Issue(s): Thor #311
And my defense against any pushback on this is that it's just a way of reading this year of Thors that makes it more interesting as a sum than it is as its fairly mundane parts. But the advantage of reading some unintended theme into these stories is that the conclusion of it turns out to be far different than what it could have been if it were intended. Because in my reading, Thor's mission ends in this issue, and it ends in a pretty spectacular failure.
The story is that a boy is chased by the police for shop-lifting, and they shoot him when they think he's reaching for a gun. In fact he has a bad heart and he was clutching his chest.
The boy is brought to the clinic where Blake is working. Blake saves the boy from the bullet wound. But meanwhile, words gets around that two white cops shot an unarmed black kid, and a protest builds and soon the clinic is occupied.
Riot police show up ready to respond.
As soon as the surgery is finished, Blake rushes off to become Thor, with the thought that he will calm the people.
But it doesn't work. We saw in Thor #309 that Thor is not connecting with the people here. And it's the same here.
And this is despite a lot of effort. He's been hanging around in this area, stopping muggings and pick-pockets and reckless cab drivers and mobsters leaning on churches and landlords trying to burn down tenement buildings. And it's earned him no credit. The crowd still sees him as an outsider.
He's forced to use violence to suppress the riot.
As to why he's unable to defuse the situation, there's an obvious racial component here, as you can see above. But Thor is arguably to blame, as well. His interaction with the anti-drug dealer vigilantes in Thor #305 was very paternalistic (and he never did catch that Santa). And you can see he comes on too strong here as well, with no humility. His super-villain fighting probably alienated people too, especially since the woman he saved from that reckless cab driver got killed by the Wrecking Crew, and his defeat of Air-Walker left a kid crying that Thor was a murderer. More generally, though, you never see Thor mingling with people during this period, which is really surprising considering he's taken up residence in the local area. In the past, Thor was always out among the people, telling stories about his past exploits or very publicly having a soda pop. I think that's what was needed to get him accepted by the locals. His secret identity as Donald Blake hurt him here as well. Blake had been doing good at the clinic, but Thor gets no credit for that. And there's really little reason to keep a secret identity at this point (arguably it protects the clinic from super-villain attacks, but that didn't stop the Wrecking Crew from coming out and challenging Thor anyway and getting someone killed, and the presence of Thor at the clinic would certainly discourage lesser criminals and made Thor accessible to people with problems). The secret ID hurts him in this issue, too, because even though Blake's surgery was successful, the boy still winds up dying of a weak heart while Blake was out trying to discourage the crowd as Thor, and Blake has no explanation for why he abandoned the boy.
The other thing to think about is that in issue #302, Thor put his marriage to Sif on hold with the idea that he was going to go to Midgard and establish a home that he could bring her to. Blake has had an apartment since issue #306 but there's been no talk of bringing Sif here. Whatever he was waiting for (to establish a nice little neighborhood of Norse deity worshipers, clearly!) it becomes clear here that it hasn't worked out. Blake is under suspicion at the clinic for abandoning his patient and he's obviously failed to establish a connection with his neighbors.
Anyway, my theories aside, that covers the plot for the main story in this issue. The Tales of Asgard back-up has Balder bringing the dead body of Nanna to Odin. Odin tries to console Balder with the thought that Nanna is now in Valhalla but that's exactly what Balder was waiting for, and he pounces on Odin for allowing Valhalla to fall into the hands of Hela and become a dismal land of punishment instead of the "sunlit landscape that beckons those weary of life".
Odin takes the rebuke to heart and decides it's time to reclaim Valhalla. He summons his valkyrie to battle against Hela. The valkyrie's leader, Valkyrie (ok, to these guys her name is Brunnhilda) is currently "cohabiting the body of a mortal" as a member of the Defenders. Two of the valkyrie, Grimgerta and Valtrauta, are told to summon her, but they report back that she has refused the summons. Odin takes the news pretty well (for Odin), saying that she'll never lead the valkyrie again but otherwise not flying off the handle. He makes Valtrauta the new leader, and tells them to go out and recruit a replacement for Brunnhilda.
Due to their upcoming battle with Hela, the valkyrie appear marked for death, and are unable to find a new recruit until Hildegarde's sister Krista, previously never one for action, volunteers.
What's interesting is that this entire plotline comes out of a mistake, noted in the lettercol for issue #279, where over the years Hela had started referring to her domain as Valhalla instead of Niflheim. So this plot is basically designed to correct a scripting error.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Donald Blake is suspended from the West Side Medical Clinic in this issue, and he never returns from that suspension. So this has to take place after Avengers #212, since Blake is shown working at the clinic in that issue. The back up in this issue takes place concurrently with Defenders #95, due to the valkyries' attempts to recruit the Valkyrie. But see the comments on Hulk annual #11. Since Defenders #98 has to take place before Avengers #211, and the main story here has to take place after Avengers #212, i have to assume that the back-up here takes place earlier in time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBalder, Frigga, Grimgerta, Hildegarde, Krista, Lionel Jeffries, Nanna, Odin, Thor, Valtrauta
Moench complained that Shooter wouldn't let him use the Asgardians as much as he wanted.
Posted by: Michael | July 11, 2013 7:50 PM
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