Volstagg, the War Thor, has come face to face with the Mangog in the ruins of Old Asgard. The two enter a vicious battle where neither party will yield an inch. Thunder will be called down. Blows will be exchanged. The ruins of Old Asgard will be shaken.
Elsewhere, Roxxon further exploits the realm of the old gods, Vanaheim, and Queen Karnilla of the Norns awakens in Hel face to face with her old beloved.
This is a slugfest of an issue, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The battle between Volstagg and the Mangog is outright incredible. We get to see the extent of both of their powers. We are made to understand the stakes of each warrior involved. It's brutal, powerful, and just damn fun.
That's not to say the two touched-upon subplots don't have anything to offer. They do, and they advance other, admittedly unrelated, aspects of the story in significant ways. However, it would be difficult to read this issue and not come out mostly remembering the cataclysmic battle of the War Thor and Mangog.
The way Mangog's character has been altered, a voracious force meant to feed upon gods and end their reign, certainly makes him more compelling. Honestly, I feel more engaged by the character here than even in the excellent Thor vs. Thanos trade I reviewed just a few days ago.
It does make me wonder if he will have a connection to Gorr the God Butcher or if this will somehow call back to Gorr in some way. Both parties are said to loath the hypocrisy of the gods. The Mangog was born out of an atrocity committed by Odin himself. Gorr was a Jason Aaron creation. I guess we will have to wait and see. I know Gorr is dead now, but Thor #700 did allude to him with that Galactus and Ego section.
Also important: this issue has an ending! There is a conclusion to this fight. We're not left hanging on who the winner is, even if the fate of the loser is ambiguous.
James Harren's artwork brings the struggle to life in a spectacular fashion. He knows how to portray the progression of battle. There is a flow to this war. Blows and blasts are vivid and exciting. He draws upon the Kirby origin of the Mangog to give him some stances and expressions that call back to the King's work. Dave Stewart splashes each page with intense color work that really adds to the power.
Obviously, I am in love with this issue. I hate sounding like a shill, but it really is that good. It is a colossal battle of the kind we rarely get in many modern comics. It's a fantastic read, even if you're not particularly invested in the current going-ons of Thor.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this issue.