Monday, May 20, 2019

Death Comes For The Lord Of Asgard!

We've previously seen how Desak, the self-styled Destroyer of Gods, was empowered by a mysterious female apparition who freed him from the lies of those gods who used the blind faith of his people to demand tribute in the form of personal sacrifice. Since then, he's been on a mission of vengeance against those who regard themselves as gods, which, to Desak's mind, are simply self-serving beings who wield power and seek to control and dominate the lives of others, demeaning those who take advantage of their fealty and enslaving them to their whims--their subjects existing as toys for them to play with, use, and discard as they see fit. And thanks to the apparition, Desak has the power to accomplish his goal of deity genocide--a pendant given to him by his benefactor that will resist the might of any god who attacks him, while allowing him to soak up their power to make himself even stronger.

It was during his attack on two such gods that he came into conflict with the mighty Thor (along with Hercules and Beta Ray Bill), who sought to prevent Desak from committing cold-blooded murder and from likely becoming a far worse threat than those he hunts. Yet Thor failed to dissuade him, and Desak remains at large.

And now, judging by the grim scene that greets our eyes when we catch up with him, whatever words of reason that Thor had hoped to instill in Desak have apparently fallen on deaf ears, his deadly task unabated--as we come across another civilization "freed" from the yoke of their callous gods and now forced to embrace their own destiny near the ruins of those they once worshipped. Only this day, Desak discovers that one god he would have eventually targeted is dead, killed in final battle with the fire demon, Surtur--yet a death that has opened the door to the opportunity to slay another in his place.

Desak speaks of Tarene, a young girl known as the Designate--a being who will become the key to the ultimate unification of the universe, destined to achieve the power to help evolve sentient beings to the next level of existence. Until that time comes, she has taken form as an Asgardian goddess and become known as Thor Girl; yet Desak only sees her as one who will become like all the others whose selfish lives he's ended, and so he travels to Earth where Tarene has at present fallen to the stone touch of the Grey Gargoyle.

But standing between Desak and his mission of death is Thor, who is now ruler of Asgard and possesses the Odin-force formerly wielded by his deceased father. Or, put another way: a prime target.

Thor has a strange definition of "ally," considering that he and Desak worked at cross-purposes in their battle with the gods Pennsu and Tae, with Thor striving to keep Desak from killing them. But the point is moot, since it becomes clear that Desak feels no regard for Thor other than what he would feel for any god who would stand against him--contempt, and hatred--while Thor finds that even he is hard-pressed to stand against this foe's might and savagery.

Had Odin lived, he no doubt would have had to eventually face Desak at some point, so it's interesting to wonder if their battle might have played out in the same way as what we're seeing here. Embodying the Odin-force, Thor is even more powerful than he was as the Thunder God (and that's saying something), and he's certainly no less battle-honed than Odin--but Odin was far more experienced in the use of his power, and much more imaginative. There were perhaps any number of ways he could have dealt with Desak that didn't involve going one-on-one; after all, he's consigned enough of his enemies to unspeakable fates at the far reaches of the universe to start his own slide show (or, these days, an Instagram account), from which there was no return.* The point being that banishment was only one of the tools at Odin's disposal that might have ended Desak's threat.

*For the most part. E.g., the Absorbing Man, Seidring, the Enchanters, and who knows how many others have been dealt with summarily. Odin has also taken an entire race and created a living prison for them in the form of Mangog (which admittedly didn't work out so well, did it)--and how about handing his own son over to the tender mercies of Mephisto? Loki would certainly be at the top of the roster of those who have been thus dealt with; we first met him while his essence was trapped in a tree, for Pete's sake.

Thor, however, chooses to discharge the Odin-force directly, against a foe who reacts like a virtual vampire in terms of withstanding the power of gods. Will that withering force push Desak to his limit? Or will it pave the way to disaster?

It's undeniably Thor's darkest hour--with no last minute reprieve from Desak likely, given that mercy was a concept he flatly rejected and abandoned in his new life of purging from the universe those who attained the status of gods. However, Thor's struggle with Desak has been monitored by the Enchantress, who aspires to be Thor's queen--and, all too aware of the danger to her beloved from Desak, who has steadily gained a reputation over the years that has reached the halls of Asgard, she quickly summoned Thor's advisor and friend, the swift Thialfi, as the battle began to go against Thor--entrusting him to bring a unique weapon to Thor's side. And in this critical moment, he completes his errand, with not a second to spare.

Why the enchanted Bloodaxe of the Executioner would fare better against Desak as a fatal weapon than the enchanted hammer of Thor isn't really clear. The only clue we have has to do with the nature of its curse, which turned its wielder into a bloodthirsty killer--a curse that at one time consumed Eric Masterson in his identity as Thunderstrike. One of the Wiki pages calls the axe capable of "divine slaying," a wisp of an explanation which will have to suffice.

In any event, Desak is retrieved by his creator, the female who appeared to him on his homeworld and made him what he is--transporting him to a remote location in order to begin a slow process of healing him. But in a startling revelation, we learn that her identity is none other than the Designate, whose older, evolved self began this chain of events. If and when Desak returns, we (and perhaps even Desak) may learn why she has apparently countenanced his compulsion to bring an end to all the pantheons of the universe.


Big Murr said...

The results of Desak attacking Odin would depend on which Odin was at home at the time. The Odin that could rattle the entire cosmos ("Thor" #184-188, circa 1971) or the Odin that could be chucked into a slaver hold by motley lizard aliens who landed their saucer on Bifrost.

Creative solutions are rarely allowed in the last few decades of comics. All heroes essentially "hulk-out", hitting harder and harder with whatever power is their strong suit, filling panels with destruction. The seminal moment for this development (in my memory) is when Superman just brute force slugged it out with Doomsday. By modern standards, Thor using the Bloodaxe was likely considered "clever thinking outside the box".

Comicsfan said...

Both very good points, Murray.