What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Thor #5! With each issue, this book continues to keep you at the edge of your seat. I don’t know if this would be categorized as Thor’s greatest enemy yet, but it is certainly one which has left him more vulnerable than he has been since the time he was unworthy. Overall, Thor #4 served as a perfect set-up for what is to come when the sacrifices to get to this point can’t be in vain for the God of Thunder.
The first part of this issue was very deep. If there was one thing you appreciated about this new Thor run, it was the fact that events still played out like an epic set in motion. Great narration, perspective of characters involved, and focus on what is at stake. Something I certainly found myself connecting to more was the attention given to Lady Sif’s new role. As most know, Heimdall met his end in Jane Foster: Valkyrie. Since then, Lady Sif took up his mantle. This issue right here was just what we needed when too often you forget what it means to be the guardian of the Bifrost. It’s not just about the job, it’s what you now see and experience too. Through her we were able to witness a lot of ways in which the worlds have been shaken by the arrival of the Black Winter. Through her you also come to understand that it is no simple task to witness so much and not turn your eyes from it.
Now I gotta say, I was expecting to be disappointed by the reveal of the Black Winter’s identity. While we still do not know what it is specifically by the end of the issue, we do know that it is not what we assumed it would be. Up to this point, I think we all would have thought it was Gorr behind this. How could it not? An all-consuming mass of darkness that can kill a god? That would even put the fear into an entity like Galactus? In the past seven years of Thor stories, there has only ever been one enemy to Thor who could claim such a terrifying title. Or so we thought! Donny Cates proved to us that he approached this run of Thor with a genius story to tell. Led us to believe one thing based on what we already knew about the history of Thor, and then hit us with the reality that just about anything can happen in the world of Thor. I mean the reality is that there are parts to Thor’s story where events are not recorded in their entirety. This would be one of those.
This issue was also monumental for the fact that the game has changed with one major understanding about what was unfolding. If you thought for any reason that this was going to be straightforward, you thought again by the end of the issue. This is a story which keeps you on your toes, because there is no telling how it is going to follow-up from the cliffhanger that this issue leaves us on.
With that said, what brought this all together was of course the amazing work from this art team. When it came to this Black Winter, initially I didn’t think too much about how visually appealing the confrontation could turn out. When you have seen Esad Ribic’s work with the God Butcher? You wouldn’t assume that anything could match the sheer terror he was able to bring to the pages through that engulfing darkness. But then you would also be wrong. I would say that Nic Klein and Matt Wilson proved to have the right idea about what we needed to see from this mass of black. It was kinetic, savage, like an ocean sweeping across the pages. It reminded you of the same challenge Thor once faced. It made a big difference as well that there was so much black used, and it didn’t get messy. That is the signs of a great colorist in my opinion. To be able to handle that much of one shade, and to do so while also handling many dark tones in general. It takes some work to pull that off and not take from any character or action.
Right now there’s no other way to say that this is one of Marvel’s best books on shelves. It was a long wait to finally get our hands on Thor #5, but boy was it worth the wait. There was character depth, there was action, and there was twists and turns. This issue had my attention from start to finish. If it hasn’t been said yet, then now is the best time to say that there is no reason for you to not still be reading Thor. A change of creative team took nothing away from the exhilaration this book gives you.