In Review: Ragnarok #7

This is everything you could want and hope for in a tale from Walter Simonson.

The covers: If you can only buy one cover for this book, good luck. I don’t see how anyone could not purchase both. The Standard cover is by Walter Simonson with colors by Laura Martin. It’s a bust shot of Thor holding Mjolnir before him. Behind him is someone wearing armor. Who that is, you’ll have to find out for yourself. Gorgeous, intense cover. The Subscription cover is by Arthur Adams with colors by Jason Keith. No one can accuse Adams of slacking off on his cover which features a wonderfully fierce Thor surrounded by every possible character from Norse legend. The details are insane and the coloring just as spectacular. I’m surprised Adams’s drawing hand didn’t fall off after completing this. Again, good luck trying to pick just one. Overall grades: Both A+

The story: A legion of firestarters have been summoned by Surtr to journey to Asgard and burn everything, “even the stones.” What they don’t know is that Thor, or what’s left of Thor, is there watching a funeral pyre he has created as it consumes the remains of all that he has known. Watching from a distance is the Black Elf  Regn and his daughter Drifa. The young girl begins to choke up bile because of the Darkness gathering around the Asgardian. The thunder god turns from the flames because, as he tells Mjolnir, “We have work to do.” He walks to a lone tree standing and discovers game pieces of the gods, and the one he picks up is in his father’s image. This gives a Thor an idea and he travels somewhere and makes a painful discovery on Page 7. As if this pain wasn’t enough for this issue, the elves have their own problems. Their actions draw the attention of Thor and a conversation produces an answer with an incredibly shocking result. The tension is this book, written by Walter Simonson, is unbelievable. It’s obvious that Regn and Thor will do battle, and they do. The discourse between the pair that leads up to fight is fantastic: Pages 10 and 11 have a back and forth that’s just amazing. However, the result of that battle could never have been predicted even if one were to have employed Volva. Page 19 is a shocker. If this dialogue between the two hasn’t been strong enough for a reader, the final page’s conversation is even better, hinting at the biggest battle yet in this series’ run. This is like consuming Idun’s golden apples: you’ll feel young reading this. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first page of the book sets the epic scale immediately, quickly followed by the pyre blasting cosmic flame into the heavens. The slow pull in to the elves in the third through fifth panels ends with a quick turn of Thor’s head, like the best edit one would see in a film. The third page is a full page splash of the god walking ominously forward and it’s a spectacular image to remind readers that their concept of what this good should look like is very, very different in this book. Seeing the tree, Thor finds it is surrounded by a meadow ravaged by the final battle. Thor ends up looking upon a new setting and it is here that Walter Simonson, the artist, has an excellent reveal, as one item obviously does not belong in the environment that surrounds it, much like the tree in the wasteland. Some villains, similar to others that have appeared earlier in this series, return and they are dealt with handsomely by Regn and Thor. Page 11 is a terrific layout that lends itself so well to the intensity of the situation, as well as some dark humor. The two pages that follow this introduce a new villain, and on 13 readers see how despicable this character can be; I can’t wait to see this individual engage Thor. 14 and 15 are eight equal sized panels showing the battle between Regn and Thor, and it’s outstanding. There is no dialogue, only the sounds of the two combatants’ weapons swinging and hitting. Pages 18 and 19 are the visual highpoints of the book. Little words are needed to communicate what’s occurring; the visuals tell the story well enough, and what a story it is! My jaw dropped farther than Thor’s in this issue at his actions (Okay, that’s an exaggeration, since I still have mine). The last page features the returns of the characters of the first page, reminding readers of their existence and teasing next issue’s battle. This looks so darned good! Overall grade: A+

The colors: Laura Martin makes this book pop. The opening splash features a cast of millions, literally, and she’s able to color each individual so that not one bleeds into the other, nor into the background. That’s quite a feat, considering that those individuals are essentially red and orange. The blue lighting that greets readers in the first panel on the second page is great foreshadowing of the title character’s own coloring. Page 3 features the title of this installment’s story and it’s masterfully lit up in red on a white banner with a yellow and orange background, instantly making it stand out. The sickly green that first appears on 5 is a great way to show magic in use and that it’s not healthy magic. The colors of the sound effects on 14 and 15 made each blow explode on the page. Page 17 has a quick three paneled flashback that instantly tells the reader it’s set in the past because of its tinted tones. I don’t think Martin is capable of making a misstep in her work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Not only this book visually interesting look at because of the art and the colors, but the letters are just as sumptuous. John Workman is responsible for the words of Surtr, dialogue, the story’s title, sounds, yells, and screams. Simply stating what he brings to this book cannot be defined in a sentence, or a review; his work truly must be seen. The shape and style of each font enhances each character’s words, from the first page’s journal to the screams of a damned individual. The sounds are as epic in this tale, with Pages 14 and 15 being glorious. This book should be an example to all comic book letterers on how varied and important their contributions are to a book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I’ve grown up reading Mr. Simonson’s books. When he was on Star Wars, I thought there was no topping those visuals. This proves me wrong. When he was writing Thor, I thought there was no topping that saga. This proves me wrong. Being so wrong has never felt so good. This is everything you could want and hope for in a tale from Walter Simonson. 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.
    No Comment