THOR #5 by Jason Aaron and Christian Ward
THOR #5 succeeds best in its incredible action sequence and stunning visuals by artist Christian Ward. Despite a powerful opening section and a beautiful look at the nature of age and death, this issue does suffer from a lack of characterization and context.
87 %
Fiery Action
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In his current run on THOR, writer Jason Aaron has brought the fun back to fantasy. However, every good surreal and over-the-top narrative needs its serious moments. Luckily, all the way back in 2011, Aaron built himself a failsafe. At that time, he showed readers a glimpse of a far future where Thor had taken the throne of Asgard. Now, in THOR #5, readers return to that far future. Thor’s resurrected Midgard has faced its fair share of tragedy, with its progenitors dying so recently. However, more pain and destruction has made its way across the cosmos. A Phoenix empowered Wolverine has decimated most of the galaxy, and Thor has decided to take his old friend on alone. Meanwhile, Thor’s granddaughters Atli, Frigg, and Ellisiv face a threat of their own. Monsters have invaded New Asgard, and their master may just be the doom of us all.

Blood and Fire

THOR #5, Page 1. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

THOR #5 is an incredibly action-packed book. Nearly every page showcases another bloody punch or savage burn. This does not lead to a very deep reading experience. However, it leads to a very fun one. This issue feels leagues apart from any of Aaron’s previous issues. This is a dark and brutal combat, and that has its fun elements. However, it does not focus on the same type of surrealist joy of previous issues. This is a down and dirty cosmic back-alley brawl. There are no rules, and when Thor’s hammer slams through Logan’s chest, you know these warriors are playing for keeps. It is visceral, incredibly well-choreographed, and damn entertaining from the first page. More importantly, Aaron’s dialogue feels realistic and tense, giving readers a glimpse of his more grounded storytelling chops.

A Different Take

I think the problem with THOR #5 is also its biggest success. This book is mindless violence, and that will turn a lot of readers off. There are several really cool character-driven moments, one involving a Necrosword-possessed Ego being beaten by a worm. However, none of them answer any questions. They serve to push the story forward or illuminate character relationships.

We do get a sense of Logan’s motivations in this issue. He wants to destroy Earth because it has and always will create the universe’s greatest threats. This ties in well to the current run on AVENGERS. Nevertheless, it doesn’t feel like enough. This fight fills nearly fifteen pages by itself, and for most of that, we have almost no context for the combat. In many ways, this is the type of book that every writer needs to make once in a while. It is simply a kid in the sandbox, playing with his toys. However, the story needs to still have an anchor.

Until Death

THOR #5, Page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

While the large majority of this issue doesn’t dig very deeply into its characters, the opening flashback brilliantly explores our heroes. Aaron really flexes his writing muscles with this simple dialogue between a young Thor and Wolverine. The themes that he explores are brilliant. Thor, the immortal, is hopelessly optimistic about the future, looking forward to the fights and thrills of his future. Logan, on the other hand, is feeling his age. He doesn’t want to die, but he feels like it is coming quick.

Unlike Thor, he has such a dire view of the situation, and that gives this issue a lot of weight. Not only does Logan ask the very simple question of how we handle our own coming demise, he also plays with the idea of how a seeming immortal, someone who has lived for a few hundred years, can bare that fate. Aaron also manages to add this same philosophical diatribe over the top of Thor’s fight with Phoenix, but it gets a bit lost in all the flames.

Sadly, the rest of the characterization doesn’t match this high standard. We get a good sense of Atli, Ellisiv, and Frigg’s personalities during the brief time on the page. We even slightly understand Ego’s motivations fairly well. However, they have so little time to express themselves that their characters get lost in the ensuing chaos. I almost felt more emotionally connected to the worm that defeats Ego than I did anything else. Aaron is such a good writer, and capable of some incredible characterization. It just doesn’t necessarily show up in this issue as clearly.

The Guest Takes the Stage

THOR #5, Page 3. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

Mike Del Mundo took an issue off with THOR #5, giving way for guest artist Christian Ward. Now, I have nothing against Mike Del Mundo. For Aaron’s wackier THOR stories, Del Mundo’s surreal style works really well, and I have sung his praises to infinity. Nevertheless, I need more of Christian Ward’s art in my life. His style uses a very heavy painterly aesthetic, giving this entire issue the look of a classical piece of art. This adds a ton of thematic weight to the story. We already have so many serious connotations about this style of art. A more serious atmosphere is almost a given if an artist uses it. However, I have seen very few artists do it as well as Ward.

THOR #5: Final Thoughts

THOR #5 is a serious action story with a really satisfying edge. Its action-packed nature does divert from some of Aaron’s other incredible writing, and the characterization especially suffers for it. Nonetheless, this is a really enjoyable comic book, and for those wanting to follow the modern THOR run, this issue is essential. It does a great job of tying the thematics of the entire modern Marvel Universe together, and its focus on the nature of death really stood out to me. This issue’s biggest issues are context and consistency, but for fans of this series, it should still be considered a must-read.

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