by Matt Fraction (writer), Pasqual Ferry (art), Matt Hollingsworth (colors), and John Workman (letters)

The Story: Odin is greeted by a returned Loki and we learn some interesting facts about the World Tree courtesy of old One Eye before Balder and Tyr go on the attack.

What’s Good: I’ve been going on and on about Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth’s respective work on this series and this is just as gorgeous as ever.   Big, lush artwork with smooth layouts is mixed with awesome, fantasy-perfect colors.  The characters look iconic and heroic and the environments are a perfect mixture of craggy fantasy and cosmic sci-fi.  The fight scenes are no less awesome, basically ending up as a dramatic explosion of violence.  I also continue to enjoy Ferry’s Odin, who is positively jacked.

With Fraction’s writing, I quite enjoyed his use of Odin.  The character reacts to his resurrection much as we thought he would, and his treatment of Loki was fun to read as was Loki’s subsequent reaction; it reflects well on Loki’s new form.  Odin also adds a new/old dynamic to the series: someone who can curse out Thor.  More than that though, because he’s able to come down on Thor, Fraction is able to use Odin to point out a bizarre habit of Thor’s lately: resurrecting anybody and everybody.  Fraction does a good job of showing how this is isolating Thor, and, more than that, I loved Odin’s bringing up the point that Thor simply must have trouble-makers about.  It highlights a very interesting character flaw that I hope is explored later.

Beyond Fraction’s Odin, I continue to enjoy child Loki, who really returns the character to his “trickster” essence.  It boils the character down a bit, but also shows a side of the god that is not only fresh, but makes perfect sense.  Thoth and his goons are similarly fun to read, let alone look at.  I continue to love the retro-sci-fi vibe they bring to the book.

What’s Not So Good: I’ll admit that I was tired while reading this after a hard day at work, but some stuff just didn’t make sense this month.

Where are Thor and Loki going at the end of this issue?  I feel like it’s somewhere significant, but it’s not clear, which is frustrating.

Why do Balder and Tyr decide to go on a suicide attack?  Their reasoning is never fleshed out enough to appear rational and the fact that no one really stops them is bizarre.  Fandral calls Thor to stop him, so Thor shows up, basically listens to Balder and Tyr’s announcement and… off they go.  What?

Honestly, the whole suicide attack thing made so little sense and was so poorly executed and reasoned that when major events happen as a result, it all seems surreal and loses much of the impact it should’ve had.  I can’t go into it anymore without spoiling things, but events like these should pack a punch, but it’s all so rushed and makes so little sense that I was left scratching my head more than anything.  For starters, why does Balder say he’ll hold the line at Midgard and then runs off to attack Thoth’s goons on some random world?

I think stuff like this is evidence of the fact that Fraction may have tried to do too much this month.  Odin’s back, Loki does his trickster thing, Thoth’s running about, two characters go on a suicide attack, and Eric Solvang and Jane Foster show up to remind us that they’re still there.  There’s just not enough of a focus.

Conclusion: A strange read, honestly.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans