“Thor Giant-Size Finale” #1 should be read as just any other issue of Thor in J. Michael Straczynski’s run, because that’s what it is. Ignore the ‘giant-size’ label since the main story is one page longer (hardly giant-making) and the rest is filled out with a preview of next week’s “Thor” #604 and a recolored reprint of “Journey into Mystery” #83. If you expect Straczynski to end his run on a giant ‘this changes everything’ moment, forget that, too, as the plot is advanced here as much as it is in any other issue of his run. If you ignore all of the hype and stick to the comic itself, it’s a good Thor comic with an interesting story that looks like it may just get more interesting in the future.
This issue picks up directly from “Thor” #603 as Balder interrupts the fight between William, the sole human to travel to Latveria with the Asgardians, and Loki’s stooges, and learns of Loki’s betrayal. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, the Warriors Three and Sif adjust to their new lives as Doombots descend on the town to kill Donald Blake. The two stories suggest that the two groups of characters may BE reunited soon and advance Loki’s plans to eliminate Thor, Balder, and to do as he pleases with Asgard.
Each plot has one single event that changes the status quo, but neither in a big way. In fact, the alteration to the Donald Blake/Thor relationship is more a return to the status quo than anything else and hardly impacts the main plot of the book. Some may feel cheated at that, expecting Straczynski to exit the book with a grand gesture, an earth-shattering plot twist that makes you wonder how in the world Kieron Gillen will be able to take over next issue, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, things advance, characters grow and change at their normal pace, and it’s a well-written comic that acts as a capstone to Straczynski’s run by showing off how good he has been throughout its 17 issues.
On the art side, Olivier Coipel couldn’t join Straczynski for this finale, but the title’s sole fill-in artist Marko Djurdjevic continues to impress with his interiors. This issue is more action-heavy than the previous ones where he’s taken Coipel’s place and it shows off his abilities. One scene where Volstagg uses his girth and strength to demonstrate why he’s one of Asgard’s most respected warriors also has Djurdjevic demonstrating his ability to compose pages that are exciting and dynamic. Not only that, but Djurdjevic handles the emotional scenes well. The opening scene where William and Balder fend off Loki’s men has a nice mix of the two as Djurdjevic continues the style Coipel began while also putting his own mark on the book. In some spots, his lack of experience shows through, but his growth over the course of this series has been great.
I won’t comment on the preview to next week’s issue of “Thor,” leaving that to whoever reviews it, but Kieron Gillen and Billy Tan have their work cut out for them, as Straczynski leaves the book he relaunched in the top ten and does so with class in an issue that acts as a reminder of the quality of his run.