Friday, December 18, 2015

Detective Of The Gods

Det. Sgt. Ralph Blumkenn was a minor recurring character within the pages of Thor while the mag was being scripted by Gerry Conway, but he left big shoes to fill in dealing with those in the superhero community who often were forced to battle on the streets of New York City and account for themselves with law enforcement. Created by Conway and artist Rich Buckler, Det. Blumkenn ended up being exclusively associated with Thor and Hercules, first meeting them while soliciting their help in order to cope with a rash of suicide cases throughout the city.

As we can see, Blumkenn's technique is disarming in dealing with characters who are hard to corral like Thor and Herc--a mixture of congeniality and simple directness that makes him both approachable and someone who comes to the point (albeit in a roundabout way). Both Thor and Hercules take to him almost immediately, and they often find themselves making the extra effort to accommodate him.

Blumkenn also appears to grasp the fact that such beings are often thrust into situations that result in considerable property damage in a short amount of time until they can get a handle on things--and he seems to know the proper time when to step in and get things squared away. One example occurred when Thor was provoked into battle by Firelord; another instance followed the resolution of the suicide incidents, with Hercules forced to dispose of a large chunk of street foundation in order to drive off the abstract being known as Fear. In each case, Det. Blumkenn was on the job and on the case--getting his reports, tying up loose ends, and making use of the help he had at hand.  (With a different interpretation of the character presented here by artist John Buscema.)

A large chunk of the city was of course wrecked when the Absorbing Man went on a rampage against Thor, forcing Thor to come up with a unique solution to the problem. At the wrap-up, Blumkenn was present to once again give Thor a pat on the back, as well as a sense of humor that only a New Yorker (or an adopted New Yorker like Thor) could fully appreciate.

But even as deftly as Det. Blumkenn is able to adapt to the changing moods of characters such as Thor, he can still step in it from time to time, especially given Thor's concern for Jane Foster when she turned out to be one of those suicide cases who fell victim to the Fear entity.

Hercules also has his less tolerant days, such as when Thor was forced to accompany Ulik beneath the Earth's surface in order to take part in a power struggle with the troll king, Geirrodur, and Blumkenn was once again on the scene to sort things out. It seems that our good detective has just about had his fill of such scenes of wreckage; unfortunately, when the whereabouts of his friend are unknown, Hercules isn't one to bide his time waiting for the brusque mood of this mortal to pass.

Regrettably, Det. Blumkenn's appearances would fade with the departure of Conway from the book; his presence, though low-key, was a well-handled constant during this period of Thor's time on Earth.  Blumkenn's final appearance comes when pinch-hitter Roy Thomas scripts a follow-up issue that closes out the Ulik story.  Perhaps as a send-off gesture, Blumkenn is given a promotion before disappearing from the lives of Thor and Hercules for good. Though it seems fitting for him to first enlist their clean-up talents for a final time.

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