For a series touting “Everything Dies” as its mantra since inception, there is some pretty clear intent. However, the make-good on that promise doesn’t ease the blow any – no matter how much it’s projected. After thinning some of the support cast last time, this week writer Jonathan Hickman turns to the Multiversal Avengers, culling from Earth’s Mightiest in “The Fall of Gods.”
From the page one chunk of rock floating in space, the tone is bleak. Recurring team of artist Mike Deodato and color artist Frank Martin beautifully set the mood of the Odinson and company’s desperation and battle-weariness. Stranded during their crusade against the robotic Mapmakers and their universe-destroying masters, the enigmatic Beyonders, Hickman very matter-of-factly steers the heroes into the actuality of how one-way their mission really is. It’s almost as if a timer went off somewhere. Seriously, the shock and awe begins by page three and just. does. not. let. up.
Despite an eery sort of clockwork execution (no pun intended), there is glorious nobility in every single sacrifice play. Yes, it’s incredibly sad when characters die. Even when they may not be personal favorites, it’s better to have more toys in the box than not. However, it can be said that every one of the downed soldiers in this instance fulfilled a successful personal arc. No matter how ultimately unexplained or comedi-tragically cut short it may be.
But that’s life, isn’t it? And it is very much in this metaphoric spirit that scales balance with fleeting moments of jocularity. The exact ratio of black-humor cynicism undercutting any light-heartedness may vary from reader to reader but Hickman does a fantastic job of conveying a truly Hemsworthian Thor. From the wry quips to the literal laugh-out-loud fatal grasp of irony, Hickman turns the Odinson into something of the Spider-Man for the interdimensional viking set. It’s characterization and dialogue like this that makes one wish the writer was sticking around for other projects post-Secret Wars.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say Thor genuinely shines through as the issue’s focal point. As the greatest example of transcendent myth and legend in the Marvel Universe, the Odinson commands this spotlight as his due. In some respects, he’s overdue- playing ensemble since abdicating his solo feature post-Original Sin. That said, this issue will make a fine addition to the pedigree of bygone Thor “final battles” (Avengers Disassembled: Thor, Fear Itself, Ragnarok Now, et al), if not surpassing some on that list.
Since beginning, Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers epic has possessed a manic cinematography akin to JJ Abrams. In the final analysis, it’s actually all a bit like the TV Show “Lost”. The narrative structures are comparable in that the layers just keep peeling back. That, and the whole characters dying off as soon as they fulfill their purpose thing. This issue leans into that parallel- hard. However, “Lost” also shows that the end is not necessarily the end and just because you die, that doesn’t mean you don’t get to come back. Thor is all about this anyway. Here’s hoping Hickman stays to this course in delivering the last three chapters before… “Time Runs Out!”