(Panini)

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LIKE the Norse myths on which Marvel’s Thor is based, the long-running series has largely focused on “cycles” of stories characterised by the input of different creators, from Jack Kirby and Roy Thomas through Dan Jurgens and J Michael Straczynski. Each has left their mark on the thunder god and his world, but ultimately, like the Norse gods themselves, much is unchanged at their story’s end.

One of the darkest periods in Asgard’s history was the first war between the Aesir and the Vanir, a battle so brutal it was seared from the history books. But now a second war has broken out, and as the demonic Surtur rages across the Nine Worlds, Thor and Loki are forced to go on the run while desperately trying to prevent everything they know and love from being consumed by fire…

This collection brings to an epic conclusion not only Matt Fraction’s run on the Thor book, but also Kieron Gillen’s elaborate narrative on companion series Journey Into Mystery, which has spotlighted the adventures of “Kid Loki”, following the god of mischief’s resurrection as a young boy after the events of Siege.

And that’s where it gets complicated. You see, it’s nigh on impossible to pick up this book without a comprehensive understanding of what’s been happening in both series over the past few years, and the new reader lured in by the recent Thor movie will undoubtedly be completely out of their depth plot-wise despite various sequences of exposition.

However, if you have been enjoying Thor’s adventures in the monthly Panini comic series Marvel Legends, and wanted a collection of the momentous wrap-up to one of the character’s greatest battles, then your wishes have been granted. And unlike many of the runs by previous creators, there is a real sense here that the world of Thor and Loki may really have been forever transformed.

A meticulously plotted crossover which is complemented by the remarkable artwork of comics legend Alan Davis, and provides a perfect coda to two incredible periods in the long history of these two titles. It makes you want to go back and re-read both Gillen’s JiM and Fraction’s Thor from the start of both runs, and you can’t give higher praise than that.

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