It’s not much of a secret that Kieron Gillen was asked to write extra issues of “Thor” to give incoming creative team Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry a little extra breathing room at their end. I’m perfectly fine with that; it makes sense, doubly so considering that Gillen had already stepped in to lead “Thor” up to and then through the “Siege” event after J. Michael Straczynski’s departure.
What makes it even better, though, is that it’s given Gillen additional time to fully tell his story involving the Disir. What started as a brief fill-in run has rapidly turned into a full-fledged era on the book in Gillen’s own right. As someone who’s beginning to get additional attention in the comics industry, I’m all in favor of Gillen having his name out there on a regular basis. (I live in hope of a big publisher offering to pay him and Jamie McKelvie a lot of money for another “Phonogram” mini-series.)
At any rate, the latest issue of “Thor” is good, if suffering from middle-chapter syndrome. Gillen’s moving the story towards its conclusion, so most of the issue is a large transition piece, setting up next issue’s conclusion. Still, the Disir are continuing to be an enjoyable and formidable threat, and Gillen’s managed to make Hela come across as a sympathetic character in this storyline, something we rarely see in issues of “Thor.” Gillen definitely has a strong feel for the Norse gods and their mythologies, and he’s been a good choice for these past ten issues.
Richard Elson’s art is slightly variable here. Some pages look spectacular, like the opening splash of Hell, which reminds me of something that P. Craig Russell would draw with all the details in the spikes, lava waterfalls, skulls, and carefully drawn pillars of rock. On the other hand, Kelda looks more sleazy than grief-stricken, and Tyr’s magically floating rings in his hair are defying the laws of physics on more than one occasion. It’s not a bad look overall, but Elson is definitely stronger when it comes to the more grim, scene-establishing elements of his art. Considering how many artists can’t even bother with backgrounds at all, it’s a pleasant change.
I’m looking forward to giving the upcoming Fraction and Ferry issues a whirl, but as Gillen and Elson wrap up their time on board “Thor,” I think Marvel’s found a good team to bridge the gap. It’s been a pleasant enough ride, and I think it’s stayed true to the tone established prior. That’s about all you hope for with an extended fill-in team, so good job to them.