Issue(s): Thor #154, Thor #155, Thor #156, Thor #157
Meanwhile, Ulik discovers a cave sealed by Odin. He opens it to find Mangog, an avatar of raw Kirby power. Actually, he is an avatar of his now dead race, which was destroyed by Odin when they attacked Asgard centuries ago.
Back on Earth, Loki rampages around a bit before teleporting back to Asgard. He finds that Odin is taking an Odin-nap, and with Thor gone, he makes himself king.
But the Eternity Alarm is sounding because Mangog is free. Thor is still on Earth, looking for Loki. First he encounters a mugging and puts a stop to it. Then he runs into some hippies, who mock his hammer and tell him to chill out. Thor makes them try to lift his hammer and then lectures them on dropping out of society. It is a truly weird scene. I thought i would have liked to see more social commentary in comics in this period considering how volatile things were at this time, but apparently i should be glad that there isn't more.
And in the Norn Forest, Karnilla tries to seduce Balder by making him fight some poor warriors that she's captured. Man, there's a lot going on, huh? That's pretty cool.
Thor senses something is wrong and he goes to collect Sif at the hospital. This scene, where Thor and Sif totally freak out a nurse, and the earlier scene where Loki rants in the streets of New York, do a great job of making these characters really seem godly and more than human. Thor also uses his hammer to heal Sif at this time, raising the question '"why didn't he do that earlier?".
The Rigellian colonizers also sense something is wrong, and they send the Recorder to investigate. Nowadays, writers would automatically use the Watcher in the role of the guy who shows up when a universe-level threat appears, but at this point that's mainly the Recorder's job. The Recorder first checks out the Black Galaxy but finds that Ego is still floating harmlessly in his orbit.
Loki sends the Warriors Three to investigate Mangog. I love the Warriors Three. They are hilarious.
Then Thor and Sif arrive to find Loki on the throne.
Meanwhile Mangog is tearing through giants and Asgardian armies on his way to get revenge on Odin for wiping out his race.
The Asgardians are at a loss. They can't wake Odin from his Odinsleep or he will die, and the rest of them are powerless to stop Mangog, who has the power of a billion, billion warriors.
Thor puts Sif in charge of guarding Odin and the Twilight Odinsword, and heads off to try and stop Mangog.
You really get a sense with Sif that she is fighting against her own creators. She is a bad-ass warrior, and she has no interest in being 'protected' or left out of the battle. And yet Stan and Jack always write her into situations where she can't do anything. It's weird.
Loki basically hangs around hoping that Thor will die. Thor has enough power to make Mangog notice him, but that's about it.
The Recorder shows up in Asgard and keeps Sif company, and Karnilla's warriors stop fighting Balder because he is too brave, so she lets him go. Thor and the Warriors Three withdraw to Asgard and everyone comes together for a last stand, except Loki, who ducks out after a failed coup. They manage to hold Mangog off long enough for Thor to create a storm that wakes Odin, who separates Mangog back into all the warriors of his race, who it turns out weren't really destroyed, and puts them off on a planet somewhere to live peacefully.
Similar to the original Galactus storyline, the one thing that is cheesy about this story is the ending. In the end, all the fighting of all the Asgardians is futile, and Thor wakes up Odin (Recorder: "...only a storm, such as this, which Thor has created, can cause the Lord of Asgard to safely awaken from the fateful Odinsleep!"). Well, why the hell didn't he do it earlier? And what's the point of an arc that has the characters struggling to do something without Odin only to have Odin come back and fix everything anyway?
Nonetheless, these issues are really good. This is Kirby at his best - the artwork is really nice; full of big action and crazy characters, with lots of full page splashes that are worth taking the space for.
The story is just epic. Since it is a fantasy story, Stan's scripting isn't as cornball as usual. It is a shame that these issues aren't available in an affordable format; Marvel Spectacular stopped reprinting Thor some time ago, and i bought these issues in Fair and Poor condition for $5 or so each.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBalder, Ego the Living Planet, Fandral, Harokin, Heimdall, Hela, Hogun, Karnilla, Loki, Mangog, Odin, Recorder, Sif, Thor, Toag, Ulik, Volstagg
Volstagg was probably based in part on Sigyn, a Norse mythology figure that couldn't stop drinking(besides being obviously based on Falstaff).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 8:48 PM
To wake the mangog is coming out in February starting with this story all the way up to issue 174
Posted by: Joshua | November 5, 2014 5:24 AM
This is one of the great Marvel epics of the 60s and right at the apex of Kirby's artwork. Mangog is sure a bizarre looking critter, but the scenes in which Thor hurls everything in his elemental playbook at him (not excluding a volcano) are astounding.
In a way, the original Juggernaut story in X-Men seems like a warm-up for this: "The unstoppable dude is coming ... Coming! ... COMING!!" But this arc is executed much more successfully. It has far more epic sweep and sustains a monumental sense of foreboding.
Yes, the ending is, unfortunately, wretched; but that doesn't negate what precedes it for me. I'm puzzled by your comparison with the original Galactus story, fnord, because that ending is fully prepared and an integral part of the drama. (In a nutshell: Can Big G be delayed long enough for Johnny, with the oath-breaking Watcher's help, to retrieve the all-powerful dingus and save the planet?) By contrast, the ending of this epic really does just come out of nowhere and doesn't, unfortunately, make any sense on numerous levels.
But definitely agree about the delightful Warriors Three. I remember when I was much younger being quite surprised to learn that they weren't drawn directly from Norse mythology.
Good to have a new reprint now. And since this is four issues of Kirby at his peak, maybe some more scans would be in order at some point? :-)
Posted by: Instantiation | September 6, 2015 12:33 PM
"You really get a sense with Sif that she is fighting against her own creators. She is a bad-ass warrior, and she has no interest in being 'protected' or left out of the battle. And yet Stan and Jack always write her into situations where she can't do anything. It's weird."
Sif was a groundbreaking character. I think Jack was more comfortable showing her kicking ass but less comfortable showing her taking a beating. Jack's heroes would usually take a beating at some point during most good drawn-out fight sequences. I think they were more uncomfortable about graphically delineating that for a woman character than they were for a man.
Jack was slowly working to overcome his aversion to that, in a way that would not be too adverse for his readers to overcome, if that makes any sense. Sif was more bad ass than Sue, Jan, or Jean had been. At DC Big Barda arguably would be even more bad ass than Sif, but I think Jack still had subconscious limits, due to his behavioral psychology, from which he would never break away entirely.
Bondage art is another result of such psychological repressions.
Posted by: James Holt | October 3, 2016 9:05 PM
Kirby or Lee probably got the basic idea of the Warriors Three from Jack Williamson's space opera classic "The Legion of Space', which features a trio of main characters (vaguely inspired by Dumas' Three Musketeers), the third of which is a character named Giles Habibula, who's directly inspired by Shakespeare's John Falstaff. Of course, Falstaff was also a direct inspiration for Volstagg (just look at the name), but I've always suspected the notion of a trio of warriors came from Dumas by way of Williamson. Hogun the Grim is your standard, brooding Scandinavian type, and Fandral the Dashing is simply Errol Flynn.
Beyond that, like you, I've always been both amused and rather nonplussed by the finale of the Mangog Saga. There's an unstoppable force approaching Asgard; Odin is asleep and can't be awakened to assist. Then, just as the universe is about to end, it turns out Odin CAN be awakened, and he gets out of bed and defuses the apocalypse with a wave of his hand. It is, in this case quite literally, a totally deus ex machina finish.
But it's sensational anyway.
Posted by: Michael J. McNeil | October 4, 2016 4:54 PM
With his fuzzy hat and Fu Manchu mustache, I always figured Hogun was based on Attila the Hun.
Posted by: Andrew | October 4, 2016 8:31 PM
Visually, you're probably right about Hogun being based on Attila, although Hogun's grimness was pretty much a sort of "northern twilight / land-of-the-midnight-sun melancholy", i.e., never smiling. The historical Attlia's "grimness" was of a whole different order, to put it mildly.
Posted by: Michael J. McNeil | October 5, 2016 5:32 PM
By the way, Stan Lee claimed once that Hogun the Grim was inspired by Charles Bronson. When Hogun first appeared in 1965, Bronson had already been prominently seen in both "The Magnificent Seven", and "The Great Escape", so it's just possible. Certainly Kirby's art shows some facial resemblance to Bronson.
Posted by: Michael J. McNeil | October 5, 2016 5:40 PM
Mangog's assertion that he has the power of a "billion billion" beings has always bugged me. A billion times a billion is a quintillion, which is a functionally impossible number of people for a single race. You'd need something like a galaxy's worth of habitable planets just to house them all. I have to figure math isn't Mangog's top priority, so he really means "two billion". Either way, Odin killing them all is genocide on an unprecedented scale.
Posted by: Andrew | December 11, 2016 11:57 AM
A quintillion does seem rather too high a number. You can come up with a pretty high number with a few assumptions, some more out there than others. If every individual member of the species is much smaller than he, and they were an ecologically minded species of great scientific advancement (so they can offset the environmental problems of over-population) then you could maybe, maybe push that number to 100 billion or higher for a single planet - I'm envisioning some sort of Coruscant type deal here. Even still though you'd need whole systems worth of habitable planets to reach that number, suggesting a further level of advancement to allow for terraforming, and let's face it as the avatar for the whole race, technological advanced is not one of the first characteristics you'd think to attribute to the species Mangog represents. Besides Odin sends them all to 'a' planet as well so your idea about 2 billion makes waaaay more sense, I've given this way more thought that it deserves I think.
I do wonder why Odin would have any faith that a race who previously demonstrated their invasive aggression would be peaceful wherever he sends them.
Posted by: MK101 | May 1, 2017 3:32 PM
In the past I was also bothered by the description of Mangog possessing "the power of a billion, billion warriors. Eventually I kinda sorta wrote it off as a bit of poetic license by the inhabitants of Asgard. This whole storyline is the epitome of myth and mysticism in the Lee & Kirby run on Thor. Lee & Kirby saying Mangog has the power of a billion, billion beings isn't really any more ridiculous than the actual Norse myths saying the Midgard Serpent was so long it surrounded the entire Earth and grasped it's own tail. If you take that literally, it means that the Midgard Serpent is over 24,874 miles long.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 1, 2017 9:44 PM
There are an estimated 10 quintillion insects on our planet. So a quintillion humanoids doesn't seem quite so daunting. But yeah, poetic license is a pretty good explanation too!
Posted by: Zeilstern | May 2, 2017 1:27 PM
Yeah in all honesty, poetic license is both the best and the most fitting answer. Most ancient mythos' make mention of creatures of ludicrous size, like the Midgard Serpent as you mention, or the Ancient Greek Titan Typhon, who's 100 heads stood over a thousand miles high. It actually makes perfect sense for the Lee & Kirby Thor run to make use of the same poetic license in stories of the obviously mythological bent.
Posted by: MK101 | May 2, 2017 3:23 PM
There was an oversized Marvel Treasury Edition of these issues released in either 1976 or 1977.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 11, 2017 8:42 PM
Did Stan really script 154/55? The dialogue and captions are dreadful, vi things improve after that.
Posted by: Lucas | July 4, 2018 3:47 PM
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