Creating Stakes in Mighty Thor 701

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?

2 comments on “Creating Stakes in Mighty Thor 701

  1. I love how Aaron uses each jumping in point to expand the scope of his story. He begun with a very tight focus on the Odinson. With the first relaunch, the story grew as Asgard became more and more important as Jane struggled to face Odin. With the next, he started the War of Realms, taking his story to the next level while introducing even more supporting cast members like Loki and Amora (though she has turned up lately). And now, the scope is even larger, as characters like Karnilla and Balder now enter the fray as even more Realms get involved (great timing, as I have just been reading Simonson’s Thor run, which is full of Balder and Karnilla). The story has never been bigger than it has now.

    And while I’m still a bit confused at the exact purpose of the War Thor – between an initial arc that went on too long and the way last issue quickly rendered that arc kind of meaningless, the War THor has been one of the weakest elements in Aaron’s Thor – the fight between him and the Mangog is amazing in its brutality. It is always a shame when Dauterman isn’t drawing, but it is impossible to see Dauterman show the sheer kinetic impact of Mangog like Harren does here. Every punch feels true. Everything hurts. At first, didn’t care for the Mangog, wished we had another heavy for this arc.

    But after this issue? I want to see more

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