Thor vol. 4: God of Hammers (2022)
Donny Cates (Author), Nic Klein (Illustrator), Matt Wilson (Color Artist), Joe Sabino (Letterer), Walter Simonson (Writer / Illustrator), Laura Martin (Color Artist), Matt Milla (Color Artist),
John Workman (Letterer), Dan Jurgens (Writer / Illustrator),
Klaus Janson (Inker), J. Michael Straczynski (Writer), Olivier Coipel (Illustrator), Alejandro Sánchez (Color Artist),
Al Ewing, Lee Garbett (Illustrator), Antonio Fabela (Color Artist),
Jason Aaron(Writer) , Das Pastoras (Illustrator)
My rating: 2.2 of 5 stars
DISCLAIMER: Everything expressed here is just my opinion, it is nothing more and should
be taken in the same spirit. Thank you for reading and for your time and indulgence.
I have had a bit of a roller-coaster ride through this run on Thor by rising-star scribe Donny Cates who, hot on the heels of his acclaimed run on Venom, has taken over both Thor and Hulk. He had big boots to fill with both series and today we’re talking about Thor, where he picked up after the almost universally loved, multi-year run on the series by Jason Aaron.
*Be warned: Some minor spoilers ahead!
Overall the series had a banging start with Thor becoming Galactus’ Herald (a.k.a, The Herald Of Thunder!) and he’s had a lot of challenges since then – all pretty much leading up to this story arc.
The overarching story has had Thor dealing with his new mantle as King of Asgard and trying to find his place, part of that being what is the future of his relationship with the Thor he used to be and his worthiness to be the carrier of Mjolnir.
In the wake of his battles out in the cosmos as a Herald, the Black Winter, the return of Donald Blake and bloody, emotional trials aplenty, our embattled hero starts this story off simply enough as Asgard takes a breath to celebrate their victories and their survival. But Thor is not happy and not the least of it all is the fact that for some time now, Mjolnir has been… misbehaving… and so he abandons it to the care and security of the Avengers as he tries to find out who and what is King Thor.
Overall this was a story rife with striking concepts and ideas and had more than a few great moments – Thors reunion with Freya and Odin alongside Angela being a memorable one in particular and I must admit, Freya redefining herself from what she used to be was an intriguing and fun new direction for her. Also for a change, the Angela character was actually amusing through this series and I wanted a bit more of THIS Angela than I have any version of her from back before her migration to the MU. Essentially we can see a big under-current in this whole run and especially in this arc deals with the former-King Odin seeing all his past decisions come back to haunt him and by default, his son. We see Mjolnir taken to a new direction after the revelations in the previous run of the God Storm and Odin capturing it and binding it to the Uru hammer – this too comes back to haunt everyone in this story and across the realms.
Even as I recap the core storyline (without giving too much away), I have to say that for me, the actual story did not live up to the concept. I could time and again see what Cates was trying to tell us but in the end it was all luke-warm at best. Adding yet another layer onto Mjolnir this soon after the big changes to it’s mythos in Aarons run felt boring and just kind of re-hash-y and not in a fun way. It was perhaps built up with too much mystery over 20-odd issues and then the actual big reveal+showdown, etc was like a deflating balloon that was inflated just a tad too much. It was also yet again Thor spending too much time and emotional effort wallowing when we’ve seen him go through so much and become a better, stronger person for all his trials and I had hoped we would see a more confident and sure King of Asgard here – which need not have impacted the story of his anger at Odins past choices as King threating the known worlds and Thor having to clean it up. It might even have made for a more interesting father-son dynamic.
Lastly, I have to give a mention to the final issue which was a farewell to the former All-Father and it brought back a star-studded set of creators to tell stories – and this too was a flop, in fact I think it was the biggest flop of it all. Literally the only good part was some of Thors initial speech and the story involving the reality hopping younger incarnation of Loki who made me look forward to the upcoming sequel to the amazing recent Defenders mini-series. The majority of the mini-stories were at best loosely to do with Odin and (for eg:) the one by Walt Simonson was a great retelling of Beta Ray Bills origins but had literally nothing to do even with Asgard, let alone Odin. It felt oddly planned, somewhat pointless and more of a “going through some motions” than what possibly should have been an emotional goodbye to the All-Father Odin Bor-Son who had been such a powerful influence in every Thor comic since the beginning.
From the first time I read a comic by Cates, I have never been disappointed, no matter the ups and downs (as happens even with the best of writers) but this story arc was genuinely boring, derivative and left me uninterested in reading more Thor comics for now – which is saying something since I have read every single issue of the Aaron run and probably a massive chunk of the older comics, especially the ones where Simonson was involved.
I’m sure there are folks who will enjoy this story but for me it was a beautifully drawn and well-intentioned let down from start to finish.
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