By: Matt Fraction (writer), Alan Davis (pencils), Mark Farmer (inks), Javier Rodriguez (colors), and Joe Sabino (letters)

The Story: Mysterious, unquenchable fires break out over Broxton as Freyja dreams of a forgotten war from long ago.

The Review: When Alan Davis draws an issue, it’s grounds to be excited.  When he draws a high-fantasy comic, it’s time to just fork over the money.  As anyone who’s ever flipped through Avengers Prime should know, while Davis can draw a great many things, his work is nothing less than transcendent when drawing fantasy stuff.  Naturally, Matt Fraction gets this, as this issue is the most straight high-fantasy of anything we’ve gotten from Fraction thus far.  This allows Davis to really go to work, immersing us in a uniquely fantasy yarn that feels epic and distinct from anything else Marvel is offering.  With genre diversification not being Marvel’s strong suit, it’s nice to see Davis doing what he does best and Fraction giving us a straight high-fantasy comic, taking us away to faraway worlds and long-ago times.

This is especially the case given that a good chunk of the issue is spent with Freyja as a young girl during an ancient war of conquest between Freyja’s people, the Vanir, and a young Odin and his Asgardian conquerors.  It’s really rather cool taking a break from the mainstream Marvel Universe and Davis’ art makes us feel like we’ve entered a rich, 1980s fantasy novel with a giant demon, a zombie army, kings, portents, politics, and a marriage.  After all the AvX stuff, this feels like a breath of fresh air.

While I can’t say that Fraction writes Loki as well as Kieron Gillen does, he does absolutely nail the relationship and dynamic between Thor and Kid Loki.  The friendly bickering between the two, Loki’s tending to Thor’s wounds as his big brother grumbles and whines, and the loving relationship between the two is a joy to read and makes it easy to like both characters.  It’s clearly an aspect of the comic that Fraction really  understands and when the two are on the page together, the comic shines.  They really do feel like brothers, foils, and a team, not just two separate, distinct characters who happen to inhabit the same comic.

Between Davis’ art and Fraction’s script, I can’t emphasize enough how much this comic feels like escapism of the highest form.  In this issue, Fraction introduces an epic, centuries spanning high fantasy tale of ancient wars and gods and monsters.  It’s ambitious and balances big moments and impressive visuals with strong, sympathetic character work.  As someone who also reads Journey into Mystery, this is an excellent start to the Everything Burns crossover and gives me high hopes and expectations for it.

Conclusion: It’s early at this point, but I think that this may very well be the best Thor we’ve ever gotten from Fraction.

Grade: B+

– Alex Evans