Thor: Road to War of the Realms is out this week and it’s a touch late if you ask me. “War of the Realms” is ending next week, but here now is the lead up to the event in the pages of Thor. Witness Jason Aron and Michael Del Mundo (and other artists) reveal what the heroes did in preparation for Malekith. And by preparation, I mean a bloody fist fight between Odin and Thor among other things.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The stage is set for the War of the Realms! Thor has battled through Hel, but now finds himself a prisoner of the fearsome warriors of Heven! Can even the intervention of Valkyrie and Thor’s deadly sister, Angela, help the Thunder God escape the inescapable prison of angels? Meanwhile, with S.H.I.E.L.D. gone, Roz Solomon has been left adrift — but she’s about to take on a surprising new role…and make a million new enemies. For war is coming — and the invasion of Earth may have already begun! As Malekith targets all there is, will Odin be left as the All-Father of Nothing? Plus: Centuries ago, Odin was determined to keep a young Thor away from Midgard for good — and Loki knew just the way to do it!
Why does this matter?
This is a good place to start if you haven’t started “War of the Realms” yet. Seriously, it ties right into it, hence the name of the book!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This collection houses Thor #7 through #11 and plays out in an episodic way with each issue delivering a different focus for each story. There is a bookended love story that helps bring it all together, but largely this is a check in with key characters before the “War of the Realms” really kicks off. What this trade does is resolve Thor’s enslavement, check in with Roz Solomon, allow Thor to have some lasting moments with his mother and father, and finally tinker a bit with what Loki is up to by the side of Malekith. Before all that, though it opens with a love story set in the past between Thor and a woman of Earth which ties everything together.
There are a few themes at work in this collection like Roz’ attempts to get past her doubts, or Odin attempting to prove something in his old age, but the strongest is one focused on Thor and his growth as an adult. The opening story gives us a Thor from the past who drank too much mead and cared only about partying on Earth. Odin, with the help of Loki, tests Thor by nudging him into the love of his life. This plays into Odin and Thor’s brawl later as Odin treats Thor like he’s the pup that will never grow up, but is sorely proven wrong in more ways than one. Much of this collection feels like it’s preparing the characters for the war of the millennia which adds to the tension of the war itself. Jane Foster even plays a part as Aaron tidies up a few loose strings for the big event.
The first issue collected here is drawn by Tony Moore with color by John Rauch and perfectly encapsulates the fable style it’s going for. The detailed work adds to the bloody violence and the youthful Thor keeps the tale feeling like a coming of age tale of sorts for Thor himself. Mike Del Mundo draws the next three issues as he pulls Thor out of imprisonment with some wild shockingly white scenes that are disturbing and vivid. The last issue drawn by Lee Garbett checks in with all the main players leading into the war rendering them well. The final few panels lead right up to the War of the Realms well too with a hint at more to come for Mjolner and Thor.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
There are aspects to this collection that don’t feel cohesive with each other and thus are less important in the grand scheme of things. The prison break is fun, but it’s rushed and only seems to be here to remind us Angela is his sister. It could use an entire arc to really go deep with how the torture is affecting the heroes. Later the Roz chapter is quite good, but again it feels rushed and one might hope she gets her own book after what Aaron puts her through. All in all this collection reads like it’s biding its time before the War of the Realms takes place rather than feel entirely necessary.
Is it good?
A good collection that ends right up until “War of the Realms” begins serving as a primer for key characters in the event. It’s not quite a road to the even though but rather a few good check-ins with key characters.