The issue opens about half a second after the last one closed. Thanos strides down the aisle to the unhappy couple and when he arrives he leans in close and tells Baldur, ‘Heh. She would tear you to pieces, little god.’ Before things can escalate in this direction, they explode in another. Sindr makes her entrance in her usual subdued fashion: she’s riding a giant, flaming rhinoceros, scattering corpses as she comes.
The battle is met by everyone but Loki, who wraps a glowing chain around the haft of a hammer (which he names Hel-Bringer) and he explains to a very irate Thori that his brother only seems dead. He went for help. Now, they just have to bring him back. Loki throws the hammer after Thor and readies his knives for battle.
As for Thor, he’s talking to Brunhild outside of the gate of Valhalla. She agrees to follow him to battle but says that they have no way of finding their way back through the mist.
Luckily, this is the cue for Hel-Bringer to make an entrance. Thor grasps it, and the scene changes back to the would-be wedding.
Sindr is wreaking havoc among the dead, and Thori pauses in the middle of disemboweling a demon to have a moment of frankly heartbreaking introspection, before plunging into the fray again.
While this is happening, Thanos and Hela are having a moment all their own. Thanos informs her that their engagement is off because Death has summoned him to her side again. He essentially says that they had fun, and she was good in bed, but their relationship was a business affair and now it’s done.
Hela is equal parts enraged and genuinely bereft, but she turns her fury on Sindr and they threaten each other a bit before Sindr knocks Hela’s crown off and Thor comes blasting out of the ether with a hoard of Valkyrie at his back. They are clothed in blinding light, like the robes of glory.
This splash page is amazing, by the way. It looks Baroque, like a painting by Rubens in his mythic mode.
The battle is joined. While Hela is distracting Sindr, Thor scoops the Hel-crown from the ground and dons it. He becomes Death. A new hammer forms, for him, of frozen blood and another, made of fire, slides into his other hand.
The battle is brutal but very fast. Thor batters Sindr into the ground then stands to face her with his family at his back.
Since she desires to live and fight another day, Sindr opens up a gate of Bifrost and makes her escape.
Hela reclaims her crown from Thor and as she and Baldur squabble over who gets to rule, and if they should honor their previous deal, Karnilla says the marriage vows herself and slides a spiky black wedding ring onto her finger.
Guess who just became co-ruler of Hel?
The deal done, Karnilla asks Loki for her wedding present and before Baldur can protest, he shunts them all back to Thor’s aquatic home in Midgard.
In Hel, Hela faces Karnilla and says, ‘Congratulations, wife. Good luck surviving the honeymoon.’
Back on Thor’s boat, Baldur stares at a painting of his mother and says that he feels strange, but he’s glad to have returned to life in time for the war. Brunhild agrees – it seems that she’s done with Valhalla for a while, too.
Meanwhile, Loki decides that this is the time to claim his prize and he does so, vanishing in a shimmer of green.
Thor and the others begin searching the boat, trying to decide which powerful weapon Loki has stolen.
Thor doesn’t notice that the painting of their mother has vanished from the wall.
If the thing that you most desire from a story about Thor is a combination of psychedelic Kirbyesque cosmic strangeness combined with the humor and sincerity of Wagnerian opera, well, it would be difficult to find a better book than this one. All of the pieces that were set up in the first four issues have come together here and the result is something intricate and visually beautiful while remaining, frankly, fun as hell.
First, let’s talk about character. Everyone in this issue acted like themselves. That seems like faint praise, but it is fully meant. Loki tricked everyone by proving his mother right (remember her admonition to Thor in the first issue?) and operating out of his own twisted version of love.
When Thor took up the Hel-Crown, he plunged neck-deep into a situation that he didn’t really understand, faced temptation, and then proved his worth (again) by willingly giving up the power of death to his sister.
Baldur and Karnila plotted against each other as a way of sacrificing for each other, and as for the wedding that eventually took place, the solution Karnila found to the riddle of rule might have been a surprise, but it was only a shock if the reader only views marriage as a heterosexual pairing. This plot, the lover sacrificing all to marry someone they hate so that they might rescue their lover, has popped up everywhere from Margaret Atwood to Richard Wagner. It’s an old, old story, and it was perfect, here.
The pain the characters felt was absolutely believable, even when the expression was (by necessity, due to the format) absolutely over the top.
Speaking of pain, let’s talk for a moment about Thori. This murder-dog provided a great deal of the comic relief (proving himself willing to switch alliances at the drop of a hat, thinking in the appetite-drigen language of ‘distractible dog’, but ultimately proving himself loyal) but that page of introspection he had when he paused in the middle of battle and considered running off to find someone who has the time and head-space to actually LOVE him made my heart hurt. It was such a doggish thing to want.
My final comments will be about the art. —’s lush, painterly style is absolutely appropriate for this book. It works beautifully in scenes of action, and it leads to some remarkable spreads. It’s slightly less effective during quiet, introspective scenes, but that’s totally understandable. This is opera, after all, in comic book format. It’s meant for action and broad sweeps.
If you haven’t picked up this series yet, do so immediately.
This was a dizzy, psychedelic sugar-rush of a finale punctuated with operatic violence and moments of real emotional weight. Pick it up.
Thor #4 Thori is a VERY Good Boy
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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