Monday, July 1, 2019

The Designate... and the Destroyer!

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
    (with apologies to John Ray and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux)

2002: After receiving counsel from Zeus, Lord of Olympus, the mighty Thor decides to consolidate his commitment to Midgard with his devotion to his new role as Lord of Asgard--by moving Asgard itself to a new vantage point that the mortals of Earth will at last be able to take in with their own eyes and look to with both hope and aspiration.

With the Asgardians now assuming a posture that effectively makes them mankind's benefactors, the human race sees a dramatic shift in its existence--falling under the stewardship of gods who follow Thor's lead to see "Midgard" become a world of peace and fulfillment, with Thor taking steps to see that disease, hunger and oppression are nearly extinguished. But a number of governments react adversely, seeing a threat in his actions and interference; consequently, they rise up against him, and war erupts. Through a coordinated effort, Asgard is destroyed by a series of detonations--and the resulting rain of debris and fire lays waste to New York City, killing hundreds of thousands and injuring more.

The message sent by this act is clear: You are not wanted. Leave. Some of the surviving Asgardians want to bury their dead, take their wounded and depart Earth forever, with the lady Sif being the most outspoken of those who feel the Asgardian presence on Earth has been disastrous. However, attributing the destruction to the actions of a few "power brokers" while firmly believing many mortals do welcome the Asgardians and what they have to offer, Thor's response is to dig in. Sif, vowing to actively resist such intransigence, is banished.


2020, seventeen years later. The hammer Mjolnir has long since mysteriously disappeared, presumed destroyed if we're to believe Thor. Loki, who has been solidly in Thor's corner since he began his proactive stance in regard to creating his own checks and balances on the choices of mortals, has been appointed head of world security. Thor sires a son by Amora, the Enchantress, named Magni--"the god of strength."  The city of New Asgard (built on the ruins of New York) now adorns the land, and Thor has tightened his grip on Earth and its population considerably. By Thor's account, Earth is free of worry, want, suffering, and strife--though some would say "purged." Yet there are those who still strive for freedom and independence. Jane Foster, as one example, has been brought to the city to be interrogated for attempting to prevent a newborn from being "registered," and is met by the Lord of Midgard--from whom we learn what happened in the years following Asgard's destruction.

Jane is subsequently led away to be "processed."


2170, one-hundred fifty years later. Thor has reshaped mankind to his liking--their needs met, their lives simple and uncomplicated, their planet idyllic, with "reconditioning" centers processing those who show signs of sedition. Assassination attempts continue to be made against Thor, with an earlier conflict having cost him his left arm.  We learn that Thor abolished war by abolishing what has arguably been its root:  religion, and all its denominations. Meanwhile, Magni, who has become a sympathizer to Sif's cause in persuading Thor and the Asgardians to relinquish Earth, has been spiritually led by a woman recently executed to Mjolnir, which has been sequestered all this time as it could no longer be lifted by its former master--an embarrassing implication that Thor is no longer worthy to do so.

Elsewhere, a being whose life's mission has been to rid the universe of gods who insinuated themselves into the lives of mortals and expected to have their wishes heeded, senses that the time has at last come for the gods of Asgard to answer in full for their misdeeds and meet their deaths.

Since the being named Desak began his mission of slaughter to bring about the liberation of those mortals who in his eyes suffered the whims of those who took advantage of their fealty, he has slain tens of thousands of gods, made possible in part by a pendant he wears that protects him from their power and allows him to blunt their best efforts against him. Set on his path by a female apparition who appeared to him on his home world and gave him the ability to attack and destroy the two arrogant and selfish gods who held his race under their collective thumb, he also gave a warning to Thor, the god who sought to prevent their murder but failed--that someday, he might be coming for him, as well, should he and the Asgardians begin to take more intrusive steps into the lives of mortals.

That day came after Desak sensed the death of Odin, and the presence of one he considered an additional danger--the Designate, whose ultimate task would be to unify the universe and help to evolve mankind to the next level of existence. Traveling to Earth and engaging Thor in fierce battle, Desak instead fell to Thor's axe--after which his female "sponsor" whisked him away to restore his life and begin a long process of healing. We learned then that the Designate was in fact one and the same with Desak's apparition who started him on his agenda of death for those who called themselves gods--a mystery which will play out in this, Desak's final meeting with Thor, as the loop finally closes on not only the spirit-form's plans for Desak but on the continued presence of the Asgardians on Earth.

And it's New Asgard we return to, as Magni confronts his father with an irrefutable challenge which will gauge the moral character of the former holder of Mjolnir and the correctness of his choices--while another, on approach, has already made up his mind as to Thor's guilt, and his fate.

Writer Dan Jurgens has a somewhat different interpretation of the parting of Thor and Desak following their first encounter. Desak's trust in Thor was hardly implicit; he was only willing to let the matter drop for the time being, while making certain Thor understood that Desak would be keeping a close eye on him. With Thor having imposed his will on the mortals of Earth, the Asgardian could have brought on himself no more damning a judgment in Desak's eyes.

Unaware of the storm of retribution which approaches, the words being exchanged between Thor and his son become more heated--until the moment comes when Thor is prepared to settle the matter of whether he can indeed still raise his hammer in hand. But before he can accomplish the deed (or attempt to), war erupts in the streets of New Asgard, on a scale which quickly sees those warriors drawing swords to meet the threat literally laying down their lives--and those in Thor's court filled with dread. While for Magni, this particular threat seems well-timed, and apropos.

That part about brave men dying? You get a very real sense of that in this, Desak's first all-out attack against the Asgardians en masse--and some of the first blood he draws can't help but affect Thor on a personal level. Even with Thor wielding the Odin-power, and with his son making use of Mjolnir, it's all too clear that Desak means business here. These gods will fall--just like all the others before them. That's a powerful message that's resonating in the streets, and right off the pages--a scene that's taken place in countless other strongholds where gods had ruled supreme, yet with their kingdoms now littered with corpses.  It's a sobering thought which these Asgardians dare not consider.

To no one's surprise, Desak's strike against Thor's queen proves to be the final straw for Thor himself, as he again brings the Odin-power to bear against his foe. Yet we have seen such a display prove to be ineffective in their prior encounter--and with Desak's chilling words that others with even greater might to wield have fallen to his sword, the fate of the people of Asgard now clearly hangs in the balance, as the most powerful of its gods makes what could well be their last stand.

Where is Loki, indeed? Why, prepping Asgard's secret weapon--one whose reputation for destruction is well-deserved.

(No, I don't know how the Destroyer's armor can even be in one piece here, much less throwing punches that could make the entire city quake, since it was demolished by the Celestials--the Celestials, mind you. Let's say for the sake of argument that Loki had the capability of restoring it, though no one else seems shocked at its appearance intact.)

But while Loki may think that Desak has met his match and then some, his target isn't down for the count quite yet; in fact, Desak has already deduced not only this armored bruiser's weakness, but also the fact that the choice for the brute's life force was the worst that Loki could have possibly made.

The circle at last closes for the Designate, long ago imprisoned by Loki out of fear of her potential to indirectly become a threat to Asgard's rule and whose actions regarding Desak now appear to be justified. But her role in the fate of Thor has only just begun.

As if things couldn't get any worse: Desak, the Destroyer!

(Not exactly what Odin had in mind for his creation, eh? Or... was it?)


Anonymous said...

Why would a god abolish religion? That doesn't make any sense.


Comicsfan said...

As Thor tells it, Sean, his purging of religious beliefs began when his legions flooded the Middle East to put an end to the constant violence, which he felt was caused by "ancient border inequities and religious differences"--swiftly solved by abolishing both. And knowing that those of other religions would fear the same happening to them and react unfavorably, he then put an end to all religions, replacing mortals' "belief in the intangible" with belief in the peaceful existence that Asgard had brought to the world. Having lost an arm in the process, however, we can assume that there was quite a lot of bloodshed associated with what Thor now only regards in conversation as "a painful period."

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