Donny Cates kicked his run with a bang and has positioned Thor to contemplate his next move after the experience he went through against the Black Winter. We already saw that he conducted one test with his Mjolnir hammer by re-writing the parameters around who could wield it now that he has the powers of All-Father. With that test seemingly successful it’ll be interesting to see what Thor is planning to do next as he tries to prepare for the vision of an unavoidable future that Black Winter left him with. Let’s see what the God of Thunder does next with Thor #9.
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: We open up with a retelling of the immortal battle Odin Borson and Jormungand waged. To prepare his son to battle Jormungand, Odin tried to teach Thor to be both a mighty God and good man by creating his son a shadow in the form of Donald Blake. To make this work anytime Donald Blake would transform into Thor he would be go into Elder-Sleep and transported to a world that looked like a suburban neighborhood where Donald would not be able to tell how much time would pass.
In the present Thor tries to convince Loki to help him get a one day break of being All-Father by transforming him into Donald Blake without Sif or the others knowledge of where he is. Loki tells Thor that while he is trying to become better by being the God of Myths now he an see through his brothers lie.
Loki then picks up and throws Mjolnir at Thor. Loki reveals that he knows about how Asgardian magics are being torn apart by someone or something and what Thor really wants is to go through Elder-Sleep in order to talk with the spirits of the Dead Kings to find answers for why this is happening. Thor admits that to be true. Loki says he will help Thor since he wants these answers and wants to see this future his brother regrets.
Thor thanks his brother and slams his hammer down to activate the transformation back into Donald Blake. As the dust settles from the transformation what Loki sees leaves him stunned.
Meanwhile Thor travels through the Elder-Sleep world where he ends up falling through the realm as the Dead Kings turn eyes away from Thor as they feel dread, shame and guilt for something that happened.
Thor ends up crashing down on a ground. When he gets up he is surprised to find the suburbs that Donald Blake was in completely destroyed and a red Sun in the sky.
As Thor walks through the town we learn that at some point Donald Blake woke up from Elder-Sleep still in the world Odin’s magic created for him. Donald would end up going crazy because he would not know how much time passed in this realm and Thor was unable to hear his pleas for help.
Thor then comes across Jormungand’s corpse. It is said that over time Donald would end up becoming the shadow of thunder.
In the real world a dark version of Donald Blake appears before Loki. Loki wonders if he is really Donald Blake. Donald says he is not really that person.
Donald and Loki get into a fight and much to Loki’s surprise Donald is able to easily overwhelm him with his new powers. Donald then proclaims he will never transform back into Thor and breaks the cane used for the transformation over his knee. End of issue.
The Good: How do you outdo a storyline where Thor gets a vision of a dark future that Thanos will create? Bring back Donald Blake with a punk rocker look proclaiming that he will not allow Thor to return from Elder-Sleep. Because wow. Donny Cates sure knows how to outdo himself by delivering this type of impact that leaves your jaw on the ground.
With each passing issue of his run Cates has shown how much he respects the history created by other creators for Marvel’s Thor. The return of Donald Blake is yet another example of that. Rather than simply having a fun story where we warmly welcome Donald Blake back to the Marvel Universe we are given something that is much more than that. Cates actually questioning what would happen to a character that has not shown up in a decade made for an even more fascinating story.
Through that Cates was able to take what would otherwise be a celebrated return of a classic character and turned it to look at what it means for the future. Cades does that by slowly unfolding a story over the course of Thor #9 that places a greater impact on Odin’s original decision to have Thor and Donald Blake a body. From the opening page of Thor #9 we are placed in the mentality of why Odin made that decision and then get into how that decision would cause such a breakdown like the one Donald Blake has is understandable.
When you look at it there is really no way for any person, God or normal human, to not feel like they are going crazy in place that time does not seem to pass. Especially once the hypnotic effects of the Eternal-Sleep goes away you get why when we see both the realm and Donald Blake again that it has been completely corrupted. Seeing the realm before getting a look at Donald Blake’s new form was also a wise decision to build anticipation on what he became in a realm that took such a dark turn.
Adding in the implied fact that Donald Blake somehow gained Godly powers and was able to kill Jormungand the way he easily handed Loki his ass was not surprising. Every action and word that Donald Blake speaks is something that comes from never being heard. Thor and the rest of the universe forgetting him has made Donald Blake take this turn. What that means now that he has been freed and is not looking to let Thor return like they normally would do creates even more questions for the bigger picture story Thor that Cates is building.
On Thor’s side of the story, it was interesting to see how we have been seeing how the weight of being All-Father and ruler of Asgard is impacting him mentally. As much as Thor wants to be the same superhero and Avengers member he has always been that is not a possibility right now. Thor has so many more responsibilities in his role to his people and the universe that are even greater than being an Avenger. Because of that it is understandable that stepping into those shoes hasn’t been easy for Thor.
Thor going to his brother and still trying to hide this fact made how Loki got Thor to admit the real reason he wanted to transform back to Donald Blake made great use of their relationship. Even if Thor can hide this from Sif and Beta Ray Bill, Loki is not like them. As the former God of Mischief, Loki can see through lies even when he has adopted a new title in being the God of Myths. This added layers to what Thor and Loki’s relationship currently is at that could lead into something bigger down the line.
Cates takes all of this and has it help add to how the current status of Asgardian magic is changing. Things aren’t like they were during Odin’s reign. Thor trying to proactively find answers to overcome this new challenge is made even more intriguing by his time in the Eternal-Sleep realm. The Dead Kings turning their backs to Thor seem to indicate that there is so much going on than just what we see in Thor #9 and past issues. The direction of all this will be fascinating to see play out.
Nic Klein makes his return to this series with Thor #9 and does not miss a beat. His artwork once again captures the larger than life feeling of this series. Even when we see Donald Blake walking through a suburban neighborhood you get the feeling that there is something off with the tale we are being told. That amplified the impact that when we see Thor end up in that same world that the suburban neighborhood is completely destroyed. Klein also does a great job getting over how Donald Blake is a changed person and not someone to be messed with through his new design and the way he easily defeated Loki.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Donny Cates and Nic Klein deliver an impactful return of the Donald Blake character in Thor #9. They do that by continuing to examine the current weight on Thor’s shoulders as he continues his role as All-Father. The way Donald Blake’s return went down creates a lot of questions for the future of this series. And given we already had a lot of questions about Thor’s vision of a dark future there is even greater intrigue now for what Cates has planned in the future.
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