Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Classic Comics - Thor #158 and #159

    As I mentioned in this reviewThor's first appearance in 1962 only provided him with a partial origin. 

   When Dr. Don Blake on vacation in Norway,  he finds an ancient walking stick in a cave. When he strikes a rock with it, he's transformed into The Mighty Thor, with all the powers of the legendary god - but otherwise he seems to think and talk like Blake.

   That changed over the months following, as Thor met other mythological characters like Loki and Odin (and expressed no surprise at the meeting), and even his speech patterns become more regal, more Shakespearean. (How I miss those "Thees" and "Thous!")

   So was he Dr. Don Blake with Thor's powers, or the God of Thunder wearing a human disguise? And which came first?

   The answer finally arrived six years later, as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby finally got around to telling the real origin of Thor.

   For me, this issue hit out of the blue. For several issues before it, Thor had been fighting a desperate battle in Asgard against the incredibly powerful Mangog. That story wrapped up in Thor #157 - an issue I missed!

   When I picked up #158, I thought it was the final exciting chapter in the fight - instead, the splash panel pictured Thor returning to Earth! I clearly remember thinking, "What the hell?"

   None of which is to take away from this story, which actually provides some keen insight into Thor's personality - and why Odin decided he needed to humble the brash God of Thunder by tying his fate to that of a lame physician whose life is dedicated to helping the sick.

   The story continued over two issues, wrapping up quite satisfactorily in issue #159, in a story titled "The Answer At Last!"

   Lee and Kirby were really cooking on all burners by this point, providing Thor amazing adventures, covering the superhero, science fiction and fantasy genres with equal ease.

   They had built a terrific supporting cast (mostly made up of his Asgardian family and allies), a formidable love interest in Sif, and a never-ending array of powerful villains to confront.

   It was a golden age for one of my all-time favorite heroes!

Grade: A


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