The other day, I was going back through my comics when I came across The World Eaters again. This run is a few years old already, and it takes place right after the Siege storylines. The events of Ragnarok have already happened, and when Thor revived all his people, he brought them and Asgard back to life right in the middle of Oklahoma. To make a long and complicated story short, the people of Earth didn’t like this too much, and the result was a catastrophic battle that nearly destroyed all of Asgard again.
Now, with Balder as king, Asgard lies in ruins once more, Loki is dead, and Thor is in mourning. But unfortunately, the Asgardians can’t seem to catch a break, and something else is on its way to kill them.
Balder the Brave has proven his mettle as a warrior, but is an uncertain king; his people rightly wonder whether they can endure one more turn of bad luck. So the last news they need to hear is that a trans-dimensional force of implacable evil is headed their way. The World Eaters have learned Asgard has abandoned its place in the natural order of the Nine Worlds and now resides in the skies above Oklahoma, and they aim to take it—but that’s not the last claim they plan to stake. As they ravage Alfheim, Muspelheim and the other branches of Yggdrasil—the World Tree—Thor must stir his family of gods to face a most dire threat at a time when they simply have no margin for error.
When The World Eaters first came out, I don’t think I found a single person online who liked it, at least not in the far reaches of the internet that I frequent. And now that it’s been a few years since my first read through, I think I can safely say that I still greatly dislike this arc.
For starters, there is way too much happening. A lot of runs end up being about six issues long. The World Eaters is seven. Yet, even with that extra issue thrown in there, the arc just doesn’t have enough time to get across its story. I also don’t know why we needed another run with some all-consuming threat so soon after the events of Siege. The fallout from that battle left plenty of room to work with and could have taken many issues to sort out. Instead, we are given the World Eaters for our characters to fight, and the presence of these villains unfortunately drowns out the story’s ability to focus on what else the characters are going through. As such, in many instances, the arc is rushed and sloppy.
This problem could have been solved had numerous characters and scenes been cut to allow for the plot to develop. One such character is a quantum cosmologist who seems to exist solely for the purpose of explaining the plot over and over and over again. Every single issue. That’s all he does. He runs around telling various other characters that the World Eaters are coming, and while that’s all well and good, I didn’t need to read his explanation numerous times.
There is a difference between explaining an important event to an audience and treating the audience like idiots. I feel as if The World Eaters falls into the latter category. It simply doesn’t trust the audience to understand the danger at hand, and so it repeatedly tells us what’s going to happen. When I say this, I don’t mean that the characters talk about the impending attack; I mean that they constantly tell us what the attack is going to be.
The World Eaters relies on repeated exposition and dialogue to explain just what the hell is happening, and yet nothing makes sense regardless. I suppose I could go back through and read all the explanations again, but I shouldn’t have to. I should have been given one explanation that made sense—or rather, the arc should have been able to show me why there is a danger, instead of telling me about why there is a danger. And to be fair, yes, we do see the World Eaters slaughtering innocent people, and I can give credit and say that the arc does a fairly decent job of setting the World Eaters up as villains who should be feared. It’s the World Eaters’ motivations and reasons for attacking now that make no sense.
The World Eaters are taking over because Asgard is no longer in the heavens. Okay, but why does Asgard’s absence make way for the attacks? I mean, I know it has nothing to do with the World Eaters being afraid of Asgard and using its absence to take over, because they follow the Asgardians to Earth and attempt to murder them all anyway. So why did they need this opportunity? To be clear, they’re not attacking because Asgard is already weak; they’re attacking because Asgard changed addresses.
It is entirely possible that The World Eaters explains this accurately and that I just didn’t pay attention to it, but that’s probably because I was paying more attention to everything else that was going on. As I said earlier, too much happens in this run. To start off, both Odin and Loki are brought back to life. Odin’s revival is understandable, and it makes far more sense than Loki’s. I love Loki as much as anyone else, and I didn’t enjoy seeing him die. However, even if comic book characters never stay dead for long, Loki should have come back some other way.
This is what happens: Thor is sad that his brother is gone, and he finds himself being burdened by the happy memories the two of them shared as children—you know, before Loki turned evil, spent centuries tormenting everyone, and brought about the end of days—so Thor decides on a whim to bring Loki back to life. Balder tells him what a shit idea that is, but Thor does it anyway.
Voila, we have Loki back… except that Loki comes back to life as a child.
Loki’s sudden return to pre-adolescence is explained in a later run, and while that’s fine, The World Eaters never really addresses it. Additionally, other than Odin, who gives us our obligatory scene of emotional child abuse, no one seems to care that Loki’s alive again. I know that the World Eaters are coming and they have other things to worry about, but this issue is almost entirely ignored. As for the people who do acknowledge that he’s back, no one really seems to wonder why he’s a child again. It got to the point while reading this that I didn’t give a damn about the World Eaters. The run gives us no less than five explanations for the impending attack, but it couldn’t be bothered to address what was going on with Loki when it was the arc that brought him back to life in the first place.
There also isn’t that much to say about the other characters, either. Sif, one of my favorite characters ever, does almost nothing this entire run. At least she notices Loki’s return, but if the revival of the man who stole her body and wore it around without her consent bothers her, she doesn’t mention it this arc. Another goddess I adore, Kelda, makes a brief reappearance, but she doesn’t do that much either. Jane also doesn’t have much to do. At one point she kicks the quantum cosmologist in his groin because he approached her on the street—empowerment?—and then gets regulated to Loki’s babysitter during the attack. We also had the appearance of a fourth female character—one of the World Eaters—but like the other villains, she is very forgettable.
I want to say something nice about this run, but there isn’t really that much I like. The art is beautiful. I’m not sure what medium was used to create the panels, since I don’t really look into or follow the comic artists, but it reminds me a lot of water color. The edges and colors are very soft, and it is a distinctive style. That said, it doesn’t match the story.
In this run, we have blood giants, people being slaughtered, Odin being an abusive asshole, Thor strangling an adolescent pickpocket, and a brief appearance by Kelda, who’s been wandering around in the desert for so long her feet are bleeding. This really needed a different style. That said, the only part of the artwork that seem to fit is the color scheme, but it’s hard for me to credit that when the rest of the art doesn’t go along with the source material.
I know there were a lot of people who enjoyed this run—there has to be—especially since it got a lot of positive reviews. And if you like it, good for you. It’s something you can enjoy that I can’t. However, my personal opinion on this run is that it’s a piece of trash with very few redeeming qualities. I don’t recommend it.