Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Nic Klein, Matt Wilson, and VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: January 5th, 2022
Troubled by his inefficiency and inadequate relationship with Mjolnir, THOR, the new King of Asgard, has been unable to properly wield the massive mallet known in conjunction with the God of Thunder. This has begun to cause great doubt and turmoil into the mind of the new King. Now, after discovering a prophecy that a “God of Hammers” will eventually kill the King of Asgard with Mjolnir, THOR has tasked Throg with finding the missing hammer while Odinson and his Pops go searching for answers from the dwarves. However, instead of finding answers, all THOR and his father find are death and destruction. Let’s dive into THOR #20 by Donny Cates and Nic Klein to see if we can find out any more answers involving the whereabouts of Mjolnir as well as who was responsible for the mass murder of the dwarves.
Cates delivers the answer exactly as is in a nice, easy-to-understand package in this week’s THOR. By the end of the issue, you’ll discover who’s wielding Mjolnir and who the God of Hammers actually is. And truthfully, it’s a bit underwhelming and a bit unrefined. After becoming Galactus’ Herald, taking on the Black Winter, fending off an evil Donald Blake, reforming the PET AVENGERS (which I loved), and now searching for Mjolnir, Cates has delivered so many killer storyboard ideas. One epic reveal after another, readers’ expectations have been set so high. Plus, the double-page vision after the Black Winter prophecy alone saw THANOS as the God of Hammers. Well, so we thought… Alas, that is not who the big reveal is nor will I spoil it for you here. Nevertheless, my point is that Cates has been riding high for so long dropping these epic cliffhangers and jaw-dropping revelations only to have this one fall a bit flat in THOR #20 this week.
Moreover, the father-son scream matches between Odin and THOR are also getting a bit tiring. The past-his-prime Odin angle is getting old fast nor do I need to see the Daddy issues anymore with THOR, especially without more of the backstory for this anger. Plus, if anyone should have these Daddy issues it should be Loki who seems to be doing quite well emotional after this issue of THOR. Frankly, he appears to be one of the only ones with his head on straight, which is also extremely out of character for the God of Mischief. Furthermore, do we really need to see Eitri die again? Really? It’s almost as if Cates is hitting the same storm drain but it’s starting to run dry.
THOR #20 isn’t terrible but it just felt like more of the same. More fights with his Dad. More Doomsday Prophecies. More Ragnoraks. More cliffhangers expecting to payoff big without a foundational story to hold it up. And sure, there are a few expressive moments involving Broxton and Odin that are delivered nicely due to Klein’s outstanding depictions. But THOR fans, the story is just lacking substance right now. Maybe it just needs a bit more going on to give it a sense of significance and implication? Heck, even the emotion was ripped from this issue because THOR #19 already saw the cliffhanger as the dwarves were destroyed. So, the two-page spread of THOR carrying Eitri could have been more emotional if it wasn’t revealed last issue or even more within the preview pages this week. It’s almost as if Cates is taking the wind out of his own sails.
Nic Klein provides some stellar illustrations as usual. Almost immediately, Klein throws a two-page spread at our feet of THOR carrying the dead body of Eitri across both pages in a field of graves. It’s an extremely powerful display that (again) could have been more potent if it wasn’t showcased during the previews nor made reference to before this issue. I merely state this premise a second time to drive the point home that a truly heartfelt moment was ripped away and deflated. However, any weight that THOR #20 carried was solely thanks to Klein’s articulation of emotion within the context of THOR’S arguments with his father. THOR’S resentment as well as Odin’s sorrow and almost depression emanate off each page. The sheer gravity of what transpired this issue can be directly attached to Klein’s extensive detailed featured amongst the main characters. However, Klein’s moments could have been a bit more dynamic if not for what I mentioned above.
Overall, the entire THOR series has had some outstanding moments and reveals that have really hit the mark. However, has it become too crazy too fast? Plus, can we see where more of this anger and aggression are coming from towards Odin? And, what’s caused the hammer to act this way and why? And what was the point of forming the PET AVENGERS and using Throg to find Mjolnir if the search was done entirely off-panel? Again, I feel like a stone simply skimming the surface of a pond.
Give me depth especially with the relationship struggles between THOR and Odin. Readers, the ideas and premise are there. I think we just need… more. Ultimately, I can’t figure out what Cates is trying to say. What’s the theme? Is it about a new King’s burden and struggles? And if so, how can the average folk relate? Is it about the loss of power? And if so, help readers iron out those feelings. No one can argue THOR #20 has voice, style, and potential. But again, the story just needs some teeth as well as cliffhangers and previews that don’t self sabotage Klein’s artistic talents. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!