A Few Thoughts About “At the Gates of Valhalla” #1

I had intended to write about The Mighty Thor: At the Gates of Valhalla #1, but this issue is more of a separate thing from the main series than I had expected, so I decided to forgo a normal review but still wanted to share some thoughts about this issue and the direction of the Thor book going forward. I was expecting this issue to deal directly with the fallout from #706 and include a significant amount of Odinson and Jane Foster. That is not the case as this issue is about the Goddesses of Thunder from the far future, and the status of Malekith’s ongoing war of the realms. The way these two narratives weave into each other is rather clever, and the Malakieth stuff is a genuinely interesting look at the psyche of an intergalactic war-monger. In the first story the Goddesses of Thunder have put Grandfather Thor to sleep and acquired some time traveling diamonds (yes time traveling diamonds). They’re trying to jump back and find Jane Foster who has become a legend in their time. The short of it is that they find her, they spend a nice day together and they help her over the trepidation she was feeling about going to the hospital. Its a nice very sweet story, maybe not the one I wanted or expected, but it cements her place among the gods which hearkens back to one of the last issues where she wondered about her place among them, and as a figure that people look up to and have faith in. Also considering some of the backlash that occurred when it was was first announced that Jane Foster was the new Thor, it’s great to see a sort of definitive statement about the importance of Jane’s time as Thor and that it has a place among the other legends. Not that there was doubt that Jane Foster was going to be persevere at the end of issue #706, but it’s nice to see her doing okay and with a big smile on her face.

The Mighty Thor - At The Gates Of Valhalla 001-015
Aaron, Bartel, Perez/Marvel Comics

There is very little to smile about in the second short story which is focuses on Malakieth and how he thinks about what he has wrought among the nine realms. He is walking among his fellow Dark Elves on Svartalfheim with the intent of telling a family about how their son died in battle. He was a great soldier, but during one battle he was so overcome with bloodlust that he began killing people on both sides of the fight indiscriminately. There is a sickening look on glee on Malakieth’s face as he tells the horrified and saddened family that their son is dead. When he asks them what boon he could give them in honor of their son, they ask for more food so he tells them to eat a neighboring family whose son died pathetically in battle. There’s a rather horrifying panel of Malakieth walking away from the village and in the background you see one family attacking the other. It’s an unsettling scene but important in answering why. Why is Malakieth doing all of this, why instigate and perpetuate so much pain and loss across the nine realms? The answer appears to be simply because he can, and he wants to.

The Mighty Thor - At The Gates Of Valhalla 001-019
Aaron, Bartel, Perez/Marvel Comics

At the end of each story there is hint at a further role for Jane Foster in the War of the Realms. The goddesses of Thunder mention some heroic deeds that she has yet to perform, while Malakieth looks in on Jane and intones that it would have been better for her if she stayed in Valhalla. The preview material in this issue indicates that the War of the Realms storyline won’t continue till next year, but it seems that Jane has a part to play in that. In summation, if this issue was just Jason Aaron reminding us that he’s not done with Jane just yet, then that definitely makes it worth it.

Cover art by Nick Derington

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