Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Plan Of A Millennium

During the saga of the Celestials which played out in the pages of The Mighty Thor, we watched in shock as Odin, the ruler of Asgard, joined with his Greco-Roman counterpart, Zeus of Olympus, to invade the home of the Eternals and prevent them from challenging the Celestials--space gods who had arrived with their "Fourth Host" to conduct a fifty-year judgment which would decide the fate of the planet Earth. Thor had only recently discovered that both Zeus and Odin had previously entered into a pact of nonaggression with the Celestials; only in this instance, they had taken the extraordinary step of carrying out an attack on Olympia, the city of the Eternals, on behalf of the space gods. Such an act would not only set them against the Eternals, but also against Thor, who had recently allied himself with these Earth-dwelling demi-gods. In the end, Odin ended his participation in the conflict, followed by Zeus soon after. But the question for Thor remains: Why has his father become an ally of the Celestials and pledged to stand aside in a judgment which might result in the destruction of the world that Thor holds so dear? What hold do the Celestials have over a god who is professed to be supreme?

For the answers Thor seeks, he would have to wait until an encounter with Odin's lost but sentient right eye, once sacrificed and thrown into a mystic well as payment for knowledge from the well's occupant, Mimir, but which now responds to Thor's demands for the background of Odin's relationship to the Celestials. And the Eye presents to Thor a vision of the distant past, where Odin first became aware of the arrival of the Celestials and their intended mission and convened a summit of all the Earth gods in order to decide on a course of action.

Then, it seemed, Odin had every intention of putting a stop to the Celestials' incursion on Earth, though not yet realizing that it was the Celestials' genetic experiments on man which determined the race's future course of evolution. It's also important to note that Odin is primarily offended at the Celestials' presumption to judge a race that the Asgardians, the Olympians, and other Earth pantheons have close ties with, the word "judge" implying hostile intent should said judgment not be in its favor. One of the gods at the summit makes a fair point: With all of the other extra-terrestrial threats that have come to Earth at one time or another, why are the gods being convened to deal with this one? The Incan god's answer--that the Celestials' judgment might result in the destruction of mankind--is enough to spur the events of this particular story, but it falls short. If we were to apply the reasoning given here with a broader brush, why didn't the gods step in to deal with the threat of Galactus? Or the Stranger? Or the Grandmaster? Or Thanos? Or any of a number of other foes whose actions would wipe out the human race?

Regardless, their course is set, and Odin's delegation arrives at the Celestials' Incan base of operations during the landing and subsequent activities of its Third Host, approximately 1,000 years prior to the arrival of the Fourth Host when everything would hit the fan. Once again, Arishem stands silent and unmoving, even as Odin demands an audience.

If the Earth gods' destinies are indeed intertwined with that of humanity to the extent that Odin believes, then you could make the argument that the gods are beholden to the Celestials, after a fashion--though perhaps Ajak goes too far in his conclusion regarding the extent to which the Celestials "shaped mankind's destiny," since the results of eons of evolution would still depend on how wide a range of subjects the Celestials' experiments were conducted. If the Celestials judge the human race to be a failure, it's the parameters of the experiments that are at fault; there also might well be a large portion of humanity, unaffected by those experiments, who would suffer that judgment.

Yet there's also Odin's curious initiative to consider here. We know, for instance, that Thor will come to discover the true nature of the Celestials' judgment on a world; and at one time, Odin spent a good deal of time investigating the origin and background of Galactus to determine if intervention were required to deal with the world-devourer. It seems very out of character for Odin to assume such an aggressive posture here, given how little he knows of the Celestials and how often in the past he's made efforts to learn the nature of a potential threat to Asgard or the universe. Ajak's words contain pertinent information that should have given these gods pause--though frankly, that point should already have been reached by Odin. He has a 1,000-year window to investigate the Celestials--time enough to find the answers he seeks, either to their true purpose or, in the event of things going south, a more certain way of dealing with them than simply provoking them so recklessly.

Nevertheless, the die is cast, and the gods strike--only to find that the Celestials' might is invincible, and well beyond their ability to challenge.

(The fact that the other Celestials have continued to just go about their business in the background while this confrontation has taken place speaks volumes about how they regard this meeting, if indeed they regarded it at all. "Threat" is probably not even a word that occurred to them.)

Thanks to the Eye, Thor now has the answer that he seeks to the main question that's been troubling him. But there is more--an answer to another mystery which hasn't been pursued in nearly 300 issues of Mighty Thor, but which now stands revealed.

Perhaps the bigger mystery is how the Destroyer was ever given a hard time by Thor in the past, if the armor is invested with the power of all the god-lords. Also certainly meriting explanation is how Odin could ever sign off on such a valuable creation being conscripted into the service of Galactus and likely being unavailable when the time came for it to be deployed.

Jeez--if Galactus is calling the Destroyer a "toy," you can imagine what the Celestials are going to think of it.


Anonymous said...

Well, Buri, of all people, hinted that that rogue eyeball was not to be trusted, but this does explain a lot, particularly why the involvement of Greek and Norse gods on Earth came to an end around a thousand years ago, making the world safe for Minnesota Lutherans. It does make the Marvel Universe rather more complicated, with dozens of pantheons around.
I think the reason the Destroyer wasn't as big a threat (although, still a Thor-level threat) prior to his fight with the Celestials is that his power level corresponds to the power level of whoever's psyche is inhabiting his metal shell. That also might explain why even Ben Grimm, in an artificial "thing-suit", was once able to hold his own against a Galactus-directed Destroyer; Galactus just wasn't imbuing the Destroyer's empty shell with very much psychic energy, because he was running low and figured it was a waste of time.
This complex saga made my young head spin, which isn't a bad thing to say about a comic. It does feel like Kirby's Eternalverse (I just invented that name!) is being roughly shoe-horned into the greater Marvel Universe. It's a bit messy.
Somewhere ol' Buri is sitting on an iceberg saying to himself, "I'm glad I retired when I did."
I forgot how good the art on this was.

Super-Duper ToyBox said...

Epic! I love the drawing in these

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