The Mighty Thor: At the Gates of Valhalla // Review
The Mighty Thor: At the Gates of Valhalla, by writer Jason Aaron, artists Jen Bartel and Ramon Perez, and colorist Matthew Wilson, bridges the gap between the last issue of “The Mighty Thor” and the upcoming first issue of “Thor”, and it does so in the most pleasant way possible. The last issue of The Mighty Thor left Jane hammerless and depowered after sacrificing Mjolnir to defeat Mangog. Now, she is back in Midgard seeking treatment for cancer, and she seems at peace. But that peace might not last long…
Aaron breaks this special in two, starting off with the feel-good story of the future Thor’s granddaughters jumping around in time to find their hero, Jane Foster. The lighter tone of this story is definitely the more enjoyable of the halves of this book, mainly because you can tell Aaron has so much fun writing the Goddesses of Thunder, not to mention his love of Jane Foster. You can practically feel the smile on Aaron’s face as you read the characters’ banter. In addition to being contagiously enjoyable, there are also some sly hints at the future of Jane Foster given by the Goddesses of Thunder, as they are from the future and know Jane’s entire history. If it is to be believed that they know her history well, then Jane’s days as a hero are far from over. Combine that with her eyeing the remains of the Ultimate Mjolnir last issue, and it’s not hard to believe that Aaron has plans for her to wield a hammer again some time in the future.
The second part of the story revolves around Malekith, and it is much darker than the first. Gone is the infectious joy, replaced by a happiness only Malekith can indulge in. This sequence serves as a kind of recap/catch up for the Dark Elf King, as he musters his forces across the Nine Realms in order to wage war on the Gods. He believes he’s got his enemies on the brink of total defeat, and now he is setting his eyes on Midgard. This part of the story feels like filler for the most part, but Aaron does manage to squeeze in a tease of some exciting stuff towards the end, and yet another hint of more plans for Jane in the future. In a perfect world, the Malekith story could have been shorter, forfeiting pages to the Goddesses of Thunder, but it doesn’t hurt the book too much as it is.
There are two artists contributing to the story, and both do a fine job. Jen Bartel brings her extremely fun take on the Goddesses of Thunder first, and knocks it out of the park. The Goddesses’ trip through time allows Bartel to stretch her artistic legs and have the most fun an artist could possibly have telling a story, as the audience is treated to different eras of Thor before landing in the present to meet Jane. Her illustration of Jane flying away with one of the granddaughters of Thor at the end of the story is impossible not to smile at. Ramon Perez, on the other hand, lends his talents as an artist to the much darker story focused on Malekith, and proves that his impish quality to his figures and their faces is perfectly suited for a Dark Elf-centric tale of war and death. Colorist Matthew Wilson handles both tales, but shines a lot brighter on the first half. The darker palette of the “Lord of the Realms” story didn’t quite mesh as well with Perez’s art, as they seemed muddled together in some panels.
In the end, this was a pleasant one-off story that sets up the near future stories of the upcoming “Thor” book while also wrapping up the previous era in a not-so-tidy bow. It’s clear Aaron is not done with Jane, and that’s just fine. Odinson, the returning star, is curiously absent from the special, which may be disappointing to some readers, but he is not really missed in this particular story, and Aaron will be giving him plenty of spotlight over the next few arcs, so it’s understandable. If you’re looking hints about the fate of Jane Foster and the upcoming story involving Malekith, this book will tide you over until perfectly until Thor #1 hits next month.