Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tactics Set In Stone


Back in Thor's very first appearance, when he took on the Stone Men of Saturn, the confrontation seemed pretty one-sided. Even though the Stone Men had a lot of things in their favor. Strength of numbers, the strength and density of their stone bodies, and certainly their ships and weaponry all made them a force to be reckoned with. And yet, look how they fared when facing one thunder god. Let's take those impervious stone bodies, for starters:



Okay, not so impervious. How about those hand weapons?



Not so powerful when they're all lying on the ground. Okay, let's try containment:



Okay, you asked for it, Thor--now we're going to get nasty. Here comes our mechano-monster:



So this one guy has routed your entire invasion fleet. And if Thor can boast about how he kicked your warriors to the curb while he was also busy refamiliarizing himself with his powers:


Imagine him on a good day.

So I'm as surprised as you are that the Stone Men would want another piece of Thor, given how humiliated they were the last time. What would make them try their luck again? And how did this second encounter come about? To find the answers, we're going to have to join the Asgardians on yet another excursion into deep space aboard their trusty starjammer, in a second exciting installment of:


So let's rock! (Heh heh--"rock"--get it?)



As to why the Asgardians are revving up their starjammer again to adventure in deep space, we have to go back to a prior adventure where Odin, after recovering his memory, is about to return to Asgard after he and Thor have dealt with some Egyptian gods. But first he takes a moment to say farewell to a mortal woman who had befriended him:



But Odin never shows up in Asgard. And when Thor finally returns, and deals with an Asgardian sorcerer who had created an Odin doppelganger as a deception, he and his friends voyage into space to retrieve the real Odin who has been detected in an area of space known as the Doomsday Star. Which means, of course, that we may be in space for some time, since trouble always seems to find these Asgardians when they're sailing space on that starjammer.

The first sign of that trouble comes in the form of a meteor storm, which damages the starjammer and forces them to land on an asteroid to make repairs. And I'm sure you can just guess what aliens were lurking about in the same place:



Apparently shipwrecked after their first encounter with Thor, these Stone Men put themselves in suspended animation while waiting for a passing ship to commandeer and escape from this asteroid. Why they bothered, I don't know--it's not like beings made of stone need to put themselves in suspended animation. All they'd have to do is to basically stand still, right? Maybe I'm oversimplifying it.

Anyway, these aliens, who seem to have very short memories, strut up to Thor like they own the place and demand his ship:



Very short memories indeed, because they still think all of them are a match for this one guy, forgetting that they had many times that number against him on Earth and still failed. And this time he's got his warrior friends with him:



But while the Stone Men are getting trounced by the Asgardians, their leader slips away to their damaged ship and retrieves a "gravitron," which magnifies the gravity in the vicinity of Thor and his party. Which, not long after it's switched on, has Sif ready to toss in the towel:



Thankfully, Thor doesn't surrender just because his girlfriend tells him the fight is hopeless. In fact, he's probably blocking out her whining and remembering the last time the Stone Men aimed weapons at him. Hmmm--what did he do then that worked for him? Hey, if it ain't broken...



As the Stone Men regroup for another attack, a damaged cable in their ship causes the vessel to suddenly explode, with the aftershocks threatening to destroy the entire asteroid. The Asgardians decide to make for their starjammer, with the Stone Men in pursuit. With no time to lift off before the Stone Men are on them, Thor stays behind to delay them while the starjammer makes its escape. But Thor has a hammer which allows him flight, and the Stone Men don't, so Thor joins the starjammer just in time to wave sayonara to the Stone Men:



And this is just the beginning of their quest to find the missing Odin. Before they approach the Doomsday Star, they'll endure more trials along the way--including an encounter with another "stone man." Let's hope this one doesn't pull a weapon on Sif.

1 comment:

Kid said...

One of my favourite origin tales ever - and I'm lucky enough to own the original issue (JIM #83). I've also got issue #255 (which should've been 254, but was delayed due to the dreaded deadline doom) in which Thor met the selfsame Stone Men he had first encountered in his debut ish. Unfortunately, 'though it had a Kirby cover, the insides were by Tony DeZuniga, who, good as he was, was hardly in Buscema's league.

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