"Ragnarok, Part the Fifth"
Writers: Michael Avon Oeming with Daniel Berman
Artist: Andrea Divito
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Blinded by his sacrifice into the Well of Wisdom, we see Thor is granted a second sight that allows him to see the path he must take. Thor than follows in the footsteps of his father as he hangs himself until he has died, and is subsequently reborn with knowledge regarding the magic of the runes. We then follow Thor as he uses this ancient magic to defeat Loki, and reduce the trickster god to a talking, disembodied head.
It's never a good thing when a book has to stop and explain the actions of its characters to readers in such laborious detail, as it sends the message that the characters are behaving in a manner that wouldn't make any sense without a lengthy bit of exposition. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this doesn't feel like a Thor adventure, but rather is reads like a old Norse legend with Thor inserted into the tale much like Forest Gump was digitally inserted into historical footage. One is also left with a story in which Thor doesn't seems to have any real control, as while the entire point of this issue seems to be Thor making a bid to control his own fate, the entire issue seems to be centred around Thor taking the exact steps that he's told to make. I also have to say that this story would've felt much more innovative if it didn't so clearly mirror a similar scene that was offered up at the end of Matrix Reloaded where Neo discovered his existence was a never ending circle. Still, I am curious to see where the story is heading next as Thor looks to have made a similar choice to Neo, in that he's decided that the ability to choose one's own fate is more important that the continued survival of the universe. Still there is a sense that this would be a much better story if it wasn't paying such slavish devotion to the sign posts that were set out by Norse myths, and instead offered up a story that had its own voice.
Andrea Divito turns in a solid enough issue, as the big impact visuals of the issue are impressively rendered, from the scene where Mangog advances on Thor, to the scene where Thor shatters Loki's magic shield. I also enjoyed the scene where Thor beheads Loki, as the art does a nice job of selling the idea that this is the result of a magic spell rather than a physical attack. The art also does some nice work establishing the more surreal aspects of the story from the visions that Thor encounters when he's hanging, to the scene where he pays a visit to the old gods and lets them know that he's aware of the game he's being called on to play. I also have to say it's great to get a cover image that actually reflects the story one gets inside, as this book has been particularly bad about offering up generic cover shots that bear little to no resemblance to the story inside.
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