In THOR: GOD OF THUNDER's first story arc, the Avenger was facing a character powerful enough to slaughter Gods and even potentially remove them from existence. In the next story, the son of Odin was challenged by a dark Elf, Malekith, who went jumping from realm to realm, creating fear and ultimately gaining power. Each arc has provided Thor with an obstacle no mere human could ever hope to tackle and has sent him travelling across the cosmos. However, what happens when Thor's biggest threat is a greedy CEO who's above the law and is harming Midgard, the place Thor aims to protect?
You definitely have to give Jason Aaron credit for hitting the God of Thunder with an all-new kind of obstacle. This isn't someone he can simply hunt down and pummel with Mjolnir... at least not yet, that is. Seeing as this is a jumping on point, the whole issue is dedicated to two things: establishing the plot and giving us a stronger connection to Roz Solomon, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s environmental scientist and Thor's potential love interest. Everything is paced out very well and, considering his previous scripts with this series, it should come as no real surprise that it's well-written, too. There's a few good jokes in here (love the bit with Coulson) and, because it's a pretty absorbing chapter, it'll feel like a quick read when all is said and done.
This new story, The Last Days of Midgard, also marks the return of future Thor. Aaron provides a fine connection between the two eras but reserves the big surprise for what comes at the end of King Thor's story. It's definitely a powerful hook and, given Thor's dialogue just moments early, it'll be interesting to see where things go from here. There's about a 99.9% chance that final splash page will make you want to purchase the next issue.
THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #19 also sees the return of artist Esad Ribic (now with colorist Ive Svorcina). Ribic's character work is strong and strives for a more realistic approach, but where he really shines is with truly magnificent moments. Be it landscapes, effects or just flat-out jaw-dropping scenes in the script, Ribic does a spectacular job filling the pages with awe-inspiring material and a sense of grandeur. There's two phenomenal splash pages that are sure to keep your eyes focused on the them for quite some time. Just like Ribic, Svorcina seems to really thrive with the bigger moments. You almost feel submerged with the characters during the underwater sequence and the exterior shots of Earth with the sun's light barely peeking out -- modern are future -- are beautifully brought to life. It's a bit of a spoiler, but the way future Earth feels unfocused really hits us with how arid the planet has become.
Ribic's artwork doesn't feel quite as consistent as it was in the debut story and some of the character work -- most notably facial expressions -- seem not as strong as what we've previously seen from him. Also, the first splash page doesn't feel like it warrants a whole page. Sure, the moment itself is pretty cool, but for us, it's not all that epic, especially when compared to the other splash pages and what we've seen in the series so far. It definitely looks like it would have been just as effective with only a panel that takes up half a page or so. Minor gripe: I would have had no idea that's Agent Coulson if Roz didn't say his name.
Personal gripe: maybe it's because there wasn't enough time, but it's always distracting whenever the background is taken out of a panel and it's just characters talking while surrounded completely by white. So much effort is made to pull us into these fictional worlds, so when that happens, it tends to totally shatter the illusion.
THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #19 is a jumping on point and I strongly recommend you do just that. While opening chapters can often feel overburdened by exposition and info dumps, Aaron's able to set the stage without ever letting go of our interest. That's thanks to some swift pacing, sharp writing, and of course, some legitimately grand artwork by Ribic. Seriously, you don't even need to be a Thor fan to fall in love with this series.