J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Thor came to an end last Wednesday. We’ve already reviewed the first 12 issues. This review covers the rest of the run.
Title: Thor #600-603, Giant-Size Thor Finale
Author: J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrator(s): Olivier Coipel, Marko Djurdjevic, Danny Miki, Mark Morales, Allen Martinez, Laura Martin, Paul Mounts and Christina Strain
Cover Date: April 2009 – January 2010
Cover Price: $4.99 US for #600, $3.99 US for the others
Loki’s machinations bear fruit, and Thor is driven from Asgard into exile. With the other Asgardians moving to Latveria, the pieces are moving into place for Loki’s endgame.
The Warriors Three. They don’t have a lot of time in the spotlight, but what time they do have is excellent.
This is the end of the JMS run, and not simply the next chapter.
This is an original story for the title, driving Thor and his supporting cast into new places. There are some familiar elements to the final status quo, but it’s not a complete reset, and those elements haven’t been seen in decades, so it still feels fresh. I give it 5 of 6.
The artwork is excellent, as it has been on the entire run. Both Coipel and Djurdjevic bring a gravitas and majesty to the Asgardians without losing the human emotion or the ability to tell a narrative in pictures. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story is generally very strong. Thor keeps moving from point to point, while Loki manipulates very effectively, to the point where those who know they are being manipulated still feel compelled to do as the trickster wishes. The final issue felt a little rushed to me, but that could be more to do with my own familiarity with JMS’ usual long term planning and the relative suddenness of the ending than the actual content itself. When I read the first 12 issues, I was expecting them to be the first chapter in a run that lasted more like 70 issues than 17. (I suspect that JMS’ post-Changeling workload forced him to drop one of his other commitments to deal with the call of Hollywood, and he chose to retain The Brave and the Bold over this because that title is free of crossovers and allows a writer more freedom in many ways. That’s entirely my personal speculation, but it feels like this wrapped up faster than JMS’ had in mind when he first started his run.) Reading it a second time for this review, the pacing seems better, likely due to my own readjusted expectations than anything else. I give it 5 out of 6.
The characterization is great. Thor, Donald Blake, Balder, Loki, William the Third, Kelda and the Warriors Three all have their moments in the spotlight. The Warriors Three demonstrate the power of their loyalty while keeping the reader laughing out loud. Thor and Donald Blake interact with each other in ways that really show the relationship between them is truly different than most. Blake doesn’t duck into a phone booth and take off his glasses to reveal himself as a superhero, but he truly needs to be physically replaced by the God incarnate. Sif gets a few moments, but again, it feels like her time to shine was planned for later. Loki, Balder and William the Third also have excellent moments. The series may be titled “Thor,” but it could just as easily have been called “Asgard” given the amount of depth given to the supporting cast. I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response is great. It would have been better had the creative team not planned to change for the next issue (due later this week), but only because I’ve been so happy with this team’s product. I give it 5 out of 6.
The flow is smooth, with dialog facilitating the transitions between scenes and locations in almost all cases, helping to keep the different plot threads connected as a reading experience before the explicit ties are revealed. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this is a good ending to a run on the title that shouldn’t be ending just yet. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Thor #600-603 and Giant-Size Thor Finale receive 35 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
The comments I’ve made about the changing creative teams should not be taken as a smear on the new team. There’s a six page preview of the upcoming issue 604 in the “Giant-Size Thor Finale” (along with a reprint of Thor’s first appearance from Journey Into Mystery #83) and it looks to pick up the unresolved threads of this run and tie them directly to the upcoming Siege event.