Beginning with #700
Thor is a person, he is an Asgardian, he is the son of Odin, he is the future king. Thor is also a mantle, a gift given to the God of Thunder, a license to wield the hammer Mjolnir. Separating the man from the mantle has been Jason Aaron’s primary focus in his incredible run with Thor thus far. The Mighty Thor #700, the defining title from Marvel’s Legacy initiative, is also Aaron’s greatest Thor story yet. Featuring a huge cast of “Thors,” a cavalcade of artists of an astounding variety of styles, and a realm-sprawling story worthy of the Legacy name, the issue is such a success because of the way it blends the past and present of Thor, as well as hinting at some intriguing future tales of the God of Thunder.
Aaron’s continuing saga of The Mighty Thor (Jane Foster’s story) takes a backseat to give the real meat of the issue to the original Thor, now unworthy of Mjolnir due to Nick Fury’s revelation that the Odinson himself believes Gods unsuitable for such a gift. Odinson must fight a horde of Malekith’s diverse army at the sanctuary of the Norns, weavers of fate. His failure in the central story of the issue is what’s used as a jumping off point for several potential followup stories. Though the issue features layers of groundwork for the future, it does so by building upon the past. Aaron’s run began in Thor, God of Thunder with Thor being thrust into the God Butcher’s sick attempt at genocide, an intense encounter which would leave the Odinson with that very feeling of unworthiness in the back of his mind. Issue #700 furthers that story by showing how the remnants of the God Butcher found their way to Galactus and Ego, the Living Planet. In one of the most conceptually insane series of pages in modern comic book history, Ego eats the corrupted Galactus.
For a reader of the entirety of Aaron’s run on Thor, this issue is one of the most satisfying reads one could possibly have. Using callbacks to the original story to further a 70’s-inspired cosmo-psychedelic side plot is some next-level comic book writing, and the exact kind of expert craftsmanship one hopes to see in one of these once-in-ten-years events like an issue #700 is. The writing is far from the only tool used to reward lifelong fans of the character though. The issue opens with a splash by legendary Thor artist Walt Simonson, with the titular character sporting his classic look, giant knee-pad and everything, and continues to build from there.
Aaron is wise to start from the beginning, because as tempting as it would be to make Jane Foster the focus of the issue (since she’s the main Thor right now) it’s wise to let her develop a new potential story line in the B-plot, as she tangles with She-Hulk just like Bruce and Thor used to. Mighty Thor and She-Hulk have a lot of crossover potential, which issue #700 argues via some beautifully laid out fight scenes.
Jane isn’t the only alt-Thor to make an appearance though, as one of the lighter stories of the issue focuses on Throg, a.k.a. Frog Thor, a man cursed with being a frog, then slightly less cursed by becoming a Thor version of a frog. While the idea is ridiculous, Aaron of course manages to tell a poignant story about Throg catching a killer via some innocuous rain trickery. If anything, the apt handling of the Throg tale in the midst of the high concept theater surrounding it is the strongest argument one can make that Jason Aaron is the definitive Thor writer of the 21st Century.
The Young Thor also makes a welcome appearance, bringing Aaron’s “past, present, and future Thors” conceit full circle. Young Thor, not yet worthy of Mjolnir, is reflected by King Thor, who watches over a post-apocalyptic Midgard like his father did in the distant past. By weaving tales of each of these different Thors while Odinson and the Norns themselves attempt to preserve the fated tethers of the world-tree, issue #700 takes on a kind of eternal significance for the character, particularly because the threads of fate do in fact come undone at the end of the issue. Now the destiny of Thor is no longer set, each story thread is open to branch out in ways it couldn’t before. There’s little more exciting in comic book fandom than the point in which the reader has no idea what’s coming next. In an age where character deaths are spoiled by spin-off titles and crossover events change the fabric of every character they touch (Jason Aaron’s Thor included) it’s beyond refreshing to read an issue that feels like the beginning of something unpredictable. The only thing that could have made The Mighty Thor #700 even better is if Beta Ray Bill actually appeared in more than just the cover, but that would just be icing on the cake. Aaron has already made his mark on Thor, and with issue #700 he makes a statement, he’s here to stay, and his brand of Thor storytelling is continuing full force. This is what Legacy was supposed to be.
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