King Thor #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
All things come to an end, and with the debut of King Thor, Jason Aaron’s multiyear run with the God of Thunder does, too. Oddly, given the scale of Aaron’s previous adventures with Thor, the beginning of this conclusion feels small as Aaron dials the action back to the seemingly eternal struggle between Thor and Loki. And that’s where an otherwise solidly executed comic book loses something. While the stories of the Asgardians are cyclical in nature and a brotherly showdown does sort of close the loop in a lot of ways, this debut certainly doesn’t feel like it has the stakes of Aaron’s other work. Artists Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina join Aaron for this farewell tour, reuniting the team that brought us "The God Butcher" and “Godbomb” back in 2012, but there’s a certain restraint in their work that holds this whole affair back.
In a lot of ways, King Thor feels a bit like a victory lap for Aaron. It’s almost less of an ending and more of a retrospective - a clip show of some of the ideas from his run. The far future setting removes a lot of the immediacy from the storytelling, allowing Aaron to wax poetic about the end of days. The writer excels at that kind of mood-setting purple prose, reminding us in the process why his run stands up with the great ones. That said, the plot leaves a lot to be desired, if only because watching Thor and Loki punch each other another hundred times is the kind of thing that really loses its luster after awhile, but we do get a stellar character moment out of the fight. And that’s really the best we can hope for out of a story like this. It is, after all, Aaron’s final word with the God of Thunder — for now, I suppose - and he does a good job cutting right to Thor’s heart.
So why am I left feeling a little cold? Well, the art lags behind Ribic’s reputation, and unfortunately, Svorcina’s colors follow suit. Ribic kind of splits the difference on his more painterly cover art style and more traditional interior art approach in this issue, and the result is something inconsistent throughout. Outside a couple of the opening pages where the characters are exploring an abandoned building, Ribic doesn’t really lean too heavily into his inks. Unfortunately, that gives Svorcina a much narrower spectrum to work with, and he never really gets the color balance right. The result is a kind of muted palette that doesn’t take full advantage of the big moments in the script. I do like the character work that Ribic does with Thor, Loki ,and Shadrak, but the Girls of Thunder sort of blend together when they aren’t yelling each other’s names. This isn’t a bad effort by the art team by any stretch of the imagination, it just feels a little underdone.
But regardless, this really is the beginning of the end of Aaron’s Thor run. It’s rare to get an ending in superhero comic books today, and rarer still for that ending to come after the better part of a decade. While I don’t think it will reach the heights of Aaron’s best work with the God of Thunder, it will likely serve as an interesting bookend to one of the greatest runs in recent history. It’s great to see Ribic and Svorcina join Aaron for this conclusion, adding to the cyclical nature of stories and superhero storytelling especially. Judging by the reveal on the last page, it’s clear that Aaron wants to go out just as big as he started.