Odin returned last issue and he’s not pleased with his son for bringing him back. It’s refreshing to see Matt Fraction take a more back-to-basics approach to the All-Father, one that’s very understandable given his wish to remain dead and continue to contain the likes of Surtur in the afterlife. I was concerned that bringing back Odin is just another move to return “Thor” to a familiar status quo, but it’s a decision that adds conflict to this issue, one that manages to speed things up a bit after issues of the plot moving at a glacial pace. This issue of “Thor” delivers some tension and action, and the first confrontation between Asgardians the Word-Eaters, one that leaves neither side unharmed.
More so than previous issues, the threat of the World-Eaters seems looming and large with Odin confirming that he always knew a threat like this would come. His recounting of how the universe came to be through the creation of the World-Ash acts like something of a kick-off point for the second half of this story, infusing the series with some new life, as does Odin’s confronting Thor about his decisions to bring back Loki and his father. Those moves seemed out of character, but Odin’s accusing “But you couldn’t stand the quiet. Could you? Boy,” puts those actions into a slightly different context, especially when you consider the destruction of Asgard.
The second half of the issue finally shows the World-Eaters fighting with Asgardians and the results are surprising. It would be tempting for Fraction to make the World-Eaters seem unbeatable, but they come off as a force very close in strength and skill to the Asgardians. An equal-but-opposite force if you will and that seems more interesting than the clichéd overwhelming force of infinite power that you’d expect. If they present enough of a challenge for to satisfy the build-up is another question, but this issue leaves them as a serious threat that may be beatable.
The art of Ferry and Hollingsworth continues to impress with the updating of the various Asgardian visuals. The World-Ash looks like something of magic and wonder here instead of the regular tree with some map details overlaid on top like it’s usually presented. The fight between Balder, Tyr, and the World-Eaters is quick, chaotic, and brutal. Ferry and Hollingsworth go for bold, eye-catching visuals that don’t show every little detail of the conflict, instead offering memorable high points. As a visual tease for the larger conflict, it’s very effective, showing how the World-Eaters handle themselves against the Asgardians, while also demonstrating that Ferry can deliver strong, visually-stunning fight scenes.
So far, “Thor” hasn’t managed to live up to the promise of Fraction, Ferry, and Hollingsworth’s first issue, but it’s definitely on the right track, recovering from issues of stagnation. The World-Eaters are here and they look to present a serious threat to the Aesir, while Thor’s decision to bring back Odin already seems like a bad one. It may have taken some time, but “Thor” is entertaining and engrossing.