Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bridge To Nowhere

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, if the mighty Thor is off at World's End, and if he's about to throw down with Kartag, the keeper of the Twilight Well--then why does the cover of his next issue have him battling for his life against Mangog?

Whatever fight he decides to hammer down on, he'd better shake a leg. Because Asgard has seemingly been destroyed in a cataclysmic implosion--Odin is presumed dead--and the cupboards of the Goddess of Death are crammed to bursting! It's time for Thor to get what he came for and vamoose. But first he has to get past:

You've probably already guessed that Kartag doesn't reply, "Okay."

Not that Thor looks like he needs help against his gigantic foe, but he shouldn't expect any assistance from his comrades, the Warriors Three--as Kartag's mistress, the beguiling Satrina, has restrained them with living rock. Yet their imprisonment will be relatively brief, since the venue of the battle is about to change to the very waters which Thor and his party seek.

Up to this point, Thor has had no knowledge of Odin's plans for both himself and the lady Sif--nor has he been aware of the life-or-death struggle his fellow Asgardians face against the malevolent Mangog. But as he descends into the well, his mind is suddenly overwhelmed with visions of all of these things, and more. The question is: Who or what is describing these events to him, and why?

As Thor processes this information, all eyes above are fixed on the Twilight Well, in order to see who emerges from the struggle below in triumph. Unfortunately, only one of the spectators will be pleased; but there are other spectators, with eyes far sharper, who are well aware of who will emerge from the waters, for he serves their will.

It appears the conflict between Thor and Kartag has been decided, and that, thanks in part to Kartag, the Thunder God will succeed in his mission to the well. Yet one sorceress isn't ready to drop the matter, though more out of jealously than at seeing her efforts on Kartag's behalf thwarted:

It's never been made clear why these "Norns" aren't under the command of the Norn Queen, Karnilla; indeed, they seem to be answerable to no one but themselves, and on a power scale totally above both Karnilla and even Odin. Fortunately, their exposure in comics has been limited, and so their occasional appearances still have the capability to pique interest. Though our first exposure to them was admittedly unimpressive:

"Double, double toil and trouble... Fire burn, and cauldron bubble..."

Here, though, writer Gerry Conway takes full advantage of their legendary reputation for intervention and prophecy--while artist John Buscema fittingly elevates them above the others, as they have no peers.

Interestingly, though, the Fates have commanded Kartag to accompany Thor on his return, even though we can spill the beans here and divulge that Kartag will play no significant part in the coming struggle against Mangog or its resolution. It seems that even the Fates don't know everything. (Though I'm certainly not going to be the one who points that out to them.)

Yet upon their return to the Rainbow Bridge, Thor and the others will have every reason to think that there is no longer any battle for them to fight.

There is grieving to be done in the face of such ultimate destruction, of course--yet there are no ruins to fix their eyes on, only the realm's absence. And when Thor acts to track his homeland to whatever destination the Twilight Well's waters guide them to, Odin's strategy begins to unfold.

Thor arrives in Asgard to find the realm all but overwhelmed by the might of Mangog, and he quickly engages the monster. But Thor has fought this creature before, and his might has always proven insufficient against him. Nor will Kartag--one more being against the might of a billion billion beings--be enough to tip the scales in the Asgardians' favor.

As for Mangog, he's savvy enough to know when he's poised to achieve victory--and with a dramatic gesture, he seizes his true target and arrogantly prepares to deliver the killing blow that will finally serve to avenge his masters.

Oh, you think there's going to be a last-minute save here, eh? Well, maybe--and maybe not. But the caption for the next installment of this story might still take the wind out of your sails.


(No lie!)

Mighty Thor #197

Script: Gerry Conway
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Artie Simek

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Koming of Kartag!!!
When Kartag Kommands...?
The Klobbering of
Hard to do alliteration with a K.
With Kartag and Satrina, we see Conway's gift of introducing weird and wonderful characters into his storylines, which often had the appearance of barely-managed chaos! Satrina and Kartag proved to be more complicated characters than one might assume from first glance.
Conway liked having a lot of strange players in his stories, which made them more complex, interesting and very compelling to me. Great issue. Wonderful art, here, too. Buscema and Colleta were just fantastic together! Classic period for Thor.

...Kooking with Kartag? I don't usually watch cooking shows, but I'd check that one out...