Review: Though Imbalanced, Thor #8 Offers A True Journey Into Mystery

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on May 15, 2015.

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Thor #8 draws the first volume of Marvel’s newest God(dess) of Thunder to a close just asSecret Wars and Thors begin. Wuth Secret Wars upheaving their regularly scheduled programming, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman do their best to wrap up the story they’ve told so far while leaving some tantalizing cliffhangers for whatever comes after Battleworld. It’s a tightrope between conclusion and introduction that doesn’t consistently manage to deliver, but looks spectacular in the attempt.

Dauterman kicks the issue off with a spread of Thor, Odinson, and an army of Marvel’s mightiest women charging into battle against The Destroyer. With so many characters bounding through these panels, he makes every moment count. There is no space for quiet moments in this lunar battle; just a great big smackdown that’s totally awesome. Everyone from Thor to Freyja gives it their all, giving this issue the look and scale of a proper superhero climax.

That’s not to say that Dauterman is all flash and style. He manages to fill the conversations and exposition that cover Thor #8’s back-half with plenty of humor, pathos, and dread. There’s two particular pages where Odinson looks absolutely dumbstruck after incorrectly guessing the new Thor’s secret identity. His reaction is nothing short of knee-slappingly hilarious.

Meanwhile, the revelation of Thor’s identity and foreshadowing of future threats carefully slide the tone from a fun, super brawl into a more dramatic and threatening tale. What Aaron lays out at the end of this issue should more than entice readers to return to Thor once Secret Wars has run its course.

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Colorist Matthew Wilson lights up the dark side of the moon to make magic and fire seem real. Artists like Wilson are discovering ways to make comics appear almost as vibrant on the page as they do on a retina display, marking the work of a skilled craftsman using every tool and skill available to him.Portals, energy beams, and other effects all gleam with a wide spectrum of colors, tracing bright beams of light and movement through panels. Wilson is stretching the limits of what CMYK (the coloring process used for printing) is capable of. Some of the lightning and effects almost glow, as if they rendered in the more versatile RGB (a coloring process that cannot be printed).

For as beautifully as Thor #8 reads, it stumbles in its scripting. In the letters column, Aaron states that “Everything up to this point was really just the prologue.” And it shows. The fight with The Destroyer doesn’t end with a bang so much as a whimper, once Odin ceases the skirmish once his wife is threatened. It undercuts this cast’s abilities, saying that all of women ultimately can’t manage a threat that Odinson had managed in the past. It’s all very anti-climactic.

There’s plenty happening in the issue, including the introduction of some very interesting themes that stem from Thor’s alter-ego, but they are all included as an epilogue. Rather than making the most interesting elements of the issue part of the story, they are tacked on to remind readers that Thor will return. It’s an unbalanced and slightly confusing combination of elements.

Despite that imbalance, the promise within the final few pages combined with Dauterman and Wilson’s superb work makes Thor #8 an enjoyable issue. When it lands its hammer blows, they really land. If Aaron integrate the ideas introduced at the issue’s end, whatever follows this epilogue should feel properly epic.

Grade: B

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About chasemagnett

Chase is a mild-mannered finance guy by day and a raving comics fan by night. He has been reading comics for more than half of his life (all 23 years of it). After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with degrees in Economics and English, he has continued to research comics while writing articles and reviews online. His favorite superhero is Superman and he'll accept no other answers. Don't ask about his favorite comic unless you're ready to spend a day discussing dozens of different titles.
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