Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson's "The Mighty Thor" #5 wraps up the first story arc of the new series, as Malekith, Loki, Odion and Freyja's plans all collide with Thor smack dab in the middle. While the proverb states that the darkest is just before the dawn, there's also no denying this issue is in no ways a victory for any of our heroes, as Aaron goes for broke and gives us a story where our heroes see their allies taken down at best, and are stabbed in the back at worst.
Loyalties are tested, and things don't look good for Thor, Freyja and Asgard in general in this issue. It's hard to find a single bright spot in any part of "The Mighty Thor" #5, unless you're a villain, because they have some seriously major wins in their column. Aaron curiously doesn't play this as a, "How will our heroes recover from this?" conclusion, though, but merely as a conclusion with an ominous tone hanging over it. From a storytelling perspective, it doesn't quite have the same hook to bring readers back next month, even as there's almost an assumption that they will do so in order to find out how our heroes will eventually overcome this latest obstacle. The closest we do get to that hook is on the final page, which shows the whereabouts of a character that's been absent for this story arc. Some fans will definitely applaud this character's return, but it's less of a cheering moment for others, if only because it reinforces that the recent shifts in Asgard will eventually be undone.
Even when things are at their darkest, though, Dauterman sells a strong Thor and company. Thor and Odin's battle amongst Jupiter and Saturn's orbits is simply incredible, an example of raw power unleashed. From a punch to the face to characters being slammed into a moon's surface, this is out-and-out war between two deities. Dauterman does a a good job of showing us not only motion, but sheer force. I also found myself struck by how well Dauterman draws Loki, who -- with his patchy stubble and slightly unkempt hair -- manages to look a little sad and pathetic even as he makes a terrible move against one of his two sets of allies. Even at his worst, he's somehow sympathetic and horribly conflicted thanks to that look of pure sorrow in his eyes. Add in some always-excellent colors from Wilson, whose vibrant work continues to bring all of his books to life, and this is a fine looking comic.
"The Mighty Thor" #5 is a downer of a way to wrap up a story arc, but -- if nothing else -- it will make the eventual victories that much sweeter. For now, though, it's a solid and above-average conclusion, and I'm looking forward to future installments. All-in-all, a good job.