by Matt Fraction (writing), Pasqual Ferry & Pepe Larraz (art), Frank D’Armata, Frank Martin, & Wil Quintana (colors), and Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Loki seeks the aid of Donald Blake and has a weird run-in with the Silver Surfer, Kelda begins to suspect the truth, and Asgardia begins the difficult task of governance.

The Review: It’s hard not to be sympathetic towards Matt Fraction with this issue.  Really, this book might as well be called “Asgard” instead of “the Mighty Thor,” because it’s really more of an ensemble book involving Marvel’s major Asgardian characters.  The result is a somewhat imbalanced and strangely paced book that tries to cover too many bases and too many sub-plots.  We go from Thor sailing through the cosmos, to Loki chatting with Donald Blake and the Surfer, to the All-Mother trying to hold Asgardia’s first caucus, to Kelda listening in on the machinations of Ulik and friends, to Ulik fighting alongside the Avengers.  Frankly, there are too many bases to cover here.  While they are all related to one another, that connection is pretty thin and thus far, these plots have yet to really impact one another.

As a result, the book is a bit scattered.  More than that, though, with some many things to cover, some characters/plots see significant progression that makes me want to read more (there’s a big development with Kid Loki’s quest this month that certainly kept me interested in the overall story), while other strands are ridiculously glacial.  For instance, it’s almost laughable that this month’s issue ends with almost exactly the same cliffhanger that last month’s issue ended with: Thor, sailing into the maw of the Demogorge.

All this being said, there are definitely some bright spots here, at least as far as character-work goes.  Kid Loki is as charming as ever.  His sense of humour is sure to get a laugh out of any reader and his interactions with Blake and the Surfer are really enjoyable to read.  Kid Loki, whether under Gillen or Fraction, is always a scene-stealer, and that’s no different here.  Frankly, he’s probably the best part of this issue.  The character simply breathes life into any and every page on which he appears.

The Silver Surfer is also proving to be a valuable addition to the Mighty Thor’s cast.  Fraction really takes his quirkiness to new heights this month.  He’s just so weird and out of place and his behaviour is truly bizarre.  Given this and his cosmic nature, he adds a nice new element and personality to the mix.

I also enjoyed Ferry’s artwork much more this month than I did last month.  Mostly this is due to a needed change in colorist.  With Frank D’Armata only sharing coloring duties, Ferry’s work gets coloring that is better adapted and fitted to his style.  The result is that Ferry’s work shines just as it should and is a pleasure to look at, re-affirming that the Ferry/Coipel alternation makes the Mighty Thor one of Marvel’s prettiest books.  Ferry’s artwork alone made Tanarus’ battle scenes worthwhile as seeing him draw the Avengers only caused me to imagine how fantastic a Ferry-drawn Avengers book would be.

Conclusion: Much like last month, this is a mixed bag, which I guess is inevitably going to be the case when a writer tries to cover so many disparate narrative threads.  Some quite good and some mediocre bits combine with very pretty artwork.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans