“Thor” #8 drops the shroud of mystery surrounding the Thunder goddess and reveals the mortal identity of the hammer welder on the final page in a story written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Russell Dauterman. Certainly some readers will cop to an “I knew it!” attitude and some will be as genuinely surprised as Odinson himself when his guess rings false, but Aaron leaves enough mystery to allow some of the readership to truly be surprised (provided they managed to avoid all the spoilers across the internet). Marvel hits an emotional beat with a smartly-placed ad right after that reveal, but this issue is about so much more than simply answering the question, “Who is Thor?”
Titled “The Woman Beneath the Mask,” “Thor” #8 continues the tale of Odin and his brother, Cul. The duo has set the Destroyer upon Thor, seeking her identity, her destruction, and the return of Mjolnir. Aaron also checks in across the swath of foes and friendlies that have been cast into Thor’s supporting company.
Most notably, Odinson’s list from previous issues plays out and only one name is left. Or so it would seem. As mentioned earlier, Aaron gives the readers a bob and a weave, sees daylight and snatches it, keeping the mystery intact through the end of the issue. Along the way, however, the writer has some fun with the gathered masses the Odinson has brought to battle alongside the lady Thor. “You’re an idiot, Jess,” is how Aaron handles the battle-driven banter as Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel join in to fight the Destroyer. Other allies include Hildegarde, Brunnhilde, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Sif, Freyja, Idunn and Angela, among others.
That sets the stage and “Thor” #8 opens with a glorious double-page spread that celebrates the talents of Dauterman and Wilson. Letterer Joe Sabino compliments the battle with six narrative captions, but the attack upon the Destroyer is all dynamic angles, bright colors and wonderful effects as Wilson combines every color at his disposal to complete Dauterman’s drawing of heroes unleashed from the Bifrost onto a rubble-strewn battlefield against the Destroyer.
Dauterman makes the time to give furry texture to Hildegard’s cloak and Wilson makes the Kirby crackle emanating from the Destroyer’s maw like liquid lava, bright as the sun and nearly as hot. With over a dozen ladies fighting alongside Odinson and against the Destroyer, readers will have no trouble keeping each one clear, as Aaron has identified each organically through conversation and Dauterman crafts a distinct form for each, from the shape of their noses to the poses they strike in battle. When the battle settles, Dauterman straightens out the panels, like picture frames on the wall after a raucous party. Wilson tones down the colors and Sabino seizes more room to attached characters to dialog and dialog to the flow of the story.
In the wake of the battle, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Roxxon are still at an apparent stalemate, Asgardia is in emotional turbulence and the Frost giants are listening to Dario Agger and Malekith’s promises of the return of one of the greatest Frost Giants ever. So, naturally, that means “Thor” #8 is the final issue of the series. “Secret Wars” threatens the entire Marvel Universe, and nothing, it appears, is sacred. At least Aaron and Dauterman, Wilson and Sabino had a chance to reveal who Thor is. And, of course, there will be more Thor action in and around the crossover, but the end of this issue hits like a surprise road closure just as we hit the on-ramp for a wild summer roadtrip. Hopefully construction finishes soon, as Aaron’s Thor saga continues to be an adventure I simply want more of.