JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #651

*100th review. Hurray!*

*Ahem.*

Kathryn Immonen (Writer), Pepe Laraz (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)

The Story: During the night, one of Volstagg’s children wanders in Asgardia, meeting Fenris, the wolf of mythology. Hilarity and wonders ensues.

The Review: From what I can see of the Asgardian side of the Marvel universe, all is well. We get Kid Loki in Young Avengers, our main and most important character in Thor: God of Thunder and pretty much everyone else, yet mostly Sif in Journey Into Mystery. With such a large cast of possible character and a whole world full of mythology and possibility, would it ever be possible for Kathryn Immonen to take full advantage of such a rich mythology?

Believe it or not, she does it in this one-issue tale featuring none other than Hilde, one of the many child under Volstagg’s care along with Sif, the other parts of the Warrior Three, a small shot of Heimdall, his dog that he has received during Gillen stint on the title, two dwarves and the god of thunder himself. If that sounds like a hard cast to juggle with, you’d be right, yet Immonen does succeed in respecting everyone’s voice and making each of their part visible and fun to read. Be it Volstagg and his constantly amusing quips, Sif and Thor’s relation, the two dwarves set on a task from Odin himself and the rest, the characterization is spot-on, yet it also shows that she knows how everyone should interact with each other. This level of respect for previous characterization is something a lot of writers should take note of, as Immonen did her homework there.

Where she also did her homework would be in actual Norse mythology, with Fenris being set as the antagonist of the issue. Using the backstory of this wolf and how he was treated as the plot of the story, Immonen shows a bit of Walter Simonson’s approach to the Asgardian mythology of the Marvel universe with her way to mix the more out there concepts with actual Norse Myths. Be it with Odin’s weird and harsh tasks or the vendetta Fenris has against Asgard, everything play very well against and with each other, creating a consistent feeling of fun, yet with a bit of depth to it. While it may seems like she does throw a bit of terms that people might feel unfamiliar with, it never goes in the way of the story, as their meaning are very clear even though their concepts might not be.

What was not very clear, yet unfortunately got in the way of my enjoyment and the overall quality, however, would be the conclusion of this little tale. Here, we are suggested that a certain action occurred instead of showing it to us. As the warriors of Asgard fight Fenris and asks what he could possibly wants, the fight stop as he just says what could possibly calm him down and just end this conflict before any serious damage is dealt to anyone or to Asgardia itself. With everyone saying no to his demand to have a golden apple, Hilde then proclaim that she’ll do it. The very next page, we see everyone enjoying a meal after having won the day, while we get a hint toward just how they tricked Fenris. While the hint is nice, it sure seems like a weak transition, but even more like a rather weak ending to what begun as a strong one-issue tale. With such a build-up being constructed throughout the issue, it feels a bit like a cop-out not to actually show how they outsmarted Fenris near the end.

However, as dissatisfying the ending was, a lot of the comic is redeemed by Pepe Laraz, who replaces Valerio Schitti for this single issue. While many transitional artists (artists who does one issue here and there in long collaboration between writers and artists to give enough time for the regular artist to advance a bit in his work) have styles that don’t mesh very well with the overall tone that the previous artist gave to the book, Pepe Laraz is very different as he is pitch perfect in his approach. In short, he is mimicking very well the style that Valerio Schitti has given to that book, which means he is aping from a very great artist. As such, the book look great, thanks to the overall cartoony, yet impressive characters and background he draws here. He even seems to give a good amount of attention to hair just like Schitti does, which does say something about his commitment to this book.

In the coloring department, we still see the overly talented Jordie Bellaire who once more manages to brighten up this gorgeous book with her nuanced, yet wisely chosen colors. Here, there is a predominance of cold colors, as it is a story set during the night. As such, there is a whole plethora of blue, grey, green and other such colder colors set against the warmer colors of some of the characters attire or the low amount of lighting. It does amount to a gorgeous type of contrast that fits the book well.

The Conclusion
: The dissatisfying conclusion set aside, this book still got it as the pinpoint characterization, the use of Norse mythology and the sense of fun is still strong while the art remains consistently excellent.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière

Grade

Conclusion