It’s never easy to follow-up on a character defining run like the one Jason Aaron had during his time on the Thor franchise. But so far in his three issues on Thor thus far Donny Cates has shown to be more up for the job in taking the lead on the franchise. Cates has done so by respecting everything Aaron established with the Thor franchise and taking it to the next level. The involvement of Galactus, in particular, has been fascinating to watch as Thor has been forced to become the Herald of Thunder in order to fight against the event called Black Winter. That turn for Thor has been met with mixed emotions as his position as the Herald of Thunder has placed him against Beta Ray Bill and Lady Sif. How will things continue for Thor and Galactus uneasy alliance with Beta Ray Bill and Lady Sif in their way? Let’s find out with Thor #4.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Thor orders Sif, as King of Asgard, to stand aside so he can finish Beta Ray Bill off. Sif says she is taking Beta Ray Bill back to Asgard and challenges Thor to do something about it.
Thor throws Mjolnir at Sif and Beta Ray Bill. Sif immediately summons the Bifrost to teleport Mjolnir to another location much to Thor’s displeasure.
Over on the frozen wastelands of Jotunheim, Mjolnir lands right in front of Loki.
Thor senses Mjolnir landed in Jotunheim and says Odin would never stand for something Sif did. Sif reminds Thor he is not his father because he is better. She goes on to talk about how she understands that Thor wants to prove he is worthy of being King but also knows he is scared about the end. Thor tries to say he is not scared but Sif reminds him that she can see everything.
Back in Jotunheim Loki wonders if he can pick up Mjolnir. Loki is surprised to find he is able to lift Mjolnir. Seconds after Mjolnir flies back to Thor.
Back at the battlefield Galactus shows up and tells Thor he is hungry. Thor tells Sif and Beta Ray Bill to go back to Asgard. Sif asks Thor if he has a message for the Asgardians. Thor says he will tell them himself when his work is done.
After Sif and Beta Ray Bill leave Galactus asks if Thor is ready. Thor says he is not and then hits Galactus with a powerful lightning attack. Galactus is knocked back. Once he recovers Galactus tells Thor why he would dare take his cosmic power. Thor responds by saying he is now ready.
Afterwards Thor gets the people from Sylus, IO-X4 and Vanysh IVII of each planet. Galactus then devours the planets to increase his powers.
Thor then shows up on the fifth planet Galactus needs to devour named Kryo. Thor tells the people of Kryo to stand down or else they will die along with their planet.
Before Thor can convince the people of Kryo to evacuate Galactus begins devouring the planet. Thor flies up to remind Galactus that he was not given permission to devour Kryo yet. Galactus says he does not need permission to eat and continues to devour Kryo. As the planet and Kryo’s people are devoured Thor can do nothing but cover his eyes with a piece of his cape. Thor apologizes to Kryo’s leader and leaves the planet with tears in his eyes.
After Galactus completely devours Kryo, Thor says that once the Black Winter is clear he will make Galactus answer for what he did to Kryo. Galactus understands.
Galactus and Thor then stand together as the Black Winter approaches them. End of issue.
The Good: The stakes in “The Devourer King” continue to escalate with Thor #4. After a hard fought, extended battle between Thor and Beta Ray Bill took over Thor #3 Cates placed a greater focus on the tension between different characters. That shift in storytelling between Thor #3 and #4 helps make “The Devourer King” the impactful story it has been thus far.
With how brutal of a fight that Thor and Beta Ray Bill had in the last issue it was great to see Sif step in to provide a whole different challenge for the God/Herald of Thunder. Sif is one of the most badass fighters in the Marvel Universe. But while she is a powerful fighter, the thing that puts Sif above many is that when she does not back down it is not an act to act tough. She has supreme confidence in her skills and abilities.
We see that with how Sif does not back down against Thor, who has been powered up beyond his normal God of Thunder level. Each time Sif turned down Thor’s offer to stand aside you believed that Thor was not going to be able to get her to back down. Cates was able to quickly show why Sif was so confident against Thor by having her activate the Bifrost to teleport Mjolnir away when it was thrown at her and Beta Ray Bill.
The fact that Thor did not go in to fight Sif spoke to how much respect there is between them even in the current situation with the Black Winter. Especially without Mjolnir readily available Thor knew he would not be able to defeat Sif. This is a big change from how Thor did not hesitate to go toe-to-toe with Beta Ray Bill, someone many consider Thor’s equal as well. It’s all strong character and relationship development that is given with Sif and Thor.
This confrontation also was a great way to show how important Sif’s role is now that she is the commander of the Bifrost. Using her power of sight to see through Thor’s lie is a great example of show don’t tell by Cates to put over Sif in her new role. The conflict between Thor and Sif not being resolved by the end of things provides an intriguing sub-plot for Cates to follow up on.
Another big sub-plot that Thor #4 sets up is the fact that Loki was able to pick up Mjolnir after it landed in Jotunheim. While it was for only a brief moment the visual of Loki holding Mjolnir creates a lot of questions for what will happen after Black Winter is over. This seems to feed into an idea that Cates has been developing about if Thor is worthy not just of being King of Asgard but to wield Mjolnir. Invoking Odin’s name when he talks about Sif not listening to his orders speaks to this as well. It’ll be interesting to see what Cates plans for this development for Thor’s character.
At the forefront of Thor #4 was the continued uneasy alliance between Thor and Galactus. Cates really tested the alliance between the two in this issue. The set up for that test was well handled as Cates showed us how for the next three planets the pair visited Thor was able to get the people to evacuate to Asgard before Galactus devoured the planet. This set-up the idea that these two were working together like they agreed to.
That set-up allowed for the moment Galactus patience went out the window and he devoured Kryo while the planet’s people and Thor were still there. With how much he was already able to devour only growing his appetite we saw how brutal Galactus can be when no one can control him. The fact Thor knew he would not be able to stop Galactus because the devourer of planets had grown to strong highlighted this fact.
To put this sequence over the top Cates did a fantastic job having Thor cover his eyes with a piece of his cape. This character choice punctuated how difficult this scene was for Thor as he was powerless to stop Galactus from devouring Kryo. This puts a lot in the air of what will not happen to the alliance between Thor and Galactus as they now deal with Black Winter.
Once again Nic Klein delivers great artwork throughout Thor #4. Klein gets over how what is going on with the Black Winter is larger than life. His designs for Thor, Sif, Loki, Galactus, and Beta Ray Bill add to how we are dealing with a story that involves some of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. The visuals of Thor evacuating three people while Galactus devours three different planets was an incredible sight. It gave you the full scope of what was going on being a big event.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Thor #4 was another fantastic issue by Donny Cates and Nic Klein. Cates continues to understand how to perfectly write Thor, Galactus, and Sif as fascinating, multi-layered characters. Meanwhile, Klein elevates everything going on with the Black Winter storyline by filling Thor #4 with incredible artwork to bring Cates’ story to life.
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