The War of the Realms by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

I’ve enjoyed much of Jason Aaron’s Thor run, and for good reason: marked by ambition from the get-go, Aaron aimed to reimagine Thor’s place in the Marvel Universe, first by casting aside the titular Odinson, then granting Mjolnir to another–female–Thor, and finally by creating an Old Man Logan-styled All-Father Thor in the most distant future of the MU. Aaron’s myriad Thor series (he had as many as three ongoing Thor books at one time, if I recall correctly) developed an entire cosmology around Jane Foster’s Thor and the Odinson, and introduced and reimagined a slew of villains I wouldn’t have taken seriously if not for Aaron’s writing. Loki is an , but he’s not been a clearly defined villain for more than a decade now; no, the driving antagonist of this run has been Malekith the Accursed, the ruler of Svartalfheim’s dark elves, and far more colourful a character than Christopher Eccleston’s tired performance in that worst of Marvel movies, The Dark World.

The climactic end of these plot threads has been out since 2019, and I meant to read it sooner, I swear, but…y’know how these things are. You drop the ball for a moment and it turns out something you’ve been looking forward to has been out for two years. But the wait, turns out, has been worth it, for The War of the Realms is…pretty dang good. Not a masterpiece, but a fitting conclusion to the war Malekith has waged since the debut of Thor in 2014 (here I mean the Thor that was eventually revealed as Jane Foster, in case you’re confused; be warned, this event numbers at least two other Thors, too).

The War of the Realms works better than many of the other events Marvel has come up with because it has that multiyear build-up to support it. It’s not your shameless Civil War II, trying to bank on the success of a vastly more succesful movie; or something like the dreary Secret Empire–the less said about that, the better. I can’t tell you anything about the quality of the tie-in series, however; I’ve only read a Fantastic Four one-shot, which was entertaining enough, but nothing to write home about. When the focus is shifted away from Thor, we’ve got heavy-hitters like Spidey, Wolverine, and Iron Man to entertain us. One of my favourite on-screen couples, Lady Freya and Odin, make a return with some more cutting banther – I hope my future wife and I are as cuddly as these two after some several thousand years.

It’s not a perfect story; at some points, the material seems too thin; at others, Aaron spends altogether too little time on what should be momentous character moments for the sake of more compelling action scenes. Plenty of those, if you’re looking for some hero-on-ice-troll pummeling! The biggest surprises came from Loki and Daredevil’s parts in this war — Loki’s appearance early on recalls some of the best moment from my favourite Loki: Agent of Asgard run (taken from us far too swiftly!) and his brutal and swift end early on struck a hard Attack on Titan note. Daredevil’s acceptance of Heimdall’s responsibilities was metal, alright? We can and should all agree on that one point.

But the biggest focus is on Thor’s struggles–and if you enjoy the character, you’ll find much to enjoy here, I promise you. Hammer-bashing aplenty, folks!

Dauterman’s art has breathed life in the most important arcs of Thor over the five years that chronicle Malekith’s sustained attack on the Ten Realms, and is some of the finest work put out under Marvel’s banner. I’ve a deep fondness for it – I could line my walls with not only the covers but plenty of the interior art inside this volume.

Think it’s worth a read? Let me know – I’ll be reading Loki: The God Who Fell To Earth all the meanwhile.

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