It’s time for that weekly feature for fantastic folks, ANCIENT HISTORY BABY! This week’s entry in our classic comic cavalcade is none other than the sole son of Odin, the ascendant acolyte of Asgard, the thunder god himself, The Mighty Thor!
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Title: The Mighty Thor #190
Writer: Stan Lee
Art: John Buscema
Inks: Joe Sinnott
Letters: Sam Rosen
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Publication Date: July 1971
What You Need to Know:
The Mighty Thor is the story of the prince of Asgard and his adventures to protect his homeland, the earth and his friends and loved ones. Wielding his Uru hammer Mjolnir in the defense of everyone and everything, for he is worthy of the power of Thor!
Thor’s foe on this day is the garish goddess of death herself, Hela! Will the Thunder God be able to resist her fatal powers? Or will he emerge triumphant?
What You’ll Find Out:
Hela Commands Thor to surrender, or she will kill every human within the realm of her influence, thousands! Of course, the Mighty Thunder God has no choice but to stand down and accept her fatal touch!
We cut to Balder, recovering from a battle with Loki in the Norn Queen’s castle (long story, she’s evil, he loves her) the queen warns Balder of Thor’s impending fate, and he rushes to warn Odin that Thor needs help, he reaches the All-father’s throne room, but Odin isn’t compelled to help, the Norn Queen shows Odin the same visual she showed Balder and he is spurned into action.
Odin simply moves everyone within Hela’s influence out of her range, and Thor is free to act. He swings his mighty hammer and takes off into space, blasting from dimension to dimension, but there is no place in any universe where death doesn’t exist, running is useless. Thor stops to make his final stand.
Suddenly reality seems to warp, and in one of the greatest reveal panels I have ever seen Odin bursts onto the scene, he tells Hela that although he is the All-father, he is also a father, and she threatens his son! Hela tells Odin he doesn’t dare kill her, as it would stop death throughout the universe, Odin doesn’t care, and kills her anyway. (whaaaa?!?!?!?)
Thor implores Odin, he would rather die than wreak the havoc on the universe that is bound to happen without death. Even as they speak bugs overwhelm the masses, no longer able to die insects are multiplying by the trillions, weeds grow out of control and the human population explodes. (seems a little dramatic over the course of 5 minutes, but still, a brilliant concept) Odin accepts Thor’s plea and brings Hela back just as easily as he killed her.
Hela commends Odin on his intelligence in recognizing the situation at hand, and gets right to murdering Thor, she starts to kill him when Odin summons the Lady Sif, Thor’s beloved. She implores Hela as a woman, she loves Thor, couldn’t Hela wait just a little longer before killing the Thunder God? Hela agrees for some reason and leaves without a fuss. (this was 3 issues of buildup for an “eh, sure” as an ending) As the 3 get back to Asgard they realize Heimdall isn’t guarding the rainbow bridge, the ending of this issue is a big reveal for next arc, and not pertinent to this book, so I’m gonna skip it.
What Just Happened?
This issue got a lot darker than I expected, although the end was a bit weak. I was pretty surprised when Odin just straight up killed Hela with zero hesitation, then brought her back a minute later. The glimpse of a world without death was pretty super cool though, and an interesting concept that would probably be a 20 issue crossover event with 45 tie-in books (friggin Marvel) if they did it today.
It does severely irritate me when things happen to make the villain just go “oh okay” and walk away no big deal. (recent offender the “revenge” arc in Action Comics) There’s no better way to make you feel like the book you just read was a waste of time.
I do like that Thor for whatever reason stands out in the silver age Marvel as being cut from a different cloth, with spectacular rolling visuals, amazing cosmic settings, and the greatest hats in all the land! (I have an entire page dedicated to them)
The art in this issue by John Buscema is a little less detailed than the unparalleled King Jack Kirby, but it is definitely comparable, and an acceptable replacement. The cosmic visuals in this book are stellar, the finale, in particular, was amazing, but not pertinent to the story.
A great issue of one of my favorite silver age series, despite its weak ending it had some great moments and had some high stakes at one point. I love any story that starts to dip into Asgardian lore, and the death of death is a brilliant story to tell.
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