Details: More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/issue/78635/thor_2020_9
For a long time, I really disliked Thor. He was poorly imagined and poorly written. However, like Hickman’s run on the Fantastic Four, Straczynski’s run on Thor changed my mind and turned me into a fan. Since, Straczynski’s run, I check back into Thor once in a while to see if there’s anything of interest. The recent story arc from Thor did catch my interest and I enjoyed it very much.
Some spoilers ahead.
The story focuses on Donald Blake, the alter ego of Thor. If you are unfamiliar with the Thor mythos, Thor, the Norse god of Thunder, was originally sent to Earth by his father, Odin, king of the Norse gods. Odin created an entire alter ego for Thor, basically a separate person with whom Thor shared a body. Through magic, Odin created a personality and an entire history for this fake person.
The purpose of the alter ego was basically to give Thor a secret identity to blend in with humans. Donald Blake was a doctor. He worked in a hospital and had no super powers. When trouble arose, he would switch over to Thor and Thor would go beat up the bad guys. Then they’d switch back and Donald Blake would go on with his magically created life with friends who remembered his magically created history.
It was a very short sighted, not very well explained aspect of the Thor comic books. As time went on and the Marvel movies became more popular, writers just dropped the Donald Blake alter ego altogether without giving any explanation of where he went or what he really was.
“Prey,” the recent six issue story arc in the Thor comic books, seeks to address that. Turns out, that Donald Blake was not just an illusion or anything like that. Odin created a fully sentient being. Odin also created a separate pocket dimension where Donald Blake would go whenever he swapped out with Thor. This dimension is essentially an idealized version of Americana, a small neighborhood where everyone is smiling and being good neighbors. Anyways, Thor pretty much stopped swapping to Blake years ago and since then, Blake has been stuck in this pocket dimension, slowly losing his mind to the fake people inhabiting this Pleasantville. Blake eventually breaks out, now completely insane, and decides to go kill all the people who have ever called themselves Thor.
It’s an interesting take on a not very well explained character. Donald Blake has always been portrayed as an alter ego, sometimes portrayed as another aspect of Thor, sometimes portrayed as a separate being. In this story, Blake is undoubtedly a separate being as he goes on a rampage fighting and killing tons of characters from Thor’s history. Blake was created by the magic of Odin and so possesses some of Odin’s magic, making him extremely powerful. Recent events in the Thor books have allowed Blake to gather even more of Odin’s power, making him somewhere near the power level of Odin or Thor. That means, every one he kills or beats up has very little chance of resisting him.
The story is fast and frenetic. There’s a ton of action and all of it is drawn very well. Nic Klein is the artist on this book and does a great job. His art reminds me of Capullo’s run on Batman, which also had great art.
It’s a fun book that revisits a bunch of old Thor characters, some of whom meet there violent, brutal demise. Most of all, it adds clarity to a little explored aspect of the Thor mythos while somewhat retconning it and adding more context. Like with Hickman’s current work on X-Men, I don’t mind a little retconning when it’s done well and adds something to the franchise.