Issue(s): Thor #195, Thor #196, Thor #197, Thor #198, Thor #199, Thor #200, Thor #201, Thor #202, Thor #203, Thor #204, Thor #205
Odin gives Thor and the Warriors Three a quest to the Twilight Well. It's a good thing, too, because Fandral was apparently going stir-crazy at home.
They get to ride cool ostrich-dinosaurs and fight trolls, so it's a pretty good quest.
Odin also sends Hildegarde and Sif on another quest. Sif needs to be... persuaded to participate.
Meanwhile, we find that Odin had banished Loki to the dimension where Mangog was trapped. Loki frees Mangog, who attacks Asgard.
Now, Mangog was supposed to have been composed of a billion billion souls that hated Odin because he killed them. At the end of his first appearance, Odin restored the souls to life. So Mangog shouldn't really exist at this point, a fact that he and others point out, although there's never an explanation for it. There are complaints in the lettercols.
But issues #196-198 jump a bit erratically between the various quests that the Asgardians are on...
...and the big battle with Mangog.
On Thor and the Warrior's Three's quest, they meet the Norns.
And Hildegarde and Sif...
...find that they are on a crazy planet that is rapidly moving through stages of human development, from medieval knights to steam engines, to the modern era, and beyond. They also meet a guy named Silas Grant.
They later run into the Rigellian, Tana Nile.
Back to the fight with Mangog...
...where we learn the names of some of Odin's buddies (according to the MCP these are their only appearances, but you often see guys like these hanging around with Odin, especially in earlier issues, and it's possible that these are the same guys. We don't really learn anything about them, and one of them, Khan, dies during the battle with Mangog).
Meanwhile, the object of the quest that Thor and the Warriors Three was on, water from the Twilight Well, is used to separate Asgard from time and space. This is a preventative measure, so that when Mangog draws the Twilight Sword, it doesn't cause the end of the universe.
Mangog ultimately dwindles away now that, with Asgard's disconnection from reality, he is cut off from his power source (apparently the billion billion souls?).
However, Odin dies in the battle. This results in a battle between Hela (who we just saw in the previous arc)...
...fighting for Odin's soul.
When Hela points out that Valhalla is a much nicer place than Hades, the Asgardians join her side.
Issue #200 is basically a Tales of Asgard (written by Stan Lee) that is bookended by scenes of the Norns watching Thor fight Pluto. The Tales of Asgard story depicts Ragnarok.
The Tale is told by Volla the Prophetess.
Loki, being an instigator of Ragnarok, does appreciate the story.
After the anniversary issue flashback, there's more fighting with Pluto...
...and then Hela reveals that Odin isn't really dead, so he wakes up and sends Pluto off. During the fight with Pluto, the Warriors Three were sent to Hades, but Odin ensures that they wind up on Earth instead, and after the fight Thor is sent there as well.
Then Sif's quest and Ego-Prime show up.
Back to Sif's quest, we learn that the reason that the planet they are on is evolving so quickly is because Tana Nile brought a piece of Ego the Living Planet to it, so that it would evolve faster and be more suitable for a Rigellian Colonization. Unfortunately she's lost control of this "Ego-Prime".
Ego-Prime was pretty lame looking to start, but he now evolves into something more reminiscent of the original Ego.
The Asgardians, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant are unable to defeat Ego-Prime.
During all of this, Heimdall is also send on a quest on Earth with a dwarf called Kamorr the Small.
They make their way to the apartment of a man named Jason Kimball...
...and help him fight off some gangsters.
Kimball is then brought to Heimdall's boat, where he's introduced to two other people that Heimdall has collected.
And when Heimdall brings these three to the battle with Ego-Prime, they become evolved into gods.
They drive Ego-Prime away.
All of this, from depositing Loki on the plane where Mangog was trapped to Sif and co. bringing Ego-Prime to Earth so that he could hyper-evolve the Young Gods (as they will later be called), turns out to be part of a plan by Odin.
Even though Odin claims that Earth will be restored and the memory of this incident removed from all humans, Thor is very upset with Earth and himself being used as pawns for Odin's machinations. In the resultant tiff, Thor gets himself banished to Earth.
It's not said exactly what the Young Gods are about (Odin says simply "for this day, a new race of gods has been born -- one which will breath fresh fire into the furnace of the Cosmic All", as they ascend into heaven) but it's a cool concept. Getting here was a bit weird though; it's not clear exactly how the Mangog arc or Odin's seeming death were relevant to this end result, except that the Warriors Three got put on Earth during the fight with Pluto.
Anyway, the pace of things finally relax for a bit in issue #204. Thor brings his motley group to the Avengers Mansion since they are all stuck on Earth...
...and as Donald Blake, he heads back to his old office, only to find that it's been sealed off by a new landlord that doesn't know that Blake has pre-paid the rent (more about "Karl Sarron" in a few issues).
However, soon the Asgardians start getting kidnapped, starting with Volstagg, who had snuck off during the fight with Ego-Prime, ostensibly to protect a young girl.
The other Warriors Three don't pay his absence much mind, in part because Fandral is busy making time with the local ladies.
But the kidnappings turn out to be the work of Mephisto.
Mephisto is basically attacking Thor in a pre-emptive attempt to get him out of the way so that he can take over the Earth with all the souls he's been stealing. In addition to fighting Thor directly...
...he also sends Thor's mind-controlled friends at him...
...as well as assorted historical bad guys (i'm not counting this as a Hate-Monger appearance, btw).
Thor's refusal to hurt his mind-controlled friends is what proves that he has the purity needed to defeat Mephisto. It's not really a great use of Mephisto.
Due to my truncated analysis of the previous arc, i didn't really get into the fact that Sif has been regressing as a character as much as i normally would have, but there are complaints in the lettercols about it. One writer says:
In Kirby's reign, she was too masculine and self-sufficient to be of much interest as a love interest. Now, however, in giving her the gentleness, the vulnerability, the femininity to make her appeal, you have made her too helpless for a goddess who fought sword in hand. Keep her swordless (a goddess toting a masculinity symbol we don't need), but give her some means of self-protection.
I guess if that's the pro-feminist position, we can see why Marvel didn't make a lot of progress in this area. At least we have Hildegarde, who is much more feisty, and often chides Sif for her wishy-washy attitude.
In a response to another letter asking that the Avengers guest-star in Thor, it's said that with all the characters already in the Thor series, it already feels "like an incomprehensible nightmare" to Gerry Conway. "Incomprehensible" is often a word i use to describe early Conway stories; it's nice to see that the feeling is mutual.
The same lettercol also stumbles upon what may be the beginnings of the 1980s conception of the No-Prize. After addressing some minor complaint about a perceived art error, the response says "Hey, maybe we should get those no-prizes for working our way out of these impossible situations! Hmmmmmm....". At this point, No-Prizes were awarded for simply identifying a mistake instead of coming up with an explanation as to why it wasn't one.
Back to this arc, it continues the "John Buscema draws epic cool stuff" that's been going on for a while, and Mangog, Ego-Prime, and Mephisto all certainly qualify as fun threats. The story is a mish-mosh, but not terribly so, either compared to the previous Stan Lee run or Conway's other books from around this time.
Quality Rating: C
Historical Significance Rating: 5 - first Hildegrade, Norns, Silas Grant, Karl Sarron (Mercurio the 4-D Man), Ego-Prime, New Gods
Chronological Placement Considerations: Marvel Chronology Project places this between Avengers #100-#101.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (16): show
The Midgard Serpent appears to be drawn differently in the same issue.
I've heard the "masculine weapon" charge used against swords before, and it just seems arbitrary. So, women are no longer feminine if they use swords? What is a "feminine" weapon then?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 16, 2013 4:52 PM
Swords are phallic.
Not sure what a feminine weapon would be - maybe a Sarlacc Pit?
Posted by: Paul | March 21, 2013 6:31 AM
The Young Gods were referred to in some fanzines back then as the "God Squad"--a reference to the no-longer-cool TV show Mod Squad. FOOM#15 actually referred to them this way and announced that Len Wein was going to bring them back.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 31, 2013 6:23 PM
I sat down and tried to read this fantastic (when the issues are read a few days apart) 22 part arc in as few sittings as possible. Effect was frighteningly similar to watching to many episodes of Rocky in Bullwinkle, it drove me temporarily insane.
Now what happened To Silas and Tana? They were standing next to the entranced Asgardians at the end of #204 but then seemed forgotten.
Posted by: Silverbird | August 12, 2014 5:35 PM
I thought Ego Prime was pretty cool and his fight gave a sense of being titanic, his hair alone could be the Asgardians. Not even shooting a bolt in his mouth kept him at bay for long.
Posted by: david banes | August 12, 2014 6:16 PM
As revealed in the Thunderstrike miniseries, Mangog explains that while hatred can be suppressed or rejected, it can't be destroyed. Meaning that as long as hatred exists, Mangog does as well.
Posted by: D09 | September 26, 2016 8:46 PM
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 26, 2016 8:59 PM
Surprisingly when I saw GotG2, Ego-Prime was what I was thinking of when I saw what they used for Kurt Russel's character...so I guess whenever I see a smaller Ego, I just imagine the biggest pimp in the universe.
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 13, 2017 4:49 PM
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