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!!!

kitten-playing-xbox-controller

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!!

kitten
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!

cat gamer 3

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

Days of Thunder – January 1969 The Mighty Thor #160

“And Now… Galactus!”
So starts a staggering new saga by: Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 160

Tana Nile of the Collectors has come to Earth seeking Thor. She begs his help with a threat that, if left unchecked, could cause the universe itself to crumble. This threat is none other than Galactus, a threat that has  claimed countless worlds, snuffing out untold numbers of civilizations. The Collectors have been able to hide from Galactus with a planetary shield, but for some unexplored reason, this technology is now failing. After hearing Nile’s tale, Thor agrees to fight this destroyer.

Meanwhile on Asgard, the Recorder has been hanging out with Odin, but now finds itself called back to Rigel and so departs. As it leaves, Sif begs leave of Odin to go to Thor’s side. Odin denies her request, as he senses grave danger. Sif is a fearless warrior who has never in these pages flinched at danger or turned her back on a soul in need. Yet at every turn the men in her life, Thor, Balder, Odin, try to shield her from danger. To her credit, she pushes back and calls them out in every instance, but still these assholes refuse to treat her as an equal.

Thor leaves Tana Nile behind as he meets up with his old companion the Recorder. Together, they seek Galactus, traveling in some sort of space hot rod. The path to Galactus is easy enough to navigate. They simply follow the grim trail created by the staggering number of refugee ships that radiate outward from the remains of the destroyed worlds left in the devourer’s wake.

One such ship begins following the hot rod. This ship belongs to the Wanderers, a race of people claiming to be Galactus’ original victims. They follow Thor on a hunch, hoping his ship may lead to sanctuary… or revenge.

Thor finds Galactus just as the devourer has finally found Ego, the Living Planet. For one such as Galactus, what could be a a more tempting prize than to consume a living bio-verse? However, Ego does not not intend to go without a fight, the opening salvos of which destroy Thor and the Recorder’s space hot rod.

First Appearance: The Wanderers

 

Game of the Year 2014

cat-playing-nintendo-ds

Before I get into this year’s games, a special shout out to Xenoblade Chronicles. Not a game of 2014, but it was an amazing game that would have made my list if I had played it the year it came out. Great art, great story, great scope, great combat, so-so controls. Easily my favorite Wii JRPG of all time.

Honorable Mentions:

TransistorBastion was an amazing video game and this was cyberpunk Bastion. And yet somehow, it didn’t quite hit the same high. I loved the art and the music and the vocal performances and the ideas behind the combat but the combat itself just wasn’t a lot of fun. It’s a damn shame because the SYSTEM for the combat was great. And I loved having a talking sword that used the PS4 controller speaker. A game that is frustrating in just how good it is.

Metal Gear Solid V: Grounds Zero – You can beat this $30 game in under  an hour. David Hayter got replaced by some jerk from 24. The sexual politics of the game are kinda squicky. Having said all that, I loved sneaking around this sandbox. On Malaria Day I played through this game 4 times in 4 different scenarios and had a great time each and every time. Goddamn I love Metal Gear.

Luftrausers – A perfect little gem of a game.  Every little detail is smart and makes for a stronger whole.

The List:

5.Dragon Age Inquisition – This is a great game. It is also easily the worst Dragon Age game to date. The story is wonderful but there is so little story compared to other Dragon Ages and so much filler. The environments in the game are large and gorgeous, but way empty. There aren’t really side quests in this game, just main quests and busywork. Also this might be the buggiest game I ever played to completion. Yet, for all that,  the core experience, lean as it may be, is really good. I can’t say “satisfying” because it felt like it was only half a game, but I loved Cassandra, Varric, Iron Bull, and my own character.

4.Dark Souls II – Much like Dragon Age, this is the worst installment of one of my very favorite franchises. In a series defined by harsh edges, this game smoothed things a little too much and made things way too easy. This team also couldn’t create an environment as brilliantly interconnected as the last one. Still, these are only complaints when comparing the game to its predecessors.  Also, Rat Guild was brilliant. Using fake messages, pretending to be an ally, and later pretending to be part of the environment. Assassinating real people has never been so fun.

3. The Walking Dead Season 2 –  I don’t give a shit about the comic book or the TV show, but this game was amazing. Playing a little girl in a super-hostile environment is a great video game experience I’ve not yet had before. Less about making command decisions, more about subtly influencing people, this is probably the best experience with dialogue trees I’ve ever had.

2. Might & Magic: Duel of Champions: Forgotten Wars – This is a really good Magic the Gathering ripoff built for playing as a video game. Magic: the Gathering is the single greatest game of all time. That makes this game pretty damn good. Even if the video game shell of the game is amateurishly bad.
1. Super Pole Riders – Screw Street Fighter, Bushido Blade and Nidhogg. This is the only 1 vs. 1 competitive game I want to play anymore. So damn good.

Super Pole Riders

And here is the list of anticipated games I haven’t played or haven’t completed:

Shadow of Mordor

Wolfenstein

Bayonetta 2

Alien Isolation

Persona Q

Sunset Overdrive

Divinity: Original Sin

I’m about halfway through Alien Isolation, which is the only reason Dragon Age hasn’t been knocked off my top 5. It’s an amazing game, set in future 70’s, trapping you with an Alien you cannot kill, only evade. I’m not one to call games “scary” but this is maybe the most tense video game experience of my life and would almost certainly have made my top 3 if I had completed it.

Days of Thunder – February 1969 The Silver Surfer #4

“The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny!”
By Stan Lee and John Buscema/ Sal Buscema, Inker/ Artie Simek, Letterer/ Perhaps the greatest fantasy saga of all time.

Silver Surfer 4

Within the shared universe that Thor resides, there is a powerful entity known as the Silver Surfer. Some time ago, on the planet Zen-La lived a man by the name of Norrin Radd. When the cosmic devourer Galactus came to consume his world, he made a bargain. Galactus would spare his world in exchange for his servitude.

As part of that service, Radd would attempt to point Galactus away from eating inhabited worlds when possible. In order to attend to his duties, Radd was encased in a powerful silvery substance, given a floating surfboard, and granted the “Power Cosmic”  which imbued him with vaguely defined super powers.

Some time later, the Surfer led Galactus to Earth.  On Earth, he was convinced by a chance encounter with a human woman to turn against his master. This played little part in causing Galactus to spare the Earth but when Galactus left the planet he exiled the Surfer to Earth, leaving him trapped by an invisible barrier. Ever since, he has spent the bulk of his time trying to escape the planet, reflecting on the barbarism of the human populace, and being manipulated by powerful supervillains, including someone who appears to be Satan himself.

This is whom Loki has chosen as his most recent catspaw against Thor. Loki, still being served by Toag, convinces the Surfer that Thor is an evil brute who intends on usurping Odin’s crown. He takes the skyrider of the spaceways to Asgard, before fading into the background. The Surfer issues a challenge to Thor, who is eating with his friends at an elaborate banquet. Thor good-naturedly accepts the Surfer’s challenge, inviting the alien to join him and his comrades in their meal, beforehand.

Loki astrally goads the two into fighting, subtly lending the Surfer his own power, for not even the Power Cosmic is a match for the power of Thor.  Although Odin shrugs off the fight as being inconsequential, all of Thor’s Asgardian friends support him and come to his defense. Eventually, the Surfer intuits that Thor seems to be on the level, which means Loki was probably lying. Outraged, Loki returns the Surfer to Earth.

This bimonthly comic has a February cover date, but due to a quirk in comic book publishing, was released the same month as monthly titles with a January cover date. This lets it slot in between Thor issues #159 and #160, but would mean Thor visits Asgard and returns to Earth between those two stories.

First Appearance: The Silver Surfer

 

Days of Thunder – December 1968 The Mighty Thor #159

“Who is the Real Don Blake? The Answer at Last!”
A Stan Lee Jack Kirby Production/ Inking: Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 159

After Doctor Blake performs some surgery, he astrally projects himself as Thor toward Asgard. Thor has not done this before, but this is an ability that we have seen, in different ways, performed by Odin and Loki. Once Thor gets Odin’s attention, it is Odin and Doctor Blake who have a conversation.

Odin decides to finally tell the truth to Blake.  Some time ago, a young Thor had become arrogant and reckless, breaking treaties and starting petty barroom brawls with the like of Gondolff, champion arm-wrestler. Odin decided that Thor needed to be taught humility. And so it came to pass that Thor was transformed into a infirm mortal with no memory of his true nature.

Donald Blake’s life began on the first day of medical school. He believed himself to be a young, lame medical student.  He believed himself to be human.  He was set on a path dedicated to the healing of others, and given a weak, unassuming form. Such was the nature of the spell on Blake that he never thought about his life prior to medical school, never wondered about his lack of a family or any of the other things that make a human life.

Eventually, Odin left the mighty Uru hammer Mjolnir in a cave for Blake to find, and gradually, he earned the right to become Thor again.  Now he knows the truth, and presumably has no real need to become Doctor Blake.  Although it seems he has grown attached to the Blake shell, false as it may be.

First Appearance: Gondolff

 

Days of Thunder – November 1968 The Mighty Thor #158

“The Way it Was!”
Pandemoniously Produced by: Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Vince Colletta, Embellisher/ Sam Rosen, Letterer/ I. Forbush, Heraldry

Thor 158

The bulk of this issue is a reprint of Thor’s origin as told in Journey Into Mystery #83. The origin is framed in a sequence that certainly shows how much Jack Kirby’s art has evolved in a six-year span.

In the framing sequence, Thor returns to Earth and turns into Doctor Blake, who is continuing to rely on his peers to pick up the slack for his total lack of commitment to his mortal guise.

He is lost in thought,  finally pondering the bizarre nature of his dual identity. “If I am truly Thor… then who is the real Donald Blake? And if I am Don Blake… where was Thor before I took his identity?… Is Dr. Blake merely a myth… a casual creation of All-Wise Odin?… Or… am I what I seemed to be… a normal, average human…?? A star-kissed Earthman who had accidentally stumbled upon the greatest discovery of all time! But if that’s the answer… then what happened to the original son of Odin?? Why? Why… was his hammer left abandoned in that cave?? I’ve got to know! I’ve got to know!!”


Days of Thunder – October 1968 The Mighty Thor #157

“Behind Him… Ragnarok!”
Now let’s see whether even Stan Lee & Jack Kirby Aided by Vince Colletta and Sam Rosen can get us out of this one!

thor 157

While craven Loki flees, the combined forces of Asgard regroup and come together to stave off the threat of the Mangog. This includes Balder, who has rejected the advances of a love-struck Karnilla and freed a group of Asgardian prisoners from her clutches. The Recorder is present, but he merely observes.

The Mangog presses closer and closer to the Odinword until finally he holds its hilt in his grasp. As he at long last reaches his goal, he screams “Now let Ragnarok fall!!” He would have his people’s revenge at the cost of the universe itself!

But all is not lost! The power of Thor’s storm has awakened Odin from his Odinsleep! As the All-Father stands before the Mangog he reveals the dark truth. The Mangog is not a creation of the slain alien invaders. No, the Mangog IS that alien race. Long ago, Odin used the full might of his terrible power to combine all the many billions of lives of that people into a single being, who became nothing but the embodiment of their rage.  He then locked that being in a cage.   Now, in order to prevent Ragnarok, Odin breaks the spell, claiming that this race has now served their penance.   Thus the threat of the Mangog ends.

 

Days of Thunder – September 1968 Avengers King-Size Special! #2

“…And The Rushing River…”
Perhaps the most incredible Avengers thriller yet, presented with pride by: Stan Lee – Editor/ Roy Thomas – Writer/ Don Heck, Werner Roth} Artists/ Vince Colletta – Inker/ Joe Rosen- Letterer/ Honorary Avengers All!!

Avengers king 2

While Thor has been fighting the Mangog, Captain America and the Avengers, currently consisting of Goliath, Wasp, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther, have been meddling with time travel. They now return to what they believe to be the present day, only to discover that the world that they have returned to is not the world from which they left. In the timestream they now find themselves in, the original Avengers, consisting of Thor, Iron Man, Giant Man, The Wasp, and The Hulk, have sized control of the world, capturing and indefinitely detaining all other people with super powers, be them hero or villain.

Of course, these alternate Avengers are being manipulated by Kang the Conquerer but he isn’t mind-controlling them, nor is he blackmailing them, simply giving them a thin pretense of heroics under which they can justify world-rule.   Kang posed as an alien on a mission of peace, and offered to cure all of Earths ills if the Avengers would first imprison all other superhumans. They unanimously accepted his offer without even asking for the slightest evidence to back his claims.

The specifics of how things play out don’t much matter as this is a time travel story that ends with the erasing of all memory of occurrence on the part of all participants.  Nonetheless, it stands as sharp reminder of how little it takes to get Thor to conquer the planet, as he has done or attempted to do at least twice in the past.

 

Days of Thunder – September 1968 The Mighty Thor #156

“The Hammer and the Holocaust”
Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby have created yon epic enchantment just for thee! Embellished by: Vince Colletta/ Lettered by: Sam Rosen

Thor 156

This is the second issue of Thor titled “The Hammer and the Holocaust”. It does not appear to be a reference to anything.  Presumably Stan just liked the phrase.

Thor fights the Mangog with all the power he has, including the power of the storm. He pours so much lightning into the area that the ground turns molten. He batters the beast with blinding rain and pounding wind, but he only slows his foe, he cannot stop it.

Meanwhile the Colonizers have sent the Recorder to Asgard to bear witness to these events, which may be the end of all things.

 

Days of Thunder – August 1968 The Mighty Thor #155

“Now Ends the Universe!”
Immortalized by: Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jolly Jack Kirby/ Embellishment: Vince Colletta Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 155

As the danger of Mangog has increased, and as the skies of Midgard fill with storms, Thor and Sif are able to sense the coming Ragnarok. Thor uses Mjolnir to increase the rate of Sif’s healing and they return to Asgard.

The world-end of Ragnarok is apparently one that encompasses not only Asgard, but also Earth and Rigel, where the Colonizers can also sense the impending doom. The Recorder returns to the Black Galaxy to see if Ego is the cause, but finds nothing unusual in the Black Galaxy, at least by the standards of normalcy at work within the Black Galaxy. Somehow Ego avoided the fate of being eaten by Galactus as would have seemed to have been his fate in issue #134.

On Asgard, Loki finds Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg and commands them to seek out and destroy the Mangog. They do not show Loki respect, but they do obey him and depart for what Loki hopes will be a death sentence.

Thor and Sif arrive in the Throne Room of Asgard, where Thor challenges Loki’s right to rule. However, the Law Eternal is on Loki’s side. Thor does not have the authority to take control from his brother.

Mangog is walking straight toward Asgard, fighting Storm Giants and Asgardians, shrugging off all attacks, including that of an Odinian Force Arrow, which appears to be a breath-propelled rocket. Either Mangog got turned around and is lost or he came out of the Odin-Cave far away from Ulik’s entry point because it is not the Forest of the Norns through which he travels.

Mangog is the creation of a long dead alien race, engineered to have the strength of a billion billion beings by a race of aliens who wished to invade Asgard. For this act, Odin killed every last one of this unnamed race and trapped the Mangog in the Cave of Ages. As revenge for Odin’s genocide, the Mangog seeks to unsheathe the Odinsword and thus end the universe.

Regarding the mechanics of the Odinsword, in this issue Thor claims that in the instant the sword is pulled, the universe is to be destroyed, however based on other comments made in this issue, it would seem that what he means is that the process of Ragnarok that culminates in the end of the universe begins at the moment of removal.

In the face of universal doom, Thor rides out to confront the Mangog, leaving Sif to guard Asgard. Along the way he finds what is left of crushed Asgardian forces.  Eventually, he finds his three friends who had been sent to fight the Mangog, trapped beneath rubble. Before he can free them, the Mangog attacks!

First Appearance: The Odinian Force Arrow

Days of Thunder – July1968 The Mighty Thor #154

“…To Wake the Mangog!”
Produced by: Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jolly Jack Kirby/ Vince Colletta Inker/ Artie Simek Letterer

Thor 154

While Thor is visiting Sif while she recuperates, he is visited by Hela, who believes that she has a claim to Thor after his fight with the Wrecker. Thor’s old frenemy, Harokin pops in to speak on Hela’s behalf, asking him to come lead the army of the undead in Valhalla. Thor is tempted, but declines, stating “The son of Odin fights for purpose– never pleasure!” This is a much bigger lie than anything Loki has ever said in this book. Having made her pitch, Hela departs.

Meanwhile, Ulik has discovered the long-lost Odin-Cave, also known as the Cave of Ages. This legendary site is filled with Enchanti-Stones, the seeds of Odin’s peerless power. It is also the prison of Mangog,the last member of an alien race so powerful that they once nearly destroyed Asgard. It says a lot about Ulik that rather than collect the stones, he frees the alien.

The Mangog, once freed has no interest in an alliance with Ulik and no notion of gratitude for his freedom. The Mangog is the enemy of all who live, with the sole goal of destroying Odin. Ulik escapes from the Mangog as soon as he is able.

Thor, unaware of the threat to Asgard is wandering around New York looking for Loki. He stops a team of thugs calling themselves Muggers Incorporated and exchanges strong words with a pack of hippies. The friendly counterculture youth take Thor’s long hair as a sign of kinship, a notion Thor rejects hard.

“’Tis not by dropping out– but by plunging in– into the maelstrom of life itself– that thou shalt find wisdom! There be causes to espouse!! There be battles to be won! There be glory and grandeur all about thee– if thou wilt but see! Aye, there be time enow for thee to disavow thy heritage– yea, thou mayest drop out fore’er once Hela herself hath come for thee! But, so long as life endures– thou must live it to the full! Else, thou be unworthy of the title– man!” Thor does not like hippies.

Loki, forbidden from fighting his brother, returns to Asgard to see what trouble he can cause, only to discover that there is already trouble aplenty. When Ulik freed the Mangog, he set off the Eternity Alarm, and so the forces of Asgard are preparing for the conflict that is surely at hand. Toag, Elder of the Supreme Council fills Loki in  on all of this and of one other detail: Odin now rests in his Odinsleep (otherwise known as the Sleep of Life, last seen in issue #118). With Odin unavailable and Thor busy pestering hippies, Loki takes the throne!

First Appearance: The Mangog, Toag Elder of the Supreme Council, Muggers Incorporated, The Enchanti-Stones, The Cave of Ages

The Mangog, comics, Days of Thunder, Thor, Doctor Donald Blake, Sif, Odin, Loki, Karnilla the Norn Queen, Balder, Ulik, Toag Elder of the Supreme Council, Muggers Incorporated, Hela, Harokin

Days of Thunder – June 1968 The Mighty Thor #153

“–But Dr. Blake Can Die!”
Another Star-Studded Spectacular by: Stan (The Man) Lee & Jack (King) Kirby/ Embellished by: Vince Colletta/ Lettered by: Artie Simek

Thor 153

Starting with this issue, the Inhumans backup feature has been dropped, leaving a full 20 pages of Thor. Maybe the change threw Stan for a loop, because this issue is an utter mess, barely held together through a patchwork web of No-Prizes.

So, okay, Loki has stolen Thor’s hammer. Karnilla reveals that he has somehow stolen some of her Norn Power. This combined with Loki’s own sorcery apparently gives Loki enough power to bypass Odin’s enchantment that would otherwise bar him from lifting Mjolnir.

Thor panics, believing himself about to turn back into Blake. It has been some time since he was under the effect of the hammer’s enchantment, and he has apparently forgotten that the sixty second rule only applies to him when he is on Earth.

Thor commands Karnilla to transport him to Loki so that he might face his brother and take back that which is his. Sif demands to accompany him. Karnilla agrees, stating “Thus does Karnilla achieve two ends with but a single spell! I now repay my debt to Thor– And in doing, I send him to a most certain death!”

Thor and Sif are sent straight to Loki, who has returned to Earth for some reason. One could conject that Loki wanted to lure Thor back to Midgard in order to force the sixty second change.   If so, his plan works:  Thor turns into Blake and his hammer turns into his walking stick within Loki’s hands.

Sif attacks Loki. Both Sif and Loki seem to be at their full godly strength, despite having been depowered by Odin in issue #147. It would seem that since the depowering of Sif, Balder and Loki was a punishment for the leaving of Asgard, when they were returned to Asgard by the Wrecker their powers were returned to them.

At any rate, Loki now has the full power of a son of Odin, adopted though he be. Thus valiantly as Sif fights, she is no match for Loki. Thor begs her not to fight, while Loki respects her warrior prowess, although that does not stop him from removing her from the fight by knocking her out cold with a mystic Norn blast.

Thor-as-Blake lunges at Loki. While he is unable to harm the evil god, he grabs his walking stick and manages to turn back into his natural godly self. Even with Loki’s stolen Norn power, he is no match for Thor, who manages to restrain the evil one.

Thor then discovers that Sif has been injured badly enough that she needs to be operated upon by a doctor with both amazing surgical skills and working knowledge of Norn magic. Fortunately, Blake seems to be free to do whatever the hell he wants with complete support of his peers in the medical community and so he is allowed to just show up at the hospital and operate of Sif.

A freed Loki attacks Blake in the middle of the surgery during a delicate juncture but a doctor named Carson blasts Loki with ether, which will knock out an Asgardian the same as a human.  This buy’s Blake the time he needs.  After the surgery, Blake shoos out the doctors and nurses of the operating room (along with comatose Sif) as Loki wakes up.

The two brothers start fighting yet again, smashing through the wall of the hospital into the streets of New York. Odin watches this battle from his Chamber of Visions, lamenting the brothers’ enmity. Furthermore, he has become aware of a threat to Asgard that he feels must be fought by all who pay him homage, and so he uses an Odin-Bolt to tear the two brothers apart, after which Loki vanishes into the unknown.

Meanwhile, Ulik has stopped his fall by grabbing onto a ledge within the crevice into which he had been falling. After pulling himself up, he finds himself in a mystic canyon filled with shining rocks, confounded by the strangeness of his environs.

First Appearance: Doctor Carson

 

Days of Thunder – May 1968 The Mighty Thor #152

“The Dilemma of Dr. Blake!”
Let Marveldom rejoice! That which awaits us hath been garnished in grandeur by Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Epically Embellished by: Vince Colletta/ Legibly Lettered by Sam Rosen

Thor 152

Even with reconstituted godhood, Thor is not a match for the Destroyer. Fortunately, Karnilla withdraws Sif’s essence , and it falls to the ground, lifeless. Thor turns the Destroyer over to the custody of the local constabulary. It is not clear if the Wrecker was arrested. A short time later, Odin comes to Midgard in human raiment and steals the Destroyer back.

Meanwhile, in the Norn Queen’s lair, Balder fights Ulik one-on-one, apparently after each changed clothes between issues. Sif wants to help but resists the urge, implicitly due to it not being honorable to double-team an enemy. As Balder and Ulik fight, Karnilla uses her magic to teleport Thor to the scene.

Thor has prior beef with Ulik and therefore Balder tags out allowing Thor to take the fight to Ulik. Since Thor started fighting the Wrecker in issue #148, there has been no break in the action, but there has sure been a lot of enemy-swapping, as Thor has moved from the Wrecker to the Destroyer to Ulik.

As Ulik and Thor fight, there is some really good characterization on the part of the Troll. He clearly takes pride in his savagery and seems to find Thor’s honor to be obscene from his Trollen vantage. “Honor is an empty vessel… and none but weaklings sip of it!” All of a sudden brutish Ulik is cast in a new light and carries with him a sort of reverse-nobility.

Thor throws Ulik down the bottomless Abyss of Shadows.

While Thor fought Ulik, Loki snuck back into the fray and has seemingly stolen Thor’s hammer! It is unclear how he got around the hammer’s newly restored enchantment, which should bar him from lifting it, but the hammer is gone and so is Loki!

As for the Trolls, it is unclear if they stayed under the command of Karnilla or if they returned to king Geirrodur.

 

Days of Thunder – April 1968 Avengers #51

“In the Clutches of the Collector!”
From the Sanctum Sanctorum of Smilin’ Stan Lee comes this Roy Thomas-John Buscema Two-Man Tour De Force!/ Inked and Embellished by: George Tuska/ Lettered and Relished by: Sam Rosen

Avengers 51

In the six months since Avengers Day, The Black Widow has disappeared, Hercules has returned to Olympus, Captain America has abruptly quit, and Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch have re-joined the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, although in her defense, the Scarlet Witch appeared to be suffering from a head injury when she re-joined.

Now, the three remaining core Avengers have been abducted by a villain named the Collector who wishes to own and imprison the Avengers for his collection. He has also captured Thor and fed him an Asgardian Obedience Potion, which compels Thor to obey all of the Collector’s commands.

The Collector commands Thor to bring him Iron Man, but Thor, eternally a letter of the law kind of guy, reasons that the easiest way to bring in Iron Man will be to kill him first. The two battle, and it is clear to all parties that Iron Man is simply no match for Thor, and that’s with Thor unaware of the fact that Iron Man has a damaged heart.

This conflict ends with the following bit of purple: “Then, amidst the shattered wreckage… as swirls of dust begin to clear… only one form stirs… that of Thor, the immortal who has become a murderous puppet… while the unmoving, battered figure of Iron Man can only lie in silence… and contemplate his own death–!”

Meanwhile the Avengers proper break free of the Collector and fight his Robotoid, while the Collector flees to a Sidereal Time-World. When the Collector exits our Time-World, Thor’s mind is freed so that he might help his fallen ally. He does so, and also helps the Avengers with the mop-up.

Afterward, Captain America calls the Avengers and asks if his friend The Panther can join. Anyone Cap vouches is good enough for the Avengers, and probably the fact that they are down to three members is also a factor in the vetting of The Panther. This is great news, because The Panther is best superhero of all time.

First Appearance:  The Collector

Mostly James Bond and Thor Stuff