The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!

Seven months ago, Matt Fraction and Pascal Ferry began their long-awaited run on Thor.

Seven months ago, I told you that Thor may be the best straight up superhero work that Fraction has ever done and, seven months and seven issues later, I believe that more strongly than ever. If this isn't the best story arc from the last year, I don't know what the hell would be; if Thor isn't the best superhero comic published in the year, I have no clue what else it would be.

Mostly, this is because of Pascal Ferry. Ferry, a name we don't see nearly enough as far as I'm concerned, was almost certainly the best choice for a mythic title like this. He clearly has a very big imagination and, even better, he has the chops to make what he imagines real. Ferry's artwork is the exact opposite of everything that I usually hate about guys like Mike Deodato: his work has a certain softness and his characters jump off the page. His backgrounds are huge, almost all encompassing in scope and, yet, he handles the little moments (Thor's introspection on the death of Balder a couple of issues ago, Loki's sense of wonder at the forces of Asgard, assembled and victorious) with just as much skill.

Ferry's art, though, is all the more for the work of colorist Matt Hollingsworth; if Ferry makes the myth, Hollingsworth makes Thor pop (and I mean that in both senses of the word). This is perfect comics, in terms of art work. This is art for mass consumption that takes full advantage of the complications and benefits of shared universe, of modern gods and monsters. This is how comic books should look. This is how Thor should look, big and powerful and consumable.

And then there's Matt: Thor #621 is the promise of #615 (hell, the promise of JMS's Thor #1) delivered. If it wasn't clear yet that Fraction knew exactly the power of the character he was writing, Thor #621 should clarify. Fraction, here, eschews the idea that he is merely writing comics. Fraction, here, is instead a mythographer, in the Lee or Kirby or Simonson sense of the word. If Matt Fraction isn't the next great American comics guy, I don't know who would be. What better title than Thor (well, Mighty Thor as of this month) for a guy like that?

For all his prowess, though, Fraction is something of a sloppy genius; once the battle between the Asgardians and the World Eaters ends
(Thor has to slice the World Tree in half!), a battle going on now for a good three issues after a hell of a lot of buildup, we get a series of vignettes, abstract events rather than a true plot. Half of this issue is resolution, the other half is suggestion for what comes next, threads of what we'll see in Mighty Thor and Journey Into Mystery. These vignettes could be a great mess; instead, they are intriguing clues with enough momentum of their own to carry the story forward.

This week is a week for whats to come, and, just a few years since being allowed to lie fallow for a while, Thor may be the most fertile ground that Marvel has to work with right now. The King is Dead (although rumors of his death may in fact be greatly exaggerated). Long Live The King!

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