Ok, first something totally random I noticed that is probably nothing but once I saw it I couldn't unsee it: Gorr is like an inverse of Blue Lantern Saint Walker. For starters, they look incredibly similar, except that Gorr has two weird things on his head instead of one. And Saint Walker's origin story is that the sun of his planet was dying, but his endless, unwavering faith that things would be ok in the face of such certain doom ultimately saved him and granted him his powers. It also includes him seeing his family suffer and a group of his people marching together through their barren lands. Gorr, on the other hand, loses his faith, accepting that he is a damned man after watching his entire family die. On his planet, the sun refuses to set, which is a reversal of Saint Walker's problem. And where Walker is gifted with his power from forces larger than himself, Gorr steals his from gods that lie dying at his feet. Oh, yeah, and the gods crashing TOTALLY reminded me of Abin Sur crashing before making Hal Jordan a Green Lantern, so that's another way in which Gorr seems tied to GL mythology.
But I'd be surprised if this was intentional on Jason Aaron's part. Really what it boils down to is that Saint Walker's story is a simple and classic example of hope, while Gorr's is an equally simple and classic one of despair. His world falls apart around him until his faith dries up completely and he reaches his breaking point, lashing out at anything and everything. He is angry at the gods he spent his life believing in for not saving the people he loves, and giving into his fury is the beginning of the next several thousand years of his life as a killer of immortals. To which I say, "Yeah that's pretty cool...but I kind of figured."
Though I wouldn't have guessed these exact details, I had more or less sussed out that Gorr was probably a guy who used to believe in gods and then had his faith morphed into anger somehow long ago. And while rhythmically I think this was an excellent place for a bit of a narrative breather, I do wish Gorr's origins had been a bit more surprising. But Aaron threw in some delicious and unexpected bits toward the very end that help the issue land in an exciting place.
Once Gorr's history is out of the way, we see the current, god-hating Gorr torturing Volstagg. It is in Volstagg's voice that Aaron does his best writing for the issue, bringing up two excellent points about Gorr that I have no doubt will come into play in significant fashion down the line. Firstly, the idea that Gorr does not fully understand the weapons he's using. He stole his powers from a god, after all, and because all he feels for gods is bloodthirsty contempt, he's never taken the time to learn the true nature or purpose of the strange black liquid metal he's now covered in. Volstagg challenges Gorr on this point, but Gorr will not hear it, because as far as he is concerned he knows enough about his weapons to use them the way he wants.
The other thing Volstagg says, right before Gorr slays him, is that Gorr has transformed himself into a god. Which felt obvious when I read it, but was not a thought I'd had myself up to this point (consciously, anyway). It's true, though, that Gorr is as much a god as any of his victims at this point: immense power, worlds built in his name, immortality. He has it all.
He also apparently has a son, a reveal that Aaron handles expertly and which totally surprised me. I am not sure what purpose having offspring serves in Gorr's grand plan, which of course teaches me that the entirety of his plan has yet to come into view. So even if I wasn't thrilled by the look into the past, Aaron wraps the issue up with a bunch of stuff to be excited for in the future.
Butch Guice steps in as artist for the issue, and though he has none of the shimmer and sheen of Esad Ribic, it's actually a smart call for the story in question. Thor is not present here at all, and the book looks and feels appropriately different for it. Guice's style is a little rough, but rough in a controlled, precise way. It really captures the dryness and heat of Gorr's home planet, a vast and unforgiving desert. And Gorr himself is quite the frightening presence once he succumbs to his own inner turmoil. Guice makes him ugly and hard in the face, almost stoic except for the fire of rage in his eyes. Gorr is such a horrible guy with such an unpleasant physicality, but Guice does a good job of making him at least somewhat sympathetic here without losing any of his overwhelming wickedness as a villain.
So we know why Gorr does what he does now, and though it wasn't a big shocker, it still made for an enjoyable short story. And Aaron brought it home at the end, bringing us back into the fold of the main narrative and introducing new complications that I expect will lead to rather rewarding payoffs. Thor: God of Thunder is still the strongest Marvel book I've read so far this month, even with a slightly less impressive issue than it's had in the past.