It ain’t easy being the king. Thor should know, as he’s now the ruler of all of Asgard. His father is no longer in charge, but the burden is great. In a new story arc kicking off this week, Donny Cates and Michelle Bandini put their focus on Thor’s trepidation of no longer being worthy of wielding Mjolnir. It’s part one in a three-part arc called “Revelations” and it houses some intriguing ideas never before seen with Thor before.
As a spoiler-free review — save for what is seen in the preview — it’s easy to say without giving it away that Cates has a clear vision for the character. He’s fought Donald Blake, and even what appeared to be an evil version of himself, but he has much more learning to do. As we’ve seen in previous issues, Mjolnir can now be carried by others including average everyday human beings, but the weight of it is growing and Thor can barely carry the hammer. In fact, the even seems to have a mind of its own, literally rocketing towards his chest.
Cates sets Thor off on a mission to figure out what is going on, and he’s doing it as a sad and unsure hero. We’ve seen other writers tackle Thor’s inability to wield Mjolnir and live up to the lofty expectations of his father before, but this is different. Thor’s role is very different now that he is the king of Asgard, and figuring that out is a big part of what this issue and likely the arc is about. What makes this take on Sad Thor different is that he’s not feeling sorry for himself nor is he angry about what he must do, but at a deeper level Thor is discovering he needs to grow up — or at the very least, take responsibility for his new role. There’s definitely a bit of a retread going on here — these themes and ideas have been explored before, but it’s still early yet to see how it branches off differently than in the past.
This issue has more to it than a saddened Thor trying to figure out why his Mjolnir wants to break up with him, though. As the cover reveals, Captain America plays a key part in Thor’s decision by the end. It’s worth picking up this issue for the conversation between the two alone, thanks to a very clever idea introduced by Cates. Much like with everything Cates does, it feels like it could change a lot about how we understand the character.
The art by Bandini, with inks by Bandini and Elisabetta D’Amico and colors by Matt Wilson, is strongest when it comes to facial expressions. You feel the sorrow and sullen nature of Thor every panel of the way. There are some epic full- and double-page splashes with lots of detail, especially in costumes. The color helps inform the sorrowful nature of the story, like the blues used when Loki and Thor have a word or the darker purples used in a key conversation later in the issue. Thor’s long blonde hair and beard seem to be a focal point throughout the issue. The straightness of it and how it covers his face seems to suggest something about his demeanor at times adding to his feeling.
Thor #15 kicks off the three-part “Revelations” story arc that shows a lot of promise that Thor may be growing up. Aside from the main story beat, there’s also an interesting conversation that introduces an interesting twist on Thor and it’s a good-looking book along the way too. “Revelations” adds new layers to Thor you may not know you needed.
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