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 hammer 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