Monday, May 10, 2021

Memories From Mimir


The 1978 Thor Annual takes place at a crucial point in Asgard's existence, with the Asgardians on the brink of facing their worst nightmare: Ragnarok, the prophesied twilight of the gods which will doom not only the realm but also Earth, as well (or so the Asgardians believe). Yet for all intents and purposes, this story takes its cue from an earlier annual from 1976, where the gods of Asgard faced off against those of Olympus, and each realm believed itself to have triumphed when in reality neither did. Thor, still young (well, for an immortal) and headstrong at the time, was not at all pleased with his father Odin's explanation as to why each side was denied a true victory--but we find that Thor's mood is equally dour in the more current tale, where it seems that the coming crisis, which most have laid at the feet of Loki's machinations, is unavoidable, leaving these warrior gods of Asgard bristling at their collective helplessness.

To learn how one story connects with the other to bring about a third, we must catch up with Thor as he wanders the royal palace aimlessly and finds himself before one who takes delight in mocking Asgard's current state of affairs--Mimir, the fiery guardian of the Well of Wisdom where Odin was recently compelled to cast one of his eyes into in order to learn how he may prevent the coming of Ragnarok. What knowledge Odin gained from that encounter proved to be ultimately fruitless--yet Thor has no intention of paying such a price for the answers he seeks this day.

Mimir leads off by recounting the Asgardian/Olympian conflict, a "war" which left Thor feeling manipulated and sent him stomping out of Asgard earthward. It's something of a stretch on writer Roy Thomas's part, since in the story the rest of us read, Thor's mood was improved considerably by a conversation with the Norn Queen, Karnilla, leaving him in a more upbeat frame of mind:

And yet to accommodate the current tale, off to Earth he goes, now unwilling to accept his limitations and determined to explore expanding Asgard's influence among mortals in anticipation of the throne eventually being seated by himself. But in so doing, he is destined to cross paths for the first time with a highly-advanced race of Earth-born "gods" who have their own plans for the primitive mortals of the world--and who await the return of beings who, unknown to Thor, had long ago begun shaping the evolution of mankind as part of an operation which would take millennia to come to fruition!

Upon arrival on Earth, Thor would meet another offshoot of genetic manipulation coming into existence at the dawn of man--a mutate creation of the Deviants named Dromedan, imprisoned in a mountain but whose luring mental call was responded to by the unsuspecting Thor who nearly gained him the freedom he craved.

Hearing this information from Mimir, Thor scoffs that this encounter ever took place; but Mimir's prodding of his memories continues, as he arrives at a settlement of savages with expectations of being treated as befits his status as a god. To Thor's surprise, the hostile reception he receives is quite the opposite--and it's followed almost immediately by similar treatment from a quartet of figures approaching from overhead, who eventually stand down and introduce themselves to the Thunder God as Eternals.

(Good grief--would any of us have actually brought up the possibility of a connection between a race of Eternals and the fact that Asgardians occasionally referred to their kingdom as the "realm eternal"? It seems a waste of panel space.)

As their conversation continues, the group of Eternals, who are familiar with the Graeco-Roman pantheon of Olympian deities, come to accept Thor as another of the planet's mythical gods--while they, in turn, explain their own background, as well as details of the visits of the first and second hosts of the Celestials, including their creation of three races born of their evolutionary experiments as well as the cataclysm which occurred during the second visit of the space gods. Though not considered his equals, Thor finds the company of these beings agreeable and their mission to civilize the savages they find laudable--but the ambitions of Valkin's son, Druig, will cause problems for all of them soon enough, thanks to his propensity to pick up on conversational tidbits which are of interest to him.

Thor does not remain with the Eternals overlong; instead, after a few weeks have passed, he decides to travel to the north for a time, before eventually returning to his new comrades at the point when their mission was completed. It bears noting that, aside from Thor's initial scuffle with the Eternals, by this time this annual has used over half of its total allotted pages on fairly mundane matters that Thor has spent his time on. Even Thomas's narrative would go so far as to mention how "bored" Thor had become after a few weeks accompanying Virako and the others during their work among primitive settlements, inadvertently making such a minor observation resonate more than it should, and for no discernible reason--though it serves as a reminder of how Thomas and other writers have at times been known to invoke a means of managing the presence of a distracting story element by putting it in plain sight, in order to avoid having the reader dwell on it as a detriment. That said, the noticeable lull has been offset by the chance to view more promising work on the character by artist Walt Simonson, who pencilled a year's worth of issues of Mighty Thor before capping that work with this assignment--five years before he would begin a distinguished run on the book as its regular artist and writer.

At last, however, things kick into high gear, as Druig, in the absence of his family and Ajak, has acted to free and take control of Dromedan--and the mutate quickly seizes the initiative by materializing threats against them from the recesses of their own thoughts.

For Dromedan, who has by now freed himself from the control of Druig, the situation has become desperate--and so he resorts to a desperate measure, in the form of a scorched Earth solution which sees the release of an ancient monster which swells to mountainous proportions and, true to its name, begins devouring all in its line of sight. Regrettably, such a threat which daunts even the power of the God of Thunder will require a sacrifice of one of those who has defied death, up until now.

Finally, Dromedan is forced to enter the fray himself with more direct use of his deadly mental abilities. Fortunately, however, there already exists the means by which his threat may at last be ended.

There appears to be no means to recover Virako--but his loss pales to the possible threat which arrives next, as all assembled are witness to a massive shadow falling over them, cast by an approaching object in the sky which indicates the arrival of the Third Host of the Celestials. But because one of the Eternals has planned ahead for this moment, Thor will remain ignorant of these beings who now continue the mysterious work they began during the Cenozoic era, over 65 million years ago. It's a moment that Mimir relishes revealing to Thor--considering the anguish that even an immortal may feel when realizing how short a time that the Earth may have left to exist.

It must further grate on Thor to have to deal with the events of Ragnarok before he can pivot and devote his efforts to the activities of the Celestials' Fourth Host. Though when you think about it, should Ragnarok actually take place it would make Arishem's judgment moot, assuming the Asgardians' legends regarding Earth's fate being tied to Asgard's destruction hold true.  It would seem Mimir has much to cackle about this day.



Anonymous said...

The Diabolical and ever-Devious Dromedan!!!
Now there's a name I never expected to run across again. He was the, I dunno, "mutate" who tangled with the Eternals just after they took down the Cosmic-Powered Hulk (although he showed up again, I guess).
Not to mention Tutinax, of all people.
As you may already have guessed, C.F., I'm pretty well-versed in Kirby's old series, but I never saw this issue of Thor before. So Thor tangled with them cats way back when, huh? I think that's kinda cool!
I have few issues of this (seemingly endless) arc and I hadda roll my eyes a bit at the struggle to shoe-horn the, ah, "Eternalverse" (I apologize for that) into regular Marvel continuity.
But this saga is getting epic! Weird and uneven, but epic. Spans the ages. It's a Roy Thomas' deal, isn't it? He could do epic.
M.P. is a sucker for the cosmic and the epic, or better yet, epically cosmic or cosmically epic.
I've typed that word way too many times. Again, apologies.

I also like Mimir for some reason, I dunno. I think they shoulda used him more. He seems like Odin's bad conscious, nagging at him. Odin has done some pretty dubious underhanded stuff over the millennia, and that's an understatement. Heck, he's partially responsible for Mimir's current disembodied state, according to mythology. When Mimir got killed by the Vanir, instead of letting the poor schmuck just be dead, he rubbed magic herbs on his severed melon and used him as a laptop. Hence Mimir's perpetual bad mood.


Anonymous said...

I meant "conscience", not "conscious".
Dang it! Rookie mistake!


Comicsfan said...

The "Eternalverse" is as good a tag as any for Kirby's work, M.P. As for Mimir, the circumstances of his gruesome origin are depicted in this very annual (and probably an issue of Thor's regular series, at some point), but you've essentially got the gist of it.