Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Classics - Thor Annual #2

The early Marvel Annuals (such as this one from the summer of 1966) fell into two categories: they told big-event stories (the wedding of Reed and Sue, Spider-Man's first battle with the Sinister Six, Atlantis invades New York) or they were just lots of fun (Spider-Man teams up with Dr. Strange, Thor fights Hercules).

You can put this issue in the second category.

I almost reviewed the first Thor Annual, and then realized that the Destroyer plays a part in the upcoming Thor film (which looks pretty good, at least according to the last trailer I saw), so I decided to go after this one.

It's a fast-paced Asgardian romp as the greatest warriors gather for the Tournament of Titans to duke it out for top prize - a suit of gold armor.

That's all the excuse needed by the creative team - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, of course (with Vince Colleta providing the inks and Sam Rosen the lettering). From there they provide a fast-paced, action-packed and (often) very funny battle royale.

Thor and his friends, the Warriors Three - Hogun the Grim, Fandral the Dashing and Volstagg the Voluminous - team up for the tournament, which is loaded with the usual amazing Kirby visuals and battle sequences.

Lee keeps the whole thing rolling briskly with clever, flowery dialogue and lots of humor (especially with Volstagg).

Just to add to the mayhem, the invincible Destroyer is animated by Loki and threatens to kill Odin (just for starters).

If the solution to the problem seems a bit convenient, it's easy to forgive - especially after enjoying 30 pages of mayhem. By this point, Lee and Kirby were at the top of their game, crafting issue after issue of gems like this.

And this issue really is a typical Marvel Comic - it's loaded with great characters, action sequences, heroic challenges, moments of valor and genuine peril, all tied together with fantastic artwork and a sharp and clever script. What more could anyone want?

(But wait, there's more!) The annual also includes reprints of two earlier Thor stories, including the first appearance of the Enchantress and the Executioner. And it only cost a quarter!

Was 1966 a great year or what?

Grade: A



Anonymous said...

Was 1966 a great year? OH YEAH!
Marvel, DC, Tower, Gold Key/Dell,
Archie, Charlton, Harvey, ACG...
and they all featured super-heroes
of one sort or another!
It was a golden age for a 12-year
old kid who decided he wanted to
work in comics when he grew up...
and eventually did.

Sam Kujava

Peter Wallace said...

Loved this issue! 1966 was indeed a great year.

Chuck said...

I was 10 years old in '66. I think it was Don Thompson who said, "The Golden Age is 10." I couldn't agree more.