by Matt Fraction (writer), Olivier Coipel (penciller), Mark Morales (inker), Laura Martin (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer)

The Story: Thor and Sif begin training a new team of heroes, Odin may be up to no good, and the Silver Surfer brings Asgard an ultimatum from his purple-hatted master.

The Review: Now that’s more like it. I was one of the, apparently, few people who enjoyed Fraction’s arc on Thor.  That said, there was something vaguely underwhelming for me about the first issue of Mighty Thor, something I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on.  This time out though, I got a rock solid experience.

As I noted last month, I continue to enjoy Matt Fraction’s use of Sif.  She’s the major cast member she’s supposed to be and, as Thor’s significant other, she’s frequently in the thunder god’s company.  Between this, the new “brigade of realms” Thor forms out of a motley group from the various worlds, a brief but humorous Volstagg cameo, and a tense scene of dialogue between Odin and Heimdall (plus Destroyer!), this is becoming more than just a Thor comic.  It’s becoming almost a “Thor family” title, or an Asgard comic.  Thor is a major member of the cast, but he by no means carries this comic.  The result is a very satisfying package that feels like it has more meat on its bones.  It’s one thing to have a comic where you get to read Thor, and it’s another thing entirely to have a comic that lets you read Thor’s world, or at least his corner of the Marvel Universe.  Character-wise, Fraction is doing a solid job of using almost all of the tools at his disposal.

But hey, I’ve not even touched upon the Surfer/Galactus stuff.  I love Fraction’s bringing the old school sci-fi/cosmic stuff into what is otherwise a fantasy comic.  It ends up feeling like a jam session of sorts.  More than that though, after dealing with monsters and, earlier in the issue, a “stone colossus,” there’s something very cool about having the Asgardians facing down someone like the Silver Surfer.  They’re facing something so far out of their world, that it’s out of their genre.  When Heimdall says that the Surfer comes from “beyond” or calls him a “star-bastard,” it’s just really, really cool.  It’s akin to, say, a group of Predators showing up in the Hyborian Age to challenge Conan the Barbarian.  It shouldn’t work, and yet it does, and it’s awesome due to the weirdness.

The artwork this month is also absolutely fantastic, as a team like Coipel, Morales, and Martin would probably lead you to expect.  It’s full of life, brimming with personality, and innately likable.  Coipel also illustrates speed very well, while he and Martin do a great job of illustrating the powers of the cosmic.

The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the Broxton residents ruminating about the trouble Asgard brings them.  It’s not bad stuff, but just not as entertaining as the rest of the comic.  My reaction reading it was something between “duh” and “you’re realizing this now?”  I think part of my response might be due to the fact that, at some level, Broxton may have run its course.  With Fraction bringing the focus back on other Asgardian characters and bringing in Marvel sci-fi elements, Broxton is starting to feel, well, like something left behind from a prior run.

Conclusion: Really good, this did a lot to restore my faith in Fraction’s Mighty Thor.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans