Thor: God of Thunder #25 marks the end of one of the most acclaimed series featuring Thor ever. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s work has been lauded as being epic in both style and scope, a modern heavy metal take on the God of Thunder. The final issue leaves the many storylines woven in the previous issues in order to present a pair of short stories read in the future by Thor’s granddaughters. Together they read tales about two of Thor’s greatest enemies: Malekith and Laufey.
RM Guera illustrates the origin of Malekith. Under heavy narration it recounts Malekith’s evolution from meek boy to feared sorcerer. Aaron and Guera combine to present the story like a particularly dark fairy tale of the Grimm variety. Characters are presented as archetypes and the narrative is painted in broad strokes, with only the most significant moments being presented. Guera constructs these moments to be plenty effective. Every murder or act of malice feels genuinely loathsome under his pencils. The final page marks Malekith as a truly fearsome enemy by placing readers into the shoes of his victims. The effect is terrifying.
Aaron embraces the heavy metal description of the series in the second story where Simon Bisley illustrates Young Thor going to battle with frost giants. Everything about the story is big and loud. Axes cleave forms in twain and boats shatter into splinters in seas of blood. The forms of both Vikings and frost giants are exaggerated to create dynamic effects. The action sequences read with the cacophony of battle. It is a storythat would be at home in classic issues of Heavy Metal. Bisley capably switches tones at the end to provide an ominous piece of foreshadowing. The dark blues and reds of the final panel feel cold and foreboding.
As well as these vignettes function independently, the framing device leaves something to be desired. Thor’s granddaughters are so interested in alluding to events that are yet to come that they ignore the events of the series that introduced them. There are hushed references to wars and deaths, foreshadowing aplenty. Yet no time is spared to reflect on what has led to this point. Stories about Gorr the God Butcher, the League of Realms, Roxxon and the Minotaur, and Galactus seem largely unimportant in the context of this issue.
Ribic’s lush paintings in this section are as gorgeous as ever. He provides a two-page spread at the end of the issue that would make for a beautiful poster. The spread acts as prologue to the upcoming Thor #1 displaying the new lead character surrounded by many of the enemies that will feature in Aaron’s master plans for the God of Thunder. It’s the sort of work that demands an oversized edition be printed in order to see it in its best possible format. In these pages Ribic leaves Thor: God of Thunder on a high note.
Thor: God of Thunder #25 functions as a prologue to Thor #1 more than it does a conclusion to Thor: God of Thunder. The origins of Malekith and Laufey’s return are beautifully presented by Guera and Bisley, but would fit more comfortably into an anthology than as part of a larger story. Although interesting, the framing device fails to serve a larger purpose besides setting up future plots for another series. This issue speaks to the high quality of art present throughout Thor: God of Thunder, but acts as a poor finale to the much-loved series.