Thor #9 kicks off the six-part “Prey” story arc, which rather shockingly utilizes classic Thor character, Donald Blake. If you don’t know, Blake was once capable of changing into Thor with a magic staff. In this new issue, Cates explores how this character fits into current Thor lore, and in now-classic Cates fashion, puts a dark and nightmarish twist on once bright and hopeful ideas. In a good way!
This issue is a nice refresher on who Blake is, and it’s pretty clever too. It opens with a good montage of the character history of Blake drawn by Nic Klein in an efficient fashion. It’s epic, mythical, and effective, which leads to a page-turn reveal of the place Blake goes when Thor takes over. The concept of a magical realm of peace is introduced, which is nice for Blake and creates a warm feeling for the story. This cuts to Thor and Loki talking over the idea of bringing back Blake, which is Thor’s first mistake.
At its core, this issue is more or less a recap on Blake and two major reveals. These reveals kick things up a notch and payoff readers who have been patiently waiting for Loki’s knowledge of Thor’s hammer to take effect. Cates has done well to weave together a few different ideas which enrich the narrative and make the events more believable. Narratively speaking, the story adds new details, informs on past ones, and creates anticipation with all its pieces coming together.
For a Thor story, this might be too dark for some. The issue is quite cruel as it introduces a Pleasantville and then pulls the rug out from readers. Given Knull is on his way to Earth it’s no surprise things get twisted and dark here, but it’s a stark change for a typically positive and hopeful character like Thor. This book hits hard in the horror department with a bit of mystery, too. The depiction of Thor also seems a bit off as he’s quite doubtful of himself and comes off as desperate.
That’s in large part due to Klein’s art with colors by Matthew Wilson. There is a red hue covering everything in the dark place Thor investigates in the last half of the book that’s like a fog or haze. The reveal of Blake as he is today is quite cool thanks to the costume design. There aren’t too many mega reveals in this issue like in the past issues, but there are epic double-page layouts that stretch the page well. There are a few montages that work well to get a lot of stories across quickly.
Thor #9 is a good start to a new arc that edges the series into straight horror. It lacks big-beat moments we’ve come to expect from this team, but makes up for it with an interesting detective story while building on reveals from past issues.
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