When it was initially announced that Matt Fraction would be taking over Thor and would be joined by Pascual Ferry, it would be fair to say that the anticipation for that team was fairly high. Fraction had relaunched an excellent Iron Man series a few years back and despite an obvious problem getting to the point at times, had managed to tell fairly entertaining stories during the first two years of that series. As for Ferry, it was clear that he was a talented artist and excellent turns on DC's Superman and other comics since, promised good things for Thor once the pair settled in.
Unfortunately, and despite some obvious talent, Matt Fraction indulges in all of his creative excesses in "Thor: World Eaters," and much of the anticipation and expectation has withered to ugly disappointment. In "World Eaters," readers are made to suffer through several fairly boring issues that can not be saved despite the best efforts of Ferry. Fraction repeats all the mistakes his work has now become well known for, including dedicating inconsequential characters undue amount of page time; single issues that advance the overall plot at the rate of molasses on a slightly tilted spoon (you'll be there a while, trust me); long winded exposition that is more appropriate for a day time drama; multiple issues dedicated to set-up and a weak, fairly anti-climactic conclusion. Indeed, Fraction's writing in Thor seems to be the comic book equivalent of that guy who starts off telling what promises to be a good joke, but who rambles on and on and on only to eventually deliver a weak, hardly laughable punchline. The writer also makes some incredibly bizarre story choices - although Loki is apparently responsible for the destruction of Asgard and the rather tragic, brutal events in "Siege," Thor makes the boneheaded and completely illogical decision to resurrect him. In the context of Fraction's story and that of the wider Marvel universe, the "resurrection" of Loki here strikes as a completely false note that is tailored more to considerations of expediency rather than good storytelling - given the nature of the "crimes" Loki is responsible for, it makes little in-story sense that any character, but especially Thor, would be moved to want his return. The real truth is that Fraction agreed to write Thor but needed the Loki crutch to try to make the run work. This aspect of the story is also problematic from a larger, conceptual point of view. One of the problems with Thor comics is the frequency with which characters "die" and return from the grave, a fact which routinely robs the series of any real sense of drama or peril. After all, if every character is simply going to be resurrected at a whim every time something happens, what's the point? Seriously, how many times can Balder's death be used as a plot point before we slip beyond the absurd into just plain incompetence?
By far though, the major problem with "World Eaters" is that Fraction simply dedicates too many chapters to a very thin idea. With little in the way of back story for the villains of the piece, what we are left with are the simple nuggets of an invasion story in which the main action involving the attempt to repel the invaders takes up less than 20% of the overall "saga" with the other 80% being taken up with pretentious and portentous ruminations by the main cast. Fraction also appears to fundamentally mis-cast the Asgardians as a fairly ineffectual people, resigned to their fates whenever it comes, a decision which seems at odds with the Norse or Viking roots of the characters and which makes cheering for our main cast, rather hard.
On the plus side, the art by Pascual Ferry is quite accomplished though occasionally sparse in some places, and he makes the best of the thin ideas Fraction gives him here. In part because Fraction has few real ideas to translate to pictures, Ferry is given some room to shine with many, many panels that stretch across both pages and gives the series a widescreen scope that might have made for exciting visuals if characters did more than talk. That isn't to mean that Ferry doesn't have his own issues - he draws Thor as a fairly hulking fellow up top with very short legs, a fact which tends to make the character look overly silly or outright cartoonish on occasion (in fact Ferry's Thor just occasionally resembles a helmeted Johnny Bravo.) Overall though, the art is very competent and one is left feeling a little sorry for Ferry that he isn't given more substantial or exciting material to work with.
The bottom line with "World Eaters" is that it's a fairly pedestrian story which generally fails to entertain. There are odd moments here and there which give a semblance of what might have been possible had the writer been able to convert his ideas into more exciting fare, but overall, this is a volume that will leave the reader fairly unsatisfied. For newcomers to Thor, I would recommend a Walt Simonson collection or even a Dan Jurgens paperback. For Fraction fans I would recommend "Ages of Thunder." For fans of the movie coming to Thor comics for the first time, I would recommend the Stracynski omnibus. Buy this only if you're a completist and are very curious.