by Kieron Guillen (writer), Billy Tan, Batt, & Rich Elson (art), Christina Strain & Matt Hollingsworth (colors), and Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Siege continues as Tyr defends Asgard from the Hood and Volstagg tangles with Thor’s clone.

What’s Good: Volstagg is really a formula that never fails at this point.  He’s always a great mix of tried-and-true comedy and stalwart heroism, and as such, he’s put to good use this month in his battle with Thor’s clone.  Guillen has a good amount of fun in making Volstagg run yet also knows not to disregard the other half of what makes Volstagg successful.  All comedy aside, we also get enough heroism out of Volstagg to cheer for, as well as a reminder of the fact that the character, for all his bluster, is afflicted by emotional trauma after the events that led to Siege.  Guillen touches on this with perfect timing in a moment of solemnity in the midst of all the fist-pumping.

Kelda, on the other, shines if only due to the conversational dynamic she has with Bill’s family.  Her elevated language compared to the more every day tones of Bill’s family play off really well with each other, reflecting the real divide between two parties that share the same emotions.  It, as well as her appearance, brings the gap between god and mortal to the fore, making the scene all the more tragic and bittersweet.

Art-wise, this is a really great issue.  Billy Tan continues to churn out some of the best work of his career on Thor and his depictions of a crumbling Asgard are astounding.  Meanwhile, the other half of the book is handled by Rich Elson, who’s painted style, aided by positively glowing colors, feels, well, very Asgardian and mythic.  Normally I hate books that have two artists with two such different styles working on it, but this actually works, with the division of work being handled quite deftly.  Tan and Elson handle different scenes and characters from each other, so if anything, it helps thematically, enhancing the gap between Asgard and Midgard (what with Tan’s style being the more Midgardian).

What’s Not So Good: Thor’s clone just isn’t a particularly engaging villain.  There’s just nothing to really grab onto about the character.  Right now, he’s more plot device than actual character: something Guillen is using to batter Volstagg and fill pages.  Motivations are slim, as are individual characteristics.  There’s nothing particularly deep to the character and he seems to be merely a means to an ends.  He’s just an antagonist, and that’s about it.  There’s also still not enough explanation to his presence.

Also, while the work on Kelda and Volstagg was strong, the other third of the book was focused on Tyr and it simply wasn’t as good.  There’s nothing particularly wrong here, but Tyr and his plot this month were fairly standard stuff without much nuance.  It pretty much played out exactly as expected.  These pages pretty much felt like they wrote themselves, which is never really a good thing.

On the art, while I really enjoyed Elson’s work, some of his backgrounds were a bit bland.  Give how good his art is, it’s pretty disappointing whenever you get a single color background, which also doesn’t do justice to the scale of what’s going on around the characters depicted.

Conclusion: A solid tie-in overall that Volstagg and Kelda fans should enjoy.  And what Thor reader doesn’t like those two?

Grade: B

-Alex Evans