After a few odd weeks of sorting out some publishing delays, issue #2 of Walt Simonson’s Ragnarok hit shelves this past Wednesday. The good news is it’s worth the wait!
I should’ve guessed the ellipsis in the title of Issue 1 (Terminus…) meant the title would extend to issue 2 (…and Exordium). Part of what makes Simonson such a talent is how he will compartmentalize every fact of the comics medium to pull off a few neat tricks; one of my favorites with issue titles being Thor #366, where the title was a punchline to the quote on the cover “What do you call a 6’6″ fighting mad frog?” (answer at bottom of this post)
In any case (…and Exordium) layers joy on top of joy. Terminus… was already fun for the irony of a first issue translating to “The End,” (a joke that reminds me of the first post-crisis issue of Superman), but when you put the two issues together you have the one-two punch of “The end… and the beginning!” to adequately start the larger story from here. All this excitement and I haven’t even moved past page 1!
Where our journey last left off, an assassin party led by the Black Elf Brynja had reached the ends of the earth to find a God of Thunder motionless and chained to a chair. This issue namelessly introduces us to the squirrel Ratatosk, brightly colored by Martin in contrast to the surrounding environment, who aids in reviving the decrepit Thunder God (whom I’ve taken to calling “SkeleThor”). Actually, he’s gnawing on him like he did the World Tree Yggdrasil, perpetuating the theory of his role contributing to the destruction/re-growth cycle, as well as being the “messenger” of change, as his actions stir up the controversy that ensues. In an attempt to kill poor Ratatosk, one of the assassins sets SkeleThor free; an action he quickly regrets.
Issue #2 moves at a break-neck pace due to its minimal dialogue, but while conversation is scarce the artistry (plus stylish Workman lettering) is rich with context. Eyes move from panel to panel easily guided by the action as SkeleThor lays waste to the assassin hoard while abstracting panels on the right-hand side punctuate the experience; crossing warriors off an imagined list as he takes them out as if it were a silly game.
Selective panel breaching also works to create the illusion of motion while heightening the feats being achieved in several instances. In the panel above, SkeleThor’s right hand quickly moves from outside the panel to in to intercept a striking halberd; appearing unexpectedly to both the warrior and the audience. Anyone can draw outside a panel, but it takes patience and precision to save those efforts for moments that may offer the greatest impact.
Anyway, while the issue does not entirely end the way I may have hoped with a character possible cut down too soon, I’m as excited as ever to see what happens next. The Thunder God is back, with Mjolnir in hand and boon to grant in heart. Hopefully we’ll see issue 3 soon enough with IDW’s blessing.
Answer for Thor #366: Sir!