Friday, May 29, 2020

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Insane


Name This Marvel Villain??

As if the character and reputation of our mystery villain weren't bad enough already, it looks like his life has taken a turn for the worse--and as usual, he only has himself to blame. Meet Thug Thatcher, a name which likely rings a bell for some of you, even for a character who hails all the way back to 1963. For his debut, Thatcher hits the big time right out of the gate, and with a somewhat alliterative story title that could only appear in a comic book:

In a story that's published just seven issues following Thor's own debut, Thatcher holds the rare distinction of being a featured villain who didn't make the issue's cover, nor does he appear until (barely!) five pages into the story. Instead, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby reserve the opening pages for bringing any new readers up to speed on Thor, as well as his mortal life as Dr. Donald Blake--even going so far as to capsulize his origin story.

Following that up with a few panels of both Blake and his nurse, Jane Foster, having romantic thoughts about each other while in the office (how about some professional decorum, you two?), to say nothing of Jane fantasizing about Thor and, uh, polishing his hammer (read into that what you will), we literally turn the corner into the action, where Thatcher's gang is shown crashing into a transport truck in an attempt to break their boss out of police custody. As Lee and Kirby would later explore with the Fantastic Four, the splash page has already indicated that Thor will be facing "guns and goons"; but when Thatcher is wounded in the street shootout, it's Blake who is forced at gunpoint to save his life, though Thatcher isn't exactly feeling beholden. What a guy. (Though we can't say that Thatcher isn't living up to his name.)

Yet thanks to Blake mentally contacting Odin to arrange a distraction, he regains his walking cane and counts on these goons not being able to put two and two together when Thor appears in his place. (And still kneeling, as Blake had been--nope, nothing to deduce from that.)

Thor joins the Thing, the Hulk, and who knows how many other heroes in having super lung capacity; though when he pursues Thatcher into the city, where the villain uses Jane as a hostage, we also discover that Thor is one heck of a ventriloquist.

(It seems even for Thatcher's "dame," Ruby, "Thug" is the best she can hope for as far as being on a first-name basis with her boyfriend. And she'll receive little else for her devotion to this man, as we'll see.)

With Thor being occupied with getting Jane to safety, Thatcher makes tracks but only gets as far as a construction site before Thor homes in on him again. Yet with only just a handgun, he intends to make a fight of it--even to the point of opening fire on Ruby, which makes Thor doubly resolved to put an end to his criminal career.

Unless Thatcher is packing a lightning rod in that jacket of his, he would appear to have reached the end of the road here. But credit where credit is due--this man is still looking for ways to salvage this situation, and still trying to call the shots. And with a last-ditch threat, he nearly succeeds--but fate intervenes, allowing Thor to regain control and bring this man's nefarious career to an end.

(All right, yes, those falling red-hot rivets, still dangerous to the crowd below, were totally shoved out of the scene without explanation when they became inconvenient. Then again, I suppose it's Thor we should be rooting for, not Thatcher.)

After Thatcher is carted away by the police, Thor does Ruby a kindness by asking Odin to wipe her memory of her involvement with Thatcher.  (Something Odin would all too often demonstrate a talent for in matters involving mortals.)

Unfortunately, 23 years later (our time), Thatcher, seeking revenge against Thor, looks up Ruby and secures her unwilling cooperation in freeing from prison Brad Wolfe, a former actor who was dealt with by Thor when he became the homicidal threat called the Zaniac. But Thatcher's plan goes horribly awry when Ruby makes an ill-timed entrance and unknowingly sets off the Zaniac's urge for killing women--and she pays the price, though Thatcher wouldn't escape scot-free.

The new Zaniac both succeeds in his plan of revenge but ultimately fails when Thor enters the picture, whose actions would lead to the Zaniac's death--and, by extension, that of Thatcher, who met his own end by way of a heart attack. (It goes without saying that this man wasn't using that organ for anything, or anyone, else.)


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I couldn’t name the villain but with a trapezium mouth like that, he must have been drawn by Sal Buscema.

And I do like Chic Stone's inkwork over Kirby. It helps me overlook some of the poor storytelling (which I think is a combination of Kirby never worrying about how it all hangs together and what I am assuming is Larry Lieber trying too hard to explain what's going in in the panels).

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Oh no. Just seen it was Dick Ayers inking. The thickness of the line work made you look like Chic Stone to me. Oh well.

Tiboldt said...

I've not read any early Thor apart from his origin - it's funny how the film decided against including the Stone Men of Saturn - so it's good to see that early installment weirdness affected Thor as well.

Super... er Thor-breath, Thor-ventriloquism, kicking hammers and chopping down trees with hammers are all wonderful entries into the silver age what were they thinking roster.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...


While reading Planet Hulk recently (free on ComiXology) I discovered that Hulk's mate in those comics who Thor's mate in Ragnarok (can't remember his name - he's in New Asgard in Avengers Endgame playing video games) was based on is one of those stone men from Saturn! No5 just any stone man but one of those that came up against Thor in his first appearance.