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How can Thor possibly defeat a force capable of killing gods?

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(Panini Books)

EVEN gods can die.

That is the premise of the opening story arc of the recently-relaunched Thor title at the hands of writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic, which finds deities from pantheons across the cosmos falling at the hands of Gorr, the self-professed God Butcher.

The Thunder God recalls his first encounter with this homicidal creature more than 1,000 years ago, in what is now Iceland and Russia, a battle from which he barely escaped with his life.

Now Gorr has returned, deadlier than ever, and is leaving a trail of dead gods scattered across the galaxy, using their life forces to grow increasingly more powerful. But as we flash forwards to a ruined Asgard thousands of years in the future, where an ancient and crippled Thor battles alone against the God Butcher’s hoards, it seems his reign of terror will prove unstoppable in the present, and is destined to claim the lives of all those Thor holds dear…

As with many of the new Marvel Now! releases, this is only the first volume in a sprawling epic, but it certainly raises the stakes to levels rarely experienced by the God of Thunder, leaving him in genuine risk of being permanently killed by Gorr, with no hope of resurrection.

Far too often Thor writers forget the character’s Dark Ages roots, but this time-spanning saga allows Aaron to show not only a young and naïve interpretation of the Odinson, but also his jaded and despondent older self, millennia in the future, which reinforces Thor’s immortal nature in a way we have rarely seen before.

It’s also worth highlighting Ribic’s sumptuous painted artwork, which brings a grace and majesty to this story surely befitting a Norse god. Quite how he manages to produce such quality on a monthly basis is incredible to believe, especially when you see so many other artists falling behind schedule. A real find for Marvel, who will hopefully stick around on this book for a long time to come.

There seems to have been a real renaissance for Thor as a character over the past few years, regardless of the knock-on effect of the blockbuster movie, and thankfully that trend continues with this new creative team. Highly recommended.

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