Thor: God Of Thunder #4 continues the forward momentum of Jason Aaron’s run at Thor. I am not a fan of Jason Aaron, never really have been, but I must admit that God Of Thunder is astonishingly good. Taking three separate storylines and combining them to tell one tale is never easy, but Aaron, at least thus far, has handled it masterfully. For the first time in a long while, the fate of Thor is unknown and the iconic Norse God seems to be in way over his head.
As villains go, Gorr The God Butcher, is one of the better ones we’ve seen. He’s evil, demented, twisted and completely sadistic. There isn’t one glimmer of a master plan other than to kill all the gods as painfully as he can. Issue #4 opens in the future, where Asgard lies in ruin and Thor is awaiting, and welcoming, death. Aaron’s soliloquy by Thor about his inadequacy at being king and of holding Mjolnir is one of the best thing’s he’s written so far. Seeing Thor so beaten, so defeated that he begs for death is tragic on a Shakespearean level. Gorr will not kill the God Of Thunder, not until he’s seen every other god slaughtered. Powerful stuff.
Equally as powerful is Thor in the modern era, all cool helmet and swinging hammer. Here we see the Thor we love, filled with fire and hatred towards his enemy. Our hero has entered a cave from his past, the one where he first met Gorr. Something went on during that first meeting, something that has focused all of Gorr’s energy on taunting and destroying Thor. Within the cave, Thor meets Shadrak, a once peaceful god forced to watch his entire pantheon get murdered by Gorr’s Black Berserker troops. Not just forced to watch – Gorr cut off Shadrak’s eyelids so he could only watch. Like I said, Gorr is one of the more heinous villains out there.
Modern-era Thor takes his new friend to Omnipotence City, a sort of hall of records for all the gods. There, after battling Black Berserkers, Thor discovers the planet Chronux, a place where time travel is possible with the use of a few drops of blood from the inhabitants. Being Gorr, he has bled everyone on the planet into this pool of time travel. What is his nefarious plot? That remains shrouded in mystery as we are thrust to future Thor just as he is about to be killed by Black Berserkers. An explosion sends them reeling and, standing before his future self, modern era Thor demands to know where Gorr is.
Aaron has done fans a real favor by returning us to the days when Thor was about mythical themes and larger than life adventures. With the God Of Thunder involved in so many other titles, his main one should always be about Asgardian business, not more crime fighting. Matt Fraction attempted to do that with his Thor run, but it became so convoluted and boring it was nearly unreadable. Aaron’s penchant for violence comes in handy here, and he’s managing to avoid sacrificing story for his love of “shocking” the reader. Aaron has often started strong and finished badly, so I’m still cautious. If he can keep this momentum going, Aaron could be one of the strongest Thor writers in a long time.
Esad Ribic’s art is the perfect for this story. I’m usually not a fan of fine art style in comic books, especially when it leans this close to watercolor imagery, but for a fantasy story like this, it’s perfect. Ribic understands how to use this more ethereal art style without losing form or action. Sometimes, this style makes each panel look like a blob of color and design. Ribic has enough straight penciling mixed it to keep the characters solid, which allows the action to be more focused.
God Of Thunder is a visceral return to Thor’s roots as a warrior of the eternal realm. It is a treat for the eyes, heart and imagination.
(4.5 Story, 4 Art)