In the previous issue of The Mighty Thor, the Shi’ar attacked Asgard, took Thor into some sort of realm with their gods, and then left. That’s how the Asgard/Shi’ar war began. For a series with an increasingly complex plot with the War of the Realms going on, Roxxon destroying Earth’s environment and Odinson missing, it’s nice to have a straight forward issue for once.
The Mighty Thor 16, written by Jason Aaron, picks up where the previous issue left off, with Jane Foster Thor standing face to face with the Shi’ar deities asking her to undergo some sort of challenge. When she first tries to refuse, they threaten to completely destroy Earth with Shi’ar’s armada. It’s a bit of a weird scene, but it’s a good teaser for what is to come. Also, you know they’re powerful when they shrug off Mjolnir’s lightning, and then take Gladiator down with a single punch. Towards the end of the comic, the exact nature of the challenges are revealed, and it turns out that they may be suited for Thor’s attitude much more than the Shi’ar gods foresaw. It’s a great scene and a wonderful heroic moment.
The other half of the comic focuses on Asgard’s reaction to the invasion. I won’t say what happens in the scene or even hint at it. What I will say is that Cul (Odin’s brother who attacked Earth during the Fear Itself event), might actually be capable of being a better leader than Odin, at least in some ways. He’s unnecessarily harsh, but he’s not completely stuck up and stubborn like Odin is. Also, Lady Sif’s conversation with Cul is probably the best moment she’s had since Kathryn Immonen’s Journey Into Mystery run from way back. It’s a great moment that shows how brave she is by standing up to Cul, and how inspirational she can be when she tries. As soon as you’re done reading that moment, you know how the last few pages of this comic are going to turn out. Even then, it’s still a glorious finish.
As usual, the art by Russell Dauterman is utterly fantastic. The opening page shows a brilliantly detailed crystal palace of sorts, with the Shi’ar deities glowing with pure power in front of their thrones. There’s a good mix of a clean looking environment with very well detailed characters, like the many strands of Thor’s hair and Warbird’s feathered outfit. The cracks in the stairs after Gladiator is knocked down look almost real. This detail continues in Asgard, with the fancy patterns on the floor and the fur coats on both Lady Sif and Cul’s coats. Facial expressions help tell character’s emotions very well, like Cul’s cold anger when Sif first challenges him, Thor’s somewhat guilty look when people start worshiping her and the looks of annoyance in the Congress of Worlds chamber when Volstagg blabbers on about the food he eats. Matthew Wilson’s colouring is as detailed and brilliant as the art. Everything is bright and colourful, with realistic looking shadows and lighting.
It’s kind of weird that the second issue of the Asgard/Shi’ar war story arc doesn’t have much actual war in it, and the story arc seems to be going in a different direction than the title suggests. That said, this is an enjoyable comic. Although I’m very much enjoying the series as a whole, it is nice to have a bit of a break from the epic story that’s been building since the Thor: God of Thunder series began 5 years ago. It can be hard to review a series with a story that’s so complex. I would recommend Jason Aaron’s entire Thor run in general to Thor fans, and anyone the least bit curious about a woman taking over the hammer for an unworthy Odinson should check this series out. It’s remained one of Marvel’s top selling solo titles over the years for a very good reason.