Or – “Things To Do In Asgard When You’re Dead…”
Ever since the events of Fear Itself, the world has forgotten the Mighty Thor, and through some sort of mystical frammistatery, believes that his role has always been filled by someone named Tanarus. Can the real Thor make it back from the literal belly of the beast before the villains behind his plight make their move? And how much does it have to suck that Loki is the only one who knows the truth?
THE MIGHTY THOR #11
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist(s): Pasqual Ferry with Pepe Larraz
Cover Artist(s): Dale Keown and Peter Steigerwald
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Sankavitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously, in The Mighty Thor: The revelation that Odin’s own brother was the Serpent (and also mastermind of Fear Itself) led to a shattering of the status quo for Asgard. The Nine Worlds have been cut off from Midgard, and all the denizens shunted back to Earth by Odin, whose place at the head of the pantheon has bee taken by three goddesses (including Thor’s mom) as “The All-Mother.” Thor himself is dead, whatever that means for a god (or, indeed, for a comic book character) and Tanarus stands in his place, with his own sinister secrets. The irony of it all? Only Loki, the Lord of Lies, knows what has really happened to his lost half-brother…
This issue opens with a wonderful bit of meta-textual story as Loki tries desperately to revive the memory of his lost brother in the mind of someone who should, by all rights remember him. Nothing works, as everything he says reminds the subject of Tanarus, until Loki has a sudden burst of inspiration: “He bashed his head so hard with his own once that it actually dented your skull!” The Silver Surfer’s face suddenly fills with recognition and the Sokath-his-eyes-opened vibe, and the unlikely team race off to find others who might help. This sequence is beautifully intercut with images of Thor fighting for his life (or perhaps for his afterlife) in the realm of the Demogorge. Fraction gives us glimpses of whats happening throughout the realms, as the trolls prepare for war, blood is spilled, and Heimdall gets a clue. I missed the last couple of issues here, but it seems that Tanarus has not been entirely successful in his masquerade, as he is revealed to at least one of the regular cast here, and responds with unexpected fury that his “face” is ruined. I think there may be a bit more to Ulik– Errm, I mean TANARUS, than meets the eye.
“TO HEL WITH TANARUS!”
Thor fights through the digestive tract of the god-eater while Tony Stark (another character whose regular title is written by Fraction, much like Norrin Radd in Defenders) finally presents his completed project, Asgardia, to the All-Mother(s) of the Golden Realm. It’s a pretty impressive visual, made even more impressive by lovely coloring, but everything goes south in a big way when the real villain of the piece (a classic Thor foe, one I don’t recall seeing since the 90s or so) pulls her trump card. I’m really impressed with how effortlessly the various plot pieces flowed together here, and how the bits of story carrying over from Iron Man and from the big crossover (even as much as I disliked their implementation) work here. The reveal of Asgardia gets glossed over, making me hope that the amazing city will get to be actually SEEN before Marvel blows it up to hype their next giant crossover madness.
THE VERDICT: MAKES ME WISH I’D GIVEN IT MORE OF A CHANCE…
Though all three of the post-Fear-Itself point issues were awful, Thor probably got the worst of things, having his sacrifice seemingly nullified and his existence retconned by another guy, but this story has been quite interesting. Fraction’s revitalization of dozens of Thor’s supporting cast (using more than just Sif and the Warriors Three, in other words) builds on the big Thor relaunch of ’06, and I really like the close ties to Iron Man’s book. Next issue’s blurb promises a confrontation between Thor and Tanarus (though covers do lie these days, I hope this one actually happens) and I’m kind of looking forward to that in spite of myself. The Mighty Thor #11 continues Thor’s renaissance, earning a very strong 4 out of 5 stars overall. I sincerely hope that his jettisoning of his trademark headgear is a temporary thing, and not a concession to the fact that movie Thor doesn’t wear one…