The Mighty Thor #703, featuring “The Fall of Asgard”, is another superlative issue in what has been a consistently outstanding run by writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman. And that’s in spite of the fact that the mighty Thor herself makes but a brief, single-panel appearance–in her guise as the Goddess of Thunder, at least.
As anyone who’s been following this series (or just keeping up with the Marvel Universe in general) already knows, the original God of Thunder, Thor Odinson, lost the ability to wield the mystic hammer Mjolnir, and the divine powers associated with it, when a whisper convinced him that he was unworthy, back in 2014’s “Original Sin” event. Since then, both the hammer and the role of Thor have been borne by Dr. Jane Foster, a character first introduced way back in 1962 as the then-Thunder God’s “love interest”. There’s a big catch, however–Jane is suffering from cancer, and every time she transforms into Thor, her treatments for the disease are set back. Being Thor is slowly but surely killing her.
But, as shown in the opening pages of the current issue, Jane’s friends–such as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Roz Solomon–are doing their best to dissuade her from this self-destructive path, though with little success thus far. When duty calls, the thunder answers.
Of course, among Jane’s friends are some other costume-wearing heroes, including the Falcon and Doctor Strange. The notion of a romantic attraction between between Jane and her Avenging teammate Sam Wilson was actually introduced by Avengers scribe Mark Waid over in that book, and has gotten relatively little attention in Mighty Thor thus far–so it’s nice to see it touched on here. Aaron handles the relationship deftly, using it to add an extra note of poignancy to Jane’s friends’ efforts to convince her that her ordinary, mortal life has value, above and beyond her utility as a superhero–that, as Sam says here, “there’s more to life than just thunder”. (As a side note — the “footnotes” on this page encouraging readers to check the two guest stars out in the current issues of their own series are a nice touch as well, hearkening back to the kind of in-story cross-promotion Marvel used to do all the time. A reflection of the publisher’s current “Marvel Legacy” initiative, methinks.)
When the scene finally shifts to the current day, we find that Thor’s most recent exertions have indeed landed Jane in the hospital–where the three friends of hers we’ve just seen, along with the Odinson, proceed to stage an intervention of sorts. Meanwhile, the Mangog — the embodiment of the hatred of “a billion billion beings”, first introduced almost fifty years ago in Thor #154–has begun his invasion of Asgard, where he quickly overcomes Heimdall, the sentinel of the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost–and then turns his destructive attentions to the Bridge itself.
This is a bravura sequence, visually, in which the spectacular color work by Matthew Wilson contributes every bit as much to the overall impact as Dauterman’s brilliant drawing.
But even while Asgard’s forces–including the Odinson’s uncle, Cul, and his adoptive mother, Freyja–struggle desperately against the overwhelming power of the Mangog, the Odinson himself, along with Jane’s other friends, continues to try to keep Thor out of the fight.
Mjolnir, however, has other ideas.
The stakes for Asgard have never been higher; neither have the personal stakes for the mighty Thor. Jane has a critical, nigh-impossible choice to make before this issue ends–and make it she does (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you). In the meantime, her predecessor as Thor, Odinson, returns to Asgard to join his father in the last stand against the Mangog (which may seem like a spoiler, but actually isn’t, since the scene is depicted on the cover).
As this chapter of the story ends, we’re only two issues out from #705, which we’ve been told will be the conclusion of the “Death of the Mighty Thor” story arc. The smart money would be on Jane Foster to expire, and the Odinson to return to his traditional role–on the other hand, editor Wil Moss has gone on record to state: “You may think you know where things are going, but I promise you do not.” Nevertheless, whether or not the end of the storyline finds Jane Foster left alive, let alone still the Goddess of Thunder, this run of Thor should surely stand as one of the best in the series’ fifty-six years of existence. Speaking as a fan of the character for the majority of those years (as it happens, the very first issue of Thor I bought was the one immediately following the first Mangog storyline), for whatever that’s worth–I’d rank this as one of the three finest Thor runs ever (the other two being Lee and Kirby’s and Simonson’s, of course). What the collaboration of Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson has brought forth in the last three years really is that good.
“But it’s not the real Thor,” I hear a few voices complaining out there. Oh, yes, it is. And if you’ve passed on this run thus far because of some misguided antipathy to the whole idea of a “lady Thor”, may I very respectfully suggest that you just go ahead and get over it, for Sif’s sake? Order (or download) some trades now, so you can catch up in time to enjoy the end of the saga with the rest of us.
Oh, and before I forget–yes, there is indeed a Wolverine “post-credits” scene that pops up on the book’s last page. Darned if I can figure out how (or if) it means much of anything, either in the context of Thor’s ongoing story or of Wolverine’s, but if you’ve just gotta have ’em all, here it is.
The Mighty Thor #703 is available from Marvel Comics.