By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Richard Elson (artist), Jessica Kholinne of IFS (colors), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (editor)

The Story: As the great battle event Fear Itself played across the Marvel Universe, Volstagg seemed to be MIA. Where was he? This issue tells us and gives a bit of emotional perspective on the Fear Itself event from a couple of key participants.

The Review: This issue is half buddy picture (Loki and Volstagg) and half Asgardian Uncle Buck (Volstagg) played by John Candy at his best. Heimdall opens the book saying “Asgard’s greatest weapon, the missing Destroyer, is brought back by its thieves.” Who would do that? Enter Loki and Volstagg, playing the classic fat-guy/skinny-guy dynamic with the secrets they both have to hide after the death of Thor and the end of Fear Itself. The amount of personality in the writing and in the art between these two is awesome. Loki is a natural scene stealer (aren’t most trickster gods?) and his efforts to get Volstagg out of a hole are heroically comic. And streetwise, affable Volstagg gets to be the responsible one of the two and deliver some great emotional moments that readers need to ease out of the Fear Itself event. However powerful that first scene, it is Volstagg’s homecoming which ends up stealing the heart of the issue, with what he tells his children, his wife and himself about what has happened. Multiple reveals. Multiple emotional hits for the reader. Multiple moments of growth for different characters. Good story-telling

Artwise, Elson and Kholinne slap down some great visuals broken into two styles: (1) the events of the present with Volstagg, and (2) Volstagg’s story told in possibly-inaccurate flashback. The framing narrative art was beautiful. I loved the goats (it sounds weird to say, but check it out and you’ll see what I mean), Loki’s expression, Volstagg’s physique and the visual characterization of the children. His wife, although traditional bordering on cliche in her story role, is also well depicted with some fine colors and shadowing to give her girth perspective. I didn’t enjoy the visuals in the flashback sequence as much, but I buy why it was done stylistically. I think that not only did it outline the flashbacks from the frame narrative, but some of the artistic exaggeration visually showed Volstagg to be an even more unreliable narrator than words alone could have done. Key message on art: goods delivered, effectively and attractively packaged.

Conclusion: This little issue was a hoot, whether you followed Fear Itself or not. It is self-contained and has enough information to work in new readers. Recommended.

Grade: B+

-DS Arsenault

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