Best Shots Review: MIGHTY THOR #700's 'Effort & Enthusiasm Is Palpable & Infectious' (8/10)

"Mighty Thor #700" preview
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Mighty Thor #700
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Walter Simonson, Russell Dauterman, Daniel Acuña, James Harren, Becky Cloonan, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham, Andrew Maclean, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo, Olivier Coipel, Matthew Wilson, Dave Stewart, and Ive Svorcina
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Credit: Marvel Comics

Clocking in at 50 story pages, over a dozen artists and over a half-century of Asgardian adventures, Mighty Thor #700 is an effort by writer Jason Aaron that can only be described as worthy. While the end results can sometimes be a little discordant, there’s no denying the ambition in this book, as Aaron not only seeds numerous new story arcs, but does his level best to give every Thor their due.

It’s fitting, in many ways, for this issue to kick off "Marvel Legacy" for Mighty Thor, given that legacy has been a cornerstone of Aaron’s run since the very first issue. First it was Young, Modern, and Old Thor; and in the wake of the Odison’s fall from grace, we’ve now had Jane Foster, Volstagg, and even Loki fill the vacuum in their own ways. Still, even with all this, the scale of Mighty Thor #700 is a daunting one, with even Aaron’s framing device of the Norns under siege at the World Tree threatening to buckle under the narrative weight.

Credit: Marvel Comics

But thankfully, even though he juggles more than half a dozen storylines, Aaron’s scattergun approach also means there’s something for everyone in this book, which does read as a love letter to Thor history. You get the star-spanning mythology as we watch the Odinson (along with his pet goat Toothgrinder and his talking murder-dog Thori) defend the Norns against an invading horde cultivated across the Ten Realms, with beautiful, page-spanning artwork from Russell Dauterman; meanwhile, you get good, old-fashioned superhero smackdowns with Jane Foster, as Aaron and artist Daniel Acuña smartly play up the classic Thor-Hulk rivalry by pitting Jane against the newly rage-filled Jennifer Walters. You even get a taste of the whimsical with the return of Frog Thor, who brings a light-hearted, friendly neighborhood heroism with artist Jill Thompson as he solves a murder in Central Park (and makes a surprising last-minute rescue in the process).

Credit: Marvel Comics

Perhaps my favorite part of the book, however, is when Aaron turns back to Young Thor, drawn beautifully by Becky Cloonan, when they really dig into what makes the Thunder God tick in every incarnation: “Battle is how they prove themselves. How they become who it is they’re meant to be.” By tying together Thor’s inherent impetuousness with his need to prove himself worthy - either to his father, his hammer, or the rest of the universe - shows the crack at the center of a demigod’s Uru heart, the relentless drive for self-assurance and self-improvement that makes Thor a surprisingly endearing, even relatable character.

Credit: Marvel Comics

That said, while this big anniversary issue swings for the fences, there is a little bit of narrative fat that keeps this ambitious effort from being a grand slam. Because of the ever-shifting tones of each storyline, the momentum of this book feels a little choppy, particularly when we make pit stops with characters with less narrative meat, such as King Thor and his three granddaughters, or the return of Volstagg as the War Thor, or a wild but distracting battle at the end of time between Black Galactus and Ego the Living Planet. (Still, kudos to Aaron and artist Chris Burnham for making that last bit a bonkers and memorable battle - it’s just one that steals a little bit too much spotlight for its own good.) These stories all do their level best to justify themselves - and honestly, seeing artists like James Harren or Andrew Maclean on Mighty Thor feels like a no-brainer, they’re so badass - but the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach is both this book’s greatest strength and its biggest setback. Because it’s such a jam-band approach, there’s no opportunity for the book or its readers to get settled in with any one style or storyline.

Still, that’s the kind of failing I want to see more of in comic books - because Mighty Thor #700 takes a particularly weighty franchise and does a remarkable job at examining and celebrating its long and storied legacy. The effort and enthusiasm behind this book is palpable, and dare I say, even infectious. Fans of Mjolnir should definitely give this book a read, if not to see where Thor is headed as a series, but to see such a uniformly strong collection of talent in the same place.

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