Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This Thunder Restored!

In the aftermath of the knock-down drag-out between Hercules and the mighty Thor that tore its way through New York City and ended with Hercules being victorious, Thor returned to Asgard to face his fate--only to find his father's trusted advisor, the merciless Seidring, now wielded the Odin power and had taken complete control of the realm as well as its warriors. Yet, even with his own power reduced to half of its might (thanks to Odin's frustration with his son over his relationship with the mortal Jane Foster), Thor managed to prevail against Seidring in a desperate gambit involving the Odin-sword, though nearly at the cost of his life.

And now, in the aftermath of the aftermath, Thor recovers under the watchful eye of his physician, as well as Odin himself. But there are other characters involved in this story which brings a measure of closure to the events of the two prior issues--and one of those characters receives prominent billing on the issue's cover as well as its splash page.

(A note to our stalwart guard: When you're trying to keep it quiet so that the one you're guarding can get his sleep, you might want to avoid bellowing an announcement to that effect, since you're likely to disturb the one who's trying to get some shut-eye. On a separate note: Where can I get a bed like that??)

Before we check in on what else is going on in this story, Odin has some things to attend to which we don't want to miss. First, we see him kicking himself a little more concerning his rash behavior toward Thor, though it's too bad the person who should really be hearing Odin's self-recrimination is fast asleep. (No thanks to his protocol-obsessed guard.) If only Odin could absorb the lessons which his experiences with Thor often teach him; but alas, as often as he'll show wisdom in his dealings with Thor, he's also fated to repeat his mistakes regarding his rash judgment and treatment of his son. It seems the rigors of parenthood can confound even those who presume to be "all-wise."

His wisdom at least working well here, Odin has made checking on the care of Thor his first stop; his second involves a matter of state, or, more to the point, a matter of judgment to be dispensed toward a traitor of the realm. We come now to the disposition of Seidring--who, like any prisoner of Asgard, dreads the punishment of Odin, reputed to be both swift and final toward those who seek to usurp his rule. (If your name isn't Loki, that is.) In this case, Seidring will find that his punishment will unfortunately fit the crime.

"...A kingdom to rule for all the days thou shalt live..." It's obvious that Odin has taken a measure of personal satisfaction in the sentence he's meted out to this once-trusted man who betrayed him--since Odin knows full well that Seidring is an immortal, and that a life sentence for such a being indeed translates to "forever."

From here, we pick up the plot that the lord of the netherworld, Pluto, has set in motion to entrap Hercules--playing to the Prince of Power's colossal ego by casting him in a mortal film, in order to lower his guard and cause him to fall victim to a greater scheme. Pluto's plan appears to be ludicrous on its face, since a god deigning to cooperate in a mortal's profit venture would seem highly unlikely--but this is Hercules we're talking about, though even he acknowledges the aspect of absurdity in the whole affair.

(Even more absurd would be the fact that a pair of shades is more than enough disguise to conceal from Hercules the identity of someone who occupies such an infamous position in the Olympian hierarchy. But, needless to say, eye wear has proven to be a time-tested method of concealment in comics, and would pass with flying colors here, as well.)

As for Thor, he remains laid up in bed but has slipped out with his brother-in-arms, Balder the Brave, to take in a little sport with some ice fishing on the frozen sea of Marmora. Of course, Asgardians, being Asgardians, set their sights on something a little more challenging than trout.

Clearly, Thor is chomping at the bit to settle accounts with Hercules, something readers of Thor were likely just as eager to see, as well. If you believe that this story will develop in a direction that might not have things resolve so simply and predictably, then you know your Marvel plots well; but since the thought serves to motivate Thor into pursuing a speedy recovery, let's allow him his eagerness. (Though I wonder if anyone back at the palace is going to believe this fish story?)

Back at the Hollywood studio, Pluto takes advantage of Hercules' contentment with being wined and dined to pounce, with the pretense of concluding Hercules' deal with the "studio" and the signing of his contract. It's all no doubt a rather meaningless mortal procedure to Hercules, which works in Pluto's favor since Hercules is totally unconcerned with being bothered to read any fine print--only in this case, the "devil" is indeed in the details.

And so Hercules puts up the fight of his life against those Pluto summons from the netherworld to retrieve him and forcibly bring him back with them. He certainly doesn't need to worry about Thor busting in and demanding vengeance on top of everything else--but the God of Thunder at this moment would beg to differ.

It's interesting how writer Stan Lee uses the word "redeemed" in regard to Thor's actions. At this story's beginning, we're told that Thor redeemed himself with his father by defeating Seidring; and now, Thor speaks of redeeming himself in battle against Hercules. Only the former instance raises an eyebrow, since it makes it sound as if Thor committed a wrong against Odin or in some way betrayed Asgard, a wrong which he "made up for" with saving the realm--even though Odin acknowledges that it was Thor's demonstration of valor which showed Odin that his own actions were at fault. It's unclear how Lee would capsulize that in his prologue--but "At last, mighty Thor has redeemed himself in the eyes of his royal father, Odin...!" is arguably misleading.

Regardless, Thor makes his way to Hercules without delay--only to find his priorities shifted when he sees the Olympian outnumbered by unknown foes, in a conflict which cries out for his intervention.

With Thor's appearance, Pluto's plans for Hercules have been upended, though not necessarily derailed--and so he prefers to take another approach toward gaining his legally ordained prize, leaving Thor and Hercules to fight what has now become a meaningless battle. In the end, Thor realizes that his dispute with Hercules may have become just as meaningless, depending on how the Olympian's conflict with Pluto plays out.

Eventually, Thor took a more direct hand in assisting Hercules with his dilemma, stepping in to battle Pluto and his hordes in order to force Pluto to dissolve the contract Hercules had unwittingly signed. Needless to say, Thor had lost interest in formal combat with Hercules--after all, his performance against the armies of Pluto spoke volumes as to the level of his power and capabilities, to say nothing of his courage and strength of character--qualities which Hercules had a front-row seat to see for himself, and was all too willing to acknowledge in friendship.

Mighty Thor #128

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Artie Simek


Anonymous said...

I first read this story (and the previous issue) in the first Thor Treasury Edition from 1974. I bought it while on holiday at the seaside in August 1977 (in the same week that Elvis died) along with the 1975 Conan Treasury Edition (the one featuring "Rogues In The House" and "Red Nails"). Yes, despite being dated 1974 and 1975 those two Treasury Editions were, luckily for me, still on sale in 1977.

Comicsfan said...

I was sorry to see those treasury editions mostly take the form of reprints, but then I suppose that's what they may have had in mind for something called a "treasury edition." I bought a number of them myself before they ceased publication of them--hard to believe they've been lined up on a shelf for decades!

Required field must be blank said...

Were I doomed to rule rock trolls for eternity or reign o'er the Stygian depths, my first command would be - "Get me some pants!"

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