by Matt Fraction (writer), Olivier Coipel (pencils), Mark Morales (inks), Laura Martin (colors), and Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Given an ultimatum, Thor rumbles with the Surfer.  Meanwhile, Volstagg finds himself unwanted in Broxton.

What’s Good: It always feels really good to get your money’s worth with a comic.  I definitely felt like I got a meaty book with Mighty Thor #3.  Despite having no more than the standard number of pages to work with, Matt Fraction covers quite a lot of ground this month.  While the plot progresses at your standard rate, a great deal happens and plenty of characters are visited.  There’s the big Surfer/Galactus plot, of course, but there’s also an amusing scene of kid Loki mischief, a subplot involving Volstagg and the residents of Broxton, and the lingering issue of Thor’s mysterious wound.  All of these elements are, for the most part, disparate which removes any sense of decompression and delivers a more rounded and comprehensive reading experience.

Many characters receive solid treatment.  Loki’s scene with a very naked Sif is admittedly a digression, but it’s a fun one that only continues to make kid Loki one of my favourite Marvel characters right now.  Volstagg is as humorous as ever and his exaggerations regarding the citizens of Broxton’s newfound hostility is a lot of fun, all the more because if ever there were deaf ears for those citizens to speak to, they’d be Volstagg’s.

As far as the main plot goes, I’m still really loving this Galactus/Asgardian clash, as it brings together the high fantasy of Thor with the cosmic in a way that continues to feel fun and fresh.  The fight between Thor and Surfer is awesome, if only due to the participants.  Best of all though, I really liked how Fraction hinges much of the plot on who between Odin and Galactus is less trustworthy.  That’s a major conundrum, to say the least, and one that has me looking forward to next issue.

Meanwhile, the artwork here is absolutely flawless.  Coipel delivers an experienced that at once feels high-budget and cartoony, polished and detailed, yet also naturally characterful and likable.  The man is one of a kind and there really is no Thor like Coipel Thor.  It must be said as well that Morales and Martin provide the perfect inks and colors for Coipel’s work, accentuating the mood and strengths of his pencils in the best way possible.  It’s an “art team” in the truest sense, delivering a real “look” where pencils, inks, and colors all interlock impeccably naturally.  Oh, and the action scenes are drawn really, really well and Coipel’s Galactus is fantastic.  And don’t get me started on the Asgardian space armour, which is all kinds of cool, almost looking like something out of Hickman/Weaver’s SHIELD series.

What’s Not So Good: The only major complaint I have is with the Seed, the thingy that came out of the World Tree that Galactus is after.

Unfortunately, it falls prey to what I call “cosmic cube syndrome.”  In other words, it’s a ridiculously powerful object with capabilities that are frustratingly vague.  The end result usually sees the writer fumbling about in his or her attempts to describe and explain the object, ultimately resorting to a bunch of really cool and ominous sounding language that really doesn’t mean all that much, or may even be self-contradicting.

That’s pretty much what we get here.  Despite Fraction’s best efforts at description, the Seed still seems confused and ill-defined.  Let’s hope this doesn’t end up going the way “cosmic cube syndrome” stories often end: with the writer using the object’s ambiguity to his/her advantage in making it a plot device that does whatever he/she wants.

Conclusion: An excellent Thor-verse comic that’s a nice counterpoint to Fear Itself.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans