Continuing this week is Marvel’s annual event series “Infinite Destinies” in Thor Annual #1. This event has revealed where the Infinity Stones are now that they have become part of living people. So far we’ve seen where the Time, Reality, and Quantum stones are, but what of Soul and Power? The last issue in the event featured Black Cat fighting against a Superman-level power, but this week Thor is fighting himself!
The preview hypes Thor will fight himself in this week’s Thor Annual #1, but the real hype should be around how gorgeous this book looks. The main story is written and drawn by Aaron Kuder, who may have topped his best work yet with a backup drawn by the always good Juan Ferreyra. Make no mistake, this is a good one-shot tale, but please do come with your eyeballs ready to be blasted with beautiful images.
The issue opens with a prologue about a seemingly new character and how he maintains a very special tree. Kuder writes a great self-contained story that starts with a good flashback to add context and color. It feels like he’s carving out a place for a new character well worth appearing again soon. This prologue helps add context, but also a mythical quality that works so very well in Thor stories. You could easily read this issue without reading previous stories in the event, and really you only need some idea of Thor’s backstory to enjoy it too.
The mystical nature of the story is aided by Kuder’s incredible pencils and Chris O’Halloran’s colors. There are pages with such incredible detail it’s hard to look away from. The fantasy realm where this story takes place truly looks like it’s from one of the greatest epic fantasies ever and Kuder spares no expense to add little details everywhere. A cat and a weird-looking man, a small house built into the side of a planter — it’s really quite something, and the book feels magical for it.
Scripting-wise, the book can be quite wordy, further giving it a classic Thor feel. Characters can speak quite a bit in the word balloons and Joe Sabino makes it quite easy to read. When the action increases the word balloons lessen, of course, but the general vibe even in the action makes this feel like an instant classic. The only downside to the story might be how it’s unclear how it ties into “Infinite Destinies.” Maybe all will be revealed later, but it’s not exactly explained what is going on with the villain.
The general premise of Thor fighting himself is well thought out and packs a lot of punch. Kuder essentially gives us an entire timeline of how Thor turns out different and there’s a great montaged page showing key moments. It’s all earned by the end and makes for an entertaining read that leads to a boisterous action scene. Cam Smith inks everything to perfection, with a clean line that enhances Kuder’s detailed style.
The backup by Ferreyra with a story by Jed MacKay is beautifully rendered. You’ll need to turn the book on its side to soak in the double-page splashes which go full-tilt with patriotic imagery. Possibly coincidentally, this story works with the Fourth of July, but also Shark Week. It’s super short (these backups are only a few pages), and is a visual delight worth peeking at. It doesn’t get a lot of stories across, but will likely read better in a trade paperback.
This is a great annual in its own right thanks to some impeccable art throughout and a story deserving of the annual format. Kuder has supplied an exciting story that utilizes the hero-fighting-himself trope to perfection. It’s also one of the prettiest superhero comics of the year, period.
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