by Jason Aaron (Writer), Esad Ribic (Artist), Ive Svorcina (Colorist)
The Story: Let it be known that Thor does not like fancy and arrogant CEO’s, especially those who threaten the planet and pretty ladies.
The Review: The wait has been long for this one. While the previous story arc, for all its faults, has been enjoyable in general, it simply did not reach the height of quality the Gorr story reached. Due to many factors, the story revolving around the nine realms and Malekith the accursed seemed like a downgrade in terms of themes and evolution, which made the announcement that Esad Ribic would return for a new arc a rather welcome, yet anticipated thing worth waiting for. However, with the artist returning and a new arc beginning, does this issue bring back the grandeur the title once had?
Doing something decidedly different in terms of themes, Jason Aaron mostly succeed in setting up a new problem for the god of thunder to tackle. There are a few problems along the way, yet most of what makes this series work is still very much present for fans to enjoy.
One of the better aspects of this run has been Aaron’s take on Thor himself, portraying him in various ways throughout time. Focusing mostly on the present day Thor in this issue, the writer presents him as the confident, gallant, yet also somewhat obtuse person he is in most of his incarnations, playing with his very nature and the clash it makes with the more normal situations he is in. Bringing a great lot of fun and humor to the character with his penchant for alcohol, violence but also good-natured heroism, his Thor is still one of the best take on the character. With a small, yet important scene with the future King Thor, there is also a very good comparison in his evolution, with the surly, prideful, yet nostalgic and caring god being a very apt transition of the version heavily featured here.
Another aspect that is actually handled very well is the new angle featured in this arc, with Thor wondering about the ecology and the longevity of Midgard. While it is a decidedly unused concept for Thor to handle and work with, it works actually quite well with the themes of godhood and how Thor decides to help the world and universe at large. His eagerness to set things right, yet his general lack of clues as to how denizens of a planet can end up on such a destroyed planet goes a mile above his head, which proves for a certain optimism and set things up very well for this arc. The use of Roz Solomon from issue 12 is also fairly good here, with the environment angle being presented fairly well through her spiteful, yet well-meaning behaviour throughout the issue.
Where things falter a bit, though, is with the introduction of Dario Agger, the new CEO of Roxxon Industries. While his speech and his demeanour do present him fairly well to readers as the new addition he is, the heavy amount of dialogue does slow the pacing down considerably here. While his general avoidance of direct answers to important questions, his arrogance and his seemingly friendly disposition makes him somewhat enjoyable, the overall impression he leaves does not promise much in terms of actual threat. As far as introductions goes, it’s just not very exciting.
What leaves a much better impression, though, is the art of Esad Ribic. His return to the title comes as a huge bonus here, with his wide panels and his approach to scale and scope largely helping to set up the huge adventures in which Thor participates. His underwater scenes, those in space and in the future all benefit from the depth and size the artist give them. The artist might rely a bit too much on larger panels and whole pages in order to tell the story, yet it truly does fit with the themes connected to this run and the character. His characters, sense of motion and action are also very evocative, with a certain talent for the hyper-expressive in some panels combined with minimalism in the expressions that does a great service to the visuals and the readers. Not everything is perfect, though, with a certain lack of precision in some panels and elements, which makes some aspects appear a bit rushed and rough, but those are few and far between. For fans of Ribic, it is a great showcase of what he can do well.
Ive Svorcina is also not to be diminished in terms of importance. His handle on shading and his very fluid contrasts in the switch between panels makes the art of Esad Ribic look even better, with the colorist collaborating in such a way that the lines aren’t butchered by his work. His use of lighting and darker colors is also heavily commendable, with the depths of the sea and his approach to the cosmos being particularly beautiful to behold. In many ways, this is Svorcina close to his peak here, which is fitting for a good issue like this one.
The Conclusion: There are a few hiccups in this issue, but the astonishing art and colors of Ribic and Svorcina, combined with a great take on Thor and a new direction that has potential proves that this new arc might elevate this title to the quality it once reached.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière