Straczynski’s epic run on Thor is finally over. It was an enjoyable ride while it lasted.
Picking back up from where issue 603 left off, Thor Giant-Size Finale sees Balder finding Bill bloody on the ground and Doombots en route to Oklahoma to finish off Donald Blake. Seems to be a great start to the climatic finish of Straczynski’s run, right? Well, yes and no.
This is a good issue, just as Straczynski’s whole run has been. The Norse gods acclimating to life among mortals while maintaining their godliness has been a treat to follow. Asgardians other than Thor and Loki have a full and entertaining presence, instead of feeling like background characters. This is especially true in the Warriors Three (who now work in a diner) and Balder (who stepped up and fills the role as king well).
Bill, the man standing among gods, it particularly highlighted and enjoyable. His role has helped humanize the Asgardians be having them be able to get along with him and the rest of the Oklahomans. Not to mention he’s a bit of the audience surrogate, but not so heavy handed to annoy the readers.
My main problem is that this doesn’t feel quite like a “finale.” It does complete one subplot line, but the main story Straczynski set up – Asgard in Oklahoma, Loki’s trickery to dethrone Thor, the Asgardians moving to Latveria – remains ongoing. I guess I was hoping for more of a grand finish to Straczynski’s run, but instead, the story goes on. In fact, the issue even includes a preview of Thor #604, where Kieron Gillen picks right where Straczynski leaves off.
Another little concern I have is the “giant-size” part. Really, the actual issue itself is only a couple of pages longer than a typical issue. Adding the preview and the three-part original origin of Thor by Lee and Kirby deceptively inflate the issue.
This is another good issue of Thor, but it really shouldn’t have been a one-shot outside of the regular issue. The overall story keeps going, and this interrupts the flow. If you’re going to do a finale, make it a finale.
With that said, this issue is the same high-caliber storytelling that the book has become known for, and it’s definitely a must read for fans.
This issue also sees the departure of Marko Djurdjevic. He has done a good job keeping the look very grounded, less on the superhero and more on the Norse mythological look. Everything feels more natural, or at least the natural idealized one would expect from gods as opposed to the perfection usually associated with superheroes (a good contrast is included in the original Lee/Kirby version at the end of the book). Although Volstagg may be a bit too natural looking for some people, even if Sif doesn’t seem to mind.
The settings look right, from the cold, forested Latveria to Oklahoma at sunset. A bit more detailing could have been done to the forest scenes so the trees don’t look quite as cookie cut. All that detail instead (and probably more rightly) goes into the Asgardians’s character designs. From Balder’s fur cloak to Thor’s chainmail to Volstagg’s…lack of everything.
Djurdjevic slips up on some positioning. Sif is especially subjected to some awkward movements in more than one panel. You tend to want to take extra care that the attractive characters look their best.
Thor Giant-Size Finale is a good issue, with the same high quality fans of the series have come to expect. It just has some identity issues with the whole not really being a “giant-size finale,” except for Straczynski and Djurdjevic. So long.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10