This week's Asgardians of the Galaxy #1 by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Matteo Lolli is three years in the making according to Bunn, and in uniting this team of Asgardians the story pulls some loose story threads - and a dead Asgardian god - out of the Marvel Comics ether and back to the fore.
Angela and a Destroyer (piloted by a mystery person) are recruiting a team of Asgardians in order to stop Gamora from obtaining a mysterious Asgardian artifact. She has most of the team in place - Skurge, Thunderstrike, Throg - already, but the series opens with her recruiting Valkyrie - and her body-sharing counterpart Annabelle Riggs.
(Valkyrie and Annabelle Riggs began sharing the same body in 2013's Fearless Defenders, also written by Bunn.)
The series opens with Riggs having drinks with Ren Kimura - also of the Fearless Defenders. Riggs seems about to ask Kimura to marry her when Angela and the Destroyer shows up to forcibly recruit Annabella because "The galaxy is in great peril."
Riggs is spirited away by Angela, leaving Kimura halfway through a seeming marriage proposal - and also the check for two glasses of wine.
Riggs, Angela, and Destroyer are transported into the center of a battle between the remainder of the Asgardians of the Galaxy (no, they don't call themselves that in the book currently). They're fighting trolls, Chitauri, Kronans, and the Badoon on Draeketh - "The Planet of Temples." Riggs has been brought for her expertise as an archaeologist, as they have a large casket with Norse symbols on it that the two forces are fighting over.
The battle gets heated enough that Riggs takes a break and calls on Valkyrie to take over - who then quickly fights side-by-side with Skurge.
Thunderstrike makes an entrance then, swinging his Asgardian hammer on a chain. Full of bravado, he's knocked down by a Krogan but then saved by the "Throg. Frog of Thunder. (No, Really)" with a well-timed hammer throw.
The heroes win the battle, but with Valkyrie inadvertantly destroying the casket which Riggs was recruited to decode.
That leads the team back to their ship, which is apparently powered by a fragment of the Rainbow Bridge. They're on a course to find the contents of the casket.
The book then flashes back to how Angela and her team came to the planet, before they recruited Riggs.
The scene begins with over a dozen Nidavellir dwarves floating dead in open space: chained, tortured, and frozen... with their fingernails removed.
They land on the nearby planet - that Planet of Temples from earlier - to find the person who killed the dwarves: Nebula. She holds a new axe, and stands beside another chained dwarf ffering her a a horn of some kind.
"Sh-she promised... promised to let the others go... if I built her a weapon and helped her find the horn... she promised..."
Gamora - in full Marvel Cinematic Universe look - escapes with the horn thanks to her new axe - which can cleave through space like Skurge's. On leaving, Gamora makes it a point to bring up her sister Gamora and a possible tie-in to Infinity Wars.
"I'd love to stay and deal with you myself... but dear Gamora is out there trying to steal my thunder and take over the family business. So I'm afraid I have places to be... a tune to play... and Ragnarok to unleash."
The book then flashes back to current times just after Valkyrie accidently shattered the casket. She flips back to her archaeologist counterpart, who decifers the runs on the remnants of the cask.
The cask contained a horn that can be used to call upon Naglfar - a Ship of the Dead.
In Asgardian mythology, the gods and their world are remade intermittently in a cycle of events culminating with Ragnarok. They die, then are reborn. But what we didn't know until now is that when the Asgardians die and reborn, their old bodies remain - and are placed on Naglfar to "ferry lost souls" into the void. So there's dozens of zombified Asgardians - previous Odins, Thors and the like presumably included - on this ship.
And oh wait, there's more. There are dozens of pantheons with dead gods also on this ship.
"And there they wait -- for the horn to call them to a new war."
So Gamora has a horn that can call forth this ark of zombie gods.
... So how did Angela know chase down Gamora and this horn? In the coda to the issue, Angela meets with the Destroyer.
"Nebula has the horn. With it she can summon the armada and call forth the end of days. Going after her was your plan. So what do we do now?"
"Now my dear sister..." says the figure emerging from the Destroyer armor. "... We do what I've been planning all along. We save the galaxy."
The figure is revealed to be Kid Loki - last seen in 2015's build-up to Secret Wars.
So why is Angela working for Loki? You see, Loki has something she wants.
"And then you'll give me what you promised?" she asks.
"Of course, of course. Right after I put the Naglfar Armada to good use. The best use. My own."
It isn't revealed what Angela was promised - however fans of Angela have been asking for years about the whereabouts of Angela's long-time love Sera. Sera disappeared in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy #14.
In a post-story letter by Bunn, the writer reveals that he pitched this series to Marvel's Thor editor Wil Moss in 2015.
"Wil liked the idea, but it didn't quite fit into the schedule at the time. Still, we talked about it every now and then in hopes of making it a reality. And that time is now!"
This story continues in October 3's Asgardians of the Galaxy #2.