Sunday, April 21, 2013

Catch Me If You Can

(A wink to Bronze Age Babies for the inspiration for today's villain. :) )

Name This Marvel Villain??

Don't be disappointed if this old nemesis of Thor, Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, eluded your search for his identity. Given his track record with success, it's probably no surprise that he doesn't have much of a rep. Stranger still is that he's often had high-powered (if reluctant) help from Marvel heroes in his schemes, yet still managed to make a botch of things for himself.

We first heard of Zarrko in Journey Into Mystery #86, where he travels back to 20th century Earth to steal a cobalt bomb in order to facilitate his taking over 23rd century Earth. Unfortunately, Thor is assisting the U.S. Army in testing the bomb when Zarrko materializes and makes off with it. See? Already he's botched things up, snatching this thing right in front of Thor. He thinks he's safe in escaping into time, back to his own century; but this happens to be the first instance where Thor learns how to utilize his hammer to travel through time (with a little coaching from Odin):

We do have Zarrko to thank (if indirectly) for two other important precedents. In Thor's second encounter with Zarrko, we see for the first time Odin stripping Thor of half of his power--a punishment which the old geezer will end up doling out more than once in the future, in addition to other humiliations that this vengeful father will slap down his son with. Odin the All-Wise is none too brilliant in the parent department, it seems.

Also, we now know that Thor can easily survive the explosion of a cobalt bomb. Though it's apparently no skin off the military's nose if he couldn't:

In other words--if this fails, scratch one Thunder God, but better luck next time, right, guys?

The only Zarrko story I'd really recommend to you would be the four-part story in issues 242-245, where Zarrko enlists Thor's help in thwarting a threat to the 50th century, where he enjoys a comfortable rule. You'll see some fine artwork from John Buscema and Joe Sinnott during their excellent run on The Mighty Thor, and the story by Len Wein is a very good read.


Anonymous said...

I'm conflicted between how much I liked this period of Thor and Mr. Buscema's fantastic artwork, and how much I'm worried about the time stream. If Zarrko, a poor man's Kang, and Thor himself, (who, let's face it, not the sharpest knife in the drawer), can travel through time and manipulate it, we can only hope we don't wake up one morning to find up is down and right is left, and we all have goatees and we're all evil, like that episode from Star Trek. Wait a minute, maybe that already happened.

Karen said...

I just read the Zarkko -Kang multipart story in the Marvel Team-Up volume one Masterworks. Not a classic by any means but somewhat entertaining. But Zarkko is by no means in Kang's class. Thor really had a lot of stinkeroo villains early in his career. Mr. Hyde and the Cobra? Grey Gargoyle? WTH?

Comicsfan said...

The real surprise is that Thor had such a hard time with some of those villains. There was even a later issue where a mathematician gave him trouble. I don't recall that guy's villain name off-hand, but I'll have to dig it up--it's just crying out for a review. :)