Warning: contains potential spoilers for Immortal Thor #1!The God of Thunder is returning with a brand-new ongoing, The Immortal Thor, and as the story begins, gods even higher than Odin are revealed to preside over Marvel’s Ten Realms, hidden in a dimension all of their own. Secrets of Marvel’s deepest lore are about to be exposed, and fans wouldn’t expect anything less from Al Ewing’s mythic follow-up to the celebrated Immortal Hulk.

Immortal Thor #1 is written by Al Ewing, drawn by Martín Cóccolo, colored by Matthew Wilson and lettered by Joe Sabino. The preview opens in a mysterious place, located somewhere beyond the Ten Realms. An unnamed narrator reveals this is “no realm, as we count realms” and the beings who live there “were not Gods, as we count gods.” The narrator goes on to say that the gods are merely the shadows of these higher beings, asking what could be immense enough to block the light of creation. While these gods may be a new introduction, it seems more likely that they’re the beings known as Those Who Sit Above in Shadow.

Thor’s Higher Gods Rock Marvel’s Cosmic Order to Its Core

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Immortal Thor marks the beginning of a bold new era for the Odinson. Ewing has cryptically called Immortal Thor the New Testament to Immortal Hulk‘s Old Testament, with hints that Thor will take on truly mythic enemies, including the Elder God Toranos. However, the god sitting in darkness here seems to copy the art style and function of Those Who Sit Above in Shadow – gods who exist beyond all others, and who previously fed on the cycle of Ragnarok. In the past, Loki has hypothesized that these beings – who usually appear in stark negative black and white – were themselves created by the belief of gods; something which this opening narration appears to go against. Fans know very, very little about Those Who Sit Above in Shadow, but it seems that – as with Immortal Hulk – Ewing will be bringing new life to old and forgotten Thor lore, and weaving it into something new. Already, the revelation about this non-god’s true nature changes how fans understood Marvel’s cosmos.

Related: Odin’s Final Words Are the Perfect Goodbye to Thor

Thor Taps Ancient Philosophy for Marvel’s ‘New Testament’

Thor & Odin with Phoenix Force in Marvel Comics

In the pantheon of Norse gods, Odin is the most powerful; he is even called the All-Father. But now, with the revelation that he is the shadow of something bigger, his unique status as head of the gods is called into question. The preview offers a small, tantalizing hint at the relationship between Odin and these mysterious entities. Gods such as Odin are described as “shadow plays” projected on a wall. This image invokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a thought experiment from classical philosophy that challenged a person to critically examine the world around them and how they perceive it. Plato used shadows cast on a wall as a stand-in for perceived reality, with a grander, unimaginably more complex world beyond human sight.

Not only does this revelation shake Thor’s mythos to its core, but it could have serious ramifications for the rest of the Marvel Universe. Odin and the Norse gods are but one pantheon; over the years Marvel has shown gods from Greek mythology as well as other folklore and mythic traditions. Are the Greek gods shadows of these mysterious beings too? If All-Father Odin and his ilk are shadows, then it stands to reason other gods are as well. How might this impact characters such as Hercules? These answers must wait until Immortal Thor arrives in stores, permanently evolving the character’s lore.

Immortal Thor is on sale August 23 from Marvel Comics!

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