by Kieron Guillen (writer), Billy Tan (pencils), Batt (inks), Christina Strain, Emily Warren, & Paul Mounts (colors), and Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Thor confronts Doom, only to discover the Latverian dictator’s pet project.

What’s Good: Billy Tan is putting out the work of his life on this comic.  I’ve never really been a big fan of his, but this is fantastic, cinematic stuff with a really slick, “high budget” feel.  There’s a lot of detail, a lot of big, flashy images, and Doom’s creations look all kinds of awesome.  Also, while it’s thanks to a combined effort by Tan, Batt, Strain, Warren, and Mounts, the issue does wondrous things in its combinations of light and dark.  The team does “night in Latveria” really well.  Everything feels inky black, navy blue at best, while Thor’s flashes of lightning and the torrential rain really sets the mood and only highlights Tan’s already impressive work.  Tan also draws a deceptively “nice guy” Loki.  It’s a joy just to flip through this book.

Meanwhile, Guillen’s Doom is a really enjoyable read, equal parts inferiority complex and trademark arrogance.  It’s issues like this that prove why Doom is one of the most beloved villain in all of comics.  One moment he’s getting whooped by Thor and sniveling over how his entire scheme was born out of his hatred of gods trying to “lord over” him.  The next moment he’s military pressing a dead Asgardian god over his castle ramparts, while taunting his immortal assailants.  He’s a joy to read and unlike last month, Guillen heavily reigns back on the camp and Doom’s referring to himself in the third person.

There’s also a really well done portion near the issue’s opening, where Guillen parallels Doom’s monsters with their former selves, alternating panels of Balder’s fight with the cyborgs and his memories of who they were.  Balder’s internal monologue captures the difficulty well, with Guillen actually giving individual character to three otherwise faceless goons.  In fact, it draws attention to Doom’s greatest crime: he’s turned individuals into, well, faceless goons.

It also bears mentioning that Guillen gives us a lot of “angry Thor” this month, which is always a blast.

What’s Not So Good: Doom’s tried and true Doombot switcharoo is getting a little too much play these days.  He does it again this issue, after just doing it last issue to Kelda.  Of course, he also did it in Siege: the Cabal.  That’s two issues in a row and three times in a month.  How Doom, even with his power level, can combat an army of pissed off gods has been a concern with this arc and Siege in general, and the repeated Doombot trickery may give evidence of that.  I hope it stops for the near future, as it’s already getting old.  At the very least, the major development at the end of this month’s issue seems to suggest an end to the old ploy.

I also felt that the issue’s last few pages leading up to that major development were a bit overly decompressed.  It takes 7 pages of a 22-page issue for Guillen to finally give us this reveal on the last page, and it feels stretched.  Doom built something cool and Guillen wants to milk it for all its worthwhile having it establish its power by beating on Thor.  This did not need seven pages and frankly, Guillen’s taking so many pages effectively kills any surprise the last page was meant to have.

Conclusion: A really flashy, enjoyable issue of Thor that shows there is life after JMS.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans