I imagine there are two audiences interested in this book: Thor fans and Peter Milligan fans. Thor fans will most likely enjoy some of the ideas in this issue as it examines the fall-out of “Thor” #600 in more detail, specifically Thor’s reaction to killing his grandfather. Milligan fans should avoid this comic, because this isn’t Vertigo/”X-Force/X-Statix” Peter Milligan, this is ‘superhero mediocrity’ Peter Milligan. It’s not that good, rather middle-of-the-road, forgettable superhero fare. It’s an annual; what do you expect?
Seth, the Egyptian god of death, has been a recurring enemy of Thor and takes Thor’s recent troubles as an invitation to finally kill the Thunder god. Sending a group of flunkies to Oklahoma, Seth hopes to find Thor and, then, as a group, eliminate him. The plan isn’t a bad one since it works when Seth’s minions cause enough trouble to bring Thor out of hiding. Donald Blake has been living in a cabin for weeks to shield his alter-ego and friend from the world as he tries to recover from not just losing his kingdom but also murdering his grandfather.
The ideas behind this story aren’t bad as Milligan takes advantage of an old Thor enemy who doesn’t get used a lot and a unique story for Thor where he struggles with self-doubt and a reluctance to fight. Normally, Thor finds solace and peace in battle, but the fight with Bor has left him meek and afraid that he will kill others. It’s an approach more akin to other heroes than Thor and does fill a gap in the regular book. However, the execution is heavy-handed and uninteresting. Blake relies on cliches and hollow platitudes in an effort to inspire Thor, none of which rise to a level that would actually cause any change in Thor.
The interactions between Blake and Thor are interesting, in theory, with more emphasis placed on their relationship here than in “Thor” normally. Milligan doesn’t add anything of consequence to their conversations, no real character development occurs, or new elements of their relationship or personality explored. It seem like he’s writing on autopilot throughout the issue. Even the action scenes don’t inspire excitement, going through the motions toward an inevitable conclusion with little suspense.
Milligan isn’t helped on the artistic end. Mico Suyan’s work on Seth in the Celestial Heliopolis is very strong, colored by Edgar Delgado in a painted look that gives the setting and characters an otherworldly feel, a disconnect from the ‘real’ world. Where the art takes a turn for the worse is in the scenes on Earth by Tom Grindberg, a veteran whose work I loved in the ’90s on books like “Warlock & the Infinity Watch” where it possessed a unique look and feel, but, here, is bland and indistinct. J. Roberts’ coloring adds little to this, often overdoing it on faces and shifting between broad, bright colors with little effects and heavily rendered colors that overuse effects. The two art styles clash a little, which is part of the point, as you can see initially in the issue.
“Thor” annual #1 fills in an unexplored area of Thor’s psyche after killing his grandfather and provides the return of Seth, both great ideas, but they’re executed in the bland, boring fashion that one would expect from an annual. Ultimately, this issue is forgettable.