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To Hell and Back Again

July 12, 2010

Although Thor #611 was originally solicited as being the first issue of Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry’s run, it’s actually a continuation of Kieron Gillen’s.  As such, it picks up some of the threads that Gillen has been weaving during his run.  Thor, Balder, and Tyr attend to the mass funeral for all the Asgardians fallen during Siege, then to the much smaller and more private one for Loki.  In Mephisto’s domain, some of his demons try to rebel in retaliation for his little deal with Loki and Hela.  However, the Disir make quick work of the demons.  They note how close they are to the souls of dead Asgardians, and their leader, Brun, ponders getting in there to get some food, since it is not really Hel and therefore is not trespassing.  Mephisto, being the sly devil he is, allows them to invade the substitute Hel in return for getting some alone time with Brun.  They invade, and Hela’s attempts at turning them back fall short.  She gathers all of the Asgardian souls into a massive fortress.  Back in the ruins of Asgard, a disaffected Asgardian ponders the idea of Tyr becoming king, as he is also a son of Odin.  As Tyr refuses, Hela contacts them through the funeral pyres, telling them of the Disir.  However, the Disir must not be called by name, for that gives them power over he who names them.  The disaffected Asgardian, believing that they are a myth, says their name, and he is butchered by unseen forces on the spot.  Brun then contacts the Asgardians through the pyres and tells them not to come, as the Disir can only feed on the souls of Asgardians that they have not killed.  However, Thor tells everyone that they must indeed go to Hel to save their comrades and brothers.

I’ll admit, I’m a tad confused, since there are the halls of Valhalla in the ruins of Asgard, as well as the Valhalla that is Hela’s fake Hel.  It’s not entirely clear as to what the difference is.  But this is a potentially interesting arc, as it involves new Thor villains the Disir, Mephisto, Hela, and potentially Loki, once Thor realizes that his soul isn’t in Hel.  Although the story is written well overall, it’s lacking some of the awesomeness that Gillen brought to his previous arcs.  For one, I’m not sure why people are still questioning Balder’s leadership.  The issue of who will rule the Asgardians is one that’s been done to death at this point, and I think Tyr trying to wrest leadership from Balder, or even someone wanting him to do so, is a bit much.  Also, this issue just isn’t as exciting.  Part of that comes from Rich Elson’s artwork.  It’s very technically sound, but he’s not quite as good at action sequences as the series’ previous artists, Billy Tan and Olivier Coipel.  Most characters look too… statuesque for the fighting to be exciting enough.  But part of it is that Gillen isn’t giving any time to the two villains he’s written so well thus far, Dr. Doom and Loki.  He does do Mephisto rather well too, but Mephisto’s only in two pages of the whole comic.  Likewise, he’s not working with Volstagg, another character with whom he works wonders.  I’m sure this arc will turn out fine in the end.  It just doesn’t have the (excuse the pun) firey beginning that you might expect from Gillen.

Plot: 8.4      Art: 8.0      Dialogue: 8.9      Overall: 8.4

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