Tuesday 13 April 2010

The Mighty Thor #243. Jurassic larks.

Mighty Thor #243, John Buscema, the Tomorrow Man
The Mighty Thor #243. Cover by Gil Kane.
I have to admit to having a soft spot for Thor. As a kid, I used to stick a plastic arrow on the end of my wooden ruler, with plasticine, to make it look like a hammer, and then crawl around behind the settee, pretending to be him.

Why I thought Thor was in the habit of crawling around behind settees, I've no idea. But I always felt that should have been his origin. Fleeing from the Stone Men from Saturn, Don Blake hides behind the settee, where he finds a gnarled old walking stick that transforms him into Thor. In hot pursuit, the Stone men follow him, behind the settee, and Thor and the Stone Men from Saturn battle it out to decide the fate of the world; behind the settee.

I'm not a professional comic book writer.

I don't know why.

But this comic, the Mighty Thor #243, is one of those special issues because I got it on a Sunday and, as I've said before, any comic I got on a Sunday always felt more special than one bought on any other day of the week. I have no explanation for this phenomenon but, apart from an early issue of Captain Britain, (which featured Nick Fury, so I was never going to like it), I never met a comic that entered my life on a Sunday that I didn't love.

For those who don't know, what happens in Thor #243 is Kang the Conqueror appears in the present day, to enlist the aide of Thor, Jane Foster and the Warriors Three. He needs them to fight some bad aliens who're spiralling backwards through time and repeatedly destroying the Earth. Now those aliens have reached Kang's time and he needs Thor's help.

Mighty Thor #243, John Buscema, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man
Zarrko the Tomorrow Man.
Not at all cut from the same
cloth as Kang.
In fact that's not what happens at all. It's not Kang. It's someone called Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, a character I have no memory of but who, apparently, turned up in a very early Thor story many years earlier. But it shows how the human mind plays tricks on you that, over the passage of time, I'd come to think it was Kang, until getting my hands on a copy again, a couple of years ago, ended that notion.

Why it isn't Kang, I don't know, as there seems to be no great difference between the Tomorrow Man and the Conqueror except Kang was more memorable and therefore a more likely candidate for inclusion in this tale. In fact, it's a slightly odd outing for Thor as most of it's taken up with the heroes' short journey through the time stream, as they discuss the situation with Zarrko.

That's not to say nothing happens.

Mighty Thor #243, John Buscema, the Tomorrow Man
Whomm! Take that, lizard boy!
What happens is that, on the way, Thor gets to face off against a tyrannosaurus. Oddly, Thor doesn't recognise it as a tyrannosaurus, thinks it's a dragon and tries to have a conversation with it as he fights it.

That does raise a point I always wondered about as a kid, which is just how much of Don Blake's memory does Thor retain when he transforms? Whenever there was medical work needed doing, Thor would always change back to Blake to do it, implying he lost his medical knowledge when he changed. Oddly enough, he never lost knowledge of Jane Foster. Straight after transformation, he never found himself standing in Don Blake's surgery, saying to her, "Who are you and what am I doing here?" Maybe it would've been a better strip if he had and if, every time he transformed, he had to have the whole situation explained to him over again.

I'm not a professional comic book writer.

I don't know why.

But, here, Thor must've lost all knowledge of not only paleontology but also popular culture to not know what a dinosaur is or that they don't speak English.

It's all very unlikely but it's an appealing tale from one of my favourite Thor eras and it's drawn by John Buscema which means every panel, is perfect and a thing of beauty.

If only it had all been set behind a settee.


Simon B said...

It's amazing what you can find behind a settee! Behind ours I've found the One Ring Of Power, a £3 note, the Secret of the Universe written on the back of a crisp packet, and a lot of dead spiders...

Must go for a lie down now!

Steve W. said...

Sadly, I've never found anything down the back of my settee, not even the odd spider. I'll have to have a word with the people who sold it me.

Kid said...

A simple solution - read it behind the settee - it's almost the same if you try hard enough.