Issue(s): Thor #134, Thor #135
Thor returns to Earth with some Rigellians and they send Tana Nile home...
...where she is to marry the High Commissioner as a consolation prize for not being allowed to conquer Earth. She seems Ok with it. As they leave, the colonizers give Thor a 'psyche-search gauge' to help him find Jane Foster. The whole time this is happening, a bunch of police are standing around being incredulous.
Last issue (i didn't mention it in my review because i was too busy describing the awesomeness of the Thor/Ego fight) Tana was trying to convince these police that she was now in charge. In the past, Tana Nile was able to cause people (even Thor) to bow to her and obey her, but now they think she is a joke. Is it because the Rigellians have somehow disabled her powers?
Thor finds his way to Wundagore where, after a fight with the New Men...
...he discovers Jane Foster teaching the High Evolutionary's New Men.
Unfortunately, Thor's showing up caused such a commotion that the High Evolutionary accidentally left his "evolutionary ray" unattended too long, and now the wolf he'd been working on has turned into "the ultimate end of evolution... a combination of the supreme man... coupled with the supreme beast". He's super powerful and he hates all life.
Whoops! Guess that experiment didn't go too well, eh Evolutionary?
The Man-Beast (actually the "Super-Beast", per the title of issue #135, but he's eventually called the Man-Beast) is practically unstoppable, except when Thor gets really mad.
We find out that the High Evolutionary is an ordinary man underneath his helmet, which i guess is a little disappointing.
The New Men send the Man-Beast and his minions through a dimensional portal onto an empty world that they can rule for themselves (bad idea!). Then the "good" New Men and the High Evolutionary launch themselves into space as well. They'll be back.
This dialogue reads a lot like the dialogue in the Eternals, which leads me to think that Stan wasn't really even scripting these issues. I have no proof, but these Thor issues seem to be the mad creations of Jack Kirby alone.
There's a brief cameo by Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in issue #134, hanging out in the valleys below Wundagore Mountain. The cover bills this as "possibly the briefest, most unnecessary guest appearance you've ever seen!". It was left out of the reprints.
This arc should get some points for sheer weirdness, right?
Quality Rating: B-
Historical Significance Rating: 9 - first High Evolutionary, first New Men, first Man-Beast, first Wundagore
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Spectacular #5, Marvel Spectacular #6
Inbound References (14): show
Since the origin of mutants was so closely tied with atomic energy at the time, I wonder if Stan included the twins at Wundagore and the light that flashed at time they were born simply to explain why they were mutants because otherwise they'd not have been around anything that could have given them powers.
Posted by: Chris | June 14, 2014 4:21 PM
I barely remember this issue but I could have sworn the Man-Beast had a weird power and that Thor could not dare fight him head on. Not in that the Man-Beast had that much raw power but that something really bad would happen?
I dunno maybe I read that issue too fast and that was years ago. Probably read it at the airport late.
Posted by: david banes | June 14, 2014 4:27 PM
I sure hope not, Chris. It has always bothered me when people attempted to present mutancy as a direct result of atomic research.
Then again, Marvel's version of mutancy is so happily divorced from the real world variety that maybe I should not have bothered.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 14, 2014 8:35 PM
Man-Beast to Thor: I destroy your time sense!
Thor should have retaliated by destroying his kung fu.
Posted by: min | February 25, 2015 6:45 PM
I see that the evolution ray gave the wolf purple panties. What is it with Marvel and underwear? Can't the Man-Beast be pantsless? This just draws more attention to the crotch area. Biggest winner (or loser?) in that respect is of course Fin Fang Foom.
This arc has awesome art, Galactus looks majestic though you have to wonser who decided to make his outfit pink?
Posted by: PeterA | July 13, 2015 3:00 PM
Given the theories about how Lee and Kirby worked, I have come to see Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's appearance in #134 as coming from Krby plotting the series, and perhaps somehow wanting to contact mutants with evolution, which is certainly a theme that he explores later in his 1970s stories for serval publishers, Marvel included. I think of the cover copy claiming it as "unnecessary" was Stan Lee's opinion about starting up this potential plot line.
Lee had apparently made comments like this before about his artists storylines (see fnord's reviews of Daredevil #10-11 and Amazing Spider-Man #18).
Also, at this time, Roy Thomas takes over writing the Avengers and plans to bring back the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to the team, the month after they appear in #134, which certainly would have derailed any story Kirby had intended to do with them. (And shortly after their reappearance on the team, Thomas is prohibited from using characters who have their own series from being active members in Avengers. I wonder if that was done to appease Kirby, who was responsible for Thor and Cap at the time, and who certainly wouldn't want any more derailed plot lines on those books if he could avoid it.)
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | July 13, 2015 8:25 PM
I think the twins were included here in an effort to change their origins to be non-mutant. The new writer on Avengers abandoned that effort, and Rick Remender has now done this change.
Posted by: Steven | July 21, 2015 8:00 AM
Lee said these issues were influenced by H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (which seems pretty evident). I don't know what the facts were, but I have to agree with your intuition, fnord: The scripting here does seem to have a strong Kirby vibe.
The thing that jazzes me the most, natch, is that awesome but rather random-seeming full-page second appearance of Galactus. It helps set up events 25+ issues down the road.
Posted by: Instantiation | September 2, 2015 1:33 PM
The Jack Kirby Collector #63 has a newly discovered plot synopsis by Lee for this issue, but the synopsis makes references to newly introduced characters and ideas that appear in these issues as if Kirby already knew about them, which suggests that it was made after a discussion between Kirby and Lee.
The synopsis does mention that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch's appearance in Thor was due to them being mutants, tying it into the storyline in some unstated way, and that it would help explain why they had not rejoined the Avengers yet.
The story was also supposed to be three issues, but was presented only as two.
My assumption is that Kirby changed the length of the story for reasons similar to his changing the length of the "Him" story in Fantastic Four, wherein storyline changes from others significantly interfered with the story he wanted to tell. When Thomas brought Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch over to Avengers, Kirby probably felt that they were no longer accessible for the story he wanted to tell, so he wrapped it up in the next issue, moving onto other stories.
Since Thomas says that Lee agreed to returning Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to the Avengers, I still assume Lee had doubts about them being used in this story.
I think that this was a turning point for Marvel, where Kirby might have told stories in Thor that later appeared in the Eternals and in the Fourth World, for instance.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 13, 2015 7:22 PM
"Surrender, wolf that art man?" What's next? "Witch that art Scarlet, Torch that art Human, hie to my aid!"
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2015 7:27 PM
"I barely remember this issue but I could have sworn the Man-Beast had a weird power and that Thor could not dare fight him head on. Not in that the Man-Beast had that much raw power but that something really bad would happen?"
In #135 pp 4-5, the Super-Wolf-Man-Beast set up an anti-matter barrier which could potentially have destroyed Thor if the High Evolutionary hadn't stopped Thor from walking into it. This was right after Super-Wolf stopped Thor's thrown hammer head on, by using his powers of "mental repulsion." He had mental powers which seemed to exceed those of Prof. X because High Ev.'s genetic accelerator had advanced him "a million years" beyond the evolutionary development of modern humans. As I read it, Thor was only able to whup him because basically Super-Wolf underestimated Thor's own godlike whup-ass power and the overwhelming speed of Thor's blitzkrieg attack. While Super-Wolf was still cold cocked High Ev. sent him to another galaxy quickly before he could wake up. Not sure, but maybe later writers on this superwolf character didn't quite realize his real potential as Kirby and/or Lee had set him up here. He coulda been a contender. He coulda maybe whupped Thor, Hulk, Superman, etc. with the potential they gave him.
Re: The Lee/Kirby collaboration in these issues, I'm guessing Kirby wrote his own narrative & dialog in the captions or on the back of the art or maybe separate pages (as he's claimed he did), and then Lee added a bit on top of it.
Posted by: James Holt | September 4, 2016 4:31 PM
More great stuff from Lee and Kirby. I can see the influence of the Island of Dr. Moreau along with other mad scientist type stories. The Man-Beast was an awesome villain and I liked both cameos unnecessary or not. Jack was really churning out the characters and concepts here like he would do later at DC.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 8, 2016 8:43 PM
Having just re-read The Island of Doctor Moreau, of course one sees the influence. But this is also part of the grand Marvel series of hidden cities / lost worlds / enclaves of weird but peaceful people.
It was a powerful idea then, and although like everything else at Marvel was eventually worn down to a nub and distorted beyond all tolerance it's glorious to go back and see it as it raced forward month by month. Worldbuilding like never before or since in comics!
Posted by: Flying Tiger Comics | March 10, 2017 5:04 AM
This is exactly what Kirby did like no one else. The 1973 reprint popped up in my Christmas comics box, the only one I ever got. At age seven, it scared my little Christian corduroys off! Too bad I didn't have the action-packed sequel. Another cool Silver Age idea explosion, one of the last world-building innovations of its time, which made Marvel far more wondrous than simply the world outside your window.
Posted by: Cecil | April 15, 2017 5:54 PM
Comments have been disabled for the summer while i'm not around to moderate.
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