You know who we haven’t seen much of during Jason Aaron’s run chronicling the adventures of Marvel’s Thunder God? Loki. That might have been down to the fact that the character was already being used, quite well I might add, in the pages of “Young Avengers” and “Loki: Agent of Asgard.” Still, Aaron has managed just fine without him. Yet with a brand new Thor on the block it was inevitable that she’d eventually lock horns with her namesake’s greatest nemesis. It doesn’t start off that way, as Malekith makes it known that the War of the Realms he is backing with the help of Roxxon’s Dario Agger will eventually be coming to Earth. For now, they both have their sights set on Alfheim, the home of the Light Elves. Even though Thor is still persona non grata in Asgard, she sees it as her duty to help out with this battle. While Malekith and Agger may have magic and technology to back up their attack, they didn’t come prepared to fight a thunder god. So it’s a good thing they’ve convinced Loki to show what he can do against this all-new, all-different Thor.
The good news is that Aaron is clearly caught up on Loki’s old and recent history and his take on the character feels in line with what we’ve seen of him in his previous series. So not only do we get lots of clever snark from the maestro of mischief, but the idea that he’s playing a longer and deeper game than those around him suspect is a more plausible idea than seeing him make a full-on return to villainy. Russell Dauterman is also back for all five issues in this volume and his greatness is present on every page. It’s due to the impressive levels of detail and scale that Dauterman captures here that the ideas in Aaron’s script — Thor taking on tanks in Alfheim! Thor fighting every Loki ever! Thor fighting Odin in space while civil war rages in Asgard! — really feel as epic as they do.
As good as this stuff is, the volume overall comes off as kind of a downer. While Aaron struck a nice balance between giving Jane Foster as Thor a solid win while not really foiling the bad guys’ long-term plans in her first outing, that doesn’t happen here. The good guys come up short on pretty much every front here with Malekith and company either succeeding overtly or behind the scenes. That results in this volume, for all its virtues, coming off as one of the tougher reads in Aaron’s run so far.