Friday, October 5, 2018

In The Clutches of... The Collector!

Of all the Marvel characters who have fallen victim to their will being usurped by a nefarious foe, you'd think that Thor, the God of Thunder, would be an exception to such a ploy. Instead, we've seen over the years that Thor has proven especially susceptible to mind control--and in light of the main focus of today's post, it seems appropriate to first take a brief look at the circumstances wherein the Thunder God has fallen under the power of another and been compelled to do their bidding.

The method which appears to be the most popular among villains who wish to subvert the will of Thor is hypnosis. For a god of Asgard who thrives on conflict, and whose natural instinct would be to keep his guard up when confronting his foe(s), it's frankly surprising what an easy target Thor makes for such a subtle means of seizure.  Naturally, our go-to villain when it comes to hypnosis is the Ringmaster, who succeeds more often than not with a number of high-profile characters, thanks to that rigged top hat of his:

Then there's Thor's half-brother, Loki, who doesn't need primitive accessories to employ his hypnotic technique:

And you'd think the last person to bother with hypnosis would be the Radioactive Man, but darned if he wasn't adept at it even when he was just starting out.

There are those who took a more direct approach with Thor, however. For instance, Nebula, who used small devices attached to the back of the head to seize control of the Avengers, including, lastly, Thor.

While an erstwhile Avenger, Moondragon, used her own formidable mental powers to align the Thunder God's will to her own, while *ahem* enjoying the fruits of her labours.

Obviously, Thor makes for a powerful tool for a villain bent on keeping the Avengers in check--or anyone else they feel like trouncing. Take the Puppet Master, who, with the help of Radion, the "Atomic Man," adds a little punch to his radioactive clay so that even Thor falls under his control. And you can probably guess who the Puppet Master would want to send Thor after.

In the ensuing fight (if you could call it that), Thor clobbers the FF (minus the absent Thing)--but when the shock of what he's done has him reverting to Donald Blake to see to their injuries, the Puppet Master loses control of him, just before the Thing arrives and is told of what occurred.  (At least as much as Blake knows, though still unaware of the identity of whoever took control of Thor.)

Once Blake departs, however, he makes the mistake of giving his unknown foe another crack at him--and even as prepared as Thor believes he is to withstand another attempt to control his mind, it's the Thing this time who will bear the brunt of his attack.

The Enchantress is also no slouch at bringing others under her control, particularly the male of the species. In Thor's case, she resorts to a potion to subvert his will, in order to use him against the Avengers.

Yet it's the Collector we finally turn to--an antagonist who also has an agenda where the Avengers are concerned, the same one he had when he first appeared in mid-1966. At that time, he began to expand his collection of objects spanning the ages by adding super-beings to his prizes--beginning with a villain (the Beetle), and then capturing the Wasp, the first move in adding the Avengers to his holdings. Failing then, he returns two years later with the same goal--only this time, he starts by capturing the most powerful Avenger, in order to use him to gather the others. To pull that off, it looks like he's decided to take a leaf from the Enchantress' book.

And so begins a tale that takes The Avengers past the 50-issue mark but also finds the group on the cusp of changes to their lineup. But with their most powerful member once more in the grip of an enemy, will the team be in any shape to celebrate?

Judging by this issue's cover, it looks like the celebration's already underway, eh?

Inside, however, we find the Avengers at their lowest ebb--down to three active members, one of whom has lost his power of increasing his size and thus deprived the team of its only source of physical mega-strength. And so Hank Pym has conducted an experiment to bombard his body with ionized electrons in the hope of regaining his status as Goliath; but the experiment has ended in failure, and nearly his death.

In their weakened state, the Avengers are ripe for the Collector to capture and cross off his list--but upon arrival, they're astonished to not only find that there's already one Avenger present who retains his freedom, but who is also apparently assisting their captor.

It bears mentioning that Thor's subservience to the Collector is not absolute, in that he has no loyalty to the villain and has already attempted to break the man's hold over him; but to the Avengers, it's a moot point, since he carries out the commands he's given with little to no resistance whatsoever.

And with the Collector now actively seeking out those Avengers on the inactive list, his primary command to Thor will be to begin retrieving them. But first, like any of those who share his vocation, the Collector wishes his new collection to be in pristine condition--and so Goliath must live again.

Tabling his efforts with Goliath for the time being, the Collector turns his attention to a special viewer that allows him to track the activities and whereabouts of the other Avengers. Since he first wishes to seize those within easy reach, he decides to leave a few for later: Hercules, who has returned to Olympus following the Avengers' recent battle with Typhon; Captain America, allied with the Black Panther while battling Zemo; and the Hulk, who has travelled to Asgard.

Fortunately, the Collector has spotted another in the immediate vicinity, who, like the others, is also currently vulnerable following his struggles with the Maggia, Whiplash, and the forces of A.I.M.

(Personally I was hoping to see Thor go after the Hulk no-holds-barred--but an Iron Man low on power and a rampaging brute are no doubt two different battles entirely.)

As we've seen, Thor has carried out his task with ruthless efficiency, leaving no doubt that he's firmly under the Collector's control. With his desire to have his Avengers collection in flawless condition, the Collector will have his work cut out for him in regard to healing Iron Man's injured heart (assuming Iron Man will still be alive once Thor returns with him); but right now he has a more serious problem to deal with, thanks to the Avengers having escaped their captivity and forcing him to defend himself against one of his own showpieces.

And escape he does, leaving the "robotoid" to go berserk and continuing to destroy the Collector's ship. For what it's worth, though, the Collector can at least take comfort in the fact that his efforts with Goliath have paid off--though the way things are going, he soon might not have any collection at all to speak of.

(It's anyone's guess how the chaos occurring on the Collector's ship could have any connection to the potion affecting Thor--though if I had to take a guess, we could attribute its sudden inert state to the Collector's disappearance. Even though the no-prize has gone the way of the dinosaur, I think that darn well qualifies for one.)

Later, it appears that Goliath is back to stay, with only a short procedure needed to cement what the Collector's technology already accomplished.

With both Iron Man and Thor returning to their own affairs, the way is paved for the Panther to join the Avengers on the recommendation of Captain America, which brings their fighting strength up to a balanced four--just as it was in bygone days following the departure of the original members, at least until a certain android makes his startling appearance.


In a prior post we saw how Marvel handled the discrepancy between the coloring of Goliath's costume on this issue's cover vs. its appearance in the story. Yet by the time the company's 70th anniversary rolled around in 2009--over forty years after the story's publication--it looks like Hasbro decided to hedge its bets by including both versions of Goliath in its action figure line.

Nine years later, when Vol. 3 of Marvel's Epic Collection series was published, featuring Avengers stories from 1967-68 (along with other inclusions), its cover was an easy choice: artist John Buscema's exquisite rendering of the team from this particular issue, though receiving a beautiful touch-up job while understandably leaving the original version of Goliath's costume intact.

More recently, however, alert reader Big Murr got in touch and followed up on a casual thought floated at the time on how interesting it might be to see the costume on the cover with its new coloring--and he decided to throw in the Wasp's new outfit for good measure.

What nice work--thanks, big guy!

The Avengers #51

Script: Roy Thomas
Pencils: John Buscema
Inks: George Tuska
Letterer: Sam Rosen


Big Murr said...

Being a lifelong fan of Thor, I can only mutter a sour "harumph!"

Still, that's the history all laid out and cannot be refuted. One can only surmise that mind controlling Thor is a major coup for a villain. It's like getting launch codes for a nuclear weapon. It will hopefully bring an automatic *gasp* from the reader. The plot's tension doesn't immediately flare if "OMG, the Wasp is mind controlled!" (though a mind controlled Wasp could be quite devastating with a good writer...)

That cover was an interesting experiment. I still suspect they probably did have time to colour-correct it before printing, but someone said the composition would leave the cover a muddle of red and blue. Leave the old costume.

And off the top of my head, whenever some modern time travel story brings Goliath into the mix, it is always the blue and yellow suit. Despite the red and blue being similar to Pym's "Ant-Man" colours, it seems that costume was just a non-starter.

Tiboldt said...

Re: the picture of Thor lounging in bed still holding his hammer.

Back in the '60 seconds to Donald Blake' days he must have had real problems with everyday functions such as eating and bathing. I always imagine him, in his pjs, hammer gripped tightly between his knees, flossing in front of the bathroom mirror.

Comicsfan said...

Along the same lines, Tiboldt, I suppose Moondragon concluded that Thor insisting on keeping his hammer in hand while they were, uh, *cough* in the mood *cough* was just his way of acting out some Norse form of machismo. Either that, or... well, let's just say that Freud would certainly have an opinion on the subject.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about that myself, the, er, taking the hammer to bed thing. (Also shacking up and eating grapes with Moondragon. Mind control or not, that must have been embarrassing. Understandable ...but, still..)
Was he still under that spell by Odin, where if he got separated from Mjolnir for more than sixty seconds, he reverted to Don Blake? He woulda hadda take that into the sack with him. Hopefully it's not a water bed.
I'm glad they got rid of that goofy limitation. I understand why Stan put that in there. It was Thor's Kryptonite, I guess, and gave the character a vulnerability.
That, and his apparent susceptibility to mind-control. How come Loki never tried that?