Wednesday 28 March 2012

Stranger in a Stranger's land. The Mighty Thor #178.

Mighty Thor #178, The Abomination attacks Thor from behind while the Stranger says Thor must die
As I've mentioned before; for some strange reason, some time in 1975, Spider-Man Comics Weekly disappeared without trace from my local newsagents.

When it finally re-appeared, several months later, it'd changed shape and title.

Now it was in The Titans' landscape format and called Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes. Possibly there was a little too much use of the word "Super" in there.

But the return of Spider-Man also meant the return of its back-up strip Thor. And the first Thor story I read upon that return was our hero's first encounter with the Abomination.

But something had changed in that absence - because Jack Kirby was gone, replaced by John Buscema.

One thing that hadn't changed was that Vince Colletta was still on inking duty. While his soft scratchy lines suited Kirby's somewhat rigid pencils on the strip, they were less suited to Buscema's smoother, slicker style.

But there are strange things afoot in this tale.

For a start it begins with everyone stood around hailing Odin as the best thing since sliced bread even though by now you'd have thought everyone must've realised what a complete and total idiot he was.

It's not long before Thor has better things to worry about, as the Abomination accidentally teleports him to the Stranger's home world, where the rascally reptilian tricks him into releasing the various criminal aliens the Stranger's acquired over the years.

Needless to say the Stranger's not overly happy with this development and is out to get Thor.

Certain things leap out at you in this yarn. The main one being Thor's stupidity. In order to avoid detection by the Stranger - so he can explore the Stranger's world for no good reason - he turns back into Don Blake who then wilfully blunders into the midst of the Abomination and his criminal coterie, meaning he then has to be rescued by Sif who appears from thin air to help him. He really does come across as a useless and incompetent berk during this section.

But the real shocker is how Thor sees off the Stranger.

The moment the mountainous menace appears, Thor simply spins his hammer round and turns back time to before the encounter began.

Strangely enough, I don't recall him ever using this power again. No doubt for the obvious reason that nothing's going to kill dramatic tension more than the hero turning back time every time things get a bit sticky for him.

With its disconnect from the rest of the world of Thor, its cop-out use of Thor's temporal powers and its lack of consequences, it's pretty obvious reading it now that the tale was knocked out as some sort of filler between Jack Kirby's last two issues.

It also suffers from the fact we never really get to see Thor fighting either the Abomination or the Stranger, meaning the pulse poundingness that it promises never fully materialises.

Still, for all that, the fact that it was the first Thor story I got to read after that long absence means I'll always have a fondness for it, and at least Sif looked nice in her spray-on armour. You have to hand it to Buscema, he knew how to do spray-on armour.

1 comment:

Kid said...

You have to hand it to ME - I know how to remove spray-on armour - especially in Sif's case.