Thor #621

When it came time to write this review, I struggled a little since this part seven of a seven-part story that has obviously been constructed to be read as a whole. That much was apparent from the first issue, and it didn't feel 'right' to review the finale without seeing how it works as part of the whole story. Not much better, it seems. The problems that were apparent on my first reading were still there, simply smoothed out a little from what little momentum came in reading all seven issues in one straight go. It's a disappointing end to a disappointing story arc that doesn't inspire much confidence for the launch of "The Mighty Thor" #1.

The build up to this finale was marked by two things: a glacial pace and characters performing actions to service the intended plot rather than because it's what they would do, no explanation given or, apparently, needed. This issue falls into that tradition while doing some different things. The resolution to the World Eaters' threat comes off as abruptly after issues of build-up. The confrontation between the invaders and the Aesir is short and lacking in excitement. That lack of excitement, though, makes this abrupt, quick finish seem just as slow as the build-up. There's no rise and fall of the dramatic excitement; it's a flat, straight line with everything occurring on the same emotional level. It's obvious that this is meant to be big and epic and important, and it doesn't come off that way.

Part of the reason for that is the decision to use the Blood Legion avatar in the place of the Asgardians themselves. That may seem like a good idea in theory, but it replaces the well-known look of Thor and his brethren with generic, brown giants. We may know that that brown giant is Thor, but, because it doesn't look like Thor, the emotional impact of his struggle to break through the World Eaters doesn't register.

The actual resolution to the World Eaters' threat falls into the trap of earlier events that simply happen, because that's what the plot wants. The idea to cut the roots of the World Tree came two issues ago as a means to prevent the World Eaters from arriving. How it traps them now that they've arrived on Earth/in Asgard isn't entirely clear. The explanation seems to be magic science makes it so and that's it. Looking beyond that, it's an anti-climactic way to defeat this big threat. It's evil, barbarians invading Asgard and the solution is to cut a tree? That's not epic, that's gardening.

The use of the Blood Legion avatars doesn't just hurt the emotional impact of the story, it also hurts the art. What's the use of having Pasqual Ferry drawing "Thor" if he's not actually drawing Thor? There's a sequence of two panels that sums up the problem: Thor is looking off in the distance and says, "Ah. There you are, old friend" and we cut to a panel of Mjolnir sitting in the mud. Ferry tries to make the Blood Legion look interesting and cool, and fails. Of all the wonderfully-designed creatures to appear in this story, the Blood Legion are the dullest ones. The Thor stand-in takes the visual energy right out of the sequence that has the Blood Eaters defeated.

For the rest of the issue, Ferry is aided by Salvador Larroca, who tries to work in the same visual style and succeeds to a degree. The difference is noticeable, but close enough that nothing stands out as glaring.

Taken alone or as part of the whole, "Thor" #621 is a disappointing and baffling end to the Matt Fraction/Pasqual Ferry run. After a huge build-up, the conclusion to the story is anti-climactic and simplistic, relying on the convenient storytelling trick of 'it happens, because it happens' rather than actual logic or reasoning. Hopefully, now that everything seems to be where Fraction wants it, "The Mighty Thor" can deliver on the promise he showed in his "Ages of Thunder" one-shots and the "Secret Invasion: Thor" mini-series.

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