Friday, September 8, 2017

Day Of The Demolisher!

A monster walks among us! Truer words were never spoken of Durok, the Demolisher, sent to Earth to destroy anything and everything, as part of a plan by the evil Loki to draw the mighty Thor to a certain death. But let's let the splash page to Part 2 of this story bring us up to date:

(No, I don't know why Balder the Brave is looking in our direction. Hey, bub, it's not up to us to pull your friend's fat out of the fire!)

As much as we have to sympathize with the people of Earth right now, things are looking dire for the Asgardians, as well, since a madman now sits the throne and Odin's law demands that Loki, the wearer of the Odin-ring, be obeyed. But unlike Balder, who has pledged his loyalty to Karnilla, Queen of the Norns and ally of Loki, there are those who refuse to just stand by while Loki leads them all to dishonor and most likely destruction. For instance, Thor's beloved, the Invisible Girl the lady Sif, doesn't stand by at all--she slouches in despair and helplessness, because crumbling in tears is how even female goddesses behave to writer Stan Lee's way of thinking. But others, such as Thor's comrades, the Warriors Three, have no intention of turning away to sob when they can still act.

Brava, Sif! Glad you remembered that Asgardians live to dare.

But the danger to Earth--and to Thor--remains, as this issue's cover heralds the battle to come.

Durok makes landfall in New Orleans, in the midst of the traditional Mardi Gras celebration, where at first glance he appears to be just another participant in the festivities. But the scene almost immediately turns deadly, as Durok begins his mission of annihilation.

Even though Durok has already proven able to withstand the force of Thor's mystic hammer, Mjolnir, it's clear that Thor has devised no plan to deal with his foe other than the exercise of more brute force against him--the first instinct of a warrior, surely, but it's interesting how Thor's experience as an Avenger is so rarely utilized in battle. To his credit, he uses the force of his hammer to remove all of the bystanders from what will now become a battlefield; but his approach to handling Durok remains unchanged.

Back in Asgard, it's a given that Loki is monitoring the fight, so as not to miss the moment when Thor is slain. But as the battle progresses and that moment fails to arrive as soon as Loki would prefer, he moves to change the setting, though things will be no safer for the mortals who next greet Durok's murderous eyes.*

*Before departing New Orleans, Thor returns all of the festival attendees from limbo, while simultaneously erasing their memories of what occurred. He can do that?

Durok next appears in South America, where a well-armed dictatorship meets his aggression with force, for all the good it does them.

While Thor again arrives to battle Durok, Balder, who can lift no hand against Loki while he remains pledged to Karnilla, devises a plan to make use of that pledge to slip away to Earth in order to aid the Thunder God. Intrigued, Karnilla agrees to his proposal; but the scene nicely deals in the master swordsman, Fandral, whose cleverness and skill have served his fellow Asgardians well and provided Thor readers with a profile of adventure deserving of fanfare.

On Earth, Balder's actions remain shrouded in mystery, even to the Queen of the Norns. But even with his hands figuratively tied, he yet moves to act in Thor's favor.

And speaking of Thor, embroiled in battle with Durok, Loki decides to play his trump card against his half-brother--changing the scene of battle once more, but this time with a twist that traps Thor in a no-win situation. The original plan of Loki still holds: Thor will meet his death at the hands of Durok, while the monster will go on to decimate all mankind. But for Thor, the knife is twisted even more.

We'll learn later that Durok is headed to Washington, D.C., rather than New York--but his destination is immaterial compared to the near-hopeless situation which Lee leaves the title in for the mag's new writer. But hope nevertheless remains, thanks to the steps that Balder is taking--which brings us to the peak of Mt. Everest, where we find Balder, a skeptical Norn Queen, and a final flashing signal aimed to the sky.

This issue would conclude Lee's long run on the title as writer, numbering some 101 issues (including two annuals as well as the later Thor #200, in what appears to be an inventory story)--to say nothing of the Tales Of Asgard and Inhumans inserts that have appeared within the book. Unlike later passings of the torch to different writers, the letters page makes no note of Lee's departure; but there was an informal announcement on the Bullpen Bulletins page that downplayed the situation of Lee relinquishing his scripting on several books to that of a short break.


   That's right, friends: the title of this color-splashed little column says it all!
   After scripting an even hundred issues of SPIDER-MAN--after writing even more issues of FANTASTIC FOUR, plus countless other epics starring Captain America and the rest of our award-winning costumed do-gooders--Smilin' STAN LEE has finally decided he needs a couple of weeks away from the typewriter end of a superhero script. So, for this month only (hopefully for us all), Our Leader will be confining his comic-mag chores to finishing up the current THOR saga--and to scribbling his usual comments and corrections with an editorial blue-pencil--while he spends his off-duty hours polishing off the screenplay for world-famous director ALAIN RESNAIS' first English-language film.1
   What's more, just to show the Bullpen he means business, Smiley's even delegated to Yours Truly the task of penning this month's Bulletin Page.2 And so, switching into third-person speech and high-gear speed, awaaaaayy we go--!

1For what it's worth, Resnais' first English-language film, 1977's Providence--released six years later--lists British playwright David Mercer as its sole writer.

2Frankly, I find it surprising that, if I'm understanding Thomas correctly, Lee was personally producing the full content of the Bulletins page every month. Aside from the Soapbox column, surely the other filler items could have been delegated to any staffer who could mimic Lee's flair for "yakking it up."

Interestingly, Lee pivoting from writing the comics titles he was handling coincides with the 1971 debacle involving Marvel's double-sized format change for some of its books, with their pricing adjusted accordingly--a decision quickly reconsidered and rolled back the following month. Probably the worst time for Marvel Comics' standard-bearer to be M.I.A.

As for Thor's more immediate problem, new regular writer Gerry Conway is handed the reins of the book for Part 3 of this saga, which the PPC has already given a full review. But Thor isn't out of the woods yet as far as Loki is concerned, as we'll see next time when this four-part story at last concludes.

Mighty Thor #192

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: Sam Grainger
Letterer: Artie Simek


Anonymous said...

I'm not crazy about this comic. Big John Buscema is great as always (although his Loki looks like Aunt May for some reason). But the story seems kinda phoned in, and the Demolisher is just another mindless bruiser. The idea of an Odin Ring is just too goofy, even for Odin.
Fortunately the series would be in good hands with Conway, who gives Big John a bit more to work with.


Comicsfan said...

Frankly, M.P., I would have liked to have seen more of the behind-the-scenes ramifications of the Asgardians having to fall in line under Loki's rule. Aside with some decent scenes of Balder and the Warriors Three, along with one or two token scenes of other Asgardians bemoaning their fate, it boggles the mind that no others in this so-called warrior race are raising their swords in rebellion, even as obviously as Loki has bent this law of Odin's regarding the ring. No brawls between any Asgardians and the trolls or giants that now have carte blanche in the realm? No attempt (other than Hogun's) to ambush Loki and remove the ring, even by severing the finger it's on? No others in Odin's confidence that moved to petition him to reconsider his course of action? Heimdall and the Vizier M.I.A.? The Asgardians seem woefully unprepared for a hostile coup d'├ętat--even, unbelievably, to the point of apathy.