After "Fear Itself" #7.2 introduced the new status quo for Asgard going forward, "The Mighty Thor" #8 expands upon that status quo and begins to form an actual story out of the disparate pieces. This first post-"Fear Itself" issue doesn't just build upon the event, it has strong roots in Matt Fraction's tenure on the title so far. With his original "Thor" collaborator Pasqual Ferry back providing art after returning last issue for the story of Odin and the Serpent, this issue is a good start to what looks like a promising story.
Thor died fighting the Serpent in "Fear Itself" and is now replaced by Tanarus, the one and only God of Thunder that Asgard has ever known. Everyone's memories of Thor have been altered with Tanarus in his place, except for Loki who senses something is amiss. He doesn't remember Thor specifically, but he does know that Tanarus isn't his brother nor is he the God of Thunder. Surprisingly, instead of dragging out the mystery of Tanarus for the readers, Fraction reveals the truth in this issue and it's a surprising and logical plot that uses a few Thor villains taking advantage of the events of "Fear Itself."
Asgard becomes Asgardia in this issue, as the three-person All-Mother begins to start rebuilding in the wake of Odin sealing off Asgard space. The events of Fraction and Ferry's "World-Eaters" story has also brought together many different creatures from the Nine Realms, making Asgardia a home to them in addition to the Asgardians. There's a clear direction for the future and it builds well on 'throwaway' plot points from earlier stories. There's a genuine sense that things are different and, for now, that's very appealing.
If there's a detractor from this issue it's that there are so many different plots and subplots to address, so many characters that must be mentioned, that a lot of the scenes don't seem developed. Fraction follows up on his depowerment of the Silver Surfer for a page and, while amusing, it's hardly substantive. In the context of this issue, it takes away space from more prominent plots that could use an extra page. He tries to do too much and, in some cases, winds up doing very little.
Ferry back on the title is a welcome sight; he and Fraction developed a strong rhythm by the end of "World-Eaters," and he's very adept at getting across the other-worldliness of Asgardia and the beings that inhabit it. Everything he draws looks strange and like it comes from a 'higher realm.' It's a definite sci-fi approach to material that's usually approached from a more fantasy-based place, but it works. That he's not joined by his colorist from "World-Eaters," Matt Hollingsworth, is shame, though. Frank D'Armata's coloring is far more brash and overbearing, not as subtle and complementary to Ferry's line work.
The Thor-centric epilogue to "Fear Itself" disappointed me, but Matt Fraction has turned my opinion around. In "The Mighty Thor" #8, he and Pasqual Ferry set up a lot of interesting plots like Tanarus, the new (or old) God of Thunder, Asgardia, Loki's schemes, and Thor possibly not being as dead as we thought he was. That this issue so clearly draws upon Fraction's work to date is encouraging, as well. Once again, "The Mighty Thor" is an exciting read and I can't wait to see what happens next.