Sunday, April 06, 2008
The Mighty Thor #138
The Mighty Thor #138, March 1967, Marvel Comics
writer: Stan Lee
penciller: Jack Kirby
inker: Vince Colletta
letterer: Artie Simek
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when you review a different comic book every day, sometimes the stars align and offer an uncanny insight into the medium's undeniable synchronicities. Consider The Mighty Thor #138 and The Last of the Viking Heroes #5. I found both issues in the same dusty old box in an antique store in Pomona, California. Both issues feature the work of Jack Kirby in some way or another, and both star Norse warriors. Most specifically, both issues feature a villain using a damsel in distress to bait the ever-suffering hero, so much so that I'm now wondering if Michael Thibodeaux was inspired by this titanic tale by Stan "the Man" Lee. By Odin's beard, indeed!
Yes, in The Mighty Thor #138, the god of thunder must rescue the goddess Suf from Ulik, "deadliest and most powerful of all the trolls!" While Thor and Ulik rumble in the streets, the troll king Gierrordur summons the power of the demonic Orikal to strengthen his forces against Asgard, where Odin himself must take up arms for battle. This issue's cliffhanger is incredibly perilous, as all seems lost on the Asgardian front, and, what's worse, Thor has lost his hammer and will resume his human form any second! Fortunately, an adventurous back-up story lightens the mood, as Thor, Fandral, and Hogun battle Ogur, the one-eyed guardian of the cave of Wazir, the Prophet, whom our heroes seek to learn the location of the Mystic Mountain. This issue is a Marvel masterpiece, plain and simple, boasting Stan Lee's consonant-cornering creature creations, Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta's dynamic drawings, and Marvel Comic's frivolous faithfulness to its frantic fanbase. 'Nuff said.
(Why even bother running a spell check on this review, I wonder.)
Reading and reviewing this issue reminds me an anecdote I've been meaning to share for a few months now. Several weeks ago, I attended a comic book convention in Yorba Linda, California, a small affair with an emphasis on retailers selling Golden through Bronze Age back issues. I found a few tattered "reading copies" of World's Finest, Justice League, and some other strange titles, but more importantly I wore a Mighty Thor T-shirt I'd purchased from Steve & Barry's, an excellent source for such inexpensive geek wear. While I was flipping through a back issue bin, an older gentleman approached me and asked, "So, what do you think about Thor coming back?" Now, I know he was referring to Thor's recent resurrection and the new title written by J. Michael Straczynski, but that's it, so I sheepishly answered, "Oh, I don't read Thor, so I don't really know . . ."
"I see," the guy responded flatly. "You just wear the shirt." He promptly turned heel and walked away.
I wanted to call out, "Wait a minute, Sir! I've been reading comics for over fifteen years! I just haven't gotten around to Thor yet! Please! I read and review a different comic a day! I'm not a poser . . .!"
I thought wearing a Kirby-drawn Thor shirt was solidarity enough. I was wrong. Hopefully this weekend's immersion in Nordic mythology begins to make up for it. Maybe someday I'll finally become a real fan, based on that critical gentleman's judgment. He certainly dropped the gavel and rendered a hasty verdict, 'tis for sure. Zounds, hath the hammer of Thor no mercy for e'en the lowliest of mortals?!