Days of Thunder – March 1971 The Mighty Thor #186

“Worlds at War!”
Story: Stan Lee/ Illustration: John Buscema/ Embellishment: Joe Sinnott/ Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 186

As Doctor Blake is menaced by one of Infinity’s lackeys, Odin intervenes, blasting the lackey, giving Blake the time he needs for Mjolnir to return. Which it does, still in hammer form. One assumes as the was in Asgard when the sixty-second mark passed, the enchantment did not trigger for it, despite the odd circumstances that caused Thor to Blake-revert.

Re-enThored, the thunder god dispatches Infinity’s guardian and then follows the Silent One’s motioning. The Silent One leads Thor to Hela, goddess of Death. Hela is scarier than ever as she now becomes the first character in this book to ever speak in sentences ending in a period instead of an exclamation point. For years, ever single statement and command has been issued as an exclamatory but she who represents cold, inevitable death need not exclaim.  It is a great, subtle thing.

Hela, who has wished to claim Thor for some time, no longer intends to give Thor a choice in the matter. She tells him that he is part of a larger mystical plan and must die.  She then drains life itself out of Thor, withering him into a frail husk. She leaves his spent shell to die.

The Silent One is moved by this encounter, and sheds a single tear before touching Thor. Instantly Thor is somehow restored, but the Silent One falls to the ground, dead. He has taken the death meant for Thor.

On Asgard, the sword-measuring device reveals that the Odin-Sword is continuing to slowly unsheathe. Sif and Balder guard it from Zombie Volstagg, Fandral and Hogun, still under Infinity’s control. Meanwhile planet Earth is ripping itself apart with floods earthquakes and fires. The end of the world seems inevitable.

Thor finally catches up with his father, only to find himself too late. Odin has met Infinity and Infinity has defeated him. Odin’s will now belongs to Infinity and as such, he intends to destroy his son!

 

Days of Thunder – February 1971 The Mighty Thor #185 “In the Grip of Infinity!”

Story: Stan Lee/ Illustration: John Buscema/ Delineation: Sam Grainger/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 185

Thor follows his father to the World Beyond, a place of shadows and swirling mists. Thor battles a strange sentry, fighting on behalf of an unnamed master. Thor asks if that master’s name is “Infinity” and the sentry slumps to the ground, as if dead.

Thor senses the presence of Infinity, which seems to beyond physicality. It dismisses Thor as a non-entity and then crushes another planet in its hands to make a point. As Thor rages against this foe that he cannot hit, the Silent One, stern and mute, witnesses it all.

Thor, frustrated and out of his depth, tries to attack the Silent One for remaining as silent as one would expect. However, he finds himself unable to make physical contact with this watcher. Eventually, the Silent One points Thor toward the dark truth: Those who’s worlds are destroyed by Infinity are not killed, but end up joining the World Beyond, where they become sparkless servants of Infinity, without a will of their own.

Amongst the ranks of these mindless servants are Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg. They would attack Thor in the name of Infinity. Thor spins and flings Mjolnir to create a mighty vortex that pulls his friends through a warp in space back to Asgard.

The hammer does not return to Thor within the sixty-second window, and so bizarre are things that even though he is not on Earth, the hammer’s enchantment is still triggered and he reverts to Blake. He knows that the hammer will return to his current location, but as he waits, Infinity’s servant returns to life, ready to attack frail Doctor Blake!

Meanwhile, on Earth, there are unnatural storms and portents, while on Asgard, Sif and the Vizir use a special tool to measure how many inches the Odin-Sword has withdrawn from its sheathe. It is slowly but surely unsheathing and if Odin does not return, there will be no one who can re-sheathe it. Ragnarok looms large.

 

Days of Thunder – January 1971 The Mighty Thor #184

“The World Beyond!”
by: Stan Lee and John Buscema/ Joe Sinnott, Inker/ Art Simek, Letterer

Thor 184

Now that Thor’s business on Earth has been dealt with, Thor and Odin discuss the World Beyond.  Odin has much to tell his son.  It seems as if some unfathomable force has been slowly destroying the universe. Slowly a massive hand made of nothingness has been removing worlds from the universe, and if left unchecked it will mean the end of all things. In fact, in reaction to this threat the Odinsword has been mystically pulling itself from its scabbard.

Odin has already sent the trio of Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg to face this threat but they have been lost to the void. Odin also finds himself haunted by a single word that preys at him all day long, echoing through his mind though he knows not the meaning: “Infinity!” Even more, there is a strange figure who has appeared in Asgard. He does not speak, but merely stands before the Odinsword day-in and day-out and seems immune to all attack. Odin has dubbed this man the Silent One.

Thor suspects Galactus to be the cause but Odin assures Thor that Galactus is not posing the threat, nor are any of the other enemies of the realm they have faced in the past. It is a new threat, one that Odin now leaves to investigate. In his absence, Thor is to rule Asgard and keep it safe. As Odin leaves, the Silent One follows.

As soon as Odin leaves, Loki marshals his Storm Giant and Troll allies and together they attack Asgard. Thor leads the forces of Asgard in defense. Sif, sporting some new skimpy clothes, ill-suited for a warrior, fights at Thor’s side. They defeat Loki’s forces and Asgard is once again safe.

After the battle, a vision of Odin appears before them only to seemingly be vanquished by an unseen foe. Seeing this, Thor knows that he must go where his father has gone, for Odin and for the universe.

First Appearance: The Silent One

Days of Thunder – December 1970 The Avengers #83

“…The Revolution’s Fine!”
Stan Lee Editor * Roy Thomas Writer * John Buscema Artist/ Tom Palmer – Inker/ Herb Cooper – Letterer

Avengers 83
Since Avengers Day, Thor and Iron Man have taken on the role of  part-time Avengers.  Many other things have transpired.   A noble android named the Vision, created by an Evil android named Ultron, in turn created by Goliath, joined the team. Goliath changed his name to Yellowjacket and then he and Wasp took a leave of absence to do science in Washington. Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch have returned to the fold with no consequences for their previous villainy. The Avengers recruited a new member named the Black Knight who disappeared without a trace immediately upon accepting their invitation to join. And Hawkeye took over the name and powers of Goliath, abandoning archery and becoming a size-changer.

In this issue a militant feminist hero named The Valkyrie creates an all-woman super hero team named the Liberators, consisting of Scarlett Witch, The Wasp, Black Widow, and Madame Medusa, queen of a secret race of superpowered beings known as the Inhumans (the previous stars of a short-lived backup strip in the pages of Thor.)

The Valkyrie has convinced the other lady heroes to defeat the male Avengers for the benefit of womandom. After a complicated battle between the Liberators, the Avengers, and the Masters of Evil, the Liberators are the victors.

It is at this point that the Valkyrie reveals herself to actually be the Enchantress. After her failed attempt to invade Asgard, Odin banished her and the Executioner to the most barren of Nether Worlds, warning that if they flee that world, their powers would be halved. Eventually, she was abandoned by the Executioner, who left her for the mist-woman queen of that murky world.

Spurned and alone, the Enchantress swore revenge upon all males and returned to Midgard, where she subtly influenced the Liberators into joining her cause. After the Enchantress tells her story, the Scarlet Witch turns on the villain and blasts her into seeming nothingness.

Freed of this influence, the Liberators free the male Avengers, causing Goliath to comment “I’m glad of one thing… you birds finally learned your lesson about that Women’s Lib bull!”

First Appearance: The Valkyrie

Days of Thunder – December 1970 The Mighty Thor #183

“Trapped in Doomsland”
By Stan Lee and John Buscema/ Embellishment: Joe Sinnott/ Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 183

As Doctor Doom’s missile hurtles toward Thor, he spins Mjolnir, creating a whirlwind, before throwing it skyward. This sucks the missile upward, away from Thor and from the innocent bystanders below. However, he threw his hammer with such force that he cannot recover it before he reverts to Blake, lost in Latvaria, wanted by Doom, with no walking stick.

The immovable hammer is found by villagers and word makes its way to Doom. He wants the hammer for himself and is confounded by his inability to lift it. Angered by this mysterious thwarting of his will, Doom seals the hammer within an Electrostatic Force to ensure that no-one else takes it.

Blake eventually finds the hammer, sealed by the Electrostatic Force. Unable to touch the hammer, Blake digs around and eventually under the force.  This allows him to grasp the hammer from below and thus become Thor once again.

Thor seeks out Doom, thirsting for battle, but the villain has been waiting for him, and he now threatens to unleash a thousand missiles, vaporizing every major city on Earth if Thor doesn’t relinquish the hammer. Thor agrees, but of course Doom cannot hold the hammer. As the hammer falls to the ground, Thor seizes the moment and destroys the missile control panel.

Doom and Thor battle until Thor is able to retrieve his hammer. At that point, he retreats and destroys all of Doom’s missiles. He has but one last thing to do:  having destroyed the military assets of a sovereign nation, all that remains is to rescue Cosette’s father. But in a cruel twist of fate, it turns out that despite what Cosette had believed, her father was a willing servant of Doom all along.  As he dies resisting Thor, he curses his daughter for interfering.

Thor returns to New York, where he tells Cosette that her father died fighting for what he believed in and that the final words he spoke were of her. Thor may not ever knowingly lie, but that doesn’t mean he is honest.

Days of Thunder – November 1970 The Mighty Thor #182

“The Prisoner– The Power– And– Dr. Doom!”
By: Stan Lee and John Buscema/ Inking: Joe Sinnott/ Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 182

After two issues of ill-suited Neal Adams fill-in, new artist John Buscema is onboard and the results are… fine. The book’s visuals have gone from the amazing to the merely very good. Buscema gives the book a straight-up sword and sorcery vibe, as opposed to Kirby’s funkier take on the genre. As for the plotting, well, it is fairly bonkers.

In the Marvel comics shared universe, there is one villain that stands above the rest: Doctor Doom. Doctor Doom is the king of a tiny European nation. Doctor Doom is one of the world’s most brilliant minds in the field of super-science. Doctor Doom has invented time travel. Doctor Doom is never seen outside of a suit of armor he wears, conferring super powers upon him. Doctor Doom’s face beneath his mask is horribly mutilated, although it never seen, never depicted on-panel.

Doctor Bake semi-randomly stumbles upon the fact that Doctor Doom will soon have ICBMs at his disposal after meeting Cosette, the daughter of the man who Doom has conscripted to build his missiles.  Rather that just attack Doom head-on, Thor sets a trap.

Blake calls reporter Harris Hobbs, who does not remember that Blake and Thor are one and the same, thanks to Thor’s powers of hypnosis, used in issue #123. Blake gets Hobbs to run a story claiming that famous neurologist Doctor Donald Blake has developed a method of plastic surgery that can repair any amount of facial disfigurement.  Surely Doctor Doom could not resist such a surgery.

While Blake waits for Doom to take his bait, Odin calls upon Thor, telling him it is time to speak of The World Beyond. Thor begs Odin permission to finish his operation against Doom. Odin grants this boon.

Presumably, Blake spends the next few days letting down any number of scarred and malformed hopefuls before Doom eventually kidnaps him and spirits him to his nation of Latvaria. Once they arrive, Doom demands that Blake repair his face and shows the doctor his visage. Blake is so horrified by what he sees that he totally loses his composure, screaming, “Oh no! No! In the name of heaven– I never dreamt it would be like that!! There’s nothing medical science can do! Nothing!!”

A furious Doom locks the doctor up in his dungeon. Blake turns into Thor, busts loose and Doom fires a stalker missile at Thor!

First appearance: Doctor Doom, Cosette

Days of Thunder – September 1970 The Mighty Thor #180

“When Gods Go Mad!”
Scenario: Stan Lee/ Pencilling: Neal Adams/ Joe Sinnott: Inker/Sam Rosen: Letterer

Thor 180
Loki, in the guise of Thor, has begun wreaking havoc in the streets of New York. He is reveling in his new-found strength, smug in his belief that his brother will take the blame for all of his actions. Thor-as-Loki cannot stand by while Loki-as-Thor behaves in this manner, and so he charges at his brother, ready for battle.

As the brother’s fight, Odin checks in on Thor’s progress. Seeing Thor and Loki fight, he angrily teleports the god he believes to be Loki to his chambers. Odin will not let “Loki” speak, so angered is he over Loki’s recent misdeeds. Instead he commits “Loki” to Hades!

Back on Midgard, Balder and Sif battle “Thor” who they are now rightly convinced is truly Loki. However, after Loki acts really creepy to Sif, y’know, in a sex way, Balder uses the power of his Odin-blessed blade to transport Sif back to Asgard away from “Thor.” Soon after, Loki trounces him.

Once she arrives in Asgard, Sif wastes no time in searching for her beloved. While Odin studies the menace of Galactus in his chambers, Sif finds an unnamed vizier of Odin’s, who directs her to the Cosmi-Screen so that she might see Loki’s fate.

Thor has been sent to hell with Loki’s face, where he meets its lord, Mephisto, otherwise known as Satan. Mephisto soon realizes that it is not Loki before him, but rather pure-hearted Thor. Delighted by this twist, Mephisto sends one threat after another to menace him.  Eventually, Thor cries out, “Is this to be the fate of Thor? To do senseless battle – without reason – without end?” When put like that, it is unclear just how being in hell differs from Thor’s day-to-day life.

Sif rounds up Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg, and soon the four of them, aided by the Vizier, use the power of the Odin Helmet to travel to Hades in order to rescue their friend, only to discover that Mephisto has already frozen Thor-as-Loki in a block of ice!

First Appearance: The Vizier, The Odin Helmet

Jack Kirby Wrap-up

Thor kirby 1

After six years illustrating The Mighty Thor, Jack Kirby abruptly ended his association with Marvel Comics after issue #179 and would draw Thor no more. Jack Kirby created the visual design of Thor and much of his supporting world and cast. In his partnership with Stan Lee he was more than just an illustrator, he was a co-plotter, and toward the end of their run, flat-out plotter.

After Kirby leaves, many other fine artists will give their own take on Thor just as Joe Sinott and Don Heck drew Thor for a good stretch before Kirby became the book’s regular artist. However, for my money, Kirby’s Thor is the definitive Thor.

With The Mighty Thor, Kirby and Lee started with a Captain Marvel knockoff superhero story that slowly evolved into mythic romance and ultimately became a magnificent Cosmic Sword and Sorcery Epic unlike any other story before or since. The final year of Kirby was pretty weak, due partially to an editorial edict forbidding ongoing stories and due largely to Kirby’s clear listlessness.  However, before that rough patch were some all-time great stories: the anti-noblility of Ulik the troll, the doomed love between Balder and Karnilla, the revelation of Blake’s true nature. These pages were also the home of some amazing battles: Thor and Hercules, Ego and Galactus, all of Asgard against the Mangog.

It was a hell of a ride and would leave oncoming artist John Buscema with some big shoes to fill.

Thor  kirby 2

Days of Thunder – August 1970 The Mighty Thor #179

“No More the Thunder God!”
By Stan Lee/ Jack Kirby/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 179

While Asgard recovers from the attack of Surtur, Odin sends Thor out to chase down his brother and bring him back to Asgard. Loki is on Earth, and either he is in the company of Toag, whom Loki has taken to mistakenly calling “Igron” or Igron has escaped from Asgard to Earth and borrowed Toag’s super-cool hat while Toag has departed for parts unknown. Either way, Loki repays his servant’s loyalty by teleporting him to the Asgardian troll dungeons just to be a jerk.

Thor lures Loki out, but Loki possesses a Mask of the Living, an enchanted mask that he slaps on his brother’s face. Once the mask’s magics do their work, Thor discovers that he and Loki have exchanged faces. And not only that, but Loki has gained Thor’s strength and his ability to lift Mjolnir. He has also swapped their clothes while Thor was unconscious.

Back on Asgard, Sif and recuperating Balder sense that Thor is in danger.  Thus, they once again travel to Earth without Odin’s permission to help the one they hold so dear.  Unfortunately, they mistake Thor for a villain and attack him.

Thor tries to explain things but Asgardians are an attack-first sort of people. Thor then tries to run away, but this also proves fruitless. Finally he strikes back, however he misjudges the power of Loki’s magic and strikes down still-recuperating Balder. His anguish over causing this harm is what finally compels Sif and Balder to listen to what it is he has to say.

First appearance: Mask of the Living
Last Appearance: Jack Kirby

 

Days of Thunder – July 1970 The Mighty Thor #178

“Death is a Stranger”
Story – Stan Lee/ Drawing – John Buscema/ Inking – Vince Colletta/ Lettering – Artie Simek

Thor 178

Thor is unwillingly teleported to another planet by the Abomination, a communist gamma-irradiated monster from planet Earth who has been abducted by The Stranger, an immensely powerful alien being who likes to collect people from different worlds and who has tried to destroy the Earth a couple of times.

The Abomination has gained a degree of freedom on the Stranger’s prison planet after a coven of witches tried and failed to get him to kill the Silver Surfer before returning him to same planet but not, apparently, within his cell.

Thor helps the Abomination free the other prisoners before realizing that they were imprisoned because they are the scum of the universe. Thor turns into Don Blake in an attempt to spy on revolting prisoners, who intend to pillage the cosmos, however he cannot help but scold them, forgetting that he is in the body of a frail human. Discovered, the Abomination tosses Blake aside, and in the scuffle, he loses his walking stick.

It is at this time that Sif arrives to save her love. She had enlisted the help of Torger, Odin’s mystic sage, who sent her to Thor with a mystic guiding spell. She soon finds and returns Blake’s cane.

Once again in  godly form, Thor blinks when faced with the power of the Stranger.  He uses Mjolnir’s ability to create time warps, sending him back to when he first arrived on the prison planet, at which point he tosses the Abomination back in his cell.

Thor returns home, embracing Sif in a three-panel liplock.

After 77 consecutive issues of Kirby-illustrated lead features, this was the first issue of Thor not illustrated and co-plotted by Jolly Jack. Although this is simply a case of him taking a month off to illustrate what was to be the final issue of the Silver Surfer, it is still the first glimpse of a post-Kirby Thor.  It feels off, but not not terrible.

 

Days of Thunder – June 1970 The Mighty Thor #177

“To End in Flames!”
Grandeur unsurpassed, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta/ Lettering A. Simek

Thor 177

Loki has fled to Earth, bringing his servant Toag with him. Toag seems to have remained perpetually loyal to Loki even as the villain’s loyalties have shifted. As a result of his fealty to Loki, Toag may no longer retain the title of Elder of the Supreme Council. It is not clear. What is clear is that even on Earth they can feel the heat of Surtur as it emanates from Asgard.

On Asgard, Thor marshals the forces of Asgard to fight against Surtur. They strike at the monstrous fire demon, with their weapons, with the power of the storm, with an Asgardian Frost Gun.  They  even hurl a planetoid at him. Nothing stops the demon.

Meanwhile, Sif and Balder storm Loki’s castle. Apparently, Loki has a castle. Within the castle they meet Loki’s ally, Igron the Wizard. They force Igron to send Balder into the Sea of Eternal night, which is within the Dimension of Death. Sif stays behind to guard the portal and to keep an eye on Igron.

Within the Sea of Eternal Night, Balder grows weak, rapidly aging as he desperately hurls himself toward the capsule that contains his king. Naturally, Balder’s immunity to harm does not extend beyond Asgard. He finds Odin, and returns the king to Asgard, before collapsing, withered and near-death.

Balder is not to die today.  Odin, freshly awakened from the Odinsleep, restores Balder’s vitality before joining Thor. Upon seeing Surtur, Odin immediately uses his power to pull the demon into the ground, trapping Surtur deep within its bowels.

First Appearance: Igron the Wizard

 

Days of Thunder – May 1970 The Mighty Thor #176

“Inferno”
A munificent masterwork by: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby/ Vince Colletta Inker/ Artie Simek Letter

Vince came back!

Thor 176

Loki wears the Ring Imperial, also known as the Odinring, and none of our heroes will stand against him. None save Balder, who has not sworn fealty to Asgard,  only to Odin, and Sif who has sworn fealty to Asgard, but who tells Loki that she would sooner die than obey a command to become his queen. Rather than force her to make that choice, he forces her to battle a troll warrior, whom she easily defeats.

Balder soon frees his friends, but Loki reveals the depths of his villainy: The evil one has placed his father in a coffin-sized capsule and cast it into the apparent limbo dimension that is the Sea of Eternal Night! When Loki reveals this, Thor and Sif both declare that ring or no ring they shall stand against Loki.

Before things come to blows, fires begin to erupt across Asgard. Without Odin to guard him within his prison, Surtur, the fire demon has escaped and seeks to destroy all things, starting with Asgard. In the face of this threat to the land, Loki predictably flees.

Thor takes charge, and as he prepares the bulk of Asgard’s forces to mount a defense, he sends Sif and Balder into the Sea of Eternal Night to awaken mighty Odin.

First Appearance: The Sea of Eternal Night

Days of Thunder – April 1970 The Mighty Thor #175

“The Fall of Asgard”
Produced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby/ Bill Everett Inker/ Artie Simek Letterer

Thor 175

Balder has finally healed, and now Karnilla releases him and his friends from her forced hospitality. She presents a pose of no longer having feelings for Balder as she bids the Asgardians to leave. Balder sadly asks why there must be enmity between her people an his and she can give him no answer other than “’tis so ordained.”

As the friends arrive in Asgard, they encounter the coalition of the enemies of Odin that has been formed by Loki.  The evil prince is aware that it is again the time of the Odinsleep, and so he again has returned to Asgard so that he might take the Throne in his father’s absence, this time bringing an invading force.

Thor has been too busy fighting criminals on Earth to keep track of his duties to Asgard.  Sif has gone to Earth in order to warn him that his father has fallen into the Odinsleep.  After a brief but passionate embrace, they return to Asgard.

Upon their return, they find a city under siege. They split up and Thor catches up with Volstagg, Hogun and Fandral. Together they fight Loki’s forces in a grand melee.

It is Sif who finds Loki. However, Loki is still a prince of the realm and Odin’s guards feel they have no choice but to follow his command.  The guards reluctantly seize Sif, even as the prince brazenly steals the Ring Imperial from his slumbering father’s hand. With that ring in his possession, his word is law and all are his subjects. Thor and his the trio have no choice but to bow before Loki in submission.

First Appearance: The Ring Imperial

Days of Thunder – March 1970 The Mighty Thor #174

“The Carnage of the Crypto-Man”
Script and Art by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Thor 174

A young micro-electric engineer by the name of Jasper Whyte has decided to prove to the world that he is the single greatest micro-electric engineer on the planet. To that end, he suckerpunches Thor with a Hypno-Stun Ray before using a second device to sap half of Thor’s strength. He then transfers the stolen power to an android of his construction that he calls his Crypto-Man.

The Crypto-Man is a mindless automaton who hollowly repeats “I…have…power!” and variations such as “I…possess…power!” This tic makes it stand out from the other mindless automatons, making it slightly creepy, moderately hilarious, and solidly weird. Whyte send the Crypto-Man on a rampage through New York as a test run before beginning mass production.

Thor regains consciousness and discovers that his strength has been sapped. Lacking any clues as to his predicament, he returns to Blake’s office, where he discovers that he has a visitor.

The visitor is Whyte’s mother, who is concerned that her son has been missing for several months.  She thought, as a scientist, Blake might have heard something. Presumably, she remembers that Blake once created a super-strong android capable of solving the world’s hardest math problem.

After Mrs. White leaves, Blake makes some phone inquiries but the police are too busy dealing with the Crypto-Man to help. Naturally, upon hearing that there is a super-strong monster causing havoc in the city, Blake heads out as Thor to find it.

Thor and the Crypto-Man fight for a while before Whyte makes himself known to Thor so that he may gloat. Whyte explains to tThor that he has decided to send the Crypto-Man into the new atomic power complex in order to hold the city ransom.

Thor says thee nay! He reminds Whyte that he has a mother and that she lives in the city he threatens. This really gets through to Whyte who got a little bit carried away with his new-found villainy.   However, the Crypto-Man has already entered the complex.

Afraid that his creation might accidentally nuke his mother, Whyte blows up his creation, apologizing to it as they both burn up. With the Crypto-Man destroyed, Thor’s strength returns. Later, Blake tells Mrs. Whyte that her son died a hero.

First Appearance: The Crypto-Man, Jasper Whyte

Days of Thunder – February 1970 The Mighty Thor #173

“Ulik Unleashed!”
Produced by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby/ Inking: Bill Everett/ Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 173

Loki has gathered an assemblage of malcontents, trying to turn folk against Thor and build himself a power base. Ulik the Troll likes Loki’s message of “kill Thor” but is not one for politics. He just wants to kill Thor. Loki agrees to teleport the Troll to Thor’s whereabouts on Earth.

Thor has gone undercover, posing as a member of the Circus of Crime who has, in turn been posing as Thor.  It’s a real mind-twist. It is not entirely clear why Thor is engaging in this subterfuge, but is in the midst of this operation that Ulik appears. Thor fights Ulik for a brief while before using his hammer to teleport the villain back where he came.

The power to teleport enemies away is a power that Mjolnir has never been known to have, however it is, of course, established that Loki and the hammer share some strange link. Perhaps the hammer detected Loki’s magic as the cause of Ulik’s appearance, and could then use that as-of-yet unexplained link to reverse the spell, sending Ulik back.

With Ulik out of the picture, Thor makes short work of the circus criminals. After their previous encounter, Princess Python feels betrayed. She genuinely likes Thor and cannot imagine why he wouldn’t want to be a real member of the Circus of Crime. Thor merely scolds and lectures her as the police arrest her.

The police on scene seem to be unaware that Thor is out on bail, pending trial for the acts he committed last time his path crossed with the Circus of Crime. Actually, as it has been over two years since that happened, Thor is most likely guilty of bail-jumping.

Days of Thunder – January 1970 The Mighty Thor #172

“The Immortal and the Mind-Slave!”
Written & Drawn by: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby/ Bill Everett Embellisher/ Art Simek Letterer

Thor 172

Thor notices a man waiting inside Doctor Blake’s office, forcing him to become Blake once again. This man turns out to be Doctor Jim North, who Blake describes as the Doctor that Jane went to work for after leaving his employ. We all know that Jane went to work for a Doctor named Kincaid, but perhaps she works at a practice with more than one physician. This doesn’t quite square the fact that she was romantically linked with Kincaid and now she is linked with North but her love life is her business.

At any rate, North has come to Blake because it is known that Blake is the only mortal who can contact Thor.  It turns out Jane has been once again kidnapped in order to force her employer whom she is dating into a compromised position. This is third employer that this has happened with in these pages.

This time Kronin Krask, a ruthless militant billionaire is using Jane to blackmail North into finishing work on a mind-transplant machine. This is not a surgical device, but a device performing some matter of psychic swap. Krask wishes to use it to avoid dying in is his old crappy mortal body.

Per Blake’s instructions, North does as Krask commands. Jane quite sensibly tells North that he shouldn’t cooperate, as obviously Krask will have them both killed afterward.  Unbeknownst to her, North has an Asgardian ace-in-the-hole.

Meanwhile Thor, allows himself to be captured by Krask’s men and ends up on the other side of the Mind Transfer device. Krask has gambled that Jane’s previous association with Thor would lead to his arrival and capture this night.  Meanwhile, Thor assumed that this was Krask’s plan and walked willingly into the trap because he could not resist the opportunity to fight someone directly upon the mental plane.

Indeed, that is what happens.  Thor and Krask’s minds transform into visible Electro-Waves, battling for supremacy. Ultimately, Thor’s ego consumes Krask’s, causing the villain’s body to fall to the floor, dead.

With Krask dead and Thor ambulatory, the remaining henchmen flee, leaving Jane and North free from danger. Thor departs, without any warmth or recognition passing between him and the woman with whom he was once betrothed.

First Appearance: Kronin Krask, Doctor Jim North, The Mind Transfer Device

Days of Thunder – December 1969 The Mighty Thor #171

“The Wrath of the Wrecker!”
Produced and Presented by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Titans of Thrills! Delineated by Bill Everett, Earl of Embellishment/ Lettered by Sam Rosen, Lord of Legibility/ Refereed by Irving Forbush, Caliph of Confusion

Thor 171

Beloved civil rights leader Pedro Luis Lopez has been shot in New York! Upon hearing the news, Thor rushes to the hospital where the fallen leader has been taken. As Doctor Blake, he offers his services as surgeon. They are readily accepted, although one of his fellow surgeons tries to pry loose some information about Blake’s frequent long, unexplained absences. Blake gives no explanation and gets to work.

As they operate, someone tells Blake “You’ve got to save him! If he dies… the city will be torn by riots!” Blake smugly lies “I would fight to save him even if his passing would be unnoticed by a single man! He is a human being… and as such, his life is sacred!”

Meanwhile, we learn that after his fight with Thor, the Wrecker was indeed captured by the police. He has been kept under sedation ever since, out of concern for the fact that he has strength to rival Thor.   This is almost certainly a violation of his constitutional rights.

Now however,  the criminal has built up a tolerance to the drugs and is awake! He breaks free and finds a crowbar that he believes to be his before heading into New York to search for Thor, who he mistakenly believes defeated him. (You may recall it was Sif controlling the Destroyer who defeated him back in issue #150. She also destroyed the crowbar he was wielding at the time.)

The Wrecker causes enough ruckus on the streets of New York that there are rumblings in the operating theater where Blake is performing. Blake abandons the surgery so that Thor can investigate the disturbance.

Thor finds the Wrecker and they fight.  After the course of the battle takes them into a subway, Thor uses the electricity of the subway’s third rail to give his Uru hammer extra power, with which he is able to drain the powers of the Wrecker, leaving him nothing more than an ordinary mortal.

Blake returns to finish the surgery, saving the life of Lopez. His inquisitive friend doesn’t understand Blake’s behavior and tells him so. “By abandoning your patient, you might have lost him! How can you be so cold… so unfeeling? What kind of man are you?” Blake, who of course has no answer, is becoming a shadowy doctor or mystery.

First Appearance: Pedro Luis Lopez

Days of Thunder – November 1969 The Mighty Thor #170

“The Thunder God and the Thermal Man!”
A New Action Spectacular, by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby/ Embellishment by: Bill Everett/ Lettering by Artie Simek

Thor 170

Thor returns to Earth and finds that New York City has been evacuated. He joins Balder, Fandrall, Volstagg, and Hogun who have met the Thermal Man and found him to be more than a match.  The Thermal Man is your basic mindless rampaging humanoid, growing stronger with every passing moment.  Balder seems to be pretty shaken by it, exclaiming, “The only power which exceeds our own is the power of the Atom!”

The Asgardians seem powerless in the face of the Thermal Man, but the Chinese have supplied the Americans with a special missile designed to defeat the Thermal Man.  They do this  after realizing that the monster may grow too powerful to be stopped and eventually turn its attention back to Asia. The Americans fire the missile at the monster, felling it.

In the aftermath of battle, Thor finds a gravely injured serviceman and becomes Blake so that he might save the man’s life. After he leaves with his patient, the monster awakens and knocks out all four remaining Asgardians.

From afar, Karnilla despairingly watches these events alongside Loki. She loves Balder and cannot allow him to be killed by the monster and so she uses her magic to transport Balder and his compatriots to her side. Loki is so disgusted by this that he calls an end to their alliance.

After Blake saves the soldier, Thor returns to the Thermal Man and uses his power of the storm to create a massive tidal wave, flooding part of New York and pulling the Thermal Man out to sea. From there, Thor guides it northward where it shall lie frozen until the end of time.

 

Days of Thunder – October 1969 The Mighty Thor #169

“The Awesome Answer!”
Written and Illustrate by: Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Inking: George Klein/ Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 169

A weary Galactus tells Thor his story.

Galactus was once a man. An unnamed inhabitant of the world Taa, during a time when the universe was young, this man alone was immune to a creeping plague that was traveling from world to world.

Eventually this plague came to Taa and killed billions. At the very end, the last few survivors of the plague, this man included, piloted a ship straight into their sun, the largest sun in all the universe. It was a defiant fuck-you blaze of glory for a doomed people.

All the other inhabitants of the ship perished. However, somehow this one man survived and through this crucible was forever changed.

In the stories of the Marvel Universe, there is a being known as the Watcher who has meddled in the affairs of Earth several times.  Despite allegedly being bound by an oath of non-interference, the Watcher has frequently helped shape the events on Earth.  For instance, it was only through his aid that Earth survived the coming of Galactus.  Eons ago, the Watcher found and rescued the man who was to be Galactus after the doomed attempt to fly into the sun.

After all he had been through, some unknown mechanism changed this man into something far different from what he had been.  The Watcher alone wast there to witness this transformation from man into comic force.  The Watcher knew that he was seeing the birth of something terrible.  He could have killed this man before he was reborn, but he stayed his hand.  The die was cast.

This cosmic force, no longer a man, created a ship and raiment and tools for his task. When he was finished,he sealed himself in his incubator cube, which drifted in space for untold centuries until finally he emerged as Galactus.

This story told by Galactus serves as prologue to the events revealed in issue #162.  In that issue it was stated that the war-torn planet that released Galactus was “the planet that gave him birth.”  Maybe his departure from the Incuba-Cell was the  “birth” of Galactus, but maybe the Incuba-Cell fell into orbit around Taa after he sealed himself within.  Untold thousands of years after the plague, civilization began anew.  The new people of Taa would look up to the heavens and wonder what secrets lay with the strange cube in the sky.  Finally the day would come when the Incuba-Cell was cracked open and Taa would die a second death.

Upon the completion of Galactus’ tale, Odin projects himself before Thor. He has heard what he needs to hear, and Thor’s task is complete.  His penance for his Warrior’s Madness paid.

Odin pronounces “Galactus’ time is not yet come!”, before abruptly transporting Thor to Earth, to join his friends in battle against the Thermal Man.

Days of Thunder – September 1969 The Mighty Thor #168

Galactus Found!
All hail this most momentous masterwork, proudly produced by: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Embellished by: George Klein/ Lettered by: Artie Simek

THor 168

Thor departs in the Odinship, into the unknown of outer space and is immediately lonely. “Already my heart doth hunger for the sight of Sif– for the glories of Asgard– and the mysteries of Earth!” This homesickness is cut short by the near-immediate capture of the Odinship.

Galactus, knowing that Thor sought him out, has brought the thunder god direct to him, wishing to parlay. With the help of a Visi-Cloud of mist, Galactus prepares to tell Thor his story.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Balder has been joined by Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg who had the same idea a Balder re: protecting the Earth. Much like Thor, they do not believe in paying for things, helping themselves to a newspaper before retreating to Doctor Blake’s apartment, to try to get a handle on this strange world so dear to their friend.

Meanwhile the Chinese army has developed a giant atomic-powered android named “the Thermal Man.” Newly completed, the Thermal Man is rocketed to the United States, sent to destroy all that it finds. It begins attacking the city, but before long it has caught the attention of the four Asgardians who had been slowly wrecking Doctor Blake’s apartment.

First Appearance: a Visi-Cloud

Days of Thunder – August 1969 The Mighty Thor #167

“This World Renounced!”

By Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Vincent J. Colletta, Embellishment/ Artie Simek, Lettering

Thor 167

With Thor being sentenced to search for Galactus, Balder decides to return to Earth to protect it on behalf of Thor. This is observed by Karnilla, who is using her sorcery screen to spy on the object of her heart. Loki is visiting her,  watching the proceedings with interest, when Haag brings the queen a sculpture of Balder, fashioned out of mystic Enchanti-Clay. Loki sees an angle, and grabs the sculpture. Whatever fate befalls the sculpture, befalls Balder, and so Loki clouts the doll on the head, which badly injures Balder on Midgard.

Before Thor heads out on his quest to seek Galactus, he petitions Odin for the chance to set his affairs in order on Earth. This request is granted and Thor returns to Earth, where he soon finds his friend, now badly injured thanks to Loki.   Naturally, he transforms into the foremost expert of Asgardian medicine on Earth, Doctor Donald Blake. Immediately, Loki attacks Blake, grabbing his walking stick. No sleight of hand this time.

Loki is lording over Blake’s powerlessness, when the image of Odin appears before him, compelling Loki to return the cane. Loki refuses; he has rightfully won the cane in battle by the rules of the Code Imperial. Odin counters by saying whoever holds Mjolnir must search for Galactus. That is enough to get Loki to return the stick and depart.

Blake performs a brilliant life-saving surgery on Balder before departing to begin his quest. As he leaves, his doctor colleagues comment on Blake.  He is brilliant but he is strange and so rarely to be found.

This is Vince Colletta’s last issue of Thor. For the past 50 odd issues, Vince the Prince has delineated the art of King Kirby. He’s not remembered as one of the great Kirby inkers, nor should he be, (Such is the power of Kirby that “Kirby Inkers” is a specific topic of discussion and debate) but Kirby’s Thor is in a very real way Colletta’s Thor. His “scratchy” style on Kirby’s pencils helped give Thor a different look than Kirby’s other Marvel output.

First Appearance: Enchanti-Clay


Days of Thunder – July 1969 The Mighty Thor #166

“A God Berserk!”
Brought to you in all its glittering glory by: Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Valiant Vinnie Colletta, Embellisher/ Slammin’ Sammy Rosen, Letterer

Thor 166

Thor becomes enraged at the prospect of Sif being captured and potentially raped by Him; he swears to destroy his foe. Balder tries to calm Thor down, “Ne’er before didst thou crave battle, noble prince! Only in defense have I known thee to wield thy hammer!” Clearly, Balder willfully misunderstands his friend nature.

Thor is caught in the grip of Warrior’s Madness and cannot be soothed. He does manage to follow Him using Mjolnir. He then beats on Him repeatedly until He creates a defensive cocoon and flies off into space. Sif has been freed but Thor is guilty of giving in to Warrior’s Madness. It is the law of mulitple-genocide-perpetrator Odin that no warrior is to fight an opponent without giving them an opportunity to yeild. As punishment for his bout of Warrior’s Madness, Thor is to be launched in a rocket beyond the universe and beyond the end of time in order to seek out Galactus.

First Appearance: Warrior’s Madness

GAME OF THE YEAR 2011!!!

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Best New Character
3. Garcia Hotspur from Shadows of the Damned
2. Rucks from Bastion
1.Detective Cole Phelps from L.A. Noire.
Cole is such an asshole.  And LA Noire, shitty a game as it was, did an amazing job of revealing more and more of what a total shit the guy you were playing was.

Best Music
3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Shadows of the Damned
1. Bastion

This was no contest really, but all three of those games had amazing soundtracks, even if Deus Ex wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that they were ripping off Blade Runner.

Best Graphics

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
2. Outland
1. Bastion

Art design for games has gotten fucking good.  Skyrim didn’t crack my list and Skyrim is gorgeous.


Best Original Game

3. Bastion
2. Shadows of the Damned
1. Bulletstorm

Bastion is a beautiful flower of a game keeping company with BraidShadows of the Damned is Alan Wake + BayonettaBulletstorm is the best singleplayer FPS campaign since Halo: CE.

Best Sequel
3. You Don’t Know Jack
2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
1. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

#2 and 3 are probably better games than Deus Ex, but that game was built with all of my likes in mind:  Dialogue Trees, Sneaking, and Cyberpunking.

Best Reissue
3. Street Fighter III: Third Strike
2. Resident Evil 4
1. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

This is a no-brainer.  Metal Gear Solid is the best game franchise of all time.  The HD collection did an AMAZING job of making these old-ass games look fucking great a full console generation later.

Biggest Disappointment
3. Dragon Age II
2. L.A. Noire
1. Child of Eden
I love love love RezChild of Eden is no Rez, my friends.

Best Game From an Earlier Year Only Now Played in 2011
3. Splinter Cell: Conviction
2. Saint’s Row 2
1. Bayonetta

Saint’s Row is a truly wonderful supervillain simulator, fun and brash and smarter than you’d think.  Bayonetta is masterpiece, the sort of game where you hope they don’t make a sequel because there is nowhere to go but down.  Splinter Cell was also good.

Most Played Older Perennials

3. Space Giraffe
2. Geometry Wars 2
1. DJ Hero

At any given time there is a stack of about 6-12 DVD cases next to my TV.  The DJ Hero case hasn’t left the stack in almost 3 years.

Game of The Year
3. Uncharted 3
2. Saint’s Row The Third
1. Dark Souls

Uncharted games are always a pure joy. Saint’s Row could have easily taken a the top spot in a different year. Dark Souls is a masterpiece, a game that will ruin other games by having it to compare against.

dark souls

Days of Thunder – June 1969 The Mighty Thor #165

“Him!”
Produced in a paroxysm of passion by – Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Vince Colletta, Embellishment/ Artie Simek, Lettering

Thor 165

After their battle with Pluto, the three Asgardian warriors stand in a pose of triumph upon a moving tank for over an hour as the Army holds a parade in celebration of their Deus Ex Machina victory. Afterward, the Asgardians enter the Atomic Research Center to discover what it is that Pluto considered so important.

The answer is  a super-being answering only to the name “Him”! Some time ago a secret society of scientists artificially created a man of almost limitless power. Possessing bright orange skin, and radiating blinding power, He judged his creators as evil and killed them before fleeing the Earth. Through a series of mishaps, He ended up cocooned in the Atomic Research Center but now Ge is awake once again.

When the Asgardians find Him, He reaffirms his desire to avoid all other people… except Ge wants to mate and has decided to take Sif as His mate, regardless of her own desires. Super icky.

With little preamble, He grabs Sif and creates a Solar Vortex to teleport them to a distant dimension. Apparently Solar Vortices are a form of storm, because Mjolnir can replicate the Vortex, allowing Thor and Balder to follow.

They catch up with Him and Sif but just as a fight was about to break out, a giant hand reaches out from across space, attempting to ensnare Balder. It is the magic of Haag of the Norn, who I presume to be the woman previously referred to as “the Norn Hag”. She is working on behalf of Karnilla and attempts to pull Balder through the dimensions into Karnilla’s domain.

Thor defends his friend with the full power of the storm, which issues forth from his hammer. Haag retreats in the face of this assault, but while Thor and Balder were distracted, their quarry teleported with Sif a second time and now they may have lost the trail, perhaps forever!

First Uncocooned Appearance: Him

Days of Thunder – May 1969 The Mighty Thor #164

“Lest Mankind Fall!”
Story and Art by Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 164

Balder comes to Earth, seeking distraction from his growing feelings of love toward Karnilla. He soon finds the energy funnel that swallowed Sif and Thor.

In the future, Thor uses the power of Mjolnir to reverse the mystic time travel, sending himself, Sif, Pluto, a bunch of Mutates, and the Atomic Research Building back to the 20th century. A large-scale battle involving the U.S. Army, Mutates from the future, Norse Gods and the lord of the Greek Netherworld ensues.

Sif gets to let loose and kick some ass alongside her male counterparts, a spectacle made all the sweeter by its unfortunate rarity. Despite the strength and the valor of the Asgardians, Pluto seems to have them beat by his sheer raw power. However, Pluto’s scheme has not gone unnoticed on Mount Olympus. Before Pluto can vanquish his foes, Zeus intervenes, returning Pluto to the Netherworld, and returning the mutates as well. It is not entirely clear if the mutates are returned to the bleak future that is Earth’s destiny, or if they are sent to the Netherworld with their master.

In the aftermath of the battle, the mysterious specimen within the Science Building awakens!

First Appearance: Athena

Days of Thunder – April 1969 The Mighty Thor #163

“Where Dwell the Demons!”
Produced by: Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/Inking: Vince Colletta * Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 163

Thor has returned to Earth to find the missing Sif. When he arrives, he discovers members of the United States army, surrounding a giant yellow funnel of swirling mystic forces centered around the city’s Atomic Research Center. The soldier in charge tells him that Sif went into the funnel to protect the people of New York.

Thor cannot breach the barrier by himself, but large inhuman arms emerge from the funnel and pull him into it. Once he reaches the other side, he is immediately beset upon by a horde of goblin-like mutates. The Mutates have trapped Sif with their Attracto-Spheres. Once again, the mighty warrior Sif has been reduced to a mere prize to be rescued, which indeed Thor soon does. .

Gradually, the truth emerges. The mystic funnel of energy has taken the Asgardians to the Earth’s bleak future. In this era, the nuclear fallout from Atomic War II has altered some portion of the humans into Mutates, who have but three toes and kill humans on sight.

As Thor and Sif explore the wasteland, they find the Atomic Research Center of the 20th, which has been transported to this era. It is here that they come across Pluto, Lord of the Olympian Netherworld. Pluto has decided to abandon his responsibilities as Lord of the Netherworld, so that he can use the Mutates of the future to conquer the 20th century land of the living. He has taken the Atomic Research Center to the future so that the power within it will not be a threat to his forces when he attacks in the 20th century.  He has now done the same with Thor and Sif.

It is not clear how Pluto expects to be freed of his duty to the Netherworld or why he has to get Mutates when he already has Netherworld hordes.

Within the science building, a mysterious being stirs. Its nature and its intent is unknown.

Meanwhile, in present-day Asgard, Odin seeks the aid of the Asgardian Keeper of Antiquities to research Galactus ithin the Book of Ages. Odin recognizes Galactus as a threat to Asgard and believes his Incuba-Sphere (previously called an Incuba-Cell) to be the secret to defeating him.

First Appearance: Mutates, Attracto-Spheres, Keeper of Antiquities

 

Days of Thunder – March 1969 The Mighty Thor #162

“Galactus is Born!”
A Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jolly Jack Kirby Production/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 162

Now safe from Galactus, a grateful Ego hurls Thor and the Recorder through the vacuum of space back to Rigel. As they travel, the Recorder points out that while Galactus might spare Ego, he is still out in space, free to destroy worlds. It’s a real muddy trousers situation for Thor.

Back on Rigel, the High Commissioner wants to deactivate the Recorder to more easily access his memory banks. Thor comes to his friend’s defense, persuading the High Commissioner that the Recorder has a soul and cannot be so easily decommissioned.

After saying his farewells to his Rigelian comrades, Thor returns to Asgard.  He meets Odin in his Astro-Chamber along with other Asgardians, including Hogun, Volstagg and Fandral. They discuss the present threat that Galactus poses and they research the devourer’s origins.

They learn that Galactus was birthed in an Icuba-Cell at the climax of a terrible space war. The losing side released him out of desperation, but Galactus turned against them and began feeding off of all living energy, destroying the planet.

After this conference, one of Odin’s counselors pulls aside Thor with news. In Thor’s absence, Sif left for Earth before disappearing ominously.  Upon hearing this, Thor travels to Earth to find his mate and fight by her side.

Meanwhile, Balder has found himself plagued by visions of Karnilla the Norn Queen. He has fallen under the spell of love, although with Karnilla that is probably literally true. For one as pure as Balder to feel this way about a sworn enemy of Asgard is pure agony. His only hope for distraction is to seek out Thor and fight him.

 

GAME OF THE YEAR 2012!!

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12.    Sleeing Dogs (PS3) This game is just solidly constructed through and through. If you want a serious-minded open-world crime game, you should play GTA IV. If you have already done that, maybe give this game a try.

11. Tokyo Jungle (PS3) This game is amazing.  You play as a wild animal in a Tokyo where all the humans have disappeared.  It’s a survival endurance roguelike beat ‘em up where you murder lots of dogs.  Everyone should play this game at least once.

10.    Frog Fractions (Free Flash Game) Guys I’m being super-serious here. This game is free. Seriously. Play it. Get the turtle. Unlock the turtle’s secret. Frog Fractions. Triple-dog serious. http://twinbeardstudios.com/frog-fractions

9.    Max Payne 3 (PS3) This game is an odd duck. It is all about shooting many many people, but it doesn’t share the vocabulary of modern shooters and that can be off putting. Still, if you can unlearn your instincts from other games, this game is worth your time.

8.    Spec Ops: The Line (PS3) Dubai-oshock.

7.    Binary Domain (360) Goddamn, I love me some unevenly constructed Japanese action games. Other things I love: Blade Runner, shooting robots, things that are sa-weeeeeet! This isn’t the sixth best game of 2012, but it is MY sixth best game of 2012.

6.    Pinball Arcade (LIVE) I love pinball so very very much. Video pinball will just never be the same as real pinball, but since real pinball is not becoming any less rare, this is what we have. And it’s close. And it doesn’t hurt that they are simulating some of the best tables ever, a weird selection of the greatest that I can really get behind. Between Black Hole and Medieval Madness, I played the fuck out of some fake pinball in 2012.

5.    XCOM: Enemy Unknown (360) You know what phrase I find sexy? “Turn-based” Make it “turn-based shooter” and I’m putty in your hand. XCOM is so goddamn good when you are base-building and it is so very goddamn good when you are shooting aliens in the face. After completing a 20 hour campaign, I cannot wait to start again on a higher difficulty level.

4.    The Walking Dead (PSN) Did Mass Effect 3 break your heart by foregoing storytelling for shooting? Then this is the dialogue tree game to fill the Shepard-sized hole in your heart. Did Spec Ops teach you that feeling bad can feel good? Then play this game, it will make you feel a whole lot worse. Do you love zombie movies, but hate zombie games because they do not know who the real monster is? Then play DayZ. Or, y’know, this game.

3.    FTL (PC) Space Oregon Trail. This is the space combat game I have wanted since I was five and convinced that Star Trek: The Next Generation was the greatest thing ever put to film. This game is must for anyone who has ever wanted to redirect all nonessential power to shields, disable the pirate’s engines before they could jump to hyperspace, or open the cargo bay doors to kill a boarding party.

2.    Journey (PS3) A beautiful, perfect game. If you want to show what video games can be to a skeptic, this is a damn good place to start.

1. Spelunky (360) The first hundred times you play times you play this game is all about learning how to play it.  The next thousand is all about discovering what there is to see this time. An all-time classic.

spelunky

Days of Thunder – February 1969 The Mighty Thor #161

“Shall a God Prevail?”
Produced and Immortalized by: Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 161

Ego and Galactus clash in a battle that defies human understanding. Although Galactus is depicted as a colossal helmet-clad man, and Ego is depicted a sphere with the giant face, it is clear that these are illusions, that each of their true natures is far weirder and cosmic than our limited human understanding. The two titans shout at each other through the vacuum of space and it seems that however great the might of a bio-verse may me, the might of Galactus is even greater.

While the cosmic monsters battle, the Wanderers save Thor and the Recorder. When it becomes clear that Galactus is going to defeat Ego, Thor prepares to challenge Galactus. The Recorder, who can only observe, is determined to make sure his observations be up to the task at hand. “Perma-circuits activated for maximum recording! All that transpires shall be impressed upon my electronic brain! But son of Odin… have a care… let me not record… your death!!”

Thor leaves the Wanderer’s ship and hurls Mjolnir straight at Galactus. To the shock of Galactus, for the first time in a millennium he feels pain upon being struck. Needless to say, this draws his attention away from Ego. Galactus destroys the Wanderer’s ship and grabs Thor in his mighty hand.

He hurls Thor toward the living planet, however Ego cushions Thor’s fall. Ego also saves and protects the Wanderers as well as the Recorder. On the surface of Ego, in the heart of the Black Galaxy, Thor and the Wanderer’s create a stand upon which to mount Enchanted Mjolnir. Once placed in that mount, Thor unleashes the full power of the storm and directs it straight at Galactus.

Such is the strength of Thor’s hammer that Galactus wilts. Feeling agony and fearing death, Galactus retreats to his ship and flees. Thor and his allies celebrate their victory, despite the fact that the danger of Galactus has not been destroyed, merely redirected. In gratitude, Ego offers to become a paradise to the Wanderers who may live upon him forever, “until the end of time.”

 

Game of the Year 2013!

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Top six list.  Posted in 2015.  Fuck conventions.

6. Cloudberry Kingdom – This is really nifty. It’s procedural, super hard Mario, and the moment I stopped trying to play it like SMB was the moment I really started to enjoy it.

5. GTA V – . Absolutely amazing job creating a full urban environment. I liked the boys a lot and the switching was a surprisingly great mechanic both for both narrative and gameplay. And yet… The story just sort of whimpered out. I didn’t end up getting as invested in this one as IV or San Andreas. It’s starting to feel like diminishing returns on this franchise. Also, pour one out for Johnny Kibbutz.

4. Etrian Odyssey IV – I normally hate JRPGs and I’m not even sure how I ended up buying this game but I loved it. It’s a dungeon crawler. The story is razor thin, which is fine. The combat is deep but very Japanese What makes this game so great is that it is all about going into a dungeon and mapping your way through its threats and hazards. You do this by literally drawing your map with the stylus on virtual graph paper. Square by square. So cool. So 3DS. Sometimes Riley would draw the map while I would fight the monsters.

3. Metal Gear Rising – Oh my god, Bayonetta and Metal Gear drunkenly hooked up and made a game. This game is about Zandatsu, which is not a real thing. So much fun. I love this thing even if I could not beat the final boss who is a US Senator if I recall correctly. They made the DLC free for some reason. I’ve got to play that one of these days.

2. Rocksmith 2014 probably doesn’t count as a video game? – I am starting to think of myself as a guitarist, not a guy who owns a video game that uses a guitar. A shitty, super-amateur guitarist, but still. Makes it hard to play Rock Band.  I am so totally shitty.

1. Last of Us –  Just amazing. The art.  The combat.  The storytelling.  Simply put one of the best video games I have ever played.  And maybe the third best ending of any video game ever?  Magnificent.

last of us

Mostly James Bond and Thor Stuff