Episode 12: Asgardian Steel

BEHOLD: Thor #375-378! Hela calls down her dark vengeance! Thor forges armor most mighty! And as Asgard falls prey to dark magicks, who shall stand between the golden city and the fierce frost giants?

14 thoughts on “Episode 12: Asgardian Steel”

  1. I read the bit with Amora and Heimdall as her actually wanting to be dragged out bodily by her man, or if not wanting to be then at least not minding too much. But she really doesn’t want to admit such a thing to Balder. I mean, she could zap Heimdall any time she wanted, right? She’s not a lightweight. Maybe I’m being too generous, it’s not a comfortable scene.

    Thor’s armour is brilliant, and I’d love to see a modern artpiece of it with a greater colour palette, that could really bring out the detail. One thing that has always bothered me though, is that his white armguard thing reminds me of a giant shuttlecock for some reason, and I can’t get the association out of my head. But that’s just me, not a problem with the design.

    1. Ha ha ha! Now I wish Thor had some evil badminton-playing villain to battle. Yeah, I’m glad the Amora-Heimdall scene ended well, with an open and honest conversation, but the ’80s were a very different time. 🙂

    1. Didn’t he have a line along the lines of “Don’t get me wrong, I get weird. I once turned myself into a giant pile of cocaine” or something like that?

  2. I know it was foretold, but to hear the both of you discussing The Twilight of the Pods at the start of this episode brought some feels…however, let’s fight on in the face of Doom!
    Loki’s opening sulk brought the opening splash of Silver Surfer #4 to mind. When I compared them I saw sulky Loki slumped in a big chair (check), spilling drink (check), brazier in foreground (check), pillar in background (check), decorative half wall ending in dragon head (check), fancy decanter (check). This isn’t a swipe though, the angles are all different. The image in Silver Surfer is drawn by John Buscema, but is inked by Sal. As well as being a decent comic artist in his own right, Sal is also a great inker, giving us the best inks on John’s work that aren’t his own imo. I’m left wondering if this is a conscious or unconscious homage.
    Something I enjoyed when Loki visited Hela was she appears to have added another foot to her collar, possibly to cheer herself up. Then I started trying to think about how there was death when Loki was a child, before Hela was born. I gave up. Myth, what are you going to do?
    Contrary to what Miles said, the High Evolutionary didn’t teach the Man-Beast karate from a million years in the future, it was an evolved ability/system of knowledge from being left cooking a bit long when Thor arrived unannounced. The High Evolutionary wasn’t much for teaching, which is why he hired Jane Foster to teach the Knights of Wundagore.
    The narrator in #376 calls Loki ‘the ill-made stepson of the gods’ which odd and kind of cruel. Odin didn’t marry his mum and there’s nothing ‘ill-made’about him. I’m pretty sure the narrator should have a think about using ‘ill-made’ in any context.
    I was a bit torn in #377, I kinda would have enjoyed a call back to ‘DOOM!’ when Thor was forging his armour, especially given it’s effect on the dark elves, but on reflection could see it would be awfully close to self parody.
    JIM #120 is pretty indispensable reference for this issue. Not only does it have the first time Thor went there to do some forging, it also had Loki’s machine for grabbing folk and the first appearance of Gudrun and Brigette Bardot. Stan calls her a foreign movie star, but Jack knew who he was drawing.
    There is a Beowulf in Tower of Shadows #6, but he fights a ‘ghost beast’ who is never named Grendel. I say ‘a Beowulf’ because this has no resemblence to the classic tale. It’s written and drawn by Wally Wood. It’s nice enough to look at, but a bit ‘eh’ as a story.
    Thor’s new armour is fun and somehow reminds me of the Sutton Hoo helmet. The advantage of that helmet is it has a sweet moustache on the visor. The grandeur of it makes me think of how in Irish myth whenever a hero or a god turns up narratives generally go ‘and this person was dressed! Oh boy they had some great clothes!’ Irish myth is like violent, tragic Vogue.
    There was also a conspiracy theory about Thor’s new togs. In the mid-eighties many of Marvel’s core characters were sporting different looks. There was speculation this was connected to the Kirby lawsuit of the time, after all if they looked pretty much the same as they did when created then it would be more apparent how much Kirby had contributed, but if they were different, well… it was also a low point in Marvel’s relationship with the fan press, with the Comics Journal and others campaigning for Kirby. Shooter seemed to feel they were just a bunch of Cherkles…

    1. I had no idea about the Kirby lawsuit angle! Yuck. Well, it’s interesting that (SPOILER) Thor goes RIGHT back to his original look after Simonson departs–he even loses his mighty beard!

  3. I felt Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had the most creative use of Crusher Creel. It basically took one of the scarier moments from this arc – Creel absorbing the properties of Mjolnir. Because, once he did, he responded to Thor’s every command and Thor could make him move just by willing it.

    I also have to comment on Loki because he does seem like an exceptional dick in this story. That being said, I think it’s a good thing. It’s really easy to see Loki’s heroic moment and go “oh he’s just an anti-hero and occasional prankster.” It’s good to see Loki causing people to die out of his maliciousness to show, while he may occasionally be persuaded to do good deeds, he’s not a good dude.

    1. The writing of Loki bothers me in this arc too… not because of “evil” mind you, but because I don’t see what’s in for him in this plan, what are he trying to gain? The jerk is nothing if not self-serving and self-interested. :/

      1. [Spoiler’s for Kieron Gillen’s Journey into Mystery. Really don’t read if you haven’t read it all the way to the end. You want to encounter that unspoiled. Also for Al Ewing’s Loki: Agent of Asgard.]

        One of the better things about Brian Bendis’s long ascendancy at Marvel was the lines that he gave to Loki in Siege about why Loki was scheming to tear everything down to no particular purpose: because that’s what he’s god *of* and you might as well ask Tyr why he’s really into war.

        Gillen then runs with that and modifies it by adding that on another level it’s about Loki as narrative device, and has him “escape” it by doing something much more utterly villainous than he’s historically done (i.e.. not escape it). My sense is that Ewing’s idea that Loki then manages to refashion himself as god of stories should have functioned as a way that he can transcend that and actually escape his divine/narrative destiny.

        This is one reason why I’m less keen on Aaron’s run that our hosts (bearing in mind that I’m reading on Unlimited, and so am six months behind). There are things that I like about it, but I’d rather he left Loki alone if he didn’t have anything as interesting to do with him as Gillen and Ewing. Even Vote Loki, for all its flaws in execution, was doing something that was well worth a try.

        But back to Simonson, I think – whether or not he intended it -his use of Loki highlights Gillen’s idea of Loki as trapped in his role as a narrative device. I’ve bored people at length here before with my suggestion that this section of Simonson’s Thor is about integrating his epic-fantasy stuff back into the superhero genre where Thor was when Simonson picked him up. (Esp. the arc with the return (and “return”) of classic villains.)

        When we talk about Loki as a villain because he’s the god of being a villain and there in the story to be a villain, that’s the Lee/Kirby Thor. This Loki is meant to recall the Silver Age Loki, who often does evil stuff because he just *hates* Thor and Asgard, and – as Tales of Asgard shows – has since childhood. And of course he was created to be Thor’s Doctor Doom, the recurring antagonist – in the Silver Age it does define him.

        *I’m in the camp that sees more Kirby than Lee in “Lee/Kirby” material, and especially in Thor, where I think it’s likely that Lee’s main contribution was the faux-Shakespearian Asgardian dialogue. Certainty is unattainable, of course, and how much input Lee had into the plot may well have varied from issue to issue.

        1. I read all Thor and Thor related stuff (I’m not sure I remember it all, was sort of long ago) so yeah nothing in this is particularly news for me. I’m pretty much with you with not enjoying the current run by Aaron that much too, because among other things he has nothing interesting to do with Loki (it’s also painfully slow, keeps adding stuff while the writer already has a problem juggling everything, and so forth).

    2. Some of the synonyms of ‘mischief’ are harm, hurt and injury. There may be a shift taking place where it sounds more like childish tricks like (aptly) ‘Thunder and Lightning’ – a game where you knock someone’s door loudly and run away fast. Delightfully there are places in England where this is called ‘Knock down ginger’ although no-one I’ve asked knows why-anyway, I digress…anyway, this Loki is the god of harm and hurt and injury. I enjoy Rob Rodi and Esad Ribic’s series where Loki wins and this allows him the latitude to think differently about things.

  4. My earlier comment should be read as a reply to Barron B. (A vampire from Worrld Warr II?)

    Since our hosts mentioned other good runs to come, I’ll say that Jurgens’ run eventually becomes very good indeed – although I’m still a little short of finishing it. It’s up there with Morrison’s New X-Men as an illustration of what was valuable about the James era’s relaxed attitude to continuity. Jurgens is allowed to tell a really big story, in which he really asks what it would mean for us to have an actual god wandering around saving us from monsters and other threats.

    I won’t spoil it, but it ends up in a place that nowadays would only be allowed if it were a giant crossover event. This would have its disruptive effects on other titles (even if, to be fair, Marvel minimizes those nowadays fairly effectively by confining most of its crossovers’ plot-critical material to the main miniseries).

    More importantly, it would compress a story that Jurgens allows to play out over years, which gives him time to present developments as happening at a realistic pace, and to explore how they affect ordinary people.

    It works, among other things, as a commentary on Simonson’s Thor that says, “But *we* don’t live in the world of Norse mythology. What does it do to human beings to intrude all that into *our* world?”

    Anyway, highly recommended (even if I haven’t quite finished it). You can probably skim at least the first 30 issues or so, though, and, honestly, if you don’t mind figuring out who people are and what’s going on as you’re going along, you could probably start at #41.

  5. You mention in the episode that we haven’t seen the Wrecker or the Absorbing Man (or Titania) in the pages of Thor during Simonson’s run, and that’s true – but Thor has nonetheless battled all three of them twice in this timespan: once during the first Secret Wars, and again during the Under Siege arc of Avengers (which specifically notes that Thor is afflicted by Hela’s curse at that time). You can’t keep a good bad guy down.

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