Friday, February 12, 2016

It's Been A Blast--But You Bombed

I wish I could tell you that a match-up between Thor, the God of Thunder and Blastaar, the Living Bomb-Burst would be a battle to remember. But since his debut in the pages of Fantastic Four, Blastaar hasn't exactly seen his star on the rise. His next appearance in X-Men two years later gave us a good idea why that title was spiraling down to cancellation; and when he resurfaced in Marvel Team-Up to take on the Human Torch and the Hulk, it was under a human's control, forced to do his bidding in destroying a factory which belonged to a business finagler who had cheated him. The X-Men story was atrocious--the MTU story far less so--but the threat of Blastaar in both cases was handily dealt with and somewhat lackluster.

So why wouldn't an appearance in Mighty Thor help to bring this character back from the specter of oblivion and reinstate him as a major threat? Well, we could choose from among three reasons. First, Blastaar has an impressive track record--of being successfully fought off, that is. The FF dealt with him even with their attention divided by the Sandman; the X-Men's tactics were jokes, and still they outfought him; Medusa restrained him with her hair so that any blasts from his hands would cause him to be crushed; and the Hulk neutralized him by wrapping him up in adamantium alloy and hurling him into the ocean. (How's that for dismissing your foe?) Blastaar also proved in the X-Men story to be vulnerable to electrocution--so imagine how a god who can wield lightning will do against him.

Secondly, Blastaar, aside from his body's ability to resist temperature extremes, has one power to his credit: explosive bursts. As a would-be conqueror, that power alone doesn't cut it. There are other sources of explosive forces that can counter Blastaar, without even venturing into the super-powered options. And, granted, Thor has been dropped by explosions before, but he's also withstood such forces. What that means for Blastaar is that, while Blastaar might gain the upper hand at some point, soon enough Thor will overwhelm him.

Lastly, Blastaar is once again acting under orders of another--this time, I kid you not, a sentient factory. In fact, he's practically dedicated himself to this building's wishes and carrying out its orders (calling it "Master," just as he did with the Kree at an earlier time), mostly because the factory--F.A.U.S.T., the automated factory featured in the MTU story--has promised to install him as King of the Negative Zone. The Blastaar we remember would have destroyed this factory on the spot for making such a ludicrous promise without providing any specifics; instead, Blastaar gives the building his unwavering loyalty and carries out his orders without hesitation. You can almost see Blastaar's cred in world-conquering circles plummeting.

The only thing we truly have to look forward to in this fight is that Thor meets Blastaar after having dealt with the Stilt-Man--and we surely have to breathe a sigh of relief that Blastaar would have to be a step up from that.

Unfortunately, Thor would spend much of this issue pursuing information on F.A.U.S.T., leaving him only two brief intervals of battling Blastaar. In both instances, Thor never mixes it up with Blastaar to the extent we know he can; in fact, he seems to fight mostly a defensive battle, while writer Len Wein's main goal appears to be to move along the continuing plot involving F.A.U.S.T. Thor is even ejected from his first skirmish with the brute due to his hammer being out of his grasp for more than sixty seconds.

See what I mean? Nothing to write home about so far--except to maybe say, "Ma, I've been gypped!!" And when Thor later engages with Blastaar in force at the factory site, the fight is cut short after just a few panels when the central computer core of F.A.U.S.T. blasts off into orbit and Blastaar panics at being seemingly abandoned. But rather than Thor finishing things up with him, we'll find that Blastaar is dealt with by F.A.U.S.T. in absentia.

For what it's worth, Thor will be joined by Iron Man in taking the fight to F.A.U.S.T. in the next issue. As for Blastaar, you may or may not want to see him again--but after seeing how quickly he's gone downhill, you'll probably want something more substantive than Asst. Editor Jake Thomas's sales pitch as an incentive, eh?

Mighty Thor #270

Script: Len Wein
Pencils: Walt Simonson
Inks: Tony DeZuniga
Letterer: Joe Rosen


Anonymous said...

I give Stilt-man a lot of credit here, for lasting five minutes against Thor, new adamantium armor notwithstanding. It's definitely going to make his high-light reel.
Good for him!

George Chambers said...

Was this the story where Wein had everything F.A.U.S.T. produced to use against Thor being made of adamantium - and Thor destroyed it all anyway, in the process so discrediting adamantium that someone in the Bullpen then had to come up with "secondary adamantium" to explain it away?

Comicsfan said...

I'm not sure of the specifics, George; but the MTU story made it clear that F.A.U.S.T. was constructed of an adamantium alloy, which might change the rules a bit on its vulnerability. Adamantium, itself an alloy, is a result of a mixture of other alloys, which we have to assume would be highly classified (along with the formula); otherwise, anyone could produce the metal, and thereby adamantium weaponry, something the Avengers feared from its inception. Perhaps others (like F.A.U.S.T.) were able to secure enough information to create an alloy very close to adamantium's makeup, but not quite as invulnerable; for instance, Blastaar was well on his way to destroying F.A.U.S.T. before the Hulk stopped him. On the other hand, hackers seem to have made adamantium a priority in the Marvel universe, since many others have apparently been able to produce the real deal.

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