Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Wrath of--Volstagg??

Given that our Asgardians aboard their starjammer haven't a clue where to find the "Doomsday Star"--the location where their missing liege, Odin, has been abducted to--it's safe to assume that their third voyage on this wooden space-faring vessel could take several issues to play out. For what it's worth, this will be the last voyage of the starjammer we'll see--and to that end, I'll gladly crack the champagne bottle over its bow myself to send it on its way. I don't know about you, but watching Thor and his warriors rudder their way through space aboard an old wooden viking ship doesn't exactly perk me up with anticipation and excitement. Especially considering that Odin himself once expended considerable resources to design and build a ship for Thor to travel the stars in Asgardian style:

The ship wasn't around long enough to even get a name. But it's collecting dust somewhere in a hangar, passed over in favor of a ship with a sail. Apparently Thor isn't in much of a hurry to find his missing father. (Of course, they did argue the last time they saw each other.)

And speaking of the sail, we observed last time how vulnerable this ship is to meteors, which damaged the sail to the extent that the Asgardians had to land on an asteroid to make repairs--an asteroid where they ran into Thor's old pals, the Stone Men of Saturn. After their escape, Thor and his party would have two more encounters in deep space that would test their mettle. There was their boarding of a massive world-ship that was launched after a planetary disaster:

The ship and its denizens didn't have any information that would help Thor and company find the Doomsday Star, but it did have an alien benefactor--Sporr, a giant tentacled creature that was later slain through a misunderstanding of its purpose (and also, perhaps, a creature that may very well have been recycled from a previous story).

After leaving the world-ship, the starjammer met up with an alien pirate ship named, I kid you not, "Bird Of Prey," which attempted to seize the ship and its Asgardian crew--who naturally gave the pirates a fierce reception. That got the attention of the ship's captain, whom we've met just recently:

Taking the Asgardians by surprise, the Gargoyle quickly turns all of Thor's friends to stone, and then forces Thor into submission after threatening to smash Sif's body into rubble. The Asgardians are then placed in energy collars to assure their cooperation, and are put to work in the ship's furnaces:

But then the Gargoyle takes a secret meeting with Thor, and makes a startling proposal:

The "mutiny" doesn't go at all smoothly for the Gargoyle and the Asgardians, but they do succeed in taking control of the ship and freeing its slave labor. (Though the Gargoyle apparently meets his end in an exploding stolen shuttle.) Subsequently, Thor's Rigellian companion, the Recorder, ties into the ship's database and learns the location of the Doomsday Star--and the starjammer sets sail. That is, after the Asgardians have refitted it with weaponry and engines they've salvaged from their former captors.

And so finally, the stage is set for this last leg of:

Now, onward, to the Doomsday Star!

Even though the so-called "Doomsday Star" turns out to really be only a planet, it's still pretty impressive--and damn near impenetrable to the Asgardians. Its poles blocked by meteor storms and maelstroms, the rest of the planet is surrounded by a massive wall, while the surrounding space is littered with a graveyard of huge, alien godlike entities:

Thor makes impressive but negligible headway against the wall by harnessing the storms at the poles in an attempt to shatter it; but before he can make further strikes, he and the rest of the Asgardians are transported to the planet's surface, where they're attacked and eventually subjugated.

At that point, they meet this world's mysterious inhabitants, who call themselves the "Soul Survivors":

Or perhaps "sole" survivors, since their world and its population are all that remain of an interplanetary collective that long ago fell to an invading armada. At the time, the worlds were powered by a single being, the "One Above All," whose personal energies transmitted power to energy siphons which distributed the power to all. But in a successful effort to defend the homeworld from invasion--which included constructing the massive wall--the One Above All perished. Now a federation of one, the people of the "doomsday star" in desperation began abducting similar power figures across the galaxy, in an effort to keep their world supplied with power.

And at last, Thor gets a heart-wrenching look at their latest acquisition, whose energies are now drained to their lowest ebb:

Thor is in time to have one last brief word with his father, before Odin passes away before his eyes. In a rage, Thor breaks out of his confinement, and begins laying waste to the surroundings and any "soul survivors" stupid enough to get in his way. But one of the soul survivors uses a device to tap into the Odin-energies already stored, and manifest it in physical form:

And, this being part of the Odin-force, the Asgardians are hard-pressed to defend themselves. Yet the soul survivors reckoned without Odin himself, who it's discovered perished so suddenly because he transferred a portion of his might into an Asgardian who still had his freedom. And it turns out to be a most unlikely bearer of the supreme force, indeed:

Volstagg's attack (yes, those two words occasionally are used together) forces the manifestation to use up its energies and collapse. But Volstagg's job isn't done yet. Thor takes Volstagg to Odin's body, in an attempt to jump-start the lord of Asgard with his own life force. And Odin himself sees his plan come to fruition:

Their quest to the Doomsday Star at an end, Thor and the rest of the Asgardians board the starjammer, with Odin now deep in his replenishing Odin-sleep. No doubt in his Odin-jammies. The soul survivors don't have as happy an ending--even though Thor has spared their lives, all of their energy siphons and mechanisms were destroyed with the feedback from Volstagg's attack, and they're left to face the reality of both a dying race and a dying world. But at least they're treated to a last look at the starjammer as she sails home to Asgard, and back under the tarp for good:

(Or let's hope so!)


Anonymous said...

bravo on a great website! been enjoying it a while now. if you're interested (and you might not be) the story of "spoorr" in Thor was redone almost to a T in the conan newspaper strip a few years later.
I enjoyed this run on Thor due to Simonsons dynamic art and because it gave the big T a chance to strut his stuff in space. Dont know about the Gargoyle though. how that slob gave Thor so much trouble i'll never know.

Comicsfan said...

Ha ha, Sporr gets around, doesn't he? :) As for the Gargoyle, I think his saving grace is that he's one of the most ruthless villains that Marvel has, though that very drive can often be his undoing. I wasn't all that crazy about Len Wein making him part of an alien crew, or for that matter aligning him with Thor--he's much more effective (and makes much more of an impression on the reader) following his own single-minded agenda, as can be seen in his stories with Captain America, the Avengers, et al.

Anonymous said...

Well played, sir! I think if I want to hang around in this neighborhood I betIter get myself a username or somesuch. But if you're trying to convince me, a weary veteran of the Bronze Age of Comics, that the Grey Gargoyle (yeah, I know he came from the 60's), what was my point? Oh yeah... the guy was an assclown, like Cobra and Mr. Hyde. If you want want a worthy opponent of the big blong hammerslammer ya gotta go with your Mangogs and Lokis, or other nihilistic cosmic charachters.
I understand why you would leap to the defense of the old Grey Gargoyle. I myself, in my more foolish moments, have felt a pang of sentimentality for such villians as Stiltman and the Ringer.
Thus, the gauntlet is thrown!! I do recommennd, however, that you check out the Conan newspaper comic strip. I dont know who wrote the dang thing, but it was (sometimes) illustrated by a couple of guys named Buscema and Chan. Seek it out, by Crom!