With a title like “Thor of the Realms,” Marvel knew what it was doing putting out this latest classic Thor collection. This trade paperback has a wide swath of stories starting with the introduction of Odin in 1963 all the way up to a 2014 story featuring the at-the-time brand new Angela integration into the Marvel universe. It’s a wide-sweeping collection, centered around the realms themselves — or at the very least the reference to them.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Join Thor and his family on a titanic tour of the Ten Realms! Witness the ancient origin of Yggdrasil the World-Tree! Thor leads a desperate battle against the relentless Mangog — for Asgard! Learn how a foolhardy adventure in Niffleheim led young Thor to be banished! Loki declares war on Midgard — and visits his childhood self in Jotunheim! From Svartalfheim, Dark Elf Malekith plots to unleash the Casket of Ancient Winters — and Odin recalls the ancient trip to Muspelheim that began his age-old rivalry with Surtur! Plus: Alfheim! Vanaheim! Nidavellir’s role in the origin of Mjolnir! And the stunning revelation of the Tenth Realm of Heven!
Why does this matter?
This collection comes right in time for the eventual release of the War of the Realms in collected format. Read this if you’re looking for a bit of context as far as it goes with the ten realms.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
It’s kind of a hoot reading this collection and seeing how far comics have come. A few pages from Journey into Mystery #97 from 1963 — written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby — show an earlier time in comics. If Lee and Kirby even knew what kind of epic they’d be building in the future. The story has an old school feel and delivers an origin story for Odin, Thor’s father. Jump ahead five years to The Mighty Thor #157, where we meet the Mangog as the Asgardians attempt to kill or at least stop the bringer of Ragnarok. The story jumps ahead from there, featuring new roles for Odin and Thor, eventually landing on a three-issue arc by Walter Simonson, which features the War of the Realms villain himself: Malekith the Accursed. Other villains, like Surtur and Loki, pop up in the collection too. Original Sin #5.1 and other later stories collected here show off how far the art has come over the decades from folks like Russell Dauterman and Lee Garbett.
Collections like this feel like curated works by fans of the series who want to give readers a bit of context for what is going on in the books today. This one does that loosely and you can’t deny it’s fun to see how Thor and the Asgardians have been warring and fighting for seemingly forever. There are some handy guides to the ten realms in the back, as well as the start of Malakith’s war on the very last page.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
It’s hard to shake the feeling this collection exists solely thanks to the clever title “Thor of the Realms” and not much more. If you want to delve into War of the Realms with a greater understanding, simply pick up a bunch of Thor trades. This feels like Marvel made an effort to add context, but realized to do the reader a favor you’d need a much thicker collection.
Is it good?
A fun read to see a striking change over the years for the greatest God of Thunder, but you could do better to pick up a couple of Epic Collections or omnibus collections to give yourself the proper context before you read War of the Realms.