If Thor #1 was a great example of how much Donny Cates stuffs his scripts, issue #2 is an example of how he loves good, no holds barred storytelling. There is stuff in this second issue that made me ponder if even legendary Thor scribe Walt Simonson would have been allowed to show it let alone think up the details himself. The book is so entirely different from what has come before it doesn’t matter in the slightest it’s following a 7-year epic run by Jason Aaron. Dig in, as the Herald of Galactus, Thor God of Thunder, is event caliber serial storytelling.
The first four pages of this issue are like a solid extra in a death metal vinyl package. The captions capture the new point of view of Thor on his latest mission to aid Galactus in devouring five key worlds. There’s a not so subtle nod to Superman, Batman, and the Justice League as the captions detail how you’ll want heroes to come to save you when the end times arrive. Sadly though these captions explain it won’t be enough. It puts a dark mood on the book as we turn the page to reveal Thor floating before Galactus who is preparing to eat a world with billions of lifeforms on it. It helps Nick Klein adds to the death metal vibe with the dark crows that hover over Thor’s shoulders; how outer space isn’t the bright Kirby cosmic we’ve come to expect, but a sea of darkness.
Much of this issue revolves around this one planet and what Thor will do when it comes time for Galactus to feed. Cates balances Thor’s altruism and heroism well against Galactus’ inability to care about the life on this planet. Their dynamic is starting to become clear and it’s cool to probe how this duo will keep from killing each other as the story progresses. Cates expertly weaves in Asgard and how Thor is still tied to his people as king reminding us he has a lot of responsibilities still weighing on him on top of this whole Herald thing.
Props to Cates for keeping the pace up with this series as it never doddles. We cut from Thor being made a Herald to him already at the first planet Galactus must devour. The cliffhanger is proof enough there won’t be too much exposition and characters standing around yammering. It’s action, gore, and death for this book!
Klein does a great job capturing the scale of Galactus and the new look and powers of Thor. The Cosmic Marvel universe tends to be bright and hopeful, but here there’s a darker edge to everything. Props to color artist Matthew Wilson who is able to darken the page while reminding us there’s a brightness in there somewhere. You can see it in Thor’s hair in the above image where it’s white in the light but darkens in the shadows. There seems to be a shadow hanging over so much in this book and Wilson makes it look natural. Galactus is still clad in purple, but he has foreboding shadows around him to remind us this is not going to end well. Galactus is terrifying no matter the angle in this book. Joe Sabino’s letters do well to balance the captions versus the dialogue and you have to love the cosmic crackle surrounding a few of the word balloons.
It’s not quite a face-melting experience, yet, but Thor is going to strike a few beefy power chords with audiences who read their comics like they take their coffee: black and lightning hot.
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