Art: Russell Dauterman, Mike Mayhew
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Joe Sabino
Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby.
After seven issues chasing down what are now obviously a bunch of false leads, we finally arrive at our destination - the big reveal as to who is the new Thor. That is unless you already know her identity from reading various online leaks. Given how definitively she was ruled out much earlier in the series, this might prove to be a sticking point for some readers. But there is a certain fannish logic to her assuming the mantle of the Thunder God considering her deep association with the lead character. The reveal itself is a perfect mirror of the final pages of the first issue, a slow transformation obscured by tightly composed panels arranged in a grid, only to pull back to get a wider perspective for the final one page spread.
Otherwise, the primary action is the massive battle between the unstoppable Destroyer armor being possessed by one of Odin's more reprehensible lackeys, and new Thor backed up by the heroines called on by original Thor (who now goes by the name Odinson) because they were on his shortlist of possible new Thor suspects. It's a fun set piece that demonstrates how the series' art team has come a long way in portraying the requisite over-the-top action. Unlike most of his predecessors, Russell Dauterman draws his figures with a certain studied elegance eschewing the usual exaggerated anatomy, kinetic poses, and dramatic perspective of a traditional Thor comic. He carefully composes the action so that his characters have room to breathe and smashes the grid layout in order to create dynamism, tilting the panels to better reflect the chaos within them. But much of the action would still be incomprehensible if it weren't for the efforts of Matthew Wilson, who Dauterman heavily leans on to differentiate the large and colorful cast. Wilson seems to summon every tone possible in offset printing and employ every technique in the digital coloring process to render every bolt of lightning, every magical hex, and every Kirby crackle. It's a virtuoso display of what modern comics technology can achieve with the right talent.
Unfortunately, the battle ends a little prematurely to build up to the big reveal, leaving this issue without a very satisfactory conclusion. The reader might know Thor's true identity, but that just raises more questions. Even more troubling are all the various plot threads left dangling, such as the machinations of the series' two arch villains seemingly about to pay off. This abbreviated quality is due to the fact that Thor is being forced to wrap up for now because the entire Marvel Universe is presently caught up in the crossover event called Secret Wars. It's an unfortunate reminder of the corporate nature of these properties. And just as the series' creative team was hitting their stride.