Monday, July 8, 2013

This Is The Way The World Ends


The crisis has come, as Part 2 of the Time-Twisters story showed the deadly trio of aliens arriving on 50th century Earth. But as we've learned from Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, it's really their subsequent departure which is to be feared, since the act triggers a cosmic upheaval which reduces the world they're standing on to a cinder. And so Thor and his companions have travelled to Zarrko's time in an attempt to not only prevent these three from causing this Earth's destruction, but to also make sure that they don't proceed to their next stop--the 20th century--and repeat the process.

And Thor is ready to get right to it, but finds he must first deal with a tense situation with the Servitor, who acts on a note of caution from Zarrko:




From the beginning, scripter Len Wein has made a noticeable effort to give the Servitor more dimension than that of a mere automaton carrying out the wishes of his master, Zarrko--even substantially altering his appearance, giving him features that are far removed from his previous state as a mining robot. Yet Wein has the Servitor walking the line between sympathetic figure and heartless enforcer, and we're often left guessing whether or not there's more independence to him than meets the eye. Thor has also noticed the indications of, for want of a better word, "personality" from the Servitor, and reacted accordingly; but as you can see in this scene, there seems to be no doubt of the Servitor's loyalties to Zarrko, and certainly no signs of warming relations between himself and Thor.

In addition, the scene reads a little oddly, where Jane Foster is concerned. We never do learn why she wants Thor to "wait"; we know that Zarrko wants to first initiate a plan that will determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Time-Twisters from a distance, but there's nothing to indicate that Jane is thinking along the same lines. And Thor's abrupt line in the sand, given in a tone that almost seems dismissive of Jane's wishes, seems written thus only as a means for Wein to create another scene with the Servitor. The same result could have been reached by instead having Zarrko telling Thor to wait, and with less confusion all around.

In any case, I doubt Jane had Zarrko's methods in mind, as he puts his plan in motion to determine his foes' capabilities:



Wein also takes the opportunity here to plant another seed that we'll perhaps see more development on, in the form of "Derek," a typical Earth citizen and one of many who live in squalor while Zarrko lives the lush life at his palace.



We can only wonder at the circumstances which caused this time period's energy sources to slip out of the inhabitants' control and subsequently into Zarrko's; 50th century Earth surely must have had scientists on par with Zarrko who could rig or repair energy-providing devices, as he did for himself. But since that doesn't seem to be the case, Zarrko counts on their desperation and need to be powerful motivators--even for these citizens who are, for all intents and purposes, cannon fodder:




As you might guess, Thor has had enough at this point, and makes his way to confront the Time-Twisters in battle. Once again, though, Jane puts the brakes on:



Wein has done two things here: given Jane a little exposure in this issue, and, in so doing, provided the story with a way to flesh out the Time-Twisters for us. And once Thor has halted their advance with an enchanted barrier, he poses his questions, to which they respond. But as he discovers, in their quest to seek time's beginnings, the Time-Twisters are heedless to the consequences of their journey:




The Time-Twisters, for all their grand allusions as to their purpose, have only provided scant details concerning their reasons for existence--at least, nothing that Thor (through Zarrko) didn't already know. One of them mentions that they impart "the gift of learning" when they arrive at their stop-off points every thirty centuries; but there's nothing to indicate what that means, nor is there evidence that such a thing takes place. They arrive, they stride a brief distance, and they depart, without any chosen interaction with Earth's inhabitants. Not exactly the gift that keeps on giving. But the main question remains: why this journey?

But since the Time-Twisters aren't forthcoming with the answers Thor needs, and since they have no intention of aborting their journey just because countless worlds are being destroyed in their wake, the Asgardians can only have one response:



The Asgardians do have one thing going for them in their conflict with these beings: their immortality, which renders them immune to the withering time-altering rays which affected the humans who charged them earlier. Even so, beings who have absolute mastery over time (take that, Immortus!) have other means of dealing with attackers without having to do so directly:



Which is a win-win for us--because aside from giving the Warriors Three lots to do (as well as Jane, who's acting more and more like the lady Sif), one can never have too many instances of seeing Thor's unique method of stopping bullets:



While there's really no doubt of the Asgardians winning the battle, they lose the war--because all the Time-Twisters really needed to do was to delay them long enough to depart, since it's going to be their departure that ends the ball game. And we know that, where the Time-Twisters are concerned, they really know how to make an exit:



As the devastation quickly spreads, we see that Zarrko--as well as the Servitor, who at times seems more like he has the same self-interests as his master--have no qualms about abandoning a sinking ship:



Once the Time-Twisters vanish, it's the beginning of the end for the remnants of humanity, as well as for Thor and his companions. You have to admit things look hopeless when you see warriors-born throwing in the towel and saying their goodbyes:



But come on, isn't Thor still packing his hammer? He's no slouch at time-travelling, and this story takes place three years before he drains his hammer of its time-travel ability while helping the Space Phantom--so why doesn't he just whip up a vortex to whisk them all back to their own century? Or, failing that, how about transporting them to another dimension, or another world, or somewhere that isn't going to explode in their faces? It's a curious side-step by Wein of Thor's proven power, as it wouldn't have necessarily detracted from the fatal climax of the story:



Wow, things couldn't look more bleak.  Everything about this situation seems to have FAIL stamped on it, right? Earth has been incinerated; the Time-Twisters are on their way to the 20th century to destroy that Earth, as well (while no doubt dropping off the gift of learning, for what it's worth); Zarrko and the Servitor are probably time-cubing their way to the 60th century and putting this entire incident literally behind them; and Thor and his party are ashes.

Or are they? With Jane's little outburst hanging in the air like that?

And there's still Derek left hanging, as well.  There's a lot to do in the final installment of this story, and time is running out--which is precisely where we'll find the Asgardians heading to next.

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