In Review: Ragnarok #5

This is the best book of the week. Highest possible recommendation.

The covers: The severed head of Mimir is held forward by Thor. The eyes on the head are open, showing that some sort of sorcery is at work to keep it alive. The visage on the Wise One as he gazes upon the Stone God on this Standard cover could be either one of anger or acknowledgement, thought the Thunder God still maintains his frightful air with his fractured face. I like how Mimir can be interpreted in many ways in this image, forcing the reader to open the book. The energy rippling off Thor is also impressive. The Subscription cover is much more chilling because it appears that Thor is responsible for Mimir’s beheading. The head sits atop a tree’s branch, a trickle of blood slithering out of its stump of a neck, while the Odinson has his arms around the remains of his friend, almost lovingly. He holds Mjolnir in his hand as a suggestion of what was used in the man’s execution. Mimir has no pupils, unlike the other cover, flaming the idea that he is dead. Walter Simonson illustrated both covers, with Laura Martin providing the colors. I prefer the Standard cover because Mimir’s look is so unclear, though the coloring on both is strong, with the blues on Thor setting off the pink and burnt sienna on Mimir on the Standard and the gold on the hammer drawing the focus on the Subscription. Overall grades: Standard A+ and Subscription A

The story: A portal creates “the smell of ozone…and the ground vibrates with a relentless hum.” Two dwarves guard this gate, albeit they’re playing cards before it as this story begins. Thor rides upon them and they fire a bolt from a crossbow as the draugar approaches. It’s easily deflected and the Stone God asks to be sent to Mimir’s well. They try to dissuade him as the gate on the other side does not work, the well has dried up, and there is a barrier around the well. The dwarves eventually comply after a not-so-subtle threat, and the god enters with his mount. Once through he encounters a massive wall of ice, the barrier that was spoken of. Naturally, things don’t go as planned. Page 6 introduces a major foe, if not “the” villain of this series, and steps are taken to find out what’s going on at Mimir’s well. Page 8 introduces a nice obstacle for the protagonist, with Page 12 having a great sacrifice. Writer Walter Simonson has things learned in this issue, on Page 16 he doesn’t let readers forget two supporting characters, and 18 has the best exclamation and response, which together only comprises three words. I laughed hard at the exchange on that page. With this issue the word epic is firmly carved in stone for this series. Exceptional reading. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first page of this feast by Walter Simonson is only two panels: a splash of the portal with the dwarves in the foreground for perspective and an inserted panel for a close-up of the pair. The portal’s design instantly communicates the fantasy setting and the power the device exudes. Notice that Thor’s pupils don’t appear until he begins to explain what will happen to the dwarves if he’s sent elsewhere than his intended destination–this is a slick way to put emotion into a skull sans lower jaw. Page 6’s monstrous sized villain is impressive, as is his demonic looking minion. This page is also as complete a contrast one could create with the previous setting. There’s some dialogue-free storytelling on 7 that’s both strong and funny. Page 12 is graphic for a purpose (Loved it!) and the sequence that begins on Page 14 is worth the cover price alone. Every page visually satisfies and exceeds every expectation. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Enhancing this book astronomically are the colors by Laura Martin. The opening splash uses blood red (Nice foreshadowing!) for the story’s title and then Martin employs light colors that become stronger the closer one looks into the portal’s entrance, culminating in a bright white. Sounds explode off the pages in yellows, blues, and oranges. Page 6 has Martin expertly using every known shade of yellow, orange, and red. As great as that vertical panel is, the last one on the left is beautiful. The greens on 13 are delightfully eerie and the sequence that starts on 14 is perfectly colored to alter readers as to what they’re witnessing. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The always impressive John Workman does three things on this book that amaze: his dialogue is elegant in its svelte stylings that befit an epic, his sounds are astoundingly strong, and Page 14 (Yes, I dwell on this) uses a font that would humble a god. Page 2 has a pair of spectacular sounds, PTHWUNK! and FTHUP, and I could read any novel comprised of that font from 14. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is a summer blockbuster that can be held in one’s hands. Every page is a joy. This is 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.
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