Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ragnarok: Last God Standing by Walter Simonson

Walter Simonson is probably best known for his work on Marvel Comic's character, Thor. His tales epic in scope and size.

So imagine what happens when he does his own series based on Norse myths? You get Ragnarok and in this collection, Last God Standing, collecting issues 1-6, you get a Thor after Ragnarok, an undead Thunder God. One whose hammer still has power but is designed more like the mythological version with the short handle.

Yes, Thor as an undead god of Thunder. With Walter's traditional touches. He brings the character to life as few could.

In this tale, someone wants Thor gone and sends a dark elf assassin to do the job. It's a nice touch as the dark elves have a long a tradition in Norse mythology. Her comments to others remind me of what an adventurer would be like.

That in and of itself could almost be the start of half of Dungeons and Dragons games the way people online talk.

And Thor himself? Still a god of action.

Walter's art does a fantastic job of selling this new world and this new mythological vision. We see Thor awaken and learn how to deal with this new world. Not as strong as he once was, not as wise as Odin, we see Thor trying to piece together the bits of the new world from what remains of the old world.

One of the most powerful bits to me? When Thor finds the old Well and its seer, Mimir. Like Odin, Thor must sacrifice an eye for knowledge. But after the well is drained? There are two eyes left in it. One Thor's freshly sacrificed eye, the other? The original eye of Odin. Thor places it into his skull to gain his father's knowledge. It's a powerful sight and touching at the same time.

Thor's tragedy here is lain at the reader's feet with every step Thor takes in this new world. When he visits Asgard and sees his dead wife and children? When he uses a Fire Giant's essence to set aflame old Asgard as a proper monument to their time? It shows the weight and cost of Thor's sleep.

But Thor is not the only inhabitant in the world. The Dark Elf assassin had a husband who seeks to finish her work and the hunt is on. Gifted with a cursed sword that must draw blood, Regn and his daughter, Drifa, seek out the Thunder God to bring him down.

This collection ends with Thor in the ruins of Asgard and Regn and Drifa seeking him out with a cursed sword.

In addition to the comics, this collection includes the full covers as well as sketches. Walt's sketches in various degrees of completion. It's a wonder to see the art unfold from one stage to the other.

Right now Last God Standing is part of the IDW sale and is going for $3.99.