Writer: Torunn Gronbekk
Artist: Juan Gedeon
Color Artist: Matt Wilson
Cover Artist: Nic Klein
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The dead are missing in Valhalla, Helheim is empty of everything even its rulers. And Thor has nothing but unanswered questions while he’s fighting a cyborg dragon of myth. Meanwhile, Dr. Doom is revealed to be at the heart of this mass disappearance of Agard’s dead as he imprisoned their ruler Hela to learn great and terrible secrets. See what secrets are revealed to Dr. Doom and how the God of Thunder faces off against the mighty Nidhogg in Thor #32.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Thor #32 Review.
This comic is sadly a disappointing read with much of that on the fault of the writing and story. There’s plenty of flaws from the mishandled characterization to character dynamics and the story’s momentum feeling a little slower. And it doesn’t help that the art changed from Nic Klein to Juan Gedeon and the change is without a doubt a downgrade especially after we had two or three issues with Nic Klein back on the book as the main artist. There will be SPOILERS in this review in order to provide context behind the strengths and flaws of this comic.
Let’s start with the plot. So, it appears that Dr. Doom is behind this plot to use all of the dead of Valhalla in a bid to take away humanity’s free-will…somehow. Trust me, this story is as weird as it gets. We discover that Thor is chasing the cyber-dragon Mecha-Nidhogg (that’s the name I’m calling it for fun) because he says it took Odin’s soul from Mjolnir, and this ends up leading him to Latveria. Meanwhile, Dr. Doom is interrogating his prisoner Hela (we never get any explanation on how he captured, probably in the next issue) for answers to perform a ritual to use Valhalla’s dead for his purposes. All while the comic alludes ever so slightly throughout this comic of Thanos’ involvement/influence.
While Juan Gedeon’s art is by no mean terrible, it’s just a huge downgrade from Nic Klein’s art. That can’t be argued, and worse this comic is supposed to be showing a lot of intense action on Thor’s side of things. Which is where the flaws in the art really show from the plain backgrounds to the characters themselves aside from closeups of their faces while Thor and Jane Foster are in the middle of chasing and/or fighting Mecha-Nidhogg.
There are plenty of reasons why this plot for Dr. Doom is pretty weak, but let’s focus on the bigger ones. The main issue being that Doom is well-versed in the history of the Marvel Universe and has been for decades now. As such, he already knows, or is at least aware, that the history of the Marvel Universe let alone humanity doesn’t start with the Asgardians nor that it wasn’t any of the known Gods who gave humanity free-will, and that there are plenty of other afterlives besides Valhalla and Helheim. So, it doesn’t make sense why he singles them out other than this is a Thor book. Plus, the comic doesn’t make it clear how using Valhalla’s dead could possibly be used to take away humanity’s free will, hopefully this is elaborated on in upcoming issues. Overall, it doesn’t even feel like Dr. Doom should be the villain of this arc, the main villain could be Dracula of all people and it would make just as much sense.
SPOILER Side note: Doom using “Karnilla’s soul” in a jar as a hostage to motivate Hela doesn’t work that well. Yes, Hela and Karnilla are technically queens and wives but not by choice, it’s a political marriage to uphold the peace of the realm, and while they don’t hate each other they don’t love each other either. Plus, Hela is quite the ice queen and isn’t above letting others die or suffer in her place. So, Doom’s threat to harm Karnilla’s soul to incentivize Hela to spill her secrets doesn’t hold up. Unfortunately, this shows Gronbekk is stretching the characterization of these characters to make this story’s plot happen. With how all of the plot lines converges by the end, hopefully the creative team can pull it off in the next issues.
The only good thing to come out of this is that the narration mentions Hela thinking of a “mortal” she once loved who asked similar questions as Dr. Doom who she thinks is somehow involved in this. It has to be Thanos, and if we’re lucky, he’ll finally show up in the next few issues. Now, some might question why I believe the narration’s referring to Thanos fondly being in Hela’s thoughts and it’s because Jason Aaron tried to make them an item. However, he didn’t really do anything with it and even had Thanos break up with her. But then Donny Cates decided to run with this idea and had Hela be the one who tried to resurrect Thanos in his Guardians of the Galaxy run where Cates showed that they still clearly loved each other. So it makes sense that Gronbekk would maintain this evil love affair between the two, and since Thanos is clearly setup as the final villain for this Thor run, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did show up soon.
Thor #32 continues to show how far the plot thickens with the missing dead of Helheim and Valhalla and how Dr. Doom fits into all of this. However, most of what’s set up isn’t that thrilling or compelling in the execution. Dr. Doom’s presence here isn’t that great and his involvement with Hela’s capture and the missing dead of Valhalla and Helheim is pretty underwhelming so far. The art change from Nic Klein to Juan Gedeon is very noticeable in the comic especially when Thor is in action. Overall, the comic is not terrible but it’s not great either.