Thor: Siege Aftermath
written by Kieron Gillen
illustrated by Richard Elson and Doug Braithwaite
Marvel Comics has more incarnations and varieties of Hell than one can really keep track of. There’s the semi-traditional Hell, ruled by Mephisto, which adheres to many common notions about the afterlife inferno. There’s also Hel, ruled by the Norse goddess Hela, which is reserved only for Norse gods. There’s also the Dark Dimension, ruled by a fiery demon named Dormammu, and the Negative Zone, ruled by the reptilian-robotic Annihilus, and the torturous Dream Dimension, ruled by Nightmare. I’m sure there are some other dimensions dedicated entirely to pain and suffering that I’m completely forgetting, but it’s easy to understand how these things can get complicated quickly, especially when all of these dark lords are jockeying for position. If you haven’t already read about the deal struck between Hel and Hell during the preceding Siege storyline, go back and start there. This is, after all, the Aftermath.
What you need to know is that Loki, forever twisting the will of gods and man for his own entertainment, set loose a powerful group of undead ladies who eat gods, and unless Thor stops them, even the immortal, ever-reborn souls of the gods will be extinguished forever. Like Dante, Thor must travel through Mephisto’s Hell to find the only way to slay these monsters. In this way, the comic is plotted in the most traditional manner possible: a hero, a quest, a revelation, a talisman. Even this obvious formula doesn’t keep the story from being fun to read, but this might just be because Thor himself is a fun character to read. Anyone who smashes through a rock demon with a hammer is okay as far as I’m concerned.
Because this is a Thor book, it’s filled with the curious, fake-Victorian high speech that Stan Lee coined so long ago, used to evoke a great deal of intelligence and bearing. This is, thankfully, broken by the appearance of Mephisto, who steals the show with his ultra-casual approach to the events going on around him. Instead of being an actively malevolent demon (as many of his first appearances depicted him), he’s a great character who prefers to allow the people around him to hang themselves with their own behavior, quietly foreshadowing his potential role in the future of the Marvel Universe.
The collection is concluded with three issues of Thor from the legendary days of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in a great little story about Thor and Loki’s ongoing battle, which also concerns a trip into Hell. Marvel’s been throwing many extra, classic stories into their collections lately, and it always presents a very interesting contrast with what they’re accomplishing now, so these pages are always welcomed.
While the complex world of Thor might become a bit bewildering at times, the story resolves itself in a satisfying manner. The art throughout is of the highest caliber that Marvel has to offer. They know that all eyes will turn to Thor as his movie comes out, so you can bet that Thor is going to remain a focal point for Marvel for a while. Teachers and librarians might want to pay attention to themes of Hell, a good deal of blood, some very mild sexual innuendo, and one lady who doesn’t seem interested in wearing the usual complement of clothing.
It’s a classic kind of story in every sense, and it’s hard to resist The Mighty Thor.-- Collin David