Wednesday, May 27, 2015

They Walk Like Gods!

Yikes! With the attack of Ego-Prime, and Earth on its way to becoming so much rubble, it looks like the monster is already putting some of that rubble to good use: ending the life of the god who stood against him!

Good grief, Sif--you're an Asgardian goddess! You can't move a few boulders out of the way? Or how about bypassing time and space and getting him the heck out of there? But let's assume that Ego-Prime, who's still on the scene, is acting against her efforts (to say nothing of Thor's), and still putting pressure on Thor's makeshift tomb:

It's indeed a pretty dire situation that writer Gerry Conway has left us at, following Ego-Prime's arrival on Earth and learning of the creature's intent to evolve all of humanity to where they literally become one with their world, and thus a part of the living "bioverse" of the entity known as Ego. To Balder and Sif, the only Asgardians who remain able to defy him, Ego-Prime paints a bleak picture of their chances:

Though Ego-Prime obviously poses a threat to the entire planet, Conway (as well as artist John Buscema) has held back in making it clear as far as his effect on the planet thus far. We know that New York, at least, is now in ruins; and when the story reaches its climax, we'll learn the extent of the devastation has occurred on a global scale. Unfortunately, with everything that's being crammed into this story's conclusion, there's little to no room in the 20 pages they have for Conway and Buscema to depict those scenes--and that's regrettable, since Ego-Prime's attack on the world deserves to have more impact than just the creature's bold and arrogant words of its intent.

And speaking of boldness, there's also the dramatic scene the issue's cover puts forth, an image which seems to have nothing at all to do with Ego-Prime (though, in truth, the opposite will prove to be the case):

But, first things first. In order for the Asgardians to offer some sort of resistance to the monstrous attack of Ego-Prime, they're going to need Thor. There's another explanation offered elsewhere as to why I don't feel this particular scene of helplessness on Thor's part holds muster; but suffice to say that, when 60 seconds pass with no direct contact with his hammer, it looks like it will be Don Blake facing Ego-Prime, at least until he can scramble for his cane:

Thor's change to Blake manifesting as a violent reaction seems to be a matter of whether or not Thor is in a deadly predicament at the time (which has also been the case with Blake's change to Thor). One could argue that the change produces a violent effect if Thor isn't using his hammer to control the change, though we've seen otherwise in such instances over the years; and of course here, buried beneath tons of rubble, the frail figure of Blake would have been instantly crushed had the change not resulted in blasting the boulders away.

Though when it comes to close quarters, you have to think both Captain America and the Wasp are grateful that Thor wasn't in a dire predicament when he decided to make the change in the confines of an elevator:

Regardless, when Blake immediately makes the change back to Thor, it's time to kick this story up a notch--because Thor is ready for Round Two with Ego-Prime!

Yet there's one important--and crucial--element we haven't touched base on with Conway's story vis-à-vis this plan of Odin's that's behind the twists and turns the story takes: the fact that Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost, had been temporarily relieved of his post on the rainbow bridge and dispatched to Earth, for reasons that would unfold during the next few issues:

What we slowly learn of Heimdall's mission is that it involves seeking out and bringing together three mortals, each from a different part of the world and each with a unique role in life, combined with a subconscious wish to move beyond where they are:

Meanwhile, we check in on the efforts of another Asgardian--Odin himself, whose chess pieces he dotes over are violently scattered by the intruding Norn queen, Karnilla, furious at Odin's isolation and actions that may be resulting in harm to Balder, the god she's lost her heart to. Odin's Vizier also appears, and, even being aware of the fact that Odin is responsible for the events taking place on Earth, is astonished to learn what form Odin's machinations have taken:

It's unclear why Conway felt the need to give a name to what Odin is doing ("The Game"), as if to specify that it's in Odin's nature to occasionally indulge in this kind of deadly maneuvering of lives and even worlds. It adds a kind of malevolence to Odin that takes the place of the wisdom and hard judgment calls that we've come to expect from the character, a countenance that will transmute to anger and fury in subsequent issues. Still, he gives as much of a response to Karnilla as he can, revealing images of the battle with Ego-Prime and admitting that the creature is pivotal to his plan. In other words, Karnilla was probably more exasperated by the time he'd finished. Not that we were expecting Odin to be a fount of information at this point and spill all the details of his scheme--though, when you think about it, what would it hurt?

Thor, of course, not being privy to any of these other details we've become aware of, battles on!

We learn indirectly through Karnilla that Earth is now in ruins; and, again, knowing that in a more visual sense would have added a considerable amount of drama to the efforts of the Asgardians. Instead, Conway paints those efforts in futility, and subsequently diverts our attention and the bulk of the story's dramatic climax to Heimdall, who approaches the scene with his mortal charges in compliance with Odin's wishes:

Ego-Prime, it goes without saying, knows (nor cares) nothing of Odin's involvement in events which have led to this point. He only knows of his obsession with his goal and his frustration with the resistance he's encountered--and so he moves to act, to bring that goal to fruition. Yet his first strike is a rash one, against a specific group of people that's wandered into his gaze, people who would normally be beneath his notice:

At that moment, it seems that Odin's plan now takes full effect--not only in dealing with Ego-Prime, but also with the individuals who have been so carefully cultivated:

Our first look at those who will come to be known as the "Young Gods," individuals who are described here by Odin as having a grand purpose in terms of adding to the cosmos, but who we know in hindsight have already been earmarked to one day save the Earth itself.

It's not really clear why Odin would need Ego-Prime as the foundation for a convoluted plan to bring about the creation of these three new gods, given that he once made a goddess of another Earth mortal, Jane Foster, with little more than a shrug and could likely do the same with three others. The common denominator which Conway uses to tie these three together is the fact that each has some special inner quality which qualifies them for inclusion in this higher purpose.  We know that Jane didn't adapt well at all to life as a goddess--but what makes these three cut it as gods? You'd think that choosing a vocation where you devote your time to healing the sick and injured would set Jane apart as much as an artist or a farmer.

At any rate, while Odin may have no trouble in picking up the pieces as far as a near-destroyed Earth and all the lives lost as a result of the attack of Ego-Prime, his angry son has no intention of letting him off the hook so easily:

Odin's reaction is to beg Thor's forgiveness--wait a minute! What universe are you living in? This is Odin we're talking about, isn't it? Does his expression in that final panel give any indication that he's going to back off from his position? No, the Odin we know and love angrily exiles Thor and his party to Earth--and since he uses the words "for all eternity" when he delivers his pronouncement, we can assume that these immortals had better start looking for jobs and thinking in terms of making Earth their home away from home.

Mighty Thor #203

Script: Gerry Conway
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Vince Colletta (with prior sequences by Jim Mooney)
Letterer: John Costanza

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