I will, as is my wont, continue to gush over the creative team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matt Wilson. They have established themselves as a premier team and perhaps one of the most consistently inventive in comics today. With War of the Realms #4, they have topped themselves in several respects, exceeding already high expectations.
The Black Bifrost remains the only way for anyone to move between the realms now that the Dark Elves have destroyed the Bifrost. Heroes have been dispatched to the 10 realms, seeking those who would fight for their survival. Freya herself stands as the sole guardian of the onyx bridge, wielding the Bitterblade and defending it against the swarming Dark Elf armies. It is when things look darkest that true heroes step forward and love lights the darkness.
There is so much happening in this issue that is buzzworthy. Thor is rescued from Jotunheim by Captain America, Logan, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Hulk lead the scattered forces of Alfheim, Hel, and Nidavellir to Midgard. Heroes converge in Avengers Mountain under the leadership of Jane Foster to plan the assault on Malekith’s forces on Midgard. The massive centerpiece of the story, however, is Freya. Freya, standing firm against impossible odds in the heart of Svartelfheim, literally glowing with BDFE (Big Dark Freya Energy). Through his run on The Mighty Thor, Matt Wilson has excelled at making his whites pop off the page. Here, it is the black energy radiating from the All-Mother that changes everything. Throughout, she truly appears as a god to be feared and worshipped, sparking with energy from David Bowie’s darkest dreams. Finally, an Asgardian not named Thor shows themselves to be awesome, in the most literal definition of the word.
Freya battling and sacrificing herself to save the realms would have been noble, fitting her character, and badass, but Aaron ups the ante again by bringing the All-Father into the mix, wearing newly forged armor courtesy of Tony Stark and Screwbeard. He leaps into the fray in Svartelfheim as Freya is mortally wounded by a spear made of Venom. Read that one again. A SPEAR. MADE. OF VENOM. They fight, they flirt in the most Viking way possible, and they sacrifice themselves together for the realms and to halt Malekith’s complete control of the realms. Unreal storytelling made manifest by Dauterman and Wilson.
Usually, in major comics events, issue #4 has the heroes still battling from below, losing ground to the overwhelming enemy, only to pull out the victory quickly in issues #5 and #6. This story is telling a much more deliberate tale, woven through with Shakespearean levels of love and loss. We have reached the top of Act II, prepared for the final battle where the forces of good must win to save the realms. Act III is going to be epic.
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