‘Ragnarök: The Breaking of Helheim #5’ - Comic Book Review

Walt Simonson is a revered Norse king in the comics industry.  The writer/artist has had impressive runs on DC and Marvel titles ranging from Detective Comics and Thor to The Fantastic Four and X-Factor. His extraordinary storytelling skills and bold linework have earned him astounding praise from not only a diverse and devoted fanbase, but award slangin’ critics.

Simonson’s latest project for IDW Publishing throws him back into the realm of Viking mythology, folklore that he remembers being introduced to by his native Norgwegiian grandparents at the age of 10.  Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim is his tribute and take on the mythos that are truly coursing in the creator’s veins, and the six-miniseries not only lives up to - but in my opinion succeeds - the timeless tales of Odinson and the lore of Ragnarok.

This is the fifth chapter in Simonson’s sweeping saga which was birthed in 2014 with his creator-owned series for IDW, featuring iconic gods and classic Norse mythos enhanced with his Herculean pencils. (No relation.)

Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim follows the aftermath of a devastating battle between the Norse gods and their enemies on the Battle Plain of Vigrid. The calamitous struggle caused Midgard to sink into the depths of the ocean as the Nine realms were destroyed. Issue #5 finds our hero, a resurrected Thor, in the deepest, darkest depths of Helheim.  This isn’t your kid's Odinson - the quippy, chiseled, great-looking Australian beefcake in the MCU.  Or your kid’s Thor, the cosmic Herald of Galactus that the amazing Donny Cates created.  No, this is your mead-drinking, braided-beard sporting uncle’s Thor who is more like a zombie than a blonde-haired king who stills has jokes, but they’re sandwiched between sonnets about death, destruction, and Hel.  Also, he travels with a talking shoulder squirrel. So, maybe it is more Disney than I thought, but, regardless, it’s marvelous.  

Thor and his furry companion Ratatosk finally reach their goal and discover the fate of the ruler of the dead, the one and only daughter of Loki, Hel. She offers a bargain to the God of Thunder, but can you really trust the kin of the God of Mischief?  Before giving in, Thor and Ratatosk make a discovery that throws a Mojnier in their plans, something hidden in Helheim that even Hel is frightened of.

Thor: Ragnarok brings the hero back to his literal roots, and Walter Simonson shows that this one man show can still create superb works. In the days where there seem to be 74 different Batman titles, it is swell to see many incarnations of the God of Thunder throughout comics.  Simonson seems to rely on writing from a place of passion for the ancient source material, and his art is perfect for the timeless tone of the book.  This story could be read centuries ago or centuries from now and not feel out of place.  His Gothic drawings are enhanced with the colors of Laura Martin, but the pages still have a very muted tone which are perfect when the backdrop is Helheim. With one more issue left in the series, I can't wait to see how Simonson wraps up this series.  And for my own self-esteem, I can only hope one day we see a zombie, jawless, hammer-wielding Chris Hemsworth up on the big screen.  

Creative Team: Walter Simonson (writer/artist),  Laura Martin (colorist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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