Last God Standing – Ragnarök by Walter Simonson
At Marvel, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee had defined Thor in the realm of their comic landscape for decades to come, setting the stage for creators for the decades to follow in their own interpretation. None more well known and has left as big of a impression since as Walter Simonson. In 1983, Simonson first left his mark on the God of Thunder by providing pencils. Not long after, he becomes the head writer, going on to leave a landmark run so well loved and revered by fans, it has been the basses for most of the modern runs that followed. Many fans consider this run in the 80’s as Simonson’s opus, and has left the biggest lasting impression when they think of his contribution to the comics medium. But this was not the last time Simonson would shake the foundations of Thor’s world, at least, not in the realm of the Marvel universe.
As Simonson himself details in the introduction to this tale, the idea for Ragnarök began seventeen years before it’s publication when his friend Scott Dunbier, then editor at Wildstorm, contacted him about doing a creator owned comic about the Norse myths. Years later, inspiration struck him while driving to a bookstore, and Simonson franticly began the rough draft of what became this first arc in his Norse epic. This first volume takes place after the twilight of the gods, set after the events of the fabled Ragnarök, in a world devoid of the gods. Usually the event that signifies the cycle of death and rebirth, something is amiss, as the gods have not returned. The enemies of the Norse walk the nine realms, ruling their domains unopposed. The Jormangander, Surtur, Myrkr, and many others rule the desolate lands, revealing in their victory. But there is stirrings, whispers that there might be one last God alive. A dusk elf is tasked by Myrkr to seek out this rumor, and should it be true, bring a end to their life. However, this god will not go quietly.
Written and drawn by Simonson, this opening arc details Thor’s return to a land he doesn’t recognize, half the god he was, and burning with determination to piece it all together. Seeking answers and the means to return to his home, Thor travels across Midgard battling Dragurs, trolls, and the demons of Surtur, all with the trademark Simonson touch and charm. For those seeking Norse stories with a little edge to them, this is a perfect self-contained offering. From battling assassin’s, discovering a village of humans guarded by a old troll, interaction’s with dwarves, and a search for knowledge to why he is the only god left, Thor faces his foes in heavy metal style, Mjolnir in hand.
I highly recommend anyone who has any interest in Thor, Norse mythology, or fantasy styled action adventures to check this one out. There is no prior reading before this, as it is self contained. It is published by IDW publishing, and has two volumes out currently, with a third forthcoming.
8 mythical hammers out of 10