Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let All Survive The Day of Ragnarok

The last time we looked in on Asgard, the place was in dire straits. Loki had set in motion a chain of events that were bringing about the prophecies of Volla, the Asgardian seer who warned of the gods' end; Thor had his power usurped by a mortal who was transformed into another version of the Thunder God, who proceeded to brutalize him in a fierce battle and thereafter make off with the lady Sif; and Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods, was imminent. Odin pretty well sums up the general mood of the place:

What's with these guys, anyway? Their most powerful defender lies there injured beneath the rubble and may be dying, and no one rushes to help him? Not even his friends? Don't the Asgardians have one lousy medic?

I guess Thor is on his own. Fortunately, as Harris Hobbs adds his own regrets to Odin's, Thor rises like the hero he is:

As this story wraps up, we get a few questions answered, like how and why Loki (in alliance with Hela, Goddess of Death) was able to jump-start Ragnarok by causing one of Volla's visions--a mortal man having Asgardian dreams--to come to pass in the form of Hobbs. And Sif is able to satisfy "Red" Norvell's curiosity as to how he became, in essence, another Thor--especially seeing how "essence" was, indeed, the key:

I'm not really on board with Odin's reasoning for initiating this plan of his--i.e., the fear that Thor might expend so much of his power on Earth fighting super-villains that he wouldn't be at full strength if he were ever needed in Asgard. How, exactly, is battling whole groups of frost giants, or fighting troll wars (including vicious battles with Ulik), or facing off against the hordes of the underworld any less exertion than battling the Masters of Evil or the Circus of Crime?

As we saw, though, Loki's manipulation of Norvell threw a wrench into Odin's plan for a "reserve" Thor and ended up instead creating a villain that laid out Thor but good--and at the worst possible time. Nice going there, All-Father. Any other crazy plans you want to tell us about, while you're at it?

Fortunately, Sif is working behind the scenes to appeal to Norvell's better nature (if he still has one), and Norvell slowly begins to see that he's not going to be able to fill Thor's shoes in her eyes:

But Norvell's epiphany may come too late, as Sif now senses that Ragnarok has erupted. And one by one, the prophecies of Volla heralding the cataclysm begin to happen. Among them, Asgard is invaded by the forces of Hela, triggered (we assume) by Balder's death from the failing of the Odin-shield around his form:

Followed by Loki being freed from imprisonment and meeting Thor in final battle:

And the most fateful sign of all, the appearance of the creature that will slay Thor:

So Asgard's moments look numbered. You'll notice that Odin is M.I.A.--the last we saw of him, he was using everything he had to keep the Odin-shield from failing, so we can probably assume his power is spent and he's slumped over somewhere. But hold that thought, because it's time to shift our focus back to Norvell who's finally had a change of heart:

Yet deprived of Mjolnir, Norvell falls in battle to the serpent. And the final part of Volla's prophecy is realized, the death of "Thor":

But instead of the destruction of Asgard, something quite different then takes place:

And something equally astonishing happens: Thor faces off against the serpent and actually manages to weaken it, until it mysteriously vanishes. Which causes Hela to realize that Volla's prophecy has gone awry and that she's somehow been duped:

As Thor and his party return to Asgard, they see one final sign that the door has been shut on Ragnarok, with the Odin-shield again blazing about Balder's bier:

As to what the heck happened--and why Ragnarok didn't happen--it turns out Odin wasn't as preoccupied with Balder as it seemed. Instead, his efforts were turned elsewhere. In Earth terms, you could say he was multitasking:

So, all's well that ends well, eh? But as Harris Hobbs grieves over the bodies of his all-too-mortal co-workers, their deaths are something of a sticking point with Thor. And anytime Thor and Odin have words over the wisdom of Odin's actions, things seldom end well:

Thor, appropriately, "storms" out, off to investigate the threat of the Celestials. As for Norvell, Thor and Asgard haven't seen the last of him, if Odin has anything to say about it. Let's just hope it doesn't involve another one of his cockamamie plans.

Mighty Thor #277

Script: Roy Thomas
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Tom Palmer
Letterers: Joe Rosen


Anonymous said...

Again with the Ragnarok. Apparently the end of all the end of all the nine worlds happens as regularly in Marvel Comics as a new election cycle happens down here in the U.S....I'm not sure which is worse. (Whatever your party).

Warren JB said...

Did it explain why Marvel-Thor was blonde, and Norvell-Thor more closely matched the description of mythological Thor?

Comicsfan said...

Warren, I think they simply alluded to the difference in appearance (which had made its way into letters pages throughout the title's run) by putting it in plain sight--satisfying those traditionalists by giving the character of Norvell red hair and a beard, so that his transformation would include those distinctions. (They even went further by having Norvell wonder aloud about the similarity in appearance to the Thor from myth. What better way to dispense with the topic than to go ahead and acknowledge it?)

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