The Story: The original showdown between Odin and the Serpent.
The Good: Here’s the thing…there actually is good things to say about this issue. In fact, there’s a lot of good things to say about it. Fear Itself was a disaster. I don’t see many people arguing that point–the most that can be said is that it had some amazing tie-ins. What came out of Avengers Academy, Uncanny X-Men (at least the later issues of the tie in), and Journey into Mystery was great. But Fraction’s main event… Let’s just move on. It’s over, let it die, right? Well, we can’t yet because of this issue of Mighty Thor, a prequel of sorts to Fear Itself. And damn it, it was actually pretty good. The threat of the Serpent was clear. The power of the Worthy was clear and all they actually did was stand around. But the threat felt strong and seeing Odin stab himself in the eye to learn how to kill his own brother had more impact than I thought the scene could. At first, I was angry they would tie the “one eye” part of him into Fear Itself, but it worked. And Odin’s fear of the prophecy is much more established. He doesn’t even have a son yet and he’s already told he’ll be doomed to die. That’s cold. And the rivalry between the two brothers is so strong, that you almost have to wonder if Odin accidentally instilled this into Thor and Loki (just because you’re adopted doesn’t mean your parents can’t dump their baggage on you). Another thing I am very happy for–the gods sound like gods. One thing that I thought was most annoying with Fear Itself was how colloquial the gods were talking. I mean, they’re gods! But in this story, they are nothing short of deities willing to cross genocidal lines to kill each other. And we get characterization for the Serpent. Looking back at the event, he was so underdeveloped, it’s no wonder nobody cared about the story. Now, after reading him here and in Journey into Mystery, I kind of wonder if I read Fear Itself again, would i care more (don’t hold your breath on that). To put it quite simply, Matt Fraction did in one issue of Mighty Thor what he couldn’t do in seven issues of Fear Itself. He made me care about the threat.
The Not So Good: Why wasn’t this part of the prologue? It doesn’t give anything away, and it sets up the Serpent so well that the fact that the issue came out after the event is a bad thing about the issue. We should have been reading this eight months ago to get excited for the event. We could have all been going “HOLY S**T, Odin has destroyed every living thing on Earth once already, he might actually do it again!” Why are we getting this great set up so far after the fact? And Ferry’s art was kind of hit-or-miss for me. Some places, I loved it. The last page is beautiful, but other times it felt too still or unfinished.
Conclusion: Fraction had a bad year. Since he took over Thor, his writing has suffered. Maybe he’s been overworked. But this issue reminded me of why I was excited for him to take over Thor in the first place. And it gives me hope that his upcoming Defenders title might reinvigorate the spark his stories once had. But if he pulls another year of meandering plot lines and weak characterization, he can go Frac himself (see what I did there?)