Episode 11: The Zaniac Lives / The Mutant Massacre

BEHOLD: Thor #371-374! Justice Peace travels back in time to stop Zaniac – and save Jane Foster! Sigurd Jarlson finds love and acceptance! And underground, Thor faces the Marauders to save X-Factor!

13 thoughts on “Episode 11: The Zaniac Lives / The Mutant Massacre”

  1. Haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast yet, but I’ll quickly note that one of my dream Marvel comics would see Justice Peace team up with Justicer Bull and Boss Cage.

  2. Here’s my (fake) pitch. Years have passed in Marvel time since the Simonson Thor run. So, one or two of the Sapristi kids teams up with Hildy Volstagsdotter, Mick and Kevin, and Verity Willis (cheating slightly but just because we never saw her in Thor doesn’t mean she wasn’t there), and they … do … something. Whatever they do, it’d be epic.

    Oh, and Katie Power. Close enough.

  3. The Masque of the Red Death quote (and Viking funeral) worked wonderfully as a cap to the Mutant Massacre. It works great as a stand alone Thor story, but it gives a very intense emotional feeling to a story that needed some catharsis after all that came before.

    BTW, I listened to the Thor part of the X-Plain the X-Men episode. I want to point out this quote (talking about Hela’s curse on Thor): “Thor will be forced to confront that eventually, and perhaps some podcast will cover it, but what he does here is give the Morlock’s a proper Viking sendoff.”

    1. Ha! Little did I know. Maybe that’s when the seed of this podcast was unconsciously planted?

      And agreed about the choice of The Masque of the Red Death quote – it’s unexpected, but it really works to crystallize the intense emotions that both Thor and the reader are experiencing.

  4. The Karl Urban Dredd is pretty good. Check it out if you’re interested.

    And I’ve been wondering, what’s your opening and closing music? It sounds like Manowar, though I can’t pick the track. Thor the Powerhead would be appropriate.

    1. It’s actually a track we found on Pond5, a gigantic collection of stock music you can license for whatever you want. It’s called Ride The Dragon and is by a company(?) called DOTSOUND who has literally thousands of tracks on there.

      But yeah – the Manowar feel of it was a big part of why it seemed so right for the show.

  5. I am so glad you mentored how much the Zaniac’s swarm form called back to old EC Comics, because that was the first thing I thought of. Now I wonder, though, when this was published relative to when Marvel Comics stopped caring about the CCA.

    1. Well, it didn’t carry the CCA seal on the cover, so it’s clearly no longer a commercial concern.

  6. Elisabeth’s comment comparing Sal B’s version of Kirby derived space to his depiction of style and fashion was revealing about how long a powerful iconic image of an imagined place can last.
    One of the interesting decisions made in these comics is how much more mundane Thug Thatcher looks. In the original 60s story, while Thug is an ordinary guy, he has a much stronger look. He’s got a snazzy goatee and wears sunglasses at all times. He could be a particularly tough beatnik. His scheme was on a grander level than most gangsters in comics as he was trying to takeover the steel industry. I think his mistreatment of Ruby and her boys is made more scary by stripping him of his glamour and emphasising how mundane his evil is.
    The high point of the story is Jane Foster day-dreaming about life with Thor, especially her helpfully giving him a haircut.
    I think one of the things I’m getting from this read through is an appreciation of how much of the strength of this run is rooted in kindness. Not particularly metal maybe, but an undervalued coinage in comics of any period.

    1. I think another thing about Thug Thatcher is that the death of Ruby is very un-Silver Age. In fact, even for the ’80s, it’s odd for a superhero comic to go there, and to have the superhero have to think about what happens to parentless children left behind.

      There’s something about the juxtaposition of that with Judge Dredd that’s interesting. Obviously, one of the things that made British boys’ comics different from American ones was that death was really, really common.

      (Before 2000 AD, British comics aimed at boys were disproportionately war comics, with stories set largely in WW II, so people being gunned down by machine-gun fire was as natural as it would have been if things like Sergeant Rock dominated the American comics’ market. 2000 AD inherited and then amplified what was already a very high comfort level with violence.)

      And Dredd is obviously an extreme case of this. An innocent like Ruby being killed for maximum shock value is *exactly* the sort of thing that happened all the time in ’80s Dredd. So it’s like Justice Peace brings in his kind of plot point at the time when Thor himself has been away from traditional American superhero comics for a while, and is only just coming back to the genre.

      Of course, the violent deaths in Dredd’s world are pretty consequence-free for Dredd. (How many orphans *are* there in Mega-City One? There are probably hundreds of special Blocks, just to house orphans.) So Thor having to deal with the children left behind suggests how the superficially more “realistic” attitude of 2000 AD to violence actually isn’t any more realistic than the traditional Silver Age superhero comic.

      And obviously, Simonson was an American comics creator writing this comic at the time when the British Invasion was underway, although still fairly early in its development. (Curiously, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is a close match for Simonson’s Thor, chronologically.)

      I remember reading, not too long after this, in this American colored reprint of the Apocalypse War that I found, an afterword about American comics’ creators reactions to Dredd. Rick Veitch hated it, if I’m remembering correctly. Simonson was cited as liking it and having celebrated it in these issues.

  7. Quick follow-up. The first Dredd film is worth watching if you’re a fan of the original material.

    With the sound off. Visually, it’s trying really hard to recreate what Mega-City One looks like, with very specific references to the comic. (Although with little touches that make it more of a future East Coast American city than the original actually is.) So if you can ignore character, dialogue, plot, etc., and just watch it as a succession of images…

    But if you’re not steeped in the original, don’t bother.

    The more recent Dredd film is vastly better as a film, and I would absolutely recommend to anyone who likes action movies as a good, tense, action movie with solid performances.

    But I think it’s reacting against the first film by keeping its visual sensibility terribly subdued. You don’t remotely get a sense of how crazy the comic’s imagined future is. They even lose one of my favorite elements of the comic, that all the Blocks are named after 20th-century celebrities or pop culture characters. And the Block simply doesn’t seem big enough – it’s far too realistic.

    The plan was, I realize, to bring in the more fantastic elements in sequels, and to play it safe in the first one to avoid deterring mainstream international audiences, especially Americans, by making it seem too insane. But seeing as we’re not going to get a sequel…

  8. I read Simonson’s run at the time and it was my favourite run ever, alongside the Simonsons on X-Factor and Stern, Buscema and Palmer on Avengers.

    I love the podcast, the feelgood vibe really evokes the warmth of Simonson’s Thor.

    Funny, but Kevin and Mike’s story in hindsight hits several classic origin notes, parent murdered with them there, raised and trained by warrior people. Um, they’re like tiny Asgardian Iron Fists.

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