Grumpy Bird Reviews: Ragnarok #4

I’m trying to be more positive about comics and my reviews of them. It can be pretty rough. I had just finished reading and reviewing Thor #6 and was about to open up some silver age goodness when I noticed I had yet to read Ragnarok #4. And now I can gush about comics.

Ragnarok_04-1Ragnarok #4
Writer & Artist: Walter Simonson
Colorist: Laura Martin
Publisher: IDW
Plot: The Stone God (aka Skullface Thor) fights a troll who turns out to be the protector of a town centuries after the end of world. Then come the Dead. And then he has to deal with a fire demon.
Analysis: I’m going to back up a little because for whatever reason I haven’t been reviewing these comics even though I have loved each one. Maybe I’ll go back and fix that… Still, when this was announced I remember being worried. There is a reason that the Simonson run on Thor is regarded as the Gold Standard. I think the only possible contender is Kirby’s run and that carries with it the boon that it is classic Kirby. So, when I read that Simonson returning to Thor it felt only natural to be nervous. Would he hold up? I had that fear that the titan would falter in his reach.
I was stupid. Each issue has been gorgeous. The story flows. The characters are strong. Really, really good stuff to say the least. This is scratching that Thor itch that the other title just keeps missing. I find myself being more interested in Javokk the Troll than almost any character in the Marvel series, and Javokk is just a supporting player mostly developed for this one issue. In an economy of storytelling Simonson gives us an honorable yet brutish protector that I want to know more about.
Also, in each issue there feels like there is progress. There is a story here and we are seeing it unfold and learning about the different characters involved in its telling. I feel just are involved in the story of the Black Elf and his daughter as I do the Stone God and if it is to be conflict between them I don’t know who I would cheer for. The whole comic, probably.
And the art! Simonson is all the things he should be. Messy, elegant and powerful. I just love it. There is a sequence where Thor strikes down a flying enemy. The way he uses the panels for both distance and time is one of the reasons comics are a great medium and that Simonson is a master.
Basically, in the house between Shirtless and Helmethead or Skullface, go to Skullface for your Thor fix.

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