Monday, June 7, 2021

...To Anger A God!


In November of 2007, there are a few things worth noting by the time the third issue of the brand new Thor series reaches stores:

  • The city of New Orleans continues to reel from the severe flooding inflicted on it by Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm which made its third and final landfall near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane--its storm surge submerging eighty percent of the city and wiping out the housing, infrastructure, and employment base of the region. Two years later, many areas of the city continue to show outward signs of the devastation, as their residents continue to live under the impoverished circumstances thrust upon them.
  • With the events of Civil War now behind him, Tony Stark, having been appointed as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is in the process of putting together the Initiative, a plan for training and policing super-heroes in the conflict's aftermath, as well as positioning a local super hero team in each of America's fifty states. The Super-Human Registration Act is the law of the land, and Stark is fully committed to enforcing its jurisdiction.
  • Meanwhile, one character who was conspicuously absent during the less-than-civil conflict between warring heroes has at long last reappeared: Thor, God of Thunder, who met his fate along with his fellow Asgardians in the destructive conflagration known as Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods. All Asgardians but Thor have disappeared, displaced on Earth and unknowingly living out their lives as mortals--and so Thor, and Asgard itself, have relocated to an area of land outside of Broxton, Oklahoma, as Thor begins a quest to find the missing gods of Asgard and bring them home.*

*Think of it as a recycling of the 1996-97 series, Journey Into Mystery: The Lost Gods, which ran on a similar theme and used "Red" Norvell (the "new" Thor) to find the lost gods of Asgard, displaced on Earth in mortal form following the upheaval of the events of Onslaught.

Yet the presence of Asgard floating above-ground in Oklahoma has been noticed--its deserted status ascertained--and its sole occupant tracked to New Orleans, where Thor believes his quest may bear fruit. But lost in thought, he turns to find none other than Iron Man--and whatever matters Stark is seeking to discuss with Thor this day, he is unaware as yet that, to Thor, he has much to answer for.

With the success of the measures he's implemented thus far, Stark no doubt feels he's dealing with Thor from a position of authority in attempting to not only align his powerful longtime comrade with the SHRA but to make sure he tows the line with the U.S. government in terms of acting in their interests. To Stark's mind, Thor is sure to decide to see things his way and comply, once he's been apprised of the facts and been made aware of his limited options from one of his closest allies; yet this man who has steamrolled his agenda over so many may find that, in this instance, his assertive, reasonable words may fall short of convincing an immortal who knows well the placating tone of mortals who have held the reins of power over the centuries.

Isn't Stark the slick one--acknowledging the legality of Thor's ownership of the land where Asgard now resides, while in the same breath elbowing aside such prohibitive details which might otherwise tie the hands of the government and moving on to make it clear that, with or without Thor's cooperation, Asgard is not staying where it is. Stark has certainly grown a pair since he came out on the winning side of the war between his forces and those of Captain America, going on to successfully achieve his objectives and solidify compliance with the SHRA.

But he has gravely misjudged the one he thought to browbeat, all while extending a token hand of friendship--for Thor's body language gives every indication that he intends to make clear in no uncertain terms that Stark can take his veiled threat and go to Hela.

His terms decidedly rebuffed, Stark now accepts that his presentation (there's really no other word for it) has failed and gears up to take down the "threat" that now stands before him. Sheathed in his Iron Man armor and given his resourcefulness, Stark has every reason to be confident, even taking on someone he's seldom fared well against on those occasions when they've come to blows--so one never knows for certain how this might end, particularly if he's come prepared for the possibility that things might go south in his meeting with Thor.

But formidable as he may be, Iron Man isn't the only combatant here who knows the kind of opponent he's dealing with.

With Stark's armor ready for the scrap heap, and his own arrogance effectively quelled, the dynamics of this confrontation have now shifted considerably. And while we may think that Stark's helplessness here doesn't affect his position in terms of the veiled threat he's made regarding Asgard, Thor has also taken that into account.

Game, set, and match--which even Stark is probably willing to acknowledge. (How surprising that Stark didn't think to have his SHIELD forces in reserve, just in case.) It's only now that he's willing to negotiate rather than dictate--and realizing that the U.S. government will almost certainly marshal its forces and respond rather than be cowed by Thor's threat, Stark has the presence of mind to offer an approach that all sides can live with. It's the kind of presentation that Thor is fortunately receptive to.

The crisis (for Stark, that is) averted for now, these two men part ways. But their business isn't entirely concluded--and Thor sees to it that Stark will have a little more to think about on his hike home.

All things considered, Thor has been lenient (well, for a god of Asgard) in his treatment of Stark, given what he must be feeling about Stark's betrayal as well as the man's choices of late. To Stark's credit, he could just as easily have dug in his heels and reacted much differently here--treating Thor as a clear and present danger and returning to confer with the defense department and initiate a plan to remove his threat. Instead, extending an olive branch as he's done here and attempting to meet Thor halfway, as it were, there may be a light at the end of this tunnel in terms of salvaging their relationship.



Big Murr said...

This rebirth of Thor in his own comic gave me mixed reaction. Just seeing the god of thunder back was great. Asgard in Oklahoma (et al) was convoluted weirdness. How anyone could physically sling a hammer on his back was pure goofiness...some sort of sheath that looked like a shoebox?

Forced to accept that the rank dumpster fire that was "Civil War" actually happened, I was inordinately pleased to see its poster boy get a hard slap-down by Thor. A fleeting pleasure, though. It only made me remember those wonderful comicbook moments in the past when great allies (ie: learning each other's secret identities when secret identities were an important thing) Then I got melancholy again.

Luckily, the mini-series Avengers Prime four years later made everyone chums again.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed seeing Stark taken down a peg.
...Well, maybe several pegs. I agree with Murray that Civil War was a mess. It was one 'a those crossover deals, and everything was gonna be back to normal afterwards, all hunky dory, but in the meantime, Reed Richards and Stark distinguished themselves as having totalitarian tendencies. I always figured them for Republicans.
I'm just glad that before Marvel closed the book entirely on this debacle, we got to see Iron Man get his butt kicked all over Oklahoma. If only the Sub-Mariner could've seen it. I imagine he'd be sitting eating popcorn the whole time.


Comicsfan said...

Well, M.P., Marvel may have closed the book on "Civil War," but the PPC will have a little more to say on the subject in the coming weeks. ;)