Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's Official: Thor Is A Mercenary Teddy Bear

Homage covers are always eye-catching and often an unexpected surprise, since they can trickle down from any comic book and are completely unpredictable as to what title (or company) they'll show up in--but it's fair to assume that even artist Walt Simonson was pleasantly surprised at the mileage his cover for Mighty Thor #337 has received through the years.

The issue was Simonson's debut as the title's regular writer, while returning as artist from a previous 1977-78 run in the book. Since that time, a number of artists have paid tribute to Simonson's cover--and while many other characters have cracked, crumbled, ripped, or smashed through their own masthead in one way or another, there's no denying Simonson's distinctive pose for the Thunder God--or rather, for Beta Ray Bill, the alien who surprised even the Asgardians with not only his victory over Thor, but also his ability to lift Thor's fabled hammer.

Here, then, is a brief collection of issues which paid tribute to that cover, along with a note or two about the cover artist for each.

First, given the sheer number of homage covers he's rendered for the Thor title, it's not exactly a surprise to find the work of Ron Frenz represented here. In this case, he's produced two pieces of work, one of several artists who have replaced both the character and weapon.

In a Thor issue published in 2017, artist Russell Dauterman gives a fresh eye to Simonson's work 34 years after the fact:

Two other Marvel artists make their pitches in what appears to be commission work: respectively, veteran Marvel staffer Marie Severin and cartoonist Fred Hembeck.

(Pity we were deprived of seeing Bill's curlicued knees!)

Over in Image Comics, the Skullkickers have their day, courtesy of artist Edwin Huang.

Two parodies which caught my eye were rendered by Gibson Grey and Marat Mychaels, respectively--each of which focuses on the bear for their inspiration.

"Beta Ray Bear" falls in with Mr. Grey's fondness for stuffed bears; while the parody line of Counterpoint Entertainment features an odd but sought-after combination of Winnie the Pooh and Marvel's popular merc with a screw loose, Deadpool (pictured here as, of course, "Deadpooh"). As in a few other Counterpoint books, this issue of Do You Pooh? had a limited release of just 25 issues, with each copy individually numbered, making them quite rare.

Finally, an issue of Hulk from 2011, rendered by artist Ariel Olivetti--part of the "Hulk of Arabia" story arc.


Anonymous said...

Homages like this are always fun to see - and it's not just comics. In 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, there was a British poster which encouraged young men to enlist in the armed forces (conscription didn't start till 1916). The poster showed Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, pointing at the reader with the slogan: "BRITONS - your country needs YOU". That image has become extremely famous ever since (in fact, if you google Lord Kitchener it is one of the first images you see) and I've seen it homaged and parodied so many times.

dbutler16 said...

Nice factoid, Colin!

Comicsfan said...

Colin, thanks--Kitchener's Wikipedia entry makes for fascinating reading. His efforts to raise a volunteer army appeared to exceed expectations, at least in the beginning; but it seems both his credibility and judgment suffered from bad word-of-mouth from fellow Staff, and site inspections revealed that volunteer levels had fallen below what was needed. I suppose Kitchener's death in 1916 could be viewed as timely or untimely, depending on one's perspective.

Jared said...

If you are going to redo a cover, that’s a good way to go. One of the most iconic covers of the 80s.

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