by the standards Djurdjevic and Coipel have set for the series.  It reeks of an artist desperately trying to make a deadline.  The level of detail continually falters, with many of the more zoomed out shots and smaller panels suffering a great deal.  There are also a few panels where Donald Blake looks like a substantially younger version of himself.  Having three different inkers on the book also certainly didn’t help, making the book feel even messier with its details even more in question.  It makes the book feel sloppy, chaotic even.

Conclusion: It’s a strong issue of Thor, but it’s not the “finale” it claims itself to be.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans