“Fear itself” is over and titles like “Journey into Mystery” get to pick up the pieces. In its first post-“Fear Itself” issue, the title begins to deal with the ramifications of what happened in the event, namely the death of Thor and the roles that Loki and Volstagg had in that death. As we saw last issue, Loki manipulated events so that Thor would sacrifice his life to kill the Serpent as a necessity; in this issue, his heretofore unknown co-conspirator, Volstagg, struggles to go on after helping to kill one of his dearest friends, even if it was called for.
The revelation that Volstagg’s spirit was powering the Destroyer during Loki’s mission is surprising and makes sense given how Volstagg was one of the few gods who listened to Thor and watched over Loki. He was a natural recruit to help secretly save the day and he understands it was necessary, but still isn’t happy about what happens. His method of dealing with it is to tell his children about the events of “Fear Itself” in a skewed manner that emphasizes his heroics and downplays the harsh realities.
The most entertaining part of Volstagg’s story is Richard Elson’s depiction of it, illustrating the story in an exaggerated, cartoony style. Volstagg is less ‘fat’ than giant and powerful in his telling, originally trapping the Serpent himself and doing most of the work during “Fear Itself.” Elson’s drawing of a Nazi submarine rescuing the Serpent from his ocean prison is a highlight, along with Ms. Marvel going overboard in praising Volstagg’s heroic feats before his wife yells at him to move along in the story. It’s an entertaining portion of the issue, although it never goes far enough.
Volstagg’s story is an obvious fabrication that never quite gets past the point of ‘amusing.’ Nothing is genuinely funny or ludicrous. Given his nature, you’d expect a story so absurd that even his children would roll their eyes at parts. It’s a little too tame for the purpose it serves. Elson’s stylistic changes to his art set those panels apart from the regular narrative to a degree, but his layouts work against that purpose. His cluttered, stacked panel approach to layouts means that the story panels tend to blend in more than you’d want. There isn’t a clear demarcation, which takes away from the story.
Overall, “Journey into Mystery” #630 is an amusing, entertaining comic that begins the follow-up to “Fear Itself.” Volstagg’s role in the event is surprising, and his reaction lends itself to a fun comic. The only problem is that the writing and art don’t go far enough to make Volstagg’s story a fantastic tall tale, walking some middle ground that leaves you wanting more.