Today, Shelby and (guest writer) Christopher are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 11, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Shelby: Despite what Neverending Story would have you believe, all stories do, in fact come to some sort of conclusion. Comic book conclusions tend to be more vague than most, since the end of one arc merely marks the beginning of the next. Conclusions are especially fluid when the story features a bomb made of time, with the ability to rip through all of time, and your heroes are three versions of one character at different points in his life. This is where Jason Aaron leaves us with his conclusion to the Godbomb arc: if Young Thor will grow to be Thor the Avenger who will eventually become King Thor, is this story every really over?
The bomb has gone off, and gods are dropping like flies across all the galaxies and all of time. Thor the Avenger decides to give the fight one more go, and smacks the twin Mjolnirs together. Because of god-magic, Thor is able to absorb the power of the Godbomb, creating All-Black the Necrosword, or simply The Annihillablade. Thor blasts Gorr in a truly stupendous fashion, and as Gorr dies his son names him God of Hypocrisy before dissolving into a puddle of Gorr’s black ooze. Young Thor beheads Gorr and the battle is won, except that the power of the Necrosword is too much for Thor the Avenger to handle, and he dies. But not really! King Thor brought everyone back to his Asgard, where he brought Thor the Avenger back to life and made a home for all the displaced gods who survived the bomb. The other Thors go back to their respective times, and Thor the Avenger brings some of the extra gods to the planet of the little girl who prayed to him at the beginning of the story.
There’s a lot to unpack this issue; to call it dense would be an understatement. I’ve been calling for Gorr to be named a god for a long time now; his son declaring him the God of Hypocrisy was immensely satisfying. It’s especially interesting when you consider that Gorr’s son was merely an extension of himself; he wasn’t a separate entity, an individual, he was just something Gorr created. Even as Gorr descended further and further into his god-hood, some part of Gorr the man tried to remain, and he crafted himself a son as a way to keep that link to who he was. It’s why it was the son who eventually betrayed him. The son became the only thing that remained of who Gorr used to be.
Speaking of messed-up daddy issues, King Thor has some heavy lessons to lay upon his younger selves. He straight up tells Young Thor he will never be the god his father wants him to be. Now we get into some tricky time travel; will Young Thor take that as a challenge, and strive even harder to prove his worth to his father? Or will he sulk about it and quit? It brings up the question again of how do you deal with a younger version of yourself? Do you try to fix the mistakes you made before you make them, or is messing with the timestream like that too risky?
Despite the myriad of paradoxes this sort of time travel presents, Aaron did a great job of wrapping everything up with just the right amount of “this happened because magic,” elements. Normally, I take issue with the way comic book characters never really die; I think without a real threat of death for the characters, the risks writers take aren’t nearly as meaningful. Here, though, Aaron did a great job of just embracing that rule and running with it.
He acknowledges that Thor has died at least nine times already, and King Thor is just as straight-forward after he is revived. He used his magic to bring Thor the Avenger back to life because, as a past version of himself, it was in his best interest. Aaron is embracing the weirdness of both comic book deaths and time travel in a way that fits in perfectly with the plot. I also don’t think Thor absorbing the power of the bomb and creating a weapon he could yield is at all outside the realm of possibilities as presented in this story. All-Black the Necrosword is probably the coolest-sounding weapon I have ever heard of. I would go on as many extra quests as necessary to earn the gold to buy that puppy, and Esad Ribic did a beautiful job drawing it in action.
Both Ribic’s pencils and Ive Svorcina’s inks leave me a little speechless. Aaron is telling an epic fantasy story, and the art team has gone above and beyond to deliver epic fantasy art.
Next issue has Thor the Avenger returning to Earth, and I am curious to see where this title will go next. We’ve spent so many issues contemplating divinity, faith, and the implications of interacting with a version of yourself from a different time, I have a hard time imagining only one Thor settling down to deal with mere Earth-bound issues. With that, I’m going to turn things over to our guest writer Christopher. What do you think of this conclusion to the epic Godbomb arc? Were you satisfied with the way Aaron tied everything up? If I formed a metal band called All-Black the Necrosword, should the name of my single be Annihiliblade, or Fear the Godbomb?
Christopher: Somehow I don’t see All-Black the Necrosword as a ‘singles’ band. More of a 74 minute drone-core experiment recorded in a cathedral and released exclusively on gatefold double-vinyl. However yes, your first sonic assault should be called Fear the Godbomb.
It’s a massive feat that Jason Aaron pulls off, making us readers fear the Godbomb as much as the gods do themselves. I’ve never had too much emotional investment in Thor prior to picking up Thor God of Thunder #1; I always felt the be-helmeted god was a bit two-dimensional, a bit po-faced, a bit silly and was the wearer of a willfully stupid helmet. But in this latest run Aaron has utilized the more complex facets of Thor’s character; the arrogance, the naivety, the obsession with mead, and created a compellingly three dimensional character. I mean literally. There are three bloody Thors in here — two of them with much prettier helmets on then before — and suddenly you care deeply what happens to them. In fact you care about all the gods of this world, because Aaron has not only created these wonderfully shaded characters but also engulfed them in a genuine threat.
So Shelby, when you ask “has Aaron tied everything up in a satisfactory way?” I can only answer “hell yeah with bells on!” There are traditionally many problems with conclusions to particularly long story arcs: they either amble around endlessly looking for the finish line without really finding it (Maximum Carnage), they drag on and on, offering multiple epilogues long after the main thrust has finished thrusting (The Dark Angel Saga) or they merely serve to set up another major story arc cheekily through the backdoor (Age of Ultron). However throughout the 11 issue course of Aaron’s God Butcher epic, it is completely clear that Aaron knew exactly where he wanted to end this story right from the start.
The pre-planning is obvious because we get a clear and precise ending — Thor destroying the Godbomb — in a way that completely justifies the narrative leading up to this point; Thor’s achievement is only possible because there’s another Thor with a second Mjolnir. Sure it’s a deus ex machina (or Thor ex machina) but it totally works. Also – double hammers? Has that happened before in Thor lore? Does that fall into ‘do not cross the streams’ territory in the moveable rules of fiction or is it “Superman flies around the Earth to turn back time” stupidity? Aaron fully understands the inherent problems and gaps of logic that occur when writing a time-travel tale – surely if Avenger Thor is dead then Old Thor won’t be able to bring him back as he will have ceased to exist? – therefore he’s confident enough to say “screw it”, steam full-tilt into the epic’s internal logic, concrete over any narrative loop-holes with wing-ankled speed, and force you to just enjoy the ride for what it is.
Order is restored. Gorr loses his head. All three Thors receive the pay-off they deserve. There’s also a small, fitting epilogue that has just the right touch of well earned sentiment — the bringing of gods to the alien planet — and then it just ends, gracefully without a question mark hanging over its head. This could be the last ever Thor story, such is the way it gives complete arcs to Young Thor, Avenger Thor and Old Thor, and it would be a beautiful way to end the legend. Thankfully that’s not the case, otherwise I’d be losing the most satisfying book in my pull-list.
What else makes this issue so great? Man, that artwork: The electric yellow fire of the Godbomb; the incredible double page spread that Shelby mentions above that, rather than rendering me speechless, made me mouth the words “Kra Koooomm” along with it; the abyss of black that coats Thor as he emerges victorious from the final battle, offset by the polluted murk of the sky, and then there are the lines of Young Thor’s arrogant, deeply punchable face. After all, it was arrogance that won the day here: “a lesser God… might have accepted that Gorr had won.” Nah, not on this cocky god’s watch. He’s got two mother-flipping hammers now.
All of this would be incredibly pompous and hard to swallow if it wasn’t for Aaron’s wide-ranging sense of humour.
This is a book capable of delivering the bleak comedic timing of “I didn’t think it would hurt so much” as Shadrak and the Lord Librarian are felled by the Godbomb, along with the scatological quandary of how many ways the Thors can defile Gorr’s ashes. Personally I don’t think I have imagination enough to think of ways to defile someone’s ashes; Younger Thor should probably speak to Keith Richards. It’s also worth noting that picking up the individual issues of Thor: God of Thunder is a must as, much like Saga, it has one of the most entertaining letter’s page in comics today.
This is a fitting, tonally perfect and thrillingly smart conclusion. One capable of subtlety — having Odin pray to his own son is a deft touch — and one hilariously capable of using “god magic” as a fix-all alternative to narrative. Now I’m going to buy $1000 worth of effects pedals and shirtlessly stand upon a rocky outcrop shredding the living crap out of a Flying V guitar in audition for latest drone-core sensation All-Black the Necrosword. Damn, I shouldn’t have had that haircut last week.
Christopher runs the deeply sarcastic music website http://www.righttrackwrongspeed.com/ in between making short comedy films, planning a wedding, and throwing mustard packets at a wall because, well, it’s something to do.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?