by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.
700 issues in, the gods of Asgard have faced annihilation numerous times. But they have always pulled through, because that’s how decades-long serialized mythologies work. Every threat must be bested in order to perpetuate the franchise. This isn’t something that bothers me: the “what happens” never concerns me as much as the “how it happens.” But for anyone demanding meaningful, lasting, concrete consequences in their storytelling should welcome the rise of Mangog. Mangog is here to kill the gods, and by the end of issue 701, he’s already got a definitive Win in his column.
This was also true of Gorr, the Godkiller, back in the early go of writer Jason Aaron’s run on the series. The difference was that Gorr killed nameless space gods. It was all lovingly rendered, but any affection the reader had for the deceased deities had to come from within those pages and not from any previous experience with those characters. Mangog’s target here is a pair of Marvel Universe institutions: Volstagg and the War Thor. Granted, they are one in the same. But Aaron is careful to remind readers what the hammer of War Thor represents — the entire might of the wiped-out Ultimate universe. Effectively, it is imbued with all the meaning and affection readers have for the entirety of a lost universe, and Mangog stops it almost effortlessly. I absolutely adore James Harren’s acting on Mangog as the beast gingerly pins the hammer down with his pointer finger.
This comes on the heels of a page that is literally just 10 panels of Mangog wailing on Volstagg, but it is this dainty motion that made me gasp. Mangog proceeds to obliterate the hammer and smash Volstagg’s arm. That’s months of “what about that other Moljnir?” hypothesizing crushed in the palm of this creature. In a medium of muted stakes, Mangog’s opening assault successfully eliminates something we actually like — that’s pretty fucking impressive.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?