Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Nic Klein, Matt Wilson, and VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 16th, 2022
To prevent the lethal highway of the God of Hammers, all of the MARVEL Universe and THOR’S friends must ban together to stop this Mangog-Mjlonir hybrid before it’s too late! The ultimate battle is almost here. Nevertheless, will THOR’S comrades withstand the vicious force forged before time itself? Let’s dive into THOR #22 by Donny Cates and Nic Klein as Odinson veers towards a surprising derivation for help and to ensure victory!
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The cover alone with the splash of characters should provide THOR fans with enough excitement to see where this issue is going. From LOCKJAW to DOCTOR STRANGE and WOLVERINE, THOR #22 looks to be an epic showdown. Yet, if that’s not enough to entice someone to this comic, literally open to the first page and feast your eyes on the explosive full-page spread of BETA RAY BILL looking as bad$&@ as ever strutting back into the comic. Yet, not sauntering in merely to save the day. He’s entering the fold with a brand new sword and jacked beyond belief. After one literal flip of the page from cover to page one, who wouldn’t buy this issue if they were just standing in the shop scanning issues?
Yet, even after all of that, we read on as BETA RAY BILL gives the pep talk to his troops he’s gathered for help. These combatants range from the FANTASTIC FOUR and IRON MAN to SPIDER-MAN and the PET AVENGERS. And this speech sounds as though it’s from the belly of an ancient war of all wars. This isn’t something to be taken lightly and should again enthrall anyone to pick this bad boy up and read the hell out of it.
So, readers, the action is totally on point as well as Nic Klein’s illustrations and Matt Wilson’s colors that make THOR #22 pop. If anything, they’re the storytellers this week. It’s because of Klein and Wilson that this juggernaut of a tale will leave fans sweatin’ like a sinner in church. It’s fierce, dynamic, and readers can feel the vigor and emotion exploding off the page. Heck, Klein makes sure to amplify the fear in THOR’S bruised mannerisms. The mood that Klein and Wilson portray throughout THOR #22 is the climatic pinnacle of this saga. It’s the turning point or penultimate reveal. However, that’s where the problem enters the fold.
I’ve discussed this before about the dilemma I have, especially recently with Cates. It’s when writers paint themselves into a corner without any setup or narrative nugget drop along the way yet somehow wiggle their way out of their destructive force they just couldn’t beat before. But, now they somehow manage to destroy this beastly force of all force. Somehow, (spoiler alert) THOR just siphons power from the Earth and it makes him ridiculously strong and able to take on the Mangog-Mjolnir hybrid. So, this power comes from nowhere in order to stop Mangog? Why has he never done this before now? But alas, it’s not quite enough…
Readers, my problem is the setup. There is no rationale or reasoning for this to happen. There was no carrot dangled towards this idea in prior issues and no foreshadowing. There was no narrative beat pressed before this issue to give any evidence that this was even a possibility. And this makes little sense which is where my frustration enters the fold. Plus, the other huge reveal in this issue involving the Odin-force would have hit home with so much more emphasis if it was laid out prior.
Yet again, Cates just throws in a twist without any hint or whiff of the story beat in order to give THOR that extra boost needed to overcome this powerful, unstoppable obstacle that not even the best and brightest Earth has to offer could stop. And thus in the process, Cates inadvertently diminishes almost every other hero in the MARVEL Universe. This should sound familiar since this same premise was must used in his VENOM run.
Keep in mind what DOCTOR STRANGE is capable of along with CAPTAIN MARVEL, the FANTASTIC FOUR, and IRON MAN. None of the people mentioned prior could stand a chance. But now, magically, THOR is golden without any setup… this is just getting old fans. Nonetheless, on a more positive note, Cates reasonably lays out how the last couple of issues and storylines all connected together in THOR #22. Readers discover who the culprit has been all along and why all of this has cascaded down on THOR and Odin, which was a properly placed and nicely set up narrative development with connective tissue.
If you remember, I began the review by saying “who wouldn’t buy this issue?”. The action and artwork alone are outstanding. And that’s the point. To the average reader, it masks the story. And it does a dang good job of that. Please don’t get me wrong, Klein and Wilson are absolutely stellar and are holding THOR together. However, there is only so much the artwork can do to hide the lack of connective tissue or structure within the narrative. It almost feels like Cates writes from one issue to the next without planning the next installment instead of writing the entire overarching theme to see where the random kernels and clues of what’s happening within the story can be interwoven into the narrative.
It’s that structure that would give his stories more substance and weight. It’s that premise that gives a story more teeth and makes it look less thrown together or cluttered with quick story beats only to shock and awe. And ultimately, it’s Klein and Wilson who are really doing the shock and awe. They’re what’s making readers gravitate towards the issue and deserve most of the credit. Don’t get me wrong, the Mangog reveal, the power from Gaea, and the Odin-force are all great reveals but poorly laid plans. They’re all solid story beats but sprung on readers without any substance or development. Readers, Klein’s artwork is powerful and the concepts from Cates are pure gold. But we just need more development and foreshadowing to make the pieces work. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!
2 thoughts on “Thor #22 Review”
“Somehow, (spoiler alert) THOR just siphons power from the Earth and it makes him ridiculously strong and able to take on the Mangog-Mjolnir hybrid. So, this power comes from nowhere in order to stop Mangog? Why has he never done this before now?”
Thor’s power didn’t just come “from nowhere.” His mother is Mother Earth, no matter what that silly storyline in The Avengers says. So he asked his mother for help. I’m happy somebody remembered this.
My point by saying that it comes from nowhere was simply to say that it wasn’t set up well within the story. It was played off as a trump card that was never referenced or talked about and then pulled last minute and frankly should never have happened.
Look, to be honest, I don’t agree with what Aaron did by making The Phoenix his mother. But it doesn’t matter… what was done was done. So, Cates should have followed suit OR written into the story why that’s no longer true. But he didn’t. We can’t pick and choose what’s canon and what’s not. It doesn’t work that way.
Heck, the prime example is what Tom King did to Wally West and that awful Heroes in Crisis train wreck. He took one of my favorite characters and made him into a lunatic and a murderer. And it was a stupid, weird backlash of speed force energy. Really? Well, I had to accept that fact even though I didn’t want to. And finally, thank God, Jeremy Adams is doing a fantastic job getting us to forget all about that and Righting all King’s wrong.
My point: Cates can’t forget about what Aaron did and just write his own thing however he wants. It just shows how he views himself and his writing as well as shows just how he’s incapable of working well with others in a universe thats so connected. All Cates had to do was intertwine Gaea back into the story and rebuild that premise issues ago, as well as the Phoenix as a liar, and set up this moment so much better to make it work. But he doesn’t. That’s the problem and is his problem overall.