In Jason Aaron, Al Ewing, Lee Garbett, and Simone Bianchi’s “Thor and Loki: The Tenth Realm” #2, Thor’s entirely too trusting nature lands himself and Loki in a world of trouble when he announces their Asgardian heritage to an entire battalion of the Tenth Realm’s angels. With a story by Jason Aaron and Al Ewing, the issue plays to the brothers’ individual strengths under Ewing’s usual energetic flare for dialogue. However, the artwork — provided by Lee Garbett and Simone Bianchi — is a mixed bag, utilizing two different styles that result in an uneven story flow.
Although “Thor and Loki” #2 is a whole lot of set up, Ewing — who wrote the script — manages to make the issue fun with snappy dialogue and spot-on character work. Where Ewing’s work on “Loki: Agent of Asgard” has proved him more than capable of handling Loki’s cunning, this issue shows that he is just as adept with Thor. Ewing’s Thor is big hearted and trusting, if a little rash, and unafraid in battle; his Loki is as devious as ever, falling back on his tradition of seemingly abandoning Thor in his time of need. Likewise, The Guardians of the Galaxy’s brief cameo makes for a good laugh or two as Ewing manages to cram several hilarious witty repartees into the scene in an organic way. Functionally, Ewing moves all the pieces into place with this issue; though he makes it as fun as possible, the story simply doesn’t stand out yet.
With two artists on this issue, some change in style is expected. However, the difference between Garbett and Bianchi is stark. Further dividing them, Woodward and Dall’alpi respectively color the issue with styles just as different. Where Woodward skews towards brighter colors that pop, Dall’alpi’s are darker and muddier. Further, Dall’alpi’s pallet causes the inks to lose their definition; the characters begin to lose facial features as the colors and inks run into one another. Additionally, Garbett’s style is much cleaner; Bianchi adds extraneous lines to his figures which, when combined with Dall’alpi’s work, further obscures the details. Regardless, Bianchi and Dall’alpi’s concluding full page spread is stunning, pitting Angela and her vivid red hair against a bright blue sky, looking down regally upon Thor. Their Tenth Realm, with its Escher-inspired stair ways, are phenomenal where they peer through the chaotic action. When they have a moment to focus on one item — especially faces — their work excels.
“Thor and Loki: The Tenth Realm” #2 is, in every sense, a hit-or-miss kind of issue that lays the groundwork down for its gut-wrenching revelation. With Ewing’s quick wit, Garbett’s clear-cut figure work, and Bianchi’s gorgeous closing page, this issue shows a lot of promise for the conclusion to come.