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It’s a genuine tour de force of action-based storytelling that manages to be thrilling, touching, and beautifully drawn.

Thor: God of Thunder 23 is an excellent comic. That’s not at all surprising to me because the series has pretty much fallen on the over-the-top awesome side since its first issue. In many ways, in fact, it’s almost reminded me of the Marvel film’s take on the Thor. Granted, there’s no orcs with rocket launchers or elves fighting Norse gods with black hole grenades and laser cannons. Even so, writer Jason Aaron has demonstrated a definite willingness to the Thor and his world and take them to the grandest, most epic heights possible.

Case in point, the series most recent storyline, The Last Days of Midgard, has been a tour de force of action-based storytelling following dual Thors (present and future) into blatantly complimentary battles to save the Earth. For the younger Thor, it’s a fight against the greedy corporation Roxxon which seems bent on doing everything it can to supplant Captain Planet’s rogues gallery as the pollutinist baddie on the block. For the aging future Thor however, this has meant an all-out one on one brawl with Galactus who has returned to an environmentally wasted Earth to finally claim it as a meal.

Issue 23 closes out this story and does so in a manner that’s almost as perfect as I’d been hoping it would be. Picking up right where it issue 22 left off, Old Thor’s granddaughters are readying for a final stand against Galactus when the thunder god returns after leaving to retrieve “the black weapon of Gor the God Butcher,” which he uses to become “Necro-Thor” in a desperate bid to finish Galactus off.

The book’s handling of this is something I’ll admit I didn’t like that much. Don’t get me wrong, when I first saw what Old Thor was doing I was really excited. Gor the God Butcher was a fantastic villain in the previous God Butcher and God Bomb storylines, and anyone who had read those arcs would know immediately just how desperate the aging thunder god would have to be to wield a weapon that, not too long ago, was nearly the instrument of Asgard’s destruction.

Even if this was your first foray into God of Thunder however, it’s made very clear in issue 23 itself that Old Thor using this is a big deal. His granddaughters make a big point of begging him not to use it and Galactus warns him that wielding it will “take a price.” Unfortunately, it’s something that the book never really explores any further. Granted, it could be saving those details for issue 24, which will serve as an epilogue to The Last Days of Midgard, but I definitely would have appreciated at least a hint of the consequences in 23, which glosses them over almost entirely.

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That niggling problem aside, the remainder of the book falls right in line with the consistent excellence of the storyline. In addition to the conclusion of the Old Thor/Galactus bout, we get to see present day Thor’s conflict with Roxxon come to a head as well as some cool moments involving the Asgardian’s new lady love Roz Solomon holding off an army of Trolls laying waste to the town Broxton. This latter bit of destruction is, in turn, played for some actual poignancy that left me surprisingly moved.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this has been a book void of emotion. Old Thor’s battle with Galactus was, from the get-go, very clearly driven by his sentiment for the Earth. That in mind, it was really stirring for me to watch the younger Thor realize his efforts to save Broxton had failed. To have that coupled with the genuinely heart-warming conclusion of Old Thor’s arc left me feeling genuinely touched by a story that could have easily stopped at the corner of big and dumb and called it a day.

My tenure as a dedicated comic book fan isn’t the longest one. In fact, weighed against the decades of existing and ongoing history and storylines, my two or so years of weekly runs to the local comic store would probably be branded by some as paltry. That said, I still know a great comic when I read one and issue 23 (as well as the four preceding) has very much demonstrated that Thor: God of Thunder is one of the best superhero books currently being written and one that every fan of the Marvel universe should be reading.

Bottom Line: The Last Days of Midgard is a brilliant continuation of God of Thunder‘s streak of grand stories told on epic scales. It provides gorgeous art, excellent action and a story that uses both to reach a poignancy that’s sometimes rare among superhero books.

Recommendation: Read this story and read God of Thunder. Whether you’re an old fan of Thor or even a new fan of Marvel this book will hit you with the force of a star-forged hammer.

[rating=4.5]

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