These are the end days of Asgard and the mood is dark, disturbing, and depressing. The word on everyone’s mind, but never said is Ragnarök as it is clearly coming and there’s nothing that can be apparently done to stop it. The concept has been done numerous times in Thor comics, but Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi infuse “For Asgard” with a starker sense of hopelessness and despair than previous stories. It’s like a kick to the gut in places as Asgard falls apart, mystifying Thor, enraging others, and leaving me wondering how far things will sink before this series is done.
The opening sequence sets the mood for the issue : a silent sequence with Loki whispering in an Asgardian’s ear at a banquet, causing him to shoot an arrow at Balder, which Thor catches, happy at saving his friend’s life only to turn and see that he didn’t catch it, and Balder is dead. That Thor awakens and finds Sif no longer in his bed further illustrates the idea that Everything Is Wrong and Thor is alone, unsure of how to repair the damage done, burdened under the weight of ruling Asgard in his father’s place. An out of continuity tale is the perfect place to explore the true horribleness of the oncoming Ragnarök and also allows Rodi to expand on Asgard somewhat.
The majority of the issue focuses on an attack from inside Asgard as a band of crazed rebels try to destroy the Rainbow Bridge, but Rodi sets the scene by having a group of younger Asgardians mocking Thor from the sidelines as he makes a big show of a new attempt to save Asgard from destruction. The younger, rebellious gods voicing their mocking displeasure is an interesting element in Asgardian society that’s rarely, if ever, seen, and, because it’s rarely seen, only adds to the feeling that the idyllic Asgard is no longer so.
The brutal fight between the rebels and Thor’s forces is depicted with energy and savage beauty by Simone Bianchi. His intricate, stunning visuals mixed with the washed out colors of Simone Peruzzi help create the foul mood that permeates the comic. While the art is gorgeous, the Asgard and Asgardians shown are the bright and shiny superhero-esque versions we’re used to seeing. There’s a sense of decay and brutality around the edges, that we’re looking at the last days of a once great and powerful race. Even Thor looks like a shadow of himself, noticeably feeling the weight of his position and baffled at how things can go so wrong. The look on his face when a rebel commits suicide shows just how out to sea he is in the current situation.
“Thor: For Asgard” is surprising in its dark tone and how much that tone works. It doesn’t come off as dark and brooding for the sake of it, but is rooted in an integral piece of the Asgardian story. Rodi and Bianchi continue to present the decay and collapse of Asgard as Thor watches helplessly, unsure how to turn things around.