Issue(s): Thor #303
This issue doesn't get into the "setting up shop" part but does have Thor in New York helping regular people, in this case a priest that mobsters are trying to force out of his church so that it can be demolished and utilized as a commercial property.
Thor of course manages to convince the mobsters to lay off the church, and even make a substantial financial contribution. The story doesn't get into the question of who hired the mobsters (if anyone) but it is shown that Roxxon is developing a nearby property and that may not have been a coincidence.
Having a Norse god help a Catholic priest naturally demands that the topic of religion get covered. Thor starts this issue stating that "without the faith of mortals - a god is nothing!".
That's part of his opening monologue justifying his return to Earth and for me it raises the question of whether Thor's motives are entirely selfless here. I don't think it's what Moench was going for. But the idea that Thor has decided to spend some time on Earth in order to rekindle faith in him as a deity is interesting.
A little later, while talking to the priest as Donald Blake, he kind of lets the cat out of the bag a bit, and then quickly covers for himself...
...but again i'd like to take that oddly blurted line as Blake is setting up the priest for a revelation later. Specifically, this one:
Later, the priest explicitly wonders what he's doing worshiping his god when there's an actual god actively helping him. Thor tells him that all gods are powered from the same universal higher force.
You can read that (as Moench surely intended) as Thor saying "sure, go ahead and keep worshiping your invisible god that never reveals himself to you" but i see it as potentially working the other way, i.e., if you switch your worship over to me, it'll still be essentially the same thing.
Even the way Thor presents himself to the mobsters emphasizes his godliness...
...and he's on hand at the end to ensure the point is hammered (sorry!) home.
As far as i'm concerned, after this story the priest converted his church into a temple of Thor. I think in the Marvel universe that would actually be pretty common. I guess a majority of people assume Thor is just a regular super-hero. But for those that become convinced otherwise, wouldn't it make sense for them to worship him? And in my reading, Thor is nudging things along in that direction here.
In any event, my unfounded musings aside, this is an unusual issue. This isn't a story for people that want to see Thor challenged, power wise, but the upcoming Gruenwald/Macchio issues will provide plenty of that; this is a nice change of pace.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Thor starts off this issue by saying "And so once again I return to Midgard". He's been in Midgard since at least last issue, and i have a number of Avengers and other sundry appearances as well. The last of those is in Fantastic Four #224-225, when Thor is shown to be called back to Asgard by Odin. So that "once again" phrase fits (coincidentally) very nicely.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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