Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A few Thor previews

As is standard when I complete a full set of Essential volumes for any particular series and/or character, it's time to take a look at any later issues reprinted in other volumes. Thor has had three such issues so far.

Thor #373 to #374 written by Walter Simonson and drawn by Sal Buscema, reprinted in Essential X-Factor volume 1 and also in Essential X-Men volume 6

These issues see Thor return to Earth after an extended period away and with Odin having disappeared in battle with Surtur. He reflects on his lack of life at home and winds up spending time with foreman Jerry Sapristi's family - with the children rapidly seeing through his alter ego Sigurd Jarlson's disguise of glasses and everyday clothes but promising to keep the secret. Then Thor learns of disaster in the Morlock tunnels under Manhattan and goes there to find the Angel being crucified by the Marauders Vertigo, Harpoon and Blockbuster. Elsewhere Balder undertakes a mission with a black feather whilst Volstagg tries to comfort two Earth children after their mother has been killed.

These two issues are part of the "Mutant Massacre" crossover between the various mutant titles and those written by either Louise or Walter Simonson. But for the family connection, it's unlikely the series would have taken part in this event and Thor's contribution to the event is rather slight, consisting of rescuing the Angel and then seeing to the aftermath. With Hela having placed a curse on Thor that makes his bones brittle, these two issues focus heavily on the themes of parents and death. There's quite a bit going on from other Thor issues from the period that can make these two hard to follow in isolation, even though they also offer some decent character moments such as Sigurd's time with the Sapristi children or Thor's reflections upon the fate of the Morlocks. But overall the title didn't need to take part in the crossover and it shows.

Thor #378 written by Walter Simonson and drawn by Sal Buscema, reprinted in Essential X-Factor volume 2

Loki has schemed with the Frost Giants and brought Ice-Man to Asgard in order to restore his allies to their full strength, but the mutant's powers go beyond expectations, driving the Frost Giants into an independent attack. Meanwhile Thor has been badly injured and his brittle bones will not heel so he summons a special suit of armour he has had forged on Earth and imbues it with magical properties. Within the new armour, he is now fully fighting again. Elsewhere Asgard is hit by a mysterious illness that removes all motion.

This is a mid part to a storyline and its inclusion on its own makes for a rather awkward mess as we join Ice-Man after his capture but only see the resolution to his own involvement, with consequences that will last some time in X-Factor. For Thor this is actually a pretty major issue, as his armour constitutes the single biggest change in his look yet. Though it serves as an exo-skeleton to compensate for the failings of his own body, it doesn't in anyway feel like a rip off of Iron Man's armour but instead an extension of the magical themes of the series. Loki is bolder than usual by standing up to the Frost Giants, in part because his own father was one, and the result is a set of multiple dilemmas. Overall this is an issue that's trying to do a lot at once and succeeding, but it's hard to follow in isolation as it's only a mid part of a tight storyline.

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