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Waiting for the Trade #5 - Thor

Waiting for the Trade

By Bill Miller

The Mighty Thor
by Matt Fraction and Olivier Coipel
Collects Mighty Thor 1 – 6.

Why I bought this: Actually this was another library rental, as opposed to purchase. It was a story arc (Galactus comes to eat Asgard) that I knew wanted to read because I love me some cosmic Marvel; but at the same time I was wary on purchasing it because I know I don’t like Thor’s solo title--I never have, and the last time I purchased a Thor trade it was awful despite having Thanos in it; so I was very happy to see this at my library and I picked it up instantly.

The Plot: The Asgardians find a seed to the World Tree, Galactus believes the seed can cure his cosmic hunger. Odin refuses to relinquish it. A brouhaha ensues. That really sums up the whole story, but we’ll give the chapter by chapter recap anyway.

Chapter 1 – Citizens of Broxton, Oklahoma are worried about constantly being collateral damage since Asgard arrived in Oklahoma circa 2007 (don’t ask me how: didn’t read it and don’t care too). Meanwhile Galactus is eating a planet, while Silver Surfer assures us through narration that he only guides Galactus to unpopulated worlds. Meanwhile Thor and Sif are swimming in the pink energy that makes up the World Tree trying to fix its roots and are attacked by giant caterpillars, one of whom bites Thor. You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal, and the art makes it look he’s barely scratched, but his wound becomes a plot point throughout the story. Loki, now inexplicably 10-years-old or thereabouts, dives into the tree and saves Thor using a spear. They find the cosmic MacGuffin and turn the seed over to Odin. Apparently Thor and Sif are dating again and we get to see way more of them than we should in a children’s comic; and Thor is leaking energy from his side where the caterpillar bit him. Silver Surfer arrives on Earth.

Chapter 2 – Odin hides the seed inside the Destroyer, who is in a weapons vault from right out of the movie. Surfer informs the residents of Broxton they should depart because Galactus is coming for the seed. (Surfer’s cosmic senses apparently became instantly aware of it when it was plucked last chapter.) Surfer asks Odin for the seed, he says no and Thor attacks Surfer.

Chapter 3 – Volstagg goes to Broxton to get a beer and the residents led by the local preacher tell him the Asgardians they are not welcome anymore. Surfer and Thor fight until Odin intervenes and agrees to hear Surfer out. Surfer explains the seed can cure Galactus’ hunger, saving countless worlds but Odin refuses to turn it over without explaining why because that’s what Odin always does; so Surfer departs warning that when he returns Galactus will be with him. Meanwhile Volstagg tries to raise the guard because he’s an idiot and believes Broxton will attack Asgard soon; however all the Asgardian warriors of note have departed for space to take the fight to Galactus.

Chapter 4 - Loki goes to see the Weird Sisters (from Macbeth, who are apparently now part of Norse mythology) in hopes of finding a cure for Thor’s wound. We get a big battle in space, which breaks into three parts. Galactus sends purple energy tendrils to occupy the rank and file Asgardians, Thor and Surfer go at it physically—mostly hitting each with their hammer and surfboard, and Odin and Galactus battle on the mental plane by making each other relive bad memories. In the climax: The Oklahomans are standing outside Asgard asking them to leave via megaphone, Thor threatens to kill Surfer as their fight spills to Mars, and Loki gets what he wants from the Weird Sisters.

Chapter 5- The battle in space continues, and Odin, losing the mental battle, head-buts Galactus breaking his helmet and causing energy to leak out as he starts to dissipate; wounded both fall to Earth just in time to distract Volstagg and stop him from slaughtering the Oklahomans. Loki retrieves the seed from the Destroyer, accidentally reactivating it in the process. Spent by the battle Odin falls into the Odinsleep, while Galactus pulls himself together and now he’s pissed. Loki decides to put the seed back in the tree, while Pastor Mike thinks Galactus is God.

Chapter 6 – Pastor Mike asks Galactus to have mercy and he gives a definitive “no.” Surfer senses the seed is gone. Odin takes control of the Destroyer and arms himself with Thor’s hammer, he’s about to attack Galactus, who teleports into orbit. The Asgardians feel they have driven him off, but in truth he’s trying to locate the seed with Surfer’s cosmic senses. Odin returns to his body and awakes; and everyone is mad at Loki for putting the seed back even though in so doing he probably saved them all from Galactus. Surfer goes to visit Pastor Mike, and takes him to Asgard where he arranges a truce with the terms that Surfer will remain on Asgard to guard the seed, while Pastor Mike becomes the new Herald of Galactus. Galactus then makes Surfer human again and ties his power to proximity to the seed, the former of which seems to be counterproductive to watching the Asgardians; and we see life going on for the major players as we wrap things up.

Critical Thoughts: Let’s start with the positive. I love the art. From the penciling to the coloring it is gorgeous. Galactus in particular is drawn as an awesome force--in reveal after reveal the art finds new ways to convey it from his eating a planet, to his arrival, to his recovery, to his interaction with Pastor Mike each time he looks more majestic than the time before and the bar starts high to begin with.

I also appreciated Surfer’s narration to start the story that he’s been leading Galactus to uninhabited worlds. As much as I loved Annihilation, the one thing in that story that rang false was Surfer rejoining Galactus, which was clearly shoehorned in to align the comics with the Fantastic Four-Silver Surfer movie that year. As a huge fan of Surfer’s 80-90s solo-title, which was all about his quest for redemption for the genocides he caused when serving Galactus the first time, I was glad to see this included because it mitigates his return to service considerably. Likewise I’m glad to see Surfer released from service at the end of this; and I liked that he was inspired by Pastor Mike’s courage to leave Galactus and try to recover his humanity as it definitely feels in-character and in some ways is a nice hallmark to how Alicia’s compassion won him over the first time. And while unnecessary, since we know his being human probably won’t last more than this writer’s run on Thor, I don’t have a major problem with it.

Unfortunately, I found the story as a whole weak. Part of this is I that I’ve never cared for the Asgardians. I like Thor in the Avengers, but his own book with its mystic mumbo jumbo nonsense has no appeal for me and never has no matter which writers I’ve sampled; and the Asgardians themselves are bunch of dull characters with interchangeable personalities.

But beyond that and specific to this story the fight scene between Galactus and Odin is lacking. The idea that they are metaphysical entities and we can’t see their battle is a cop-out—and patently not true: we’ve seen both have physical battles dozens of times. Plus there is no context given in the memory war they do have. As someone who doesn’t read Thor regularly, I have no idea what any of Odin’s flashbacks are about.

Which brings us to another point; there is a general lack of exposition throughout this trade. Most glaringly why is Loki 10-years-old? That is a fairly jarring status quo change, that should be explained somewhere in this book; especially when you consider not just that trade paperbacks should be self-contained but this collects a new issue #1 released to correspond with the movie in case casual fans wanted to sample the title. And it’s not just Loki is still himself but in 10-year-old body, like he when he was (also inexplicably) a chick a few years ago. No, he’s fully a kid now: in one scene he’s all agog at seeing Sif naked, in the climax he’s crying because no one likes him when he tried to do good. He also seems to no longer have magic as he has to go to the witches for help and uses a spear in his one fight scene. Plus he and Thor are all buddy-buddy, with Thor being all like he’s my beloved brother and defending him to the other Asgardians. So yea exposition definitely needed.

I’d also add the Volstagg-Pastor Mike subplot wasn’t to my liking at all, that Thor seems way too willing to attack and even try to kill the Surfer when they’ve been allies for years, and Surfer’s fighting tactics in general were a little off—since when is the board his primary offensive weapon as opposed to the power cosmic? Is it just to dumb down the fight to magic hammers vs. cosmic surfboard?  Either way it just compounds the lazy plotting of the main fight scene that drives the entire story.

Finally, I don’t see why Galactus would agree to this truce as he really gains nothing from it and he has the power take what he wants—the explanation given is he can wait the Asgardians out because he is more immortal than they are, but in the meantime he’s spending tens of thousands of years eating planets when the problem could be solved now. In fact why isn’t at least one Asgardian (preferably Thor since he’s the protagonist) questioning Odin on this? Thor has certainly defied his father in past stories and this is a chance to save millions of billions of innocent lives, while Odin isn’t even explaining why he wants the seed. That seems like a major lost opportunity for story-telling; at the very least Thor should be conflicted rather than unquestioningly trying to kill a longtime ally for the glory of Asgard.

Overall Grade: D+. The art is fabulous, but while the story had potential it never lived up to it with the fight scenes, subplots and climax all failing to deliver.


  1. Completely random but I'll mention it here since Galactus was brought up:

    Was anyone else pissed that in Fantastic Four 2 (the movie), they portrayed Galactus as a bad guy?  He's neither good nor bad; he's a force of nature!  I don't oppose ret conning for the movies, but making him a heel is fundamentally altering the character.

    I did like how at the end there was an outline of his humanly perceived form in the sky, though.


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