Thor #9 takes a detour from following the God of Thunder’s ongoing adventures and takes readers for journey alongside another soldier drafted into the looming War of the Realms: Roz Solomon. Issue #9 is what happens when high fantasy meets government espionage, with a touch of female empowerment thrown in for good measure. Fans may recognize Roz from her time in Broxton, Oklahoma alongside Thor as both ally and lover, but things change, and so do people. A constant running theme in Thor titles is the struggle to be worthy; Thor #9 can be considered as coming to terms with being unworthy. This isn’t the Roz Solomon we came to know while Asgard called Oklahoma its home.
The anticipation of the coming war weighs heavily on the minds of earth’s heroes, and Wakanda is preparing for the inevitable. However, T’challa’s new status as the chairman of the Avengers does not sit well with world leaders, causing the Avengers to lose access to allies and support they’ve come to rely upon in the past. Wakanda launches a recruiting effort of its own. With the memory of S.H.I.E.L.D in the rear-view mirror, Roz Solomon has been seeking a sense of purpose — in steps Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje to recruit Roz as the newest agent of Wakanda.
Roz is tasked with gathering information on Malekith’s wicked axis of powers, and taking action as needed. Armed with superior Wakandan technology, Roz finds her first target; a Dark Elf safehouse in Queens. What begins as a simple mission to gather intel quickly escalates to greater discovery, The Dark Elves are laying the groundwork for an attack on the city and Malekith has access to a Dark Bifrost. Add a Frost Giant to the mix and Roz’ first mission may very well be her last.
The plot hinges on the mercurial emotions of Roz Solomon, as she (and the audience) struggles with the actions she took in Broxton for the sake of saving lives. During the battle of Broxton Roz shot and killed 17 Trolls. The repercussions of that night continue to resonate in her life.
To S.H.I.E.L.D., she was a hero. To the Trolls, she is Roz Solomon “the troll slayer of Broxton.” Roz fights to discover her own identity. Writer Jason Aaron explores how she comes to terms with her past throughout the issue, jumping between her mission in the present, and her recruitment process in the past.
The choice to follow Roz throughout the comic instead of our titular hero Thor is a strange one, but it pays off in spades. Roz’s story is best told directly, instead of being relegated to a “B” plot over a series of issues. Aaron manages to compress a lot of story into a one-off; the personal character arc Roz experiences is evident from start to finish.
Roz used to be a lot of things: an environmentalist, an agent of shield, a love interest of Thor; but by issue’s end she is an agent of Wakanda and woman who has accepted her past and embraced her present, for better or worse. Revealed during a flashback, Roz approached Thor for his help but was quickly dismayed as She-Hulk interrupted, entering Thor’s room for some “training.” She then turns to Jane Foster for advice on Frost Giants but concludes that she must do this on her own. At first glance, Roz’s decision to take on such an overwhelming foe may seem brash, but further insight will glean more intricate results. She is carrying the guilt of her murder, Roz’s actions a sort of catharsis for past sins. Whether her mentality was, she deserves the punishment at hand or seeks redemption is up to interpretation, but by issues end Roz uses the hurt to move forward.
Concerning action, Thor #9 is no slouch. The new tools at Roz’s disposal help to even up the odds a bit, but also lends itself to fun encounters. Despite the backing of Wakanda’s technology, Roz is at a disadvantage, but some intuitive decision making on her part more than gives her the upper hand. I enjoyed that Aaron allowed Roz to solve the problem herself, it was her “Burden to bear” after all. The new Wakandan suit works well, and vibranium anything (even a spork) can prove useful.
Mike Del Mundo’s art feels like it came from tome of sorts. It suits the fantastical element inherent to a Thor comic steeped in the mythological. He decides to overtly incorporate sound effects on the page physically, Picture large KAPOWS! and STOMPS! during a battle. Mundo also includes graphics (Like stars surrounding a punch) to amplify the action. It may be off-putting to some, but overall the aesthetic fits the narrative. Thankfully, when the scene calls for more drama, the in-your-face visuals take a back seat to the conflict at hand.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Thor #9, the departure from focusing on the title character works, for the most part. Aaron continues to build (slowly I might add) elements of the looming War of Realms. It won’t surprise me if fans who came seeking Thor in a monumental battle are disappointed. Another minor gripe is that the Thor book feels like a precursor to the War of Realms Event, rather than a title with its own identity. If nothing else, Aaron continues to place all the pieces on the board before unleashing hell.