Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Time Of Evil!

Almost immediately following the dramatic turn of events where Odin, the All-Father had stepped in to save his son Thor from the deadly clutches of Hela, the Goddess of Death, both father and son found a new challenge awaiting them within the halls of Asgard: Odin's adopted son, the evil Loki, had seized the throne by donning the Odin-Ring, which not only compels all Asgardians to give their loyalty and service to the wearer but which also apparently channels a measure of Odin's own power through it. And with Loki now the ring's master, the implications for Asgard are dire indeed, as even Odin must concede--for it's his own law that forces even the once-Lord of Asgard to heed the commands of he who wears the ring imperial.

Undoubtedly, investing such power in a piece of jewelry that could be stolen by anyone who wants to usurp the rule of Asgard without raising an army or brandishing a single blade wasn't one of Odin's wiser moments.

This 1971 story marks long-time Thor writer Stan Lee's final tale for the book (though Lee scripts the title's 200th issue, in what looks to be an inventory story inserted in the midst of new series writer Gerry Conway's Pluto story). For comics readers who were reading other titles of Marvel's books during this time, the style of the story takes some getting used to, since it comes at a time when Marvel is experimenting with toning down its frequent use of exclamation points, while (initially) substituting no other punctuation at all. The result is that some dialog falls flat where it shouldn't.

As an example, take the scene where Odin raises a rash hand at Thor's insistence that they strike back at Loki's power play. Lee's script would be otherwise sufficient for the moment, yet there is nothing to *ahem* punctuate the emotions in play.

But with some adjustments, the scene is given more spark that helps to strike the balance that Marvel is looking for.

Of course, punctuation is the last thing on the minds of the Asgardians at this tense moment--and the issue's striking cover gives us an idea of what stakes are involved, and just how far Loki is willing to go in not only solidifying his grab for power, but in fatally dealing with the brother that he has long despised.

First, though, Thor realizes that if anything is to be done about this situation, it must be now. Loki has moved quickly to consolidate his power, having brought the Norn Queen to his side (along with Balder the Brave, who had recently pledged his fealty to Karnilla in exchange for assistance in saving Thor's life from Hela) while adding to the ranks of the Asgardian warriors his own contingent of trolls and giants--as well as exiling those loyal to Odin, such as Heimdall, Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg. But Thor finds that he and Odin are of two different minds as far as the next step to be taken.

You can guess by Odin's expression that Thor has said two things he probably shouldn't have: (1) that he intends to disregard Odin's law as far as challenging the ring, and (2) making an affront to Odin's courage. Needless to say, he suffers the consequences, as has often been the case; but as we've seen, Odin relents, and ultimately leaves everyone to their own devices while he follows his instructions to retire to his chamber and undergo the Odin-sleep.

His hands effectively untied, Thor immediately lashes out at Loki--and it's here, unlike the previous instance where Loki seized the Odin-ring, that we see Loki use the ring's full power in dealing with his step-brother.

The character of Karnilla has always been given generous exposure in Thor stories, along with the scenes between herself and Balder--more of a connection between them than chemistry, though it appears that's changing. With Balder now a formal ally of Karnilla, and having long since admitted that he shares Karnilla's love, there's a good deal of story material that can be mined, considering that Karnilla remains a foe of Asgard and Balder's loyalties will be torn as a result--as we're seeing here, when Balder's first instinct is to go to the aid of his brother-in-arms. Interesting, as well, is the difference between artists Jack Kirby and John Buscema in portraying the Norn Queen, with Kirby often shifting her look and giving us many examples of this seductive woman who captured Balder's heart--while Buscema instead chooses to adopt raiment and headgear that comprised one of many looks selected for her by Kirby and sticking with it, while ignoring the more exotic appearances of the character that Kirby often showcased.

Buscema, as well, also returns to the look that Kirby provided to Loki when he made his first attempt at stealing the ring.  It's clear that Loki intends this time to make the most of his possession of the Odin-ring; and to appease the lady Sif, he even brings back Fandral and the others to join Thor in his time of need, knowing full well that the odds are stacked against them.

And sealing Thor's fate is just what Loki has in mind--by creating an unstoppable foe for Thor to battle, a relentless bruiser that will be sent to the one place that Thor is sure to follow, and where Loki believes the Thunder God will finally meet his end.

Between the two of them, Loki and Karnilla have created in Durok an engine of destruction--a nasty piece of handiwork even for Loki, who has empowered others such as the Absorbing Man but, thanks in part to Karnilla, outdoes himself with the Demolisher, whose name is self-explanatory in regard to his sole mission in life. But since Loki's hatred for Earth is an extension of that which he feels for Thor, his triumph here is two-fold, since he knows that in sending Durok to that world, he also sends Thor to his death.

Yikes! We know Stan Lee will make his exit with the next issue--but will Thor, as well??

Hey, you heard the God of Evil!

Mighty Thor #191

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Sam Rosen


Anonymous said...

I doth sayest that Odin always was a silly old fool - begone to yon Old Folks Home Eternal !

Just out of curiosity, CF - has Tallahassee ever been threatened by a hurricane ? You were too far east for Hurricane Harvey and you're too far north (I assume) for Hurricane Irma so are you always in just the right place to be safe ?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, hope you're in the clear, C.F.
I notice they're naming tropical storms after my aunts and uncles, now-Harvey and Irma. If Hurricane Gladys shows up, I'll know it's a conspiracy.


Comicsfan said...

Not necessarily, Colin. You were right about Harvey, yes, but the jury's still out on Irma's course. Even though Tallahassee isn't a coastal city (we're about 75 miles from the Gulf, if memory serves), the winds from even a near miss can do a lot of damage here due to the abundance of trees city-wide; and the rainfall as it weakens to a tropical storm can cause a good deal of flooding, depending on its speed as it moves inland. Hurricane Hermine, for example, walloped the area and caused power outages which took a week to repair. (My neighborhood was out for about six days. Thank goodness for a gas water heater.) Where's Thor and that hammer of his when you really need him? :)