All hail King Thor! Writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribić are reunited for one more tale of the future version of the Odinson, the concluding entry in Aaron’s years-long Thor epic. Does King Thor #1 set up Aaron’s send-off well?
Plus, between problems with her powers and with her public perception, Carol Danvers has been having a lot of trouble of late, and Captain Marvel #10 finds her on a path to the upcoming ‘Dark Captain Marvel’ storyline. Can Earth’s mightiest hero pull herself out of a tailspin?
We’ve got discussion of both these books, plus a Rapid Rundown of other books worth checking out, all ahead in this week’s Marvel Rundown!
King Thor #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Esad Ribić
Colored by Ive Svorcina
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover by Esad Ribić
Joe Grunenwald: Writer Jason Aaron’s seven-year-long Thor run is approaching its conclusion with the debut of King Thor #1! Sam, how did you find the start of this final adventure for All-Father Thor and his granddaughters?
Samantha Puc: Confession time: I am so, so behind on Aaron’s Thor run — but since this is a new #1, I thought I’d give it a shot! I found this issue easy to follow, even without having all of the pieces — and frankly, I was so entranced by Esad Ribić’s art that I couldn’t tear my eyes away. How do you feel, Joe?
Grunenwald: I feel largely the same way. I, too, am relatively new to Aaron’s Thor run — I read a bit of the pre-Secret Wars Jane Foster Thor series, and then I read the recent War of the Realms story which I unabashedly loved, so I have something of a baseline coming into King Thor, but definitely not the years of knowledge that readers who’ve been with it since the beginning will have. Aaron is extremely deft here, as he was in WotR, at getting new readers up-to-speed without bogging things down with too much exposition. The relationship between Thor and Loki is more or less the most important piece of this issue, so if you understand that, you’re good to go. And I couldn’t agree more that Esad Ribić’s work on this issue is breathtakingly good.
Puc: There’s a ton of emotion packed into this fight between Thor and Loki, but there’s also a real sense of fear in the scenes between Shadrak and the Girls of Thunder. When gods fight, the stakes are always high, but in this instance, the finality of Aaron’s run is cemented in the fact that if Loki wins, that’s it — it’s over. And that’s a lot to take in, but the breadth and scope of the writing and art here really encapsulate that pretty flawlessly.
Grunenwald: Absolutely. It feels like something of a foregone conclusion that Thor will die before this series is over, and if this issue is any indication it’s going to be a wild ride to get to that point. Aaron and Ribić pack so much into these pages, and it really seems like they’re going for broke with this book, which is a helluva thing to see. I also instantly adore the Girls of Thunder and want to know so much more about them, so it’s exciting that there’s years of material preceding this to go back to and devour.
Puc: Yes! I’ve been meaning to get to this run for sometime, but this issue is definitely pushing Thor right to the top of my to-read list. I also really want to recognize Ive Svorcina‘s colors, which are super moody but play with light in really cool ways; and Joe Sabino‘s letters have that godly flair that really bring this issue home. Thor’s and Loki’s appearances are particularly striking, not just in terms of their facial expressions, but in terms of their bodies and the way they entangle when they fight — there’s a fluidity that seems like it shouldn’t be possible in two-dimensional art, but it’s there, and it’s so gorgeous.
Grunenwald: Loki in particular seems to move almost like a wraith, and so much of that movement comes through in the way Svorcina’s colors contrast with the heavy, jagged black that dominates the character’s form. I also love the contrast of warmer colors during the battle between Thor and Loki and cooler colors for the scenes with the Girls of Thunder and Shadrak. It’s a different energy while still all feeling terribly dire. The lettering on any Thor comic feels super-important in terms of setting the tone for the text and as an indicator of character voice, and Sabino does a great job on both fronts. All the creators on this book are operating at the very top of their game and it’s magnificent.
Puc: Wraith-like is an excellent description of Loki’s movement here. I also love the creeping inevitability of that final panel, the foreshadowing that leads us there and then the still-terrifying moment when we realize what’s about to happen. I don’t think I have a bad thing to say about this comic; I’m just very, very impressed all around.
Grunenwald: I’m very much a dummy and did not catch any of that foreshadowing, so the ending was a true surprise for me, but in retrospect I see it and appreciate it. I loved being taken by surprise, though, and I’m excited to see how the arrival of that character shakes out. I’m with you in not having a bad word to say here. It’s a testament to the skill of the creators that we can come into a book like this, the conclusion of a seven-year run, with little to no background on what’s come before and still have an extremely satisfying reading experience. Is there anything else you want to mention, or have we gushed over this book enough for one day?
Puc: I think I’m ready to give my final verdict, which is a firm BUY. Are you surprised? You’re totally surprised.
Grunenwald: Shocked, shocked. It’s a strong BUY from me as well. Aaron, Ribić, and co. are firing on all cylinders and it is a sight to behold.
Final Verdict: King Thor #1 gets a unanimous BUY from Sam and Joe!
Captain Marvel #10
Written by Kelly Thompson
Illustrated by Carmen Carnero
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover by Mark Brooks
Samantha Puc: OK, team, Carol Danvers is in some serious trouble in Captain Marvel #10. Her powers are on the fritz, the person she thought was responsible is nearly dead, and the public thinks she’s an alien traitor who can’t be trusted. There’s a lot to unpack here; what did you think?
Chloe Maveal: Kelly Thompson does a pretty spectacular job setting up the tension in this issue. It builds really progressively through Carol piecing together the puzzle of what has been going on through Minerva and subsequently with Star. The pacing is definitely something that kept me drawn in, even as an on-again-off-again Captain Marvel reader.
Joe Grunenwald: As a regular reader, I really enjoyed this issue. We get some answers about what’s been going on with Carol, and it was nice to see threads from the beginning of the series explained and paid off now. I had my theory about how things were all connected, and I’m glad to say I was wrong — the actual explanation is far more interesting and clever. I’m excited to see how this storyline wraps up.
Puc: I’ve also been following this series from the first issue and I’m consistently surprised and delighted by Thompson’s writing; her grasp on Carol’s voice and character motivations is so strong, and the consistent presence of Jessica, Rhodey, and even Tony (whom I notoriously dislike) is excellent. Carol is the star of the show here, but her friends are there to back her up, which I love. I’m also really invested in Carmen Carnero‘s art and Tamra Bonvillain‘s colors… This series is vibrant and action-packed and expressive, which makes it a fun, engaging read.
As for where this story is going… we know from solicits that Carol goes “dark” in just a couple months — but this issue posits Star as a true villain who’s essentially leeching off of EVERYONE to gain and use her powers… so I’m suspicious. Chloe, as a reader who’s on-again, off-again, did you feel like the Star storyline made sense?
Maveal: What’s funny is that I was hella-concerned about that and then it just kinda worked. Like, having no context to the setup of the first parts of this storyline didn’t really feel like a problem because the context is sort of built in without feeling like an info dump. It all fit together and I felt like it was just as easy to have the satisfying “aha!” moment that veteran readers of the series probably will. Kelly Thompson is just sort of great at doing that with her stories and characters though.
Grunenwald: The way the issue is structured, while being clearly the third part of a storyline, still feels like a pretty complete tale, at least up until the end. From the first caption, Thompson establishes that Carol — and by proxy, the reader — doesn’t really know what’s going on. Once you know that, it’s relatively easy to jump into whatever, especially since it’s all pretty much explained by issue’s end. The only thing that left me a little cold was Star. It felt like it was supposed to be a bigger deal that she’s a villain, when I think it’s been pretty obvious from the start that was where this was going and the only question was how it would get there. I do like the way the truth about Star played out, but I wish we’d gotten to see more of her playing the hero before she made her heel turn in this issue.
Puc: I think that assumption comes from our propensity to support and believe Carol, though, so on one hand, I appreciate that Thompson didn’t just write Star as a replacement Carol who we wouldn’t like because of reader loyalty — she made Star into, essentially, a super villain whose machinations went way beyond anything Carol or the reader could have expected. Does that make sense? Those last few panels did leave me feeling especially concerned about all of the superheroes in the city, though — has Star absorbed all of their powers, too?
Grunenwald: That does make sense, and now that we see Star for who she is I really like how it’s playing out. I just wanted more lies up top. I just want every story to be a years-long “The Judas Contract,” apparently.
Maveal: Like something that you’re having a hard time suspending disbelief with? I could buy that. It seems — from the sounds of it — like a setup of previous issues that was short lived, lots of good tension a the beginning of this issue, and then boom! It all explodes out of nowhere and now Star is an almost entirely overwhelming foe…which seems out of left field. I still find myself digging it as it’s set up from here though.
Puc: I can see what Joe is saying — Star is presented as one thing and then her villainous reveal goes from zero to 60 in 3.5. But I don’t hate it. I’m really intrigued by where Thomspon, Carnero and Bonvillain are taking Carol. It feels fresh and maybe a little dangerous, which is thrilling.
Grunenwald: Carol definitely does something in this issue that I never expected her to do, and it was both perfectly in-character for her and executed flawlessly by the creative team. Carnero and Bonvillain do a fantastic job throughout with a very exposition-heavy issue, replaying moments we’ve seen already from new perspectives and giving the most important moments space to sink in. And the action sequence between Carol and Star feels particularly rough-and-tumble. Really great stuff visually all-around.
Puc: What are you referring to?! I’m too nosy not to ask. SPOILERS, PEOPLE!
Grunenwald: She RIPS SOMETHING OUT OF HER OWN CHEST.
Puc: OH, YEAH, THAT WAS WILD. OK, continue.
Grunenwald: And spends the rest of the issue with a big self-inflicted gaping wound. That’s going to get infected, Carol! (Though it does raise the question of why she didn’t have Tony remove the device from her chest before, but that would have deprived us of an incredible moment, so I give it a pass.)
Maveal: It would have deprived us of the moment where we watch Carol give herself the opportunity for gangrene. Who doesn’t want that?
Puc: The device technically IS an infection, so… her thinking is pretty solid, actually. She’s half-Kree. She can certainly fight off a little gangrene.
Maveal: I will say that Bonvillain in particular is pretty incredible on those action pages (and all around, lets be honest). There’s a great balance of color and (maybe I’m just reading into it too much) the use of warmer colors seems to match where Carol and where her head is at with what’s happening. There’s a fire there and it shows on the page.
Puc: I don’t think you’re reading into it too much — that’s something I’ve noticed, as well. It’s subtle but beautifully executed.
Grunenwald: Agreed that I don’t think you’re reading too much into it at all, Chloe. It’s smart work from a consistently great colorist. Anybody have any other thoughts or things we haven’t talked about yet, or are we ready for verdicts?
Puc: My last thought is just that the cover for this issue is stunning and has such a cool concept! Really, really excellent work by Mark Brooks. And my verdict is BUY!
Maveal: As the token “well I picked this up and read it so uh…what’s going on?” person, this kept me on the hook from start to finish. Like, I will definitely make an effort to keep up from here on out. So if that doesn’t speak my feelings enough, my verdict is BUY.
Grunenwald: The current volume of Captain Marvel has been solid from the very beginning, but Thompson, Carnero, Bonvillain, and co. have really taken things to another level with this current storyline. I can’t wait to see how “Falling Star” resolves and leads into what’s next. This is a BUY for me as well.
Final Verdict: Another unanimous BUY verdict from the Rundown crew!
- Black Cat #4
- The “Yancy Street Shuffle” kicks off with a bang in Black Cat #4, with what’s essentially an entire issue dedicated to ogling Johnny Storm. There’s a cliffhanger in this one that’s buckwild, even when compared to the rest of the series so far — this new arc is as delightful as its predecessor and I hope Felicia’s ongoing continues for a long, long time. — SP
- Daredevil #11
- Maybe I’m a little bit biased because I love Matt Murdock more than I should on any sane level, and I love the way Chip Zdarsky writes both Daredevil and Spider-Man more than I have proper words for. Between depression-horny sad boy with bad coping skills, quippy Peter Parker with some damn fine points to make about the nature of masked heroes, and beautifully textured and dynamic artwork from Marco Checchetto and Nolan Woodard, Daredevil continues to be both on-brand and fantastic. — CM
- It’s so good to see Marco Checchetto’s art in this series again. Matt has made a series of really wild decisions in this run and now he’s having to reckon with all of them… plus, Elektra is back, Spider-Man makes an excellent appearance, and the stakes are rising for Mayor Fisk… Chip Zdarsky has an excellent handle on Matt’s voice here and this new arc is already kicking ass. — SP
- Gwenpool Strikes Back #2
- Now that this is on the second issue, I have completely come around to it. It is probably the most intentionally-disarming dumpster fire I’ve read in a while. Gwenpool and Deadpool teaming up and spending several pages in the basement of the Baxter Building trying to figure out which Fantastic Four members Gwen should bang? I’ve had very pleasant nightmares that are basically exactly this. — CM
- Invisible Woman #3
- The plot gets even thicker as Sue Richards gets closer to the truth about her missing sometimes-partner. Mark Waid and Mattia De Iulis continue to find new ways to use and illustrate Sue’s abilities. This series is pushing Sue in new directions, and it’s been wonderful so far. — JG
- Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10
- WHAT? WHAT?! Saladin Ahmed is doing some of the best damn work of his career in this series and it’s incredible. Miles has been through so much already and now… this?! I’m not going to give specifics because this issue definitely has to be read and experienced, but definitely do not miss this issue!!! — SP
- I’ve been somewhat lukewarm on the current run of Miles’s solo title, but this issue may have turned me around. Ahmed is picking up on some long-forgotten threads of Miles’s history, and the way this plays out could be truly devastating for our hero. Javier Garrón turns in solid work, and the design for Ultimatum is clever, if a little hodge-podgy for my tastes. I’m glad I checked in for this one, and I look forward to seeing where it goes. — JG
- Powers of X #4
- Honestly, Mister Sinister is just an even more powerful Gossip Girl… and this plan is terrible, Charles, what are you thinking? This issue feels like a set-up for the latter half of HOX/POX, but it provides a lot of context — don’t miss it. — SP
Next week, J.J. and Henry Abrams put their own spin on Spider-Man!