Cover Rank: 10/10. During the lead up to this issue, the folks at Marvel have been including the cover images for the forthcoming issues in the backmatter of the earlier chapters. At the time of the reveal for this particular one, I distinctly remember feeling kind of underwhelmed.
Fast forward to today and I see it in an entirely different light. This cover is exactly what this issue called for. The flames dancing along Thor as she succumbs to the engulfing inferno manages to touch upon both the actual physical conflict between her and the Mangog but also the price that the cancer, that has so destroyed her mortal body, will force her to pay for being the hero Jane truly is. The subdued, sad cast to her features conveys the unfortunate reality facing her, yet she still stands tall, unflinching in the face of certain death.
Best Variant Issue: I have not found a variant for this issue
What I Like: The issue opens with the cancer-ravaged Jane and Heimdall standing before the Rainbow Bridge. With this scene we FINALLY get to see Jane take possession of Mjolnir. It doesn’t take up much time, and there isn’t anything particularly revelatory about it, but it’s nice that, after 4 years, we finally get to witness it.
The rest of our story is centered around the battle between Thor and the Mangog but before I get into the nuances of the struggle I want to take note of the artist Russell Dauterman. Generally I like his work, but find his style a bit too “busy” and some of his facial work doesn’t sit quite right with me. Having said that, he absolutely nailed this issue. From the overwhelming spectacle of the battle, to the relatively brief “quiet” moments, Dauterman conveys everything in exquisite detail and I absolutely love it.
As Asgardia is on a collision course with the sun, the Mangog has run roughshod over all the gods’ defenses. The Bifrost has been destroyed, the city is in flaming ruins and not even Odinson and the High Father have been able to quell the Mangog’s rage…things look bleak. Ignoring the advice and counsel of her friends and loved ones, Jane foster leaves her sick bed to once again take up the mantle of Thor in defense of the realms despite the fact that she won’t survive another change. She knows this amounts to suicide on her part , and yet, she is undeterred. The ensuing battle is suitably epic and really helps drive home both the dire struggle for Asgardia as well as Jane’s incomparable drive to be a hero, even in a place where she is ever an outsider.
At one point in particular, as Mangog presses his advantage, he taunts her about dying for the gods. She replies that no, she is dying for love and as she tips the scales back in her favor we get a collage of images from throughout her long history which helps reinforce how deep her roots go even before that day she picked up that hammer. She’s been a part of this story since Thor’s second appearance, weaving in and out of his life for over 50 years, it’s nice to see it all come full circle in here. Odinson knows what she is doing to herself and his agony is on display for all as he frantically tries to discern a way to save Jane’s life.
What I Didn’t Like: I don’t like Odin. Granted, with the way he’s being portrayed at this point, we’re not supposed to but that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about what I don’t like. He’s always been overly proud and narrow minded, but especially in light of the dire straits Asgardia finds itself and everybody else’s impotence in the face of the Mangog, Odin’s attitude towards Thor is such a slap in the face that it gets me riled. I want Odin to die, unfortunately this story is the “Death of Thor” so its not in the cards. Aside from not liking someone I’m not supposed to like, my only other complaint is that the ending still isn’t definitive and there are a number of options open heading into next month’s issue. I get it, it’s the nature of the medium. Sequential storytelling is what it all hinges upon, but I NEED to see how this all ties up leading into Odinson reclaiming his place as the God of Thunder.
Best Moment: I’m going to cheat a bit here and combine two moments from completely different places in the book that help showcase Jane’s struggle not just over these last few years but, in effect, all of the decades as a whole. Towards the beginning Jane calls the gods out on their behavior, how mankind didn’t just need gods, we need gods we can believe in. It’s time they earned the gifts they have been given. Which leads us to the final engagement with Mangog. Seeing a solution to the problem, Thor makes the play to stop Mangog, knowing full well that it means the end of her as well. Practicing what she earlier preached, little, dying, mortal Jane Foster ends the threat not to help herself but rather everybody else. Even that bastard Odin.
Ending: 10/10 Using the very chains used to contain the great wolf Fenris, Jane ensnares Mangog, lashing him to Mjolnir, and hurls both into the sun. With the Hammer no longer in her possession, the clock starts ticking until she’s forcibly changed back into her mortal form which will kill her. We get the “final” scene between Jane and Odinson as they say goodbye one last time.
I know Jane has been kind of involved with Falcon recently, but there is no doubt in my mind that this is the way it was meant to end. Jane Foster and Odinson together again for the final time.
What I’m Looking Forward to: While Thor has “died”, and we know from solicits that Odinson is retaking the mantle going forward, we still don’t have him in place for that as of yet. Mjolnir is in the sun for one thing, so I’m curious to see how Aaron ties it all up in preparing for his taking over the writing duties of the Avengers. I read my first Aaron/Thor issue a scant 4 months ago and have since read his entire run. I place it right alongside Walter Simonson’s seminal run or even the formative Lee/Kirby epics. I’m sad to see Jane go, as I found the Goddess of Thunder to be a personal favorite story arc that I’ll frequently revisit in years to come. Jane got a send off worthy of the character and, while it does seem as though her tale has been told, who knows what the next issue is going to bring to the table. This is a realm of high magic and some miraculous feat is still in the realm of possibility. Even without a surprise twist, this has been a great ride. If this IS the end, rest well Jane Foster, you’ve done more than your share and have set an example even gods should follow.
Overall Score: 10/10
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