Friday, October 11, 2013

God Of Thunder, M.I.A.

At the twilight of the original Avengers lineup of Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Giant Man, and the Wasp, a meeting was held to follow up the team's victory over the Masters of Evil and to discuss any pressing business--including the status of Captain America, who had flown off to settle things once and for all with Baron Zemo. As it turned out, the meeting would be held in the absence of the Avengers' most powerful member, Thor. The reason for his absence, according to the Wasp, was so that he could tend to a pressing matter involving his half-brother, Loki. A little matter called:

For the record, "trial," in this case, had nothing to do with legal arguments. Instead, it would be a trial by combat, to determine the truth of accusations made by Loki against Thor. To the Asgardians, whoever emerged the victor in such a trial determined who was telling the truth and who was not--a seemingly primitive, flawed system of justice which in a sane world would call into question Odin's status as "all wise." Probably not the most enlightened person you'd want to arbitrate your dispute.

While Thor is away, the remaining Avengers broach the subject of taking leaves of absence. And before you know it, the first momentous lineup change of the team takes place, with Thor already little more than an afterthought:

Which is probably going to make for an awkward post-it note: "Thor! Sorry we missed you. We've all taken off indefinitely--Cap will fill you in. Thanks for founding the team with us--feel free to meet the others and stick around if you want. If not, no biggie. How was the trial?" Yet readers of the book didn't get even that much closure where Thor was concerned. His status was a question mark that didn't produce a satisfactory answer. Why didn't he ever return, if only to resolve his place on the team one way or the other? Didn't the Avengers matter to him? Didn't Thor matter to the new Avengers? Why did Iron Man counsel them to find the Hulk and convince him to rejoin so that the team would have his strength, when Thor would do? I don't remember Thor requesting a leave of absence--maybe we shouldn't rent out his room just yet, eh?

But you know who did want to know about Thor's standing with the Avengers? John Q. Public, that's who:

Yeah! You tell 'im, pal! I'd like a few answers from this guy, myself. Why didn't Thor go back to the Avengers? And why is he treating the issue so cavalierly?

Which opens the door to a new

Marvel Trivia Question

When, and under what circumstances, did Thor finally rejoin the Avengers?

After Thor managed to settle matters with Loki, he asks his father once more for leave to return to Earth and seek adventure again. When he arrives, and after wading through yet another attempt by others to menace his mortal girlfriend, Jane Foster, more mischief with Loki, as well as a deadly encounter with the Destroyer, Thor heads to the office of his mortal identity of Dr. Donald Blake, and finds not only evidence that his office has been deserted for awhile, but that Jane is missing and nowhere to be found.

And guess what group finally comes to mind for this guy, after all this time? A group he only thinks of in desperation:

No, you're not hearing things. Thor doesn't seek out the Avengers because he wants to fight beside them again, or simply out of his obligation of duty to them. He only wants to touch base with them again in order to get their help in FINDING HIS GIRLFRIEND.

But, boy, is he in for a surprise:

But, instead of appealing to these particular Avengers, Thor instead departs, in what may be our first exposure in Marvel comics to super-hero snobbery:

A departure perhaps made too rashly, considering a super-speedster could have been of great value in a search effort. Or how about a woman who could hex your hammer to have it home in on the person you seek?

Thor's actual reunion with the Avengers--at least, the Avengers he's familiar with, even if they're in the company of others--took place with no fanfare whatsoever, as if his presence on the team was business as usual. It also took place virtually off the radar, in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, where the Avengers are considering Spider-Man for Avengers membership for the first time:

Iron Man, as well, attends his first Avengers meeting since leaving, as if his old seat at the table was still warm. And what brings these charter members back--particularly Thor, who hasn't given the Avengers a second thought? Why, they've dropped everything to attend a meeting to discuss a prospective new team member. Perish forbid it should be to pitch in on any battles they're fighting.

Yet, finally, that's what brings Thor back for good, when Iron Man calls an emergency meeting to discuss a gathering of old foes who are joining forces. It's really the reunion that we've been waiting for:

And when the crisis has passed, it looks like Thor is back in the ranks, if only on an on-call basis. But what I like best about this scene is that, with or without meaning to, it re-enacts much of the scene from the end of Avengers #1 where they banded together for the first time:

Or, to put this all another way--once an Avenger, always an Avenger.


Anonymous said...

"Back, all of you! Stand ye back! The endless prattle of thy voices doth seem wearisome to mine ears!"
I remember my brother and I hearing that more than once from our most noble and put-upon father.
Especially at Christmas.

Big Murr said...

I don't think of it as "snobbery". It reads perfectly natural to me that Thor wouldn't want to ask for help in his personal life from a bunch of young strangers with too much attitude.

(Of course, any and all of the mortal Avengers are "young punks" by the status of an Asgardian)

For my money, the question is rather, when did Thor get so tight with the original Avengers that he's willing to ask for personal help? They're valiant mortal comrades in the comics, so I guess the bonding moments happened "between panels".

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