Twenty-one issues in, and "Thor: God of Thunder" is fittingly epic, awesome and all other adjectives Asgardian. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic hit the high point of their "The Last Days of Midgard" arc in this issue, with slash-and-smash action in the future and a tough-to-stomach, tougher-to-fight situation for Thor in the present. Even readers who didn't like "The Accursed" should be eager to jump back on board for this arc, because it's impressive.
Like its predecessors in "The Last Days of Midgard," this issue features two stories: the future battle between King Thor and Old Galactus, and the present conflict between Thor and evil corporation Roxxon.
In the future, Old Thor and Galactus have a classic Thor-style knockdown, and it's a fun, fun time. For this issue, Aaron clearly isn't interested in doing any plot work on the future storyline. There are no forward developments - just dramatic captions, epic boasts and the requisite "I say thee nay!" Ribic demonstrates his considerable talent for action and larger-than-life characters, with sequences that practically burst off the page, and Svorcina provides appropriately dramatic colors to complement his line work. The whole sequence is just riotously well-done and over-the-top; I mean, at one point Thor and Galactus literally break the moon. It's exactly the sort of fight I want to see when I read a Thor title, and Aaron and Ribic give the audience what they want.
In the present, things are just as dramatic, if less cosmically so, as Roxxon takes its revenge for Thor's environmental activism. Up until now, Roxxon CEO Dario Agger has been a bit cartoonily sneering for me. He's certainly believably despicable, and his Minotaur form adds a fun mythological angle, but I didn't have the sense that he'd be difficult to defeat. What makes him an enemy of Thor is one thing. What makes him a challenge for Thor is another.
Here, he becomes a compelling villain because he is not simply a nefarious polluter - he's a planner. I won't spoil, but his revenge plot against Thor is carefully thought out, and ingeniously relies on Thor to cause his own problems. Aaron and Ribic build up to the reveal with smart, quick pacing, driving on a sense of frenzy that Thor also expresses. It's well-imagined and well-executed.
More importantly, this plot can't be undone with well-placed blows. It will require an equal amount of planning, plotting and thinking, and that's not Thor's strong suit. Roz Solomon looks like she'll get to contribute quite a bit, since she spends the issue warning Thor about how the game is played in modern Midgard -- "we have to do this the right way. The legal way" -- even though he doesn't listen to her.
The last few pages brought in a new element that I'm not entirely sold on, but overall Issue #21 is emblematic of what makes this run on Thor so impressive. Jason Aaron has a strong sense of what makes a Thor story work, which even the most skilled writers can't always manage. He's testing how Thor views himself and how he solves his problems, and I'm intrigued to see the answers as "The Last Days of Midgard" continues.