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Lo, what a hefty tome this is! With a forty-two-page lead story set in the current “Thor” continuity that delivers a massive blow to the life of the Odinson, this book also offers quite a few more enjoyable treasures. Included in this issue is an eleven-page tale of Thor from the days of Cap’s kooky quartet penned by Stan Lee and drawn by David Aja. Add in a “Mini Marvels” tale by Chris Giarusso and the only way this issue could only possibly be capped off is with reprints from “Journey Into Mystery.”

Loki, in all his/her Marilyn Manson-like splendor, delves deeply into her bag of tricks to present Thor with a challenge that offers no possible victory. Straczynski has made Loki as cunning as ever, and the gambit utilized here allows the trickster god to humiliate Thor as never before. The ramifications from Loki’s deeds will play out for months to come in both the pages of “Thor” and elsewhere throughout the Marvel Universe. The lead tale is heavily cemented within the trappings of “Dark Reign” and the conclusion of the lead story leaves no doubt that “Dark Reign” is falling not only on Thor, but Asgard as well.

The main plot is basic and the presumed first assignment of comic book writer’s school — mistaken identity/misunderstood purpose leads two essentially good characters into a seeming battle to the death. Except this time, it does, indeed, end in death, figuratively, literally and emotionally. I could not help but feel the pull of Midgard upon my heart at the end of this tale.

The tale is brilliantly rendered by Coipel, who continues to make Thor his signature character, bestowing upon the thunder god power and strength that traverses the gap between paper and reader. Coipel is joined in artistic battle by Djurdjevic (thank you copy and paste!) who renders the tainted visions perceived by a bedazzled Bor — king of Asgard.

This incarnation of “Thor” has been a fan favorite for more months than issue have come out and one can only hope that the powers that have been connected to a “Thor” film turn to a tale such as this for inspiration.

The additional material here is definitely a nice bonus. Truly Marvel seems to be feeling the pain of comic consumers, or at least trying to justify the pain with a little more reward. Lee’s tale is shared through the frame of an older, simpler time. Stories didn’t have to be wrought with pain, heartache and angst, but they did have to carry the human elements and play to emotions. The story may be perceived by some as hokey, but the meaning in it is not. The reprinted material is also a nice bonus, as it adds a new filter to re-read the lead story through. Finally, this issue is rounded off with a dramatic cover gallery of “Thor” issues and covers from the entire run of “Journey Into Mystery” that preceded Thor’s tales in that title. While the covers are obscurely tiny, the thought behind the concept is nice, and under a magnifying glass, quite enjoyable.

While this issue may not be intended as a jumping on point, I think new readers to the adventures of Thor might find this oversized issue amazingly accessible. While it may tough to justify dropping a fin on a comic nowadays, it’s not every comic that has this much to offer.