Images & Words – THOR #619

[images & words is the comic book pick-of-the-week at OL. equal parts review and diatribe, the post highlights the most memorable/infuriating/entertaining book released that wednesday]

Science fiction and fantasy do just fine on their own. They’re both autonomous. Wonderful in their own ways. They don’t need anyone else.

But sometimes they can’t help but reach out to one another. It’s 3AM and science fiction can’t sleep. He scratches his stubble, thinking for a minute, and then grabs the phone. Without even looking at Caller ID, fantasy knows who’s on the other end. She lets it ring twice, but then can’t help but pick up.

You know why? Because when science fiction and fantasy hook-up, it’s fuggin’ phenomenal. Duh.

THOR #619 is an exemplar, a showcase of just how hot’n’heavy the science fiction/fantasy booty-call can be.

With a cast taken right out of the pages of Norse mythology, the fantasy element of THOR is obvious. Asgard has fallen to Earth and the blond beefcake’s left trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces. So what’s he do? First he resurrects Loki, his trickster-god brother who always ends up painin’ him in the keister. Realizing what a dolt move this is, he then frees his father Odin from a limbo in which he gets to hunt and battle all damn day. For a God of War and Wisdom, this is like a trip to Fuddruckers. Needless to say, Odin’s less than pleased.

So why is Thor totally geekin’ out, pissing off relatives as he revives them? Well, that’s where science fiction gets a chance to disrobe. During this arc, quantum cosmologist Dr. Eric Solvang has explained that although Asgardians look at their home as one of the nine realms in the world tree, it can also be interpreted as a sort of alternate dimension.

The Asgardian world tree is kind of a map, okay? The nine worlds you recognize as being a part of Yggdrasil are just the tip of…a maybe-infinite iceberg. What you know as worlds…are universes. Complex, discrete, fully-formed.

–Look. You’ve taken the heart of one of those universes and put it inside of another. You’ve taken all the water in one glass and poured it in another.

You might believe there are only nine worlds, but brother, I’m here to tell you…there’s more. And they’re hungry.

(Dr. Eric Solvang – THOR #616)

The World Eaters, the nefarious race of Ano-Athox dedicated to instilling Cosmic Death, have finally breached the dimensional barrier protecting the Nine Worlds. However, two of Asgard’s finest have ventured out to Svartalfheim to intercept the invaders, thus buying their kinsfolk more time. What ensues is tremendous glimpse of war, the light drizzle before the hurricane’s landfall. The Asgardians do not walk away from the skirmish, but before falling they claim the lives of quite a few alien-agitators. In fact, World Eater Supreme Uthana Thoth acknowledges that he had underestimated his opponents’ prowess:

Respect this, Fex. What these two were able to accomplish, alone, organized and enraged.

Repect what that means for our final stop before paradise is ours.

(Uthana Thoth – THOR #619)

Perhaps what this evil warlord is expressing is the shock that hardcore sci-fi fans have when coming across a solid piece of fantasy (or vice versa). There’s room for cross-pollination! The dogmatic fans, although passionate, want you to believe that a wall should be placed between the two genres. It’s a damn lie.

If you doubt me, just look at Pasqual Ferry‘s art for THOR #619.   Running with Matt Fraction’s script, Ferry creates a cohesive visual language that deftly integrates all of story’s varied source material. Gods and the cosmos. Aliens and gnomes. The afterlife and alternate dimensions. Broadswords and laser-beams. Ferry’s images take these (often conflicting) narrative elements depict them as all being part of a larger mythology. It’s pure illustrative synergy, the working together of individual components to create something beyond the traditionally narrow scope.

Which is fitting, given the story. I can’t wait to see final showdown between the figures of Norse mythology and interdimensional death-worshippers. I’m tweaking out just thinking of Odin and Uthana Thoth throwing down.

THOR #619. Peep this comic. Trust me. Hell, you’re cruisin’ OLyou’ll love this shit.