Kieron Gillen’s run on “Thor” was originally scheduled to end last month, with this issue marking the debut of the new creative team of Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry, but that run has been pushed back a few issues, so Gillen is still on the title to build on some of the ideas introduced in his short run, particularly one from the “Siege: Loki” special. This issue begins an arc that looks like a suitable follow-up to the events of “Siege” with some clever ideas by Gillen.
In “Siege: Loki,” Loki brokered a deal between Mephisto and Hela to create a new Hel in a section of Hell for the deceased Asgardians to go to since the previous one is off-limits with Asgard on Earth. During the transaction, Loki also gave Mephisto control of the Dísir, the Valkyries of Bor, that turned evil and were cursed, now eating the souls of Asgardians. However, they are unable to enter Hela’s realm by Bor’s command, a command that Mephisto cancels, setting them loose on the souls of the Asgardian dead in Hela’s new realm. With the Dísir turned loose, the souls of all Asgardians are threatened.
In Asgard, the funeral pyre of the deceased is held and a private ceremony for Loki is held by the three sons of Odin, leading to a question of Asgard’s leadership. With Thor not wanting the throne, some question Balder ruling when Tyr, the god of war, is able, and Gillen has a little fun with the perception of Tyr’s courage during “Siege” when we know that he ran away at one point, afraid of a prophecy that said the god of war would die (Ares was the god in question). It’s a subtle scene that rewards readers of the book and plays out well.
One area where the issue falls flat is the use of the Dísir somewhat. The scene where the leader of the Dísir convinces Mephisto to let them enter Hela’s new Hel and feast on the souls is a little too crude and obvious for “Thor.” While Mephisto would certainly be a sleazy person since he’s a ruler of Hell, the tone of his conversation with the Dísir doesn’t match the rest of the book, or any previous issues. The execution feels out of touch with the series; it’s more like the tone of Mephisto’s appearance in “Deadpool Team-Up” this week.
Rich Elson provided art on previous issues with Billy Tan, so his working with Gillen provides a sense of consistency to the book. His line work is clean and detailed in a way that suits the title. His characters are a little bulky at times, especially the sons of Odin, but his depiction of the Dísir is really strong. They’re grotesque and monstrous, while still have their roots in the Valkyrie look. He handles the action well and Andy Troy does not do too much to overpowering the art. Troy hangs back, providing simple colors that complement Elson’s drawings, giving a clear, crisp presentation.
With Gillen expanding his run to accommodate the delay in the new creative team’s run, there was a worry that this storyarc would be nothing but filler, but it comes out of “Siege” effortlessly, acting as an epilogue to the events there. Gillen’s shown a great ability to take ideas from previous stories and use them in new and interesting ways, building on what J. Michael Straczynski did on the title and, now, building on his own work. So far, it makes for a nice little run that I’ll be sad to see end.