Jason Aaron (Writer), Ron Garney (Artist), Ive Svorcina (Colorist)
The Story: The league of realms is formed as they try to hunt down Malekith before he does too much damage to the nine realms.
The Review: New ideas are dangerous. It’s not a particularly pleasant thing to say, but capes comics aren’t always known for their originality as they rely a lot of times on certain tropes to thrive in the market. Nostalgia sells, so it’s usual to see things that are familiar, yet not blatantly so that it becomes tedious or unoriginal. A book with familiar characters or with a title that is already a proven seller will always have a better chance at growing rather than an entirely original book with newer characters. It’s not exactly the market as it is now, but it could be described pretty closely as such.
It is why I am both glad and a bit disappointed to see Jason Aaron trying to play with many elements of the Thor mythology from the Marvel universe. There is a sense of fun and exploration to what the nine realms are with some of the concepts brought forward by the writer, with the league of realms, the fact that there is a council of realms and so forth. The willingness of Aaron to mess around and to introduce some new elements to Thor’s mythology speak well for him as a writer.
Unfortunately, it would be better if some of those elements worked a bit better, as there is perhaps an abundance of suspension of disbelief needed for some of the additions to truly shine. While the idea of a league of realms with a composition of denizens from multiple realms is an entertaining one, it is a bit baffling to see it go forward considering two facts. The first one is the simple truth that Thor, as a character, is known as the hero of the nine realms, which is not a self-proclaimed title but an actual one given to him, meaning that he is most probably trusted by a great many to be a person that can protect others. The other reason can be seen in the previous arc, as Thor had to deal with a god-killer through time and space. Simply put, Malekith doesn’t really seem like much of a challenge, or even one that can really compare to Gorr in terms of scope. He is more defined and can become an apt villain in terms of interest, yet he just doesn’t seem to be a foe as worthy as the previous one.
The same could be said for the leaguers who are accompanying Thor on his quest to vanquish Malekith, as they are perfectly serviceable as characters, yet don’t seem to accomplish much in this issue. Aaron gives them quirks, fighting methods and enough personality to make them distinct and allow a certain clash against each other as they try to cooperate, yet there isn’t much else. They are properly introduced, yet that doesn’t make them really interesting or relevant to the plot in any way that could make the readers invested in them. Still, there is some potential here and future issues may prove this initial reaction of mine wrong.
Where there is also potential is in the plot itself, which is pretty interesting. The conflict at hand with Malekith seeming chaos as a band of heroes try to stop him is classical, yet it is handled well nonetheless. The stakes are raised with this issue, there is some potent action, some memorable scenes and it does amount to a competent issue even though some of the ground covered here is not the most original one.
Competent is the term that can also be used to describe Ron Garney’s art. The fantastic design of the nine realms are well reproduced on the pages, with the backgrounds and the multiple races being rather evocative of the traditional representations in media. Garney manage to respect the older design while revamping them just a bit making them not to redundant for fans of fantasy as a whole, which is a nice bonus. Where he falters a bit is with the characters and the lines, as they appear a bit too rough and imprecise, with a lack of cleanliness to his approach. It doesn’t hurt the expressions of the characters or the action, yet it makes some of the details look blurry, as if the whole thing was a tad rushed.
Ive Svorcina doesn’t fare that much better with his colorization, as there are moments of brilliance tempered with rather dull or too chaotic ones. Moments like the battle on the bridge with Malekith and the final page are superb thanks to a good use of contrast, putting the focus on large elements with very different colors than the others in focus, like brown against blue or darkness against the brighter colors featured on Thor himself. Not all moments are equally brilliant, though, as there is simply too many different colors in some pages and panels, never allowing them to work against each other or to complement the general colors used principally on the pages. It soon become a rather messy affair that is not the best work Svorcina has done so far.
The Conclusion: There are some nice ideas here along with some competent action and plotting. However, competent is the highest praise I can give to this issue with so many elements that are inconsistent in their quality, despite the effort of Aaron, Garney and Svorcina.
Hugo Robberts Larivière