Thor #4 // Review
Thor #4, written by Jason Aaron, with art by Mike Del Mundo, and Marco D’Alfonso on color assists, concludes Thor’s trip to Hel to stop Sindr from taking over the armies of the dead in the name of Malekith, and while that has been the main plot of the arc, the real story has been the Odinson family reunion. With Balder being the current ruler of Hel and Tyr being a resident of the realm, when Thor and Loki show up, the siblings are reunited. The dysfunction/loyalty of this family has been the fuel of the entire arc, with even Hela (Loki’s daughter) getting in on the fun. Now, with Balder and Hela about to marry to unite the realm against Sindr, Thanos has made a surprise appearance to have words with his lover, the bride.
This was an entertaining conclusion to Aaron’s story, but it was just that. Everything kind of rings hollow. Yes, the arc was designed to restructure the hierarchy of Hel and return certain characters to the land of the living, and it accomplished all of that, but it lacked the emotional weight that should come with those big changes. Instead, readers get a lot of humor and snark, and very little focus on consequences or the impact these events would have on the main characters. Given the loss of love, and gods literally returning from the dead, people should really be starting to feel the pressures of this war, but the readers get the equivalent of a shrug, and “moving on” in the end. Maybe Aaron wanted a little more levity after dealing with the very heavy “death” of the Jane Foster Thor and the loss of Mjolnir, and that’s fine, but the tone should match what is actually happening in the story.
Luckily, the humor does make for a fun book. You could even say that it is Aaron’s greatest strength. He may lean on it too hard at times, but the man knows how to land a joke. Particularly, in this issue, the running joke of Thori (Thor’s talking, monster dog) having a crisis of loyalty amidst a harrowing battle is pure gold. He questions whether he should move on, with Thor having just disappeared, and even offers himself to someone else before he even realizes Thor is back moments later. Add to that, the hilarious dysfunction of the Odinson family, caused by several members having tried to kill each other over the years, or Thanos’ reasons for traveling all the way to Hel, and you’ll find yourself laughing out loud several times throughout the book.
Mike Del Mundo knocks it out of the park again, handling the art chores (almost) by himself. With color assists by D’Alfonso, he creates a fantasy world worthy of the Ten Realms. Every panel truly looks like an otherworldly place where gods fight amongst each other for eternity. Some may not like his lighter, almost ephemeral renderings, but his style seems to fit this book so well, it’s hard to imagine him working on a straight superhero title. With any luck, Del Mundo will be sticking around a while.
In the end, this book was perfectly fine, and even provides some great comedy beats, but Aaron is going to have to bring back a little bit of the emotional weight he tossed out the window after Jane’s departure. A Thor book should feel epic in every way. Gods move amongst mortals, having earth-shaking battles in this title. Everything is big, and the consequences should always matter at that scale. Humor is great, especially coming from Aaron, but there needs to be a little bit more balance. He had a strong start, but once the Hel arc began, it just felt like Aaron wanted to do pure comedy, despite that not matching the contents of the story. Hopefully, he’ll get back on track soon, instead of descending into the wackiness that was his X-men run.