In Review: Ragnarok #4

The best book of the week. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: As promised at the end of the last issue, the troll Javokk and the Stone God do battle. Mjolnir blazes with energy, tendrils of electricity crackle about, as the Stone God readies to pound Javokk. Wisely, the troll uses his left arm to bear the brunt of the draugr’s attack, while having his wicked battle mace ready to take a swing at the dead god’s head. Great composition by Walter Simonson, with sensational details in the troll’s leg hair and the grass it stands upon. The coloring by Laura Martin puts the focus squarely on the hammer, but look at the shadow work she’s created on the troll. Beautiful. The Subscription cover is a surprising change of pace, as the Stone God is nowhere on this. What is on this cover is a massive ship plowing through the water. At its head is a demonic looking skull that sports tremendous horns. This appears to be a floating city more than a vessel of war. All but devouring the sky is Fenrir, the great wolf fabled to devour Odin, and Jormungand, the Midgard serpent who will destroy the world when it releases its tail. This pair foreshadow doom, and isn’t that what Ragnarok is supposed to be? Excellent coloring, again by Martin, with the eyes of the skull and the creatures drawing the reader into the image and their final fate. Overall grades: Standard A+ and Subscription A

The story: I expected fisticuffs with Javokk, and Walter Simonson delivers them, but an unexpected reveal on page 3 turns into a bigger surprise on 5. A seemingly one dimensional foe become a fully rounded character. Now does this mean there’s no action after the opening? Simonson has not forsaken action as Page 8 demonstrates. I was unprepared for Pages 10 – 13, which shows two characters on an impending collision with the Stone God. 11 had the best scene of the entire book, and focuses on a new character to this series. Talk about strong writing! But Simonson isn’t done with outstanding scenes: look at what happens on 14 and 15, which ends the book on a powerful note. I know this review hasn’t been particularly specific with details, but to give any would ruin the utter magic of this book. I do feel confident in saying this is an amazing read. Overall grade: A+

The art: If you’re not aware of the power and majesty Walter Simonson brings to his work, you’ve been unconscious for over 40 years. The opening splash is a perfect example of the strength of his illustrations. Look at that swing by the Stone God, the explosion of energy as his fist connects with the troll, and the angle and spin of Javokk’s body as he’s thrown backwards by the punch. This instantly alerts readers that they are in for epic visuals. Page 6 expertly shows the evolution of a character not only through dialogue but through outstanding visuals. Equally impressive is the silent storytelling on page 11 that gives one individual time to make a decision, allowing readers to come to the same conclusion. There’s fantastic use of fire on several pages, but it’s impossible not to dwell on the two frightening smiles at the bottom of Page 18. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such ghastly grins and been completely taken by them. It’s a masterpiece of ghoulish glee. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Spectacular coloring from Laura Martin that matches the spectacular artwork. I really like that when Mjolnir is used the colors go bright blue and white to emphasize the electricity emanating from it. Also neat is the burnt rose backgrounds that Martin creates to remind readers of the dead forest surrounding the leads and the village. When the setting changes on Page 10, the background is a different kind of death, greys that show desolation greater than that of the forest. Colors explode on page 15, which was my favorite of the issue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: John Workman creates the issue’s story title, dialogue, sounds, and a super “To Be Continued…” They are sensational. His thin line work for the dialogue makes the story classier by evoking the font one would expect in a tome of tales, creating an aged feel for the story. His sound effects are great, with the ones on Pages 6, 8, and 16 my favorites. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A classic in the making as the old world crumbles. The best book of the week. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

    One Comment
  • john kirk
    15 March 2015 at 1:57 pm -

    Well written. Thoroughly descriptive and informative. My hat is both doffed and tipped.

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