Days of Thunder – March 1972 The Mighty Thor #197

“The Well at the Edge of the World!”
Stan Lee, editor/ Gerry Conway, scripter/ John Buscema, artist/ Vince Colletta, inker/ Artie Simek, Letterer

Thor 197

Thor has arrived at the Twilight Well, guarded by Kartag. Thor announces his intent to steal the Well’s waters and so he and Kartag fight, while Satrina restrains his friends. Thor and Kartag’s battle eventually plunges them into the well itself.

Submerged within the Twilight Well, the waters of which hold unknown mystical properties, Thor has a vision, a moment of clarity.   Afterward, Kartag drags Thor’s unconscious form from the well. The battle is over.

On Blackworld, Sif and Hildegarde fight some monsters before meeting Silas Grant, a steamboat captain. Something strange is going on in Blackworld. When the Asgardians arrived, it seemed to be a medieval world, but things seem to keep changing, and the inhabitants seem to all be terrified of an unnamed “him” (not be be confused with “Him.”)

At the Twilight Well, Kartag’s masters reveal themselves: Three crones in red robes. They are the Norns, also known as the Fates. They are cosmic beings, and they claim that none have power over them, not even Odin. This quest to visit theTwilight Well was a test and the Asgardians have passed, apparently. The Norns gift our heroes with a sample of water from the Twilight Well and the assistance of noble Kartag.

This obviously raises questions about what relationship, if any, these beings have with Karnilla and the Norn Hag. If Karnilla is the Norn Queen, does that make her the representative of these women?  Surely she is not their leader.  It is not clear.

Thor, Volstagg, Fandral, Hogun, and Karag travel the rainbow bridge back to Asgard only to discover that the bridge has been shattered and that Asgard is gone! Fandral suggest that Asgard might not be destroyed, merely absent, and so Thor tries a bit of magic: He believes the waters of the Twilight Well to have an affinity with the water of the Cosmic Well of Asgard. He pours some the Twilight waters on his hammer and hurls the hammer into the unknown, trusting the water’s affinity to pull the hammer, with his party in tow, to Asgard, if indeed it still exists.

It works! Back on Asgard, they soon find themselves in battle with the Mangog. The Mangog has a surprise in store: He pulls out the near-death body of Odin, to use as a shield and as a trophy!

First Appearance: Silas Grant, The Norn

 

Days of Thunder – February 1972 The Mighty Thor #196

“Within the Realm of Kartag!”
“Stan Lee, editor/ Gerry Conway, scripter/ John Buscema, artist/ Vince Colletta, inker/ Jon Costa, letterer

Thor 196

Deep within the World’s End, Thor and his friends meet Satrina, servant of Kartag. She suckerpunches them with the Crimson Mist, which sends them into a shared hallucination of being waited on hand and foot by beautiful fawning women. Kygar, who is immune to the mist, warns Thor that things are not what they seem. This allows Thor to realize that they had been pawing over fawning MONSTERS! Her illusion pierced, Satrina kills Kygar and retreats.

Later, Satrina, having failed with the carrot, tries to scare Thor and company off with the stick. She creates a powerful dragon illusion, but Thor figures out that it is a trick. Out of options, she agrees to take our heroes to meet Kartag. Kartag is a fearsome Giant, armed with a giant cudgel of an axe, prepared to kill those who intrude upon his land.

On Blackworld, Sif and Hildegarde find themselves fighting bandits, which causes Sif to cry out “I feel that dark craving– an emotion akin to my love for Thor– The Battlelove of a warrior born!”  Sif has hopefully shaken off the weepiness that had been ailing her.

Elsewhere, Asgard is under assault by the Mangog. How can the Mangog still exist?  It is not entirely clear, but it is speculated that once something as powerful as the Mangog is created by magic, the very idea of it is too powerful to ever be undone.

As the Mangog attacks, Hela comes to Odin, chiding him for sending his son away to escape the power of the Mangog. The assembled might of Asgard tries to hold back the Mangog, but none can equal its strength. Odin’s oldest friend Khan, dies defending Asgard. In the face of the Mangog, with his dead friend claimed by Hela, Odin shouts to the heavens “ The Mangog hat almost triumphed– and for the sake of a thousand universes– this must not be! –This day, by my power, by my glory – the sacred world doth forever more pass away…”

The full implications of Odin’s actions are unclear, but at that moment, on another world, Sif and Hildegarde notice a star in the distance go nova.

First appearance: Satrina, Kartag

 

Days of Thunder – January 1972 The Mighty Thor #195

“In the Shadow of Mangog!”
Stan Lee, Editor/ Gerry Conway, Writer/ John Buscema, Artist/ Vince Colletta, Inker/ Artie Simek, Letterer

Thor 195

Currently unaware of the danger that Odin has allowed Loki to unleash, Thor and his friends take a well-deserved breather. Thor takes off his helmet and lets his beautiful tresses flow, while Fandral dances like an idiot. Thor pledges that he and Sif shall be wed within a fortnight. For a second time, Asgardian women other than Sif appear in the background.

All this revelry is cut short when Odin sends Thor and “the three who’s lives are bound to his” on a quest into the World’s End, to find Kartag the Keeper, so that he might divulge the secret of the Twilight Well. Sif can’t even be bothered to ask to go along only to be sternly denied. She skips straight to crying.

Odin then summons a warrior named Hildegarde and commands that she take Sif to Blackworld, which she does, by karate chopping Sif into unconsciousness and picking her up while Odin transports the two of them with his rod.

When Sif awakens she cries some more, bemoaning her separation from Thor. Hildegarde is unimpressed, as she is in love with one of the trio. She does not elaborate on this point, “We’ll have time enow for woman’s talk when we do reach shelter.” The two warriors head to a small village and along the way they help The Mighty Thor pass the very low bar that is the Bechtel Test for the first time in 112 issues.

On Asgard, Odin has assembled a team of very old friends of his: Khan, Rongor, Whitemane, and a fourth as-of-yet unnamed one. He need their help to protect Asgard against that which he has unwittingly unleashed.

He shows his friends that thanks to his mistake, Loki has released the Mangog, which somehow still exists. The Mangog does not believe in gratitude and traps Loki in a block of Amber.

Thor and company fight their way through some freaky monsters, including a pack of trolls that look unlike any trolls we have seen in these pages to date. Thor spares the lives of one of the trolls, named Kygar, who pledges to serve Thor forevermore.

And then the still-living Mangog arrives in Asgard.

First Appearance: Hildegarde, Khan, Rongor, Whitemane, Kygar

 

Days of Thunder Recap Page: Late Lee/Kirby, Early Buscema

So to recap…

The Way it Was

Thor is the Norse God of Thunder. As a member of the Asgardian race he is immortal and incredibly strong.. His Asgardian physiology includes a chromosomatic gland, which determines personality. His body also emits a free-flowing aura of electrons, which can be detected by other Asgardians. Although he is superhumanly strong, Thor must be on guard to avoid succumbing to Warrior’s Madness.

Thor is the son of Odin, King of Asgard. He is Odin’s beloved favorite son, however theirs is an uneasy relationship with hot tempers on both sides. Some number of years ago, Odin grew angry at Thor’s brash arrogance and decided that his son must learn humility. To that end, he transformed Thor into a crippled mortal named Donald Blake. Blake possessed no memory of his life as a god, believing himself to be a human med student.

Years later, after becoming a successful doctor, Blake stumbled upon an enchanted stick capable of transforming him into Thor, his true self.  He now uses this stick as a walking stick.
Doctor Donald Blake has become a famous genius medical doctor living in New York City. He is an amazing surgeon, specializing in neurosurgery but regularly performing all manner of surgeries. He also has a small neglected private practice where he serves as a general practitioner. In addition to his medical endeavors, he once built a sentient nigh-indestructible android.

Doctor Blake is disabled. His right leg is lame, requiring his use of a walking stick. For a number of years he was involved in a complicated courtship with his nurse and only employee, Jane Foster. Eventually she learned that her boyfriend was actually Thor, and ultimately decided that she could not handle the lifestyle that came with dating a god. After rejecting Thor, Odin tampered with her mind, removing her memories of both Blake and Thor.
While initially it appeared that when transformed, Blake’s personality simply inhabited Thor’s body, over time Thor’s personality and memories became stronger and stronger. Ultimately, regardless of whether they are in Blake’s body or Thor’s they seem to be a single, composite personality.  After being questioned by Blake about his dual nature,  Odin revealed the truth of Blake’s nature to Thor.

The gnarled stick that transforms Blake into Thor transforms itself into an enchanted hammer known as Mjolnir, which grants him a number of supernatural abilities. Thor is the only living being that can lift it, having earned that right incrementally through a series of noble deeds, although it can be lifted by mechanical devices. If he stamps it on the ground twice, he creates storms. If he stamps it three times he ends storms. Four stamps create seismic activity.

Mjolnir can also be spun to create space warps, time warps, and time travel. Thor can throw it so hard that it will pull him through the air, giving him a version of flight. Mjolnir radiates power, which can be harnessed to fly spaceships.  It was crafted from Uru metal by Trolls and enchanted by Odin.  he hammer can detect the presence of Asgardians, and in particular has a psychic link with Thor’s brother, Loki. The cause and exact nature of this link is unknown.

While on Earth, Thor must remain in near-constant physical contact with Mjolnir. If 60 seconds pass without Thor holding the hammer, he will revert to Doctor Blake and the hammer will revert to a walking stick. Fortunately, the enchanted hammer returns to Thor’s hands whenever it is thrown. Originally, this time limit only applied to Thor when he was on Earth, but recent events have suggested that it now applies wherever he may be.

In addition to his hammer, Thor possesses a Belt of Strength which can amplify his powers. For reasons that are unclear, he seldom wears it. Valkyries keep it safe for him on Asgard.

Thor is brother to Loki, Prince of Asgard and God of Evil. Loki was born a Frost Giant but was adopted by Odin as a baby, who conferred upon his child all the powers of a royal Asgardian. Loki is an evil schemer who hates his brother and is hated by Thor in return. Not as strong as Thor, Loki is a powerful magician and a shape shifter, although water negates these abilities. He also shares a psychic link with Mjolnir. He spends most of his time attempting to overthrow his father and to become ruler of Asgard.

Asgard is the most powerful of kingdoms in a world that is connected to Earth by a rainbow bridge known as Bifrost. It’s inhabitants are known as the Aesir but are more commonly referred to as Asgardians. Their world is inhabited by a number of sentient races, including fire demons, dwarves, trolls, flying trolls, mountain giants, ice giants, storm giants, rime giants, vanna, the demon men of Jotunheim, and Satan’s forty horsemen. Human life on Earth was first created by Asgardian magic.

Asgard is ruled by Odin, who possesses powers nearly unimaginable to mortals. He possesses a rod of power through which he channels his energies and a Ring of Power, which signifies his kingship.. He gains his power from the Enchanti-stones, powerful artifacts that he hides in the Odin-Cave. Once a year, he must hibernate in a state known as the Odinsleep. He possesses Odinthoughts.

In Asgard there is a giant sword known as the Odinsword, resting in its scabbard. It is prophesied that when this sword is unsheathed, it shall signal the apocalyptic event known as Ragnarok.  When this transpires, Asgard shall be destroyed in a a very specific manner.

In Thor’s youth, before he became Blake, some unknown force caused the Odinsword’s scabbard to begin to crack. As the crack grew, Odin feared that this was the work of some agent attempting to bring about Ragnarok. Thor and his friends began a quest to search for the cause of these cracks, but the source was never revealed to the reader.  Presumably, this threat was discovered and brought to an end, in some untold adventure, for Ragnarok has not yet transpired.

After his courtship of Nurse Jane Foster ended disastrously, Thor wasted no time in courting an Asgardian Warrior known as Sif. Sif is the sister of Heimdal and an able swordswoman, who must endure constant sexism from her colleagues, seemingly all male. Recently she has abandoned her armor for flowing dresses and spent a lot more time crying openly.  She and Thor are informally engaged.

Thor’s closest friend is Balder. Balder is a gentle, kindhearted Asgardian warrior.  He owns a sword from another universe.   Balder is in love with, and in turn loved by Karnilla, the Norn Queen. This is a tragic romance, for Karnilla is a long-standing enemy of Asgard and Balder is forever loyal to Odin in his heart. Recently, in order to save the life of Thor, Balder swore permanent allegiance to Karnilla, forsaking Asgard.

The exact nature of Karnilla’s enmity against Asgard is unknown, as is the exact nature of her people.  Karnilla is the Norn Queen, and a powerful sorceress. She is served by the Norn Hag, also a magic user.  Karnilla  is the possessor of the Norn Stones, artifacts capable of unleashing powerful magic.  In recent times, Karnilla has repeatedly aided the people of Asgard, out of personal interest, or out of love for Balder. In light of these actions, it is unclear whether the Norn Queen will remain an enemy of Asgard in the future.

Thor is also close friends with Hogun the Grim, Fandral the Dashing, and Volstagg the Voluminous, three warriors rarely seen outside of each other’s company. This trio of warriors are adventurers and braggarts, with Volstagg in particular being known for a braggadocio that exceeds his valor.

Other allies of Thor include: Heimdal, the stoic watchman guarding the rainbow bridge to Asgard, possessing astounding powers of perception; Hercules, the braggart prince of the Gods of Olympus.; The Recorder, an android created by the Colonizers of Rigel; The man known only as the Vizier, a close confidant of Odin.

In a recent encounter with the threat to all life known as Infinity, Thor encountered a man known only as the Silent One. This being appeared out of nowhere but seemed to be incredibly powerful and highly knowledgeable. He was also mute and largely uncommunicative. At a critical moment, the Silent One died, sacrificing his life for Thor’s. His origins and motives remain a mystery.

There exists an unfathomably powerful entity known as Galactus, who’s sole goal in life is to consume worlds in their entirety. Odin is concerned by the threat this being could pose to Asgard, and so has spent a great deal of time studying and monitoring it.

Thor has fought many additional super-powered enemies. Among them are: The Destroyer, Ulik the Troll, Hela the Goddess of Death, Surtur the Fire Demon, The Mangog, King Geirrodur, Ego the Living Planet, Pluto  the Lord of the Netherworld, Infinity, The Enchantress, the Executioner,  The Absorbing Man, The Wrecker, The Circus of Crime, The Gargoyle,  Mr. Hyde, The Cobra, and Zarrko the Tomorrow Man.

Thor is a longstanding member of a team of superheroes known as the Avengers. Despite nominally being a superhero, Thor has done many things beyond the purview of superheroics. He once traveled to the future where he proceeded to conquer planet Earth. In present day, he once nuked China. These actions seem to fly in the face of the vow Thor has taken to never take a mortal life.

In the early days of his dual Blake/Thor identity, Blake would spend most of his time on Earth. As time went on, Thor would became the dominant personality, with Blake increasingly becoming irrelevant to Thor’s life.  After abandoning his pursuit of Nurse Jane Foster, Thor was left with little reason to return to Earth, and even less reason to spend time as Doctor Blake.

Thor will spend months away from Earth, with extended stays on Asgard, and frequent trips into outer space.  This has left Blake’s practice in shambles. Also, Thor is technically a fugitive on Earth, as he was arrested for a crime he was guilty of, released on bail, and did not ever show up for the trial.

The character of Thor stars in the lead feature of a comic magazine originally entitled Journey into Mystery, later retitled The Mighty Thor. This incarnation of Thor was created by writer Stan Lee and Illustrator Jack Kirby. After the introductory adventure in issue #83, Thor’s early stories were written by Larry Lieber and illustrated by a variety of artists, most notably Don Heck. As of issue #97 creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby took over the book as the regular creative team. They also began the Tales of Asgard feature, a series of five-page stories that fleshed out the larger Asgardian world of Thor, running for nearly 50 issues. Kirby left the series after issue #179 and Lee departed soon after following issue #194. Kirby and Lee were replaced by John Buscema, and Gerry Conway respectively.  Thor also regularly appears in a minor supporting role in the team book The Avengers.

Days of Thunder – December 1971 The Mighty Thor #194

“This Fatal Fury!”
Stan Lee, Editor/ Gerry Conway, Writer/ John and Sal Buscema, Artists/ Artie Simek, Letterer

Thor 194

While fighting Storm Giants, Thor drops his hammer for 60 seconds, at which point he turns into Blake and slips through one of the giant’s fingers, before grabbing the hammer and reverting. This is a puzzler,  since the sixty second rule was incontrovertibly established in issue #139 as not applying when Thor is not on Earth. It has been hinted at  in more recent issues (specifically in issues #159, #185, and #186) that the Earthbound clause no longer applies, and now it seems there is no wriggling out of it. Thor changed into Blake while on Asgard.

Clearly the enchantment that ties Thor and his Blake persona together has been altered. The most likely scenario seems to be that when Odin stripped Thor of his hammer’s enchantment in issue #145 and later re-enchanted it in issue #151 the re-enchanting was a fresh enchantment, subtly different than the initial one. A second theory would be that after Thor learned the truth of his relationship with Blake that this somehow changed the rules for turning into him.

At any rate, things come to a head. Thor fights some Storm Giants. Sif cries some more. The trio joins the fray. Balder and Karnilla kiss before Balder has to ruin the moment. And Loki’s hand is beginning to hurt.

Finally, Thor and Loki battle one-on-one. The Odin-Ring would seem to put Loki physically on par with his brother, but instead, as they fight, he begins to suffer so much pain that he pulls the ring off of his finger and tosses it away, shrieking “My soul– My soul burns!”

A freshly awakened Odin reclaims the ring, for only he can wear the ring for any length of time. He banishes Loki and all seems well in Asgard. However, the dust has not had time to settle before the Vizier rushes in, panicked.

The Vizier takes Odin to the Cosmic Well, which shows the All-Father the  exact location where he banished Loki, in his haste. Loki is laughing darkly for unknown reasons. Upon seeing where he sent his son, Odin proclaims that “when Loki wakes that buried foe… the foundations of a universe will crumble!… Odin hath damned Asgard – – Hath damned us all!”

Days of Thunder – November 1971 The Mighty Thor #193

“What Power Unleashed?”
Stan Lee, Overseer Supreme/ Gerry Conway, Scripter Superb/ John and Sal Buscema, Artists Admirable/ Artie Simek, Letterer Legible

Thor 193

Not only is this the first issue with Gerry Conway taking over as scripter, but it is a weird overlength issue, with what was clearly supposed to be the first fourteen pages of the next issue tacked onto the book, perhaps as part of a scheme to hide the fact that the price of the book was going up by a nickle, perhaps because no Thor title shipped with an October date.

At any rate, Balder has caught the attention of the Silver Surfer. Since the last time Thor has encountered this shiny asshole, he has remained stuck on Earth and has completely written off the human race as being basically worthless. For this reason, the Surfer is less than inclined to help Balder, whom he does not remember.

Balder gets carried away in petitioning the Surfer for aide and says of Thor “For whom I would give my life!” Karnilla is super-pissed by that, for Balder’s life is not his to give. She lashes out in anger and mortally wounds Balder (She probably forgot that he is mortal on Earth.). She instantly regrets her actions, but has the Surfer to deal with. She demands respect but the Surfer informs her that he “Bows to no female.”

The Silver Surfer is a dick. Satan likely doesn’t want his soul because his soul is pure, he wants his soul because fuck that guy. At any rate, something in Balder and Karnilla’s melodramatics has convinced the Surfer to aid Thor, whom he also does not remember.

Meanwhile, on Asgard, Loki has resumed being super-creepy and has decided to force Sif to be his bride. This is unpleasant in every way imaginable, but does allow Loki to get a good dig in on Thor regarding the fact that he has continued to put off marrying Sif. It is worth pointing out that Thor has at this point been with Sif for longer than he had pined after Jane Foster, whom he was willing to renounce godhood in order to wed.

The Surfer finds Thor and tags in, taking over the stalemated battle with Durok. This frees Thor to return to Asgard. When he returns, he finds Heimdal who must fight Thor at Loki’s command. Thor knocks Heimdal off of the rainbow bridge, causing him to plummet, re-raising questions about the nature of the rainbow bridge.

Thor jumps down after Heimdal and somehow manages to loop back upward onto the bridge, saving his friend.  This suggests that the laws of physics are very strange on and near Bifrost.   He then proceeds onward, fighting his way past Storm Giants. He explicitly kills one named Kaggor the Tall, setting a new bloodthirstier tone for the book.

At last he finds Sif, attended by some random Asgardian women, wearing some stupid skimpy bridal get-up. Their reunion is cut short by Loki, who sends another wave of storm giants against Thor.

Meanwhile, The Surfer and Durok fight until the Surfer decides to pull Durok into the far future of Earth, some point past a time when mankind has wiped itself out. Time travel is apparently a thing that the Silver Surfer can do with nothing more than his board. He deposits Durok in this wasteland future, scoffs at the grisly fate of humanity, and presumably returns to present-day Earth.

First appearance: female Asgardian background characters, Kaggor the Tall

 

Stan Lee Wrap-Up

Stan

Stan Lee’s great achievement in this world was to take a genre of children’s stories, and to re-frame them as stories for adolescents. Spider-Man is the classic example of the adolescent superhero, but really, Lee’s Thor is the most adolescent of the superheroes. He’s petty and quick to anger. He spends months mooning after his one true love only to move on to the next girl without missing a beat. He thinks he’s always in the right, blind to what an ass he is and to the privilege that he takes for granted.

And of course there is his relationship with his father. Stan Lee’s Thor is always craving his father’s approval even as he is constantly defying his will. He wants to be independent but regularly relies on his dad to step in and solve his messes. Thor’s relationship with Odin is the core of this story.

With Thor, Stan Lee created his version of a Superman analog, and the result was a romantic melodrama about a bratty teenage fratboy jock of a god who fought communists and tried get his dad to approve of the girl he liked. It was a beautiful and bonkers run of comics.

Days of Thunder – September 1971 The Mighty Thor #192

“Conflagration!”
Story by: Stan Lee/ Illustration by: John Buscema/ Embellishment by: Sam Grainger/ Lettering by: Artie Simek/ Costumes by: Forbush’s Funky Fashion Factory

Thor 192

Sif resumes weeping.

Thor battles Durok on Earth, which is  a rough stalemate with a lot of collateral damage. Thor does what he can to minimize the harm and to hypnotize the bystanders into forgetting anything had ever happened.

Meanwhile, on Asgard, Balder begs Karnilla for permission to go to Earth. He promises to not strike a blow in Thor’s defense. Curious, Karnilla agrees. Once they arrive, Balder uses his sword to magically summon the Silver Surfer!

It is here, mid-story, that Stan Lee steps away from scripting duties of Thor.   And so the first era of The Mighty Thor draws to a close.

 

Days of Thunder – September 1971 Amazing Adventures #8

“An Hour For Thunder!”
San Lee, Editor/ Roy Thomas Writer * Neal Adams Artist/ John Verpoorten, Inker/ Arite Simek, Letterer

Amazing Adventures 8

Lionel Dibbs, a patient of Doctor Blake’s, has contracted cancer.  Blake has diagnosed him as having less than two years to live. He decides to go out in a blaze of glory and destroy the slums in which he grew up.  To that end, he gets a gun for a hand and enlists the help of a man posing as Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans, husband of Medusa. Thor stops Dibbs and inadvertently kills the Black Bolt imposter.

Presumably, this story either takes place around issue #183 of The Mighty Thor or some time after the current Loki story.

Days of Thunder – August 1971 The Mighty Thor #191

“A Time of Evil!”
Story by Stan Lee/ Art by John Buscema/Embellishment by Joe Sinnott/ Lettering by Sam Rosen So be it!

Thor 191

Thor, with his aching hammer, really wants to attack Loki, despite the fact that his brother wears the Odin-ring. When his father reminds him that they cannot raise a hand against Loki, Thor calls Odin a coward. For this, Odin magically removes Thor’s mouth.  When Odin immediately calms down and reverses the process, it is clear that he removed the entire interior space of the mouth, not just the exterior lip part. The art makes it super-weird.

Thor Mouth

Odin cannot be bothered with yet another case of Loki stealing his throne, and so he shrugs the whole thing off and heads to the Odinsleep. After he leaves, Thor and Sif immediately attack Loki. Loki, who’s powers are increased by the Odin-Ring, playfully fights back.

Eventually, Loki summons Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg to fight alongside Thor and Sif, just to make things more fun. After singlehandedly defeating all five of his enemies, he commands Karnilla to use her magic to create a man more powerful than any that have come before. She complies, but the form she creates is lifeless.

Loki then uses the Odin-Ring to fill the brute, who he names “Durok, the Demolisher”, to life. Although Durok is granted life, he is not granted speech, nor a soul. Once he animates this being, Loki sends him to Earth so that he might slay everything that lives. Naturally, Thor gives chase.

First Appearance: Durok the Demolisher

Days of Thunder – July 1971 The Mighty Thor #190

“–And so, to Die!”
Stan Lee, Author and John Buscema, Illustrator now exceed their former triumphs, aided and abetted by Joe Sinnott, Embellisher and Sam Rosen, Letterer

Thor 190

As Hela prepares to claim Thor, Balder sleeps fitfully, for he has given his fealty and his heart to one who is an enemy of Asgard. He is awakened by Karnilla, who has come to warn her beloved that Hela has found Thor.

Balder races to Odin with Karnilla at his side. He begs Odin to intervene and Odin finds he cannot stand back and allow his son to die. Odin travels to Earth and slays Hela to protect his son.

Killing Hela has put an end to death.  On Earth, Thor witnesses the dire effects. Amongst these effects: insects begin to multiply rapidly and “The population explosion, without the safety valve of death causes the teeming multitudes to fight for every inch of living space!”  This happens immediately.

Thor tells Odin that this cannot stand, and with tears in his eyes, Odin resurrects Hela. As Hela begins to drain the life from Thor, Odin brings Sif to her beloved’s side where she again weeps openly. Sif petitions the Death Goddess to take her in Thor’s place, a perfect mirror of Sif’s first appearance way back in issue #102.

As before, this selfless act so moves Hela that she decides to spare Thor. Now it is her time to cry as she proclaims that while she has never known love, she now understands what it means.

As Thor, Sif, and Odin return to Asgard, Thor asks his father if this turn of events had been his plan all along, and Odin harshly refuses to answer. “I am the way! I am the light! And none may share my Odinthoughts!”

The short time in which Odin was away from Asgard was long enough for Loki to again gain control of the Odin- Ring and thus the kingdom.  After this turn of events, it becomes unclear if Karnilla told Balder of Thor’s plight out of love or out of a scheme to get Odin out of Asgard. Either way, Heimdall, Hogun, and Fandral have already been exiled while Loki is served by Trolls and the Norns (including Balder).

The heroes are powerless to act against Loki while he wears the ring. Thor cries “My hammer aches for vengeance,” but his hammer is denied release.

 

Days of Thunder – June 1971 The Mighty Thor #189

“The Icy touch of Death!”
Scripted in sparkling splendor, by: Stan Lee/ Drawn in dazzling drama, by: John Buscema/ Embellished with exotic elan, by: Joe Sinnott/ Lettered with a scratchy penpoint by: Sam Rosen

Thor 189

All of Thor’s friends freak out over the notion that Hela is going to come for him. Sif, who has become very emotional since Buscema took over, weeps openly. Odin tells Thor to hide on Earth in the guise of Blake while Odin thinks his Odinthoughts.

Balder returns once again to Karnilla, in order to beg her aid in protecting Thor against Hela. Karnilla cares nothing about Thor, he is a son of Asgard and Balder is the only Asgardian for whom she cares. Balder confesses that he loves her in turn, but that as long as she is Asgard’s foe, she remains his as well.

Karnilla, the Norn Queen, gives Balder a cold-hearted offer. If Balder will swear fealty to her, if he will renounce Odin, she will help Balder save Thor from the threat that is Hela. Balder, a swirling mass of conflicting emotions, agrees to the deal.

Balder at last swears his loyalty to Karnilla, who has loved him all these many months and so she honors their deal by immediately feeding Balder poison. This sends him to the Realm of Death, where he is able to confront Loki, who had been in the process of selling out his brother to Hela.

Not able to defeat Loki on his best day, Balder is no threat at all to the evil prince, for his Odin-Blade has lost its enchantment now that Balder has turned his back on his one-time liege. However, the fight between Balder and Loki bores Hela, and so so she teleports them back to Asgard.

In Asgard, Loki flees while Balder goes to Odin to tell him what has transpired. Odin already knows what Balder has done and he forgives him, for Balder acted out of love for the All-Father’s son.

Hela has learned from Loki that Thor is on Earth, and so she travels there in the coolest mortal garb any Asgardian has ever been depicted as wearing: A long green coat and a giant papakha. She searches for Thor, which of course should be no trouble for an Asgardian, but she is confounded by a series of illusions created by Odin.

Hela 3

 

Finally, she strikes upon a solution: She will just murder a bunch of people until Thor shows himself. Sure enough, that does the trick. Thor comes to her and he has no choice but to yield.

First appearance: Odinthoughts

Days of Thunder – May 1971 The Mighty Thor #188

“The End of Infinity!”
By Stan Lee and John Buscema/ Inking: Jim Mooney/ Lettering: Sam Rosen

Thor 188

Thor at last reveals the secret of the comic force that is Infinity. Back when Loki trapped Odin in the Sea of Eternal Night (As shown in issue #176) Hela, goddess of death came to him. It was, in fact, at her hands that Balder withered and aged as he went to save his liege. With Odin separated from Asgard and sleeping the Odinsleep, Hela believed that she would at last be able to claim Odin. Yet even in a weakened state and far away from the Asgardians that are the source of his power, Odin was too strong to die. And yet Hela did not fail completely. She claimed a portion of Odin and that portion, now in her thrall, she named Infinity.

Hela released Infinity and tasked it with the taking of all life. Hela wished to claim the entire universe with Infinity, her greatest servant.

It turns out the analytical mind of Blake was not called for after all.

Thor is shaken but he is not cowed. “Who thinks that Thor would falter? A man may fight, though hope be dim… A god will fight– when hope be gone!” Thor would fight and kill death herself.

thor188 infinity

Once again Loki and Karnilla join their magic together.  They take the combined power of Thor, Balder, Sif, Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg as well as the power of Mjolnir itself, channeling it through Loki’s horned helm and straight at Odin. This combined power is enough to free Odin’s will.

Newly awakened, Odin now knows what it is that he faces. Armed with that knowledge, he takes Infinity back into himself. He then returns to the halls of Asgard, reclaims the Scepter of Power and with a touch sheathes the Odin-Sword. He then uses the power within himself to reverse all the death and destruction caused by Infinity.

The threat of Infinity is passed, but all is not well. Hela, enraged by her failure, intends to finally claim the life of Thor!

 

Days of Thunder – April 1971 The Mighty Thor #187

“The World is Lost!”

Thor 187

A Saga to Stagger your Imagination!  By: Stan Lee, Author/ John Buscema, Illustrator/ Joe Sinnott, Embellisher/ Sam Rosen, Letterer

On Asgard, many mighty warriors use an amazing giant vise in an  attempt to put the Odin-Sword back into its scabbard, to no avail.

Thor 187 Vise

Balder and Sif seek out Karnilla. They forge an alliance with her, and later do the same with Loki, as the end of the universe transcends petty politics. They ask Karnilla to use her magic to break the grip that has seized Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg but her vast power is not enough to break the spell. It takes the combined power of Karnilla and Loki to get the job done. Once more themselves, the warriors cannot shed any additional light on Infinity or the World Beyond.

Thor, meanwhile, has to fight his dad. He is no match for Odin, even when brainwashed, and so he retreats to Asgard.  A plan is needed in the face of this dire sequence of events, and so, in the heart of Asgard, Thor turns himself into Doctor Blake, hoping that the doctor’s mind can come up with something that he cannot.

It seems a strange notion that Blake would be smarter than Thor, since they share memories and Blake has no personality of his own, but Blake is an android-building neurosurgeon and Thor likes to solve problems by hitting them with a hammer so maybe it does make sense that Blake would be smarter.

Alone and off-panel, the Vizier shows Blake the truth about Infinity. Shortly afterward Thor emerges from the Chamber Imperial, shaken to his core. He knows Infinity’s secret and with a stricken look on his face, he tells his assembled friends and enemies that he now knows why Infinity must triumph!

 

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 – October 1970 The Mighty Thor #181

“One God Must Fall!”
Stan Lee, Author/ Neal Adams, Artist, Inking: Joe Sinnott/ Lettering: Artie Simek

Thor 181

In Hell, while Mephisto toys with Thor’s would-be rescuers, Sif strikes at the ice that entraps her beloved with her blade again and again to no avail.  Thor uses Loki’s trickster powers to have the blade fly from her hands, striking a bestial demon who charges Sif and attacks with fire breath. This breath is avoided by Sif but it melts the enchanted ice.

Once freed, Thor uses his recently-buffed mystic power to recede his physical aspect from the universe, until all that is left is his divine essence. What remains is an aura of purity that cripples Mephisto. Pained by looking at Thor’s true aspect, Mephisto sends away all of the Asgardians.

Meanwhile, on Earth Loki-as-Thor addresses the U.N. “All ye who trod the Earth shall be my slaves! Let humanity tremble before the power of Thor!” Before “Thor” can cause serious damage, Balder re-confronts him. They battle, and this time Balder uses Loki’s lack of familiarity with Thor’s strengths to his advantage. Loki tries to zap Balder with Mjolnir, instead of bludgeon him with it. As Loki gets more and more frustrated, Balder goads him until he publicly reveals himself to be Loki and not Thor.

Loki then batters Balder unconscious again, but Thor soon arrives and the two fight again. Loki-as-Thor throws a steam shovel at Thor-as-Loki. Thor waits for Loki to throw Mjolnir at him and then he hits his brother with everything he’s got. He gets badly hurt but sixty seconds pass and Loki fails to retrieve the hammer.   Loki’s body with Thor’s face disappears, replaced with Don Blake’s. Loki’s spirit is suddenly without a host and it rushes to its original face, in turn forcing out Thor’s spirit, which returns to Blake’s body. Thor-as-Blake wastes no time and grabs his stick,  reverting to Thor in short order.

Thor taunts Loki, now in a body he himself had beaten severely. “Do you choose to fight– or yield? ‘Tis all the same to me!”

Loki replies “I do not fight– I do not yield! My hatred shall sustain me!” And then he magically disappears.

 

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.

Mostly James Bond and Thor Stuff