The All-Father Thor is all but absent from this frustrating issue that posits the idea that Donald Blake — the manufactured identity Thor's father Odin created to teach the Thunder God humility, has returned from years in a place that was not a place, gone absolutely bonkers and has usurped Thor's powers in order to wreak unholy vengeance.
If you've ever read any books with a certain hairy Canadian, you know that Marvel stories involving implanted memories rarely go well. Donald Blake, he has learned through both his tenure in a twilight territory and now pilfering the records of Asgard, did not go to medical school, did not get bitten by a bullet ant on a humanitarian trip to Nicaragua, and really does not have the life he believed. Of course, that makes him very cranky.
"So?" you might ask. "He's, what, a hundred thirty pounds soaking wet! He even walks with a limp; what threat is he to Thor?" Well, that's the weird part: Donald Blake took all of Thor's divine power when he swapped places with him, Mar-Vell style, and returned to the Ten Realms. While there, he murdered and destroyed everything that he came across and made his plans to avenge himself on Odin's legacy.
"That's dumb," you might say. "Odin left a being off to the side to become super dangerous, didn't email anybody, didn't make any countermeasures for this?" Yeah, basically. For all the power and glory, the Asgardians are basically as dumb as a weekend recounting votes in California. For all his ridiculous powers, Thor lacks the ability to perceive threats that his father sacrificed an eye to gain. Apparently, Odin himself didn't look too closely at many, popping up after his death.
Donny Cates, to his credit, plays all this straight, giving every impression that Donald Blake is a galaxy-class threat, even having him wield Thor's old ax Jarnbjorn in a battle against Sif, the Thunder Guard and the Warriors of Asgard, who sound like they should be pretty tough, all being gods. The visuals from Nic Klein, Matt Wilson, and Joe Sabino do heroic levels of work trying to convince you that Donald freaking Blake could beat the wheels off of, well, anybody. There's even a bit near the end that attempts to put some more logic to the power-up, but it doesn't hold up unless you follow the Joker-ized theory that if someone goes crazy enough, they can do just about anything. While that might sell for the clown prince of crime, it's a bit too pricy a concept to connect here. Like, it's a really hard sell to swallow that load of malarkey.
Making villains for hire can be hard, and you can hit roadblocks on licensed characters. That's true. Fighting yourself? Isn't that a little too 2020 for its own good? RATING: NO. JUST … NO.
By Donny Cates, Nic Cline, Greg Hildebrandt, Ken Lashley
THE DARK PRISON OF DONALD BLAKE! For years Doctor Donald Blake has wandered a land far from Midgard, the place he once thought home. Now he has returned to the Ten Realms – but it is not the place it was, nor he the man who once shared a body with a god. New terrors await in what is perhaps Donny Cates' darkest story yet!
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
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