Issue(s): Thor #371, Thor #372
At the coronation we also have the first appearance in the comics of Odin's wolves Geri and Freki, ironic since Odin himself is dead/missing at this point.
After the coronation, Beta Ray Bill says that he will have to take his leave of Asgard. Thor also says that he has to leave, to return to Earth. Balder jokingly says it's because he seeks adventure. Honestly, Thor seems to have done a poor job of selling his need to be free to be Midgard's protector if that's what Balder thinks. Balder gave up a life with his love Karnilla for the responsibility of the throne, and only because Thor wants to seek thrills on Earth? Balder doesn't seem to resent it, but Karnilla sure did.
In the previous arc, we had been seeing Silver Age crook Thug Thatcher begin a scheme to take vengeance on Thor, and he continues that here, forcing his old girlfriend Ruby...
...to take something to a prison that eventually gets passed to the prisoner Brad Wolfe, also known as Zaniac. It turns out to just be a nose filter that Wolfe uses while Thug's partner bombs the prison courtyard with gas and helps him escape.
Zaniac is, of course, a maniac, so when he sees Thug's ex-girlfriend Ruby, he kills her. And Thug's partner responds by shooting him.
That has some unexpected results...
...and Thug Thatcher is soon possessed by the weird little creepies that come out of Brad Wolfe, and he becomes the new Zaniac.
Of course Thor is going to wind up facing the combined threat of his two most deadly foes, but he's not the only one. And this gets to the thing that i really don't like about this arc. Readers of this site already know that i really dislike the Squadron Supreme and (to a lesser degree) the Imperial Guard, because they both started off as one-off analogues of DC groups for Marvel heroes to fight, and really had no business becoming permanent Marvel characters. The same is true of a new character introduced here, Justice Peace.
Justice Peace is very obviously a Judge Dredd homage. Well, obvious now. I don't know how many American readers would have recognized it back in 1986. I don't think Judge Dredd's comic was available much in US markets. I, at least, didn't know anything about Dredd until Anthrax's song I Am The Law, which came out in 1987.
Having Thor fight a Judge Dredd analogue for one issue might have been cute. Two issues is pushing it. And having him re-appear in later books seems like outright theft.
Like Judge Dredd, Justice Peace's tolerance for lawbreakers doesn't leave much room for distinction between serious crimes and jaywalking, although unlike Dredd, Peace's methods are non-lethal.
Instead of Dredd's "Drokk it!", Peace says "Kraggit!".
And the biggest distinction, and the thing that made it somewhat necessary for him to appear again, is that Peace works for something called the Time Variance Authority. The story is that in the future, Zaniac continues to be a problem, and he kills the "Mayor of Brooklynopolis" (Megacities being another Judge Dredd concept), triggering a world war.
Even though a Justice killed the mayor's killer, Zaniac lived on.
With some research, the Justices learn that Zaniac has been around since forever, and was possibly even responsible for the legend of Jack the Ripper (much more recently, a time-traveling Mr. Hyde was also supposed to have triggered the Jack the Ripper legend, and most likely neither version is strictly canon).
In order to stop the destruction of their world, the Time Variance Authority allowed Justice Peace to travel back in time to eliminate Zaniac once and for all.
Time travel especially to our current period is tricky thanks to "the NSC interregnum of 1997", but the TVA is generally responsible for maintaining "continuity" and sending time travelers home.
Interesting to see the Hulk there. This is very likely meant to represent the time the Hulk went to the future in Tales To Astonish #77 and returned to the present through an unspecified method.
The Time Variance Authority has always felt like a deliberately jokey concept. The idea that there's a bureaucracy out there monitoring the timestream trivializes the mystery of time travel. And more to the point, it's in direct conflict with the idea of Immortus as a mysterious wizard living in Limbo and especially the way he recently used the Kang Council to eliminate unwanted divergent timelines. Later stories will resolve that conflict, but i'd rather the TVA was never introduced or at least left as a one-off along with the fake Judge Dredd.
After an initial fight with Thor, Justice Peace hits Thor with a gun that puts him in a metal constraint...
...and then flies off after Zaniac. Thor escapes by using his little-used space warp ability (Immortus removed the time-traveling aspect of Thor's hammer, but he still has the space-warping ability).
When Thor catches up with Justice Peace in Chicago, they manage to come to an understanding, especially when Thor confirms that he is a law enforcer (Avenger) in his own time period.
The two law enforcers discover Ruby's dead body, and Thor also finds that she had two kids, Bill and Jeff (or Kevin and Mick; see Comments below). Thor puts them to sleep for now.
Thor realizes that if Thug Thatcher was working with Zaniac, his goal was probably to threaten Jane Foster. So Thor and Justice Peace travel to the house of the pregnant Jane (actually now Jane Kincaid) and her husband Keith.
But they are too late. Zaniac/Thug has already killed her.
After doing some serious godly venting, Thor realizes that Justice Peace has the ability to time travel. Peace needs the TVA to power his time-travel Hopsikle, and says that they won't send him another burst now that he's failed his mission. But Thor realizes that while his hammer no longer has the ability to travel through time, it still has the ability to dispense the energies necessary to power Peace's Hopsikle.
This time, Thor and Peace are able to stop Thug before he gets infected by Zaniac.
Thug himself is killed in that barrage, something that Thor regrets but Justice Peace not so much.
After saying goodby to Peace, Thor returns to Asgard with Ruby's orphans. Volstagg offers to add them to his brood.
It's too bad Thor and Justice Peace couldn't have gone back just a little further in time.
Zaniac in his first appearance wasn't well received, and he would be a good candidate to be a Scourge victim. I wonder if he was considered but Walt Simonson instead took the challenge to make him more interesting. The idea that he's not so much a person but a parasite that moves from host body to host body and eventually causes trouble in the future is certainly a nice addition.
While watching Thor fight Justice Peace, Hela decides to give Thor a "gift". More on that later; we don't see the effects of that yet.
Beta Ray Bill leaves Asgard for space in this arc. Sif had been considering going with Beta Ray Bill, but she has decided not to.
Overall, for a one-time "Thor meets Judge Dredd" story, this is a fun arc. Arguably the ending is a bit of an anti-climax. That's true of any story where the character just goes back in time to solve a problem, even if time travel is part of the story. A word about the art: i like Sal Buscema and i still think his work here is above average relative to his late 70s/early 80s output. But it definitely to me feels more Sal Buscema and less of the distinctive style that Walt Simonson established and Buscema had been emulating. That may be because we're out of Asgard for this story, or because those creepy-crawly Zaniac bugs are so suited for your typical Sal Buscema monsters. Again, i still think the art is good; i'm just wondering if we're seeing Sal adjusting to the realities of a monthly book instead of a mini-series. Not that, of course, Sal Buscema of all people would ever have an actual problem with a monthly schedule, just that it might require a different approach.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBalder, Beta Ray Bill, Fandral, Freki, Frigga, Geri, Heimdall, Hela, Hogun, Jane Foster, Justice Peace, Keith Kincaid, Kevin Mortensen, Mick Mortensen, Muninn, Ruby Mortensen, Sif, Thor, Thug Thatcher, Volstagg, Zaniac
The kids' names are Kevin and Mick, not Bill and Jeff. And they have several more appearances.
Posted by: Michael | December 10, 2013 7:51 PM
Hmm, i see the one kid is named Kevin in the scan i posted here. But you'll see in a scan i added in the entry for Thor #369 (bottom of the entry) that they call themselves Bill and Jeff.
I'd like to tag Ruby (who also appeared in JIM 89), Bill/Kevin, and Jeff/Mick but i hate tagging regular human characters without last names.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 10, 2013 8:12 PM
The Handbooks list their last name as Mortensen, though as far as I know that's never been used in a comic.
Posted by: Michael | December 10, 2013 8:47 PM
I'll take it. Thanks, Michael.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 10, 2013 9:00 PM
On homages such as Judge Dredd: what about the Punisher (who emulates Mack Bolan); Ka-Zar (who emulates Tarzan), Night Raven, and so forth?
Posted by: PB210 | December 11, 2013 6:44 PM
Viz Justice Peace should read in the above comment.
Posted by: PB210 | December 11, 2013 6:48 PM
Judge Dredd had actually been available in comic shops for about 3 years by album imports and from Sal Quartuccio's Quality Comics. Newsstands didn't get them , but they were heavily advertised in the fanzines.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 11, 2013 7:28 PM
PB210, I think the objection to JP and the Squadron Sinister/Supreme comes from the fact that these were introduced as one-off virtual crossover characters whose charm quickly dissipated upon further appearances. Because the initial idea is just "What if the Avengers fought the Justice League" and "What if Thor met Judge Dredd" the copyright substitute characters were never meant to have much depth: you already know Superman's shtick, right? That's Hyperion..,
The Punisher is a ripoff but was always meant to be a derivative not a stand-in. Ka-Zar and Night Raven are kind of similar, but are so idiosyncratic and odd that I would say they belong in a third category of knock-offs.
I don't entirely agree with Fnord: I like the Imperial Guard, and the Squadron Supreme works if used sparingly. Justice Peace never amounts to much, though.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 11, 2013 8:39 PM
I've been trying to think if i can articulate an answer to PB's question that doesn't come off like i'm splitting hairs. I think Walter does it well. But it's possible that if Tarzan wasn't already such an archetype when i first met Ka-Zar, i might have felt differently about him.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 11, 2013 9:47 PM
Marvel had a lot more obvious Tarzan rip-offs than Ka-Zar. While there are a lot of similarities, Ka-Zar is really a character to place in The Savage Land. That's a very different world than Tarzan. Ka-Zar is about a lost world fullof extinct animals. Tarzan only was used in that context once, and Farmer ret-conned that as an imaginary story.
I don't have a problem with the Squadron Supreme. I like them. But, they were obvious creations used for an obvious purpose. It wasn't about archetypes. It was a sly wink to comic fans.
The Judge Dredd thing is more of an inside joke. That was just Simonson having fun, and notice there was never any Justice Peace solo series.
I think that all of the above are interesting characters who have had good comics over the years, but I can understand somewhat about Squadron.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | December 11, 2013 10:06 PM
To be honest, i'm not at all familiar with most of the Legion so it might not have bothered me except on an academic level (although it was something i'd heard from Legion fan friends of mine before the internet). But Gladiator is such an obvious Superboy stand in - or really more man than boy - and that's been played up more and more over the years, and so i've never really liked him for that reason.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 11, 2013 10:41 PM
It's ambiguous, but it seems like the TVA in this story is an agency on JP's world. Simonson himself next uses TVA in Fantastic Four around 1990, and I think at that point they've become the faceless temporal bureaucracy we all know and love. I'll have to re-read those issues, though, and look out for the revision.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 23, 2013 6:44 PM
The reinterpretation of the Zaniac may have been inspired by the STAR TREK episode "Wolf in the Fold", in which Kirk and co. have to deal with an immortal entity which moves from body to body and has been responsible for murders throughout history, including the Ripper's.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | September 27, 2015 1:46 AM
IIRC, Al Williamson assisted with inks along with Bret Blevins on #372 (the pair was credited as Albert Blevinson).
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | November 29, 2015 1:13 PM
The credits do say "Albert Blevinson". Thanks, Vin. Added Al Williamson.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 30, 2015 8:16 AM
In 1984-6 I was a clerk in a comic store while belatedly working my way through college. Our store carried 2000 AD and Warrior magazines at least as early as 1984. They were available in the US through Capital City Distributing, now defunct, and probably through several other comic book distributors as well.
We probably carried these magazines mainly because of the popularity of Alan Moore at that time. He had written some Judge Dredd stories for 2000 AD, establishing his popularity in the UK. He gained more notoriety in the US because of his work writing Swamp Thing for DC starting in 1983. In 1985, his Marvelman character, which was a knock-off of Fawcett's Captain Marvel, was reprinted in the US by Eclipse Comics under the title of Miracleman. These comics were all the rage at our store; he was an up and coming writer and a huge success.
Prior to now I hadn't seen or read these Thor issues, and so was unaware that the TVA was a spin-off from Justice Peace, although it was pretty obvious that Peace was a knock-off of Judge Dredd. Interesting stuff-- I learn something new from this site almost every time I visit.
Posted by: Holt | November 4, 2017 6:32 PM
Keith Giffen included a 1-panel Judge Dredd parody in his 1985 'Ambush Bug' series for DC Comics. There's no point in a parody if no-one knows what you're parodying, so Giffen must've felt most US readers had at least heard of Dredd.
Posted by: Oliver_C | November 5, 2017 6:41 AM
Not necessary- Morrison created Fantomex as a parody of Fantomas, who most English speaking readers (including myself) had never heard of.
Posted by: Michael | November 5, 2017 8:48 AM
And then there's me-- who knows nothing at all about either Fantomas or Fantomex. I've heard the names before, but otherwise, nothing.
Big fan of Ambush Bug and Keith Giffen though. Giffen was a big name at DC in the mid-eighties as the main artist on Legion of Super-Heroes, which, believe it or not, was the top-selling DC title (after New Titans) for several years at least. He also co-created Lobo who was a big seller, 'though sort of a flash-in-the-pan character, for at least half a decade. I thought of Lobo as a parody of Wolverine. Giffen was very big on parody. Ambush Bug got him in a lot of trouble with the DC brass for making fun of Superman, Batman, & other DC bugaboos. Comics Journal later trashed Giffen for swiping from European artist Jose Munoz, which put a big dent in Giffen's popularity.
Giffen probably knows Alan Moore personally, since they were both big pop stars at DC in the '80s. Moore didn't create Judge Dredd, John Wagner did, but Dredd was probably the biggest reason for Moore's early UK popularity. Then Swamp Thing was what took Moore across the Atlantic and launched his earliest US popularity. Marvelman/Miracleman was a UK character, also not created by Moore, but Marvelman's & Moore's popularity, crossing over from the UK to the US, was very copacetic.
Posted by: Holt | November 5, 2017 10:07 AM
Meant to say, "a top-selling DC title," not "the top selling DC title," duh.
LSH, by Paul Levitz & Keith Giffen, was the 2nd place DC top-seller, after New Titans by Marv Wolfman & George Perez.
Posted by: Holt | November 5, 2017 10:13 AM
Moore did other features for 2000 A.D., but I don't think he was associated with "Judge Dredd". It was mostly written by John Wagner and Alan Grant back then. "T. B. Grover" was Wagner and Grant under a pseudonym.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | November 5, 2017 11:53 AM
Dredd stories were reprinted in colour for the US and Canada markets from 1983, first by Eagle Comics, later other publishers. The issues appeared in newsagents here in Australia, but I don't know if they reached newsstands in the US or were only distributed through comics shops.
A British publisher called Titan published B&W collections of Dredd stories from 1981. I don't know if they were stocked by US comics shops.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | November 5, 2017 12:17 PM
Alan Moore did confirm in a Comic Book Artist interview that he never had the chance to write Judge Dredd.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 5, 2017 12:32 PM
Getting a little off topic here, but yes, the Titan reprints were available in US shops at this time. Judge Dredd and similar "gritty" books never interested me, personally, but the Morrison's Zenith and Moore's Halo Jones and other works still have pride of place in my collection.
Posted by: Andrew | November 5, 2017 12:50 PM
Seemed peripherally on-topic since these Thor comics featured Justice Peace, a Judge Dredd knock-off. The reviewer questioned how much Judge Dredd comics had appeared in US markets.
Happy to take your word for it re: Moore not writing Judge Dredd, since I can't specifically recall reading any Dredd stories by Moore. Moore did write "D.R. & Quinch" which appeared in either 2000 AD or Warrior, & was drawn by Alan Davis, who later worked for Marvel on X-Men. He also wrote "V for Vendetta" & "Warpsmiths" which spun off from Marvelman.
There were other writers & artists who crossed over to the US during that time period, but I can't recall any other specific names off the top of my head.
My employers definitely did carry 2000 AD & Warrior, which were import comics with UK prices, and not reprints. They were off-size magazine format black & white comics IIRC, which didn't quite fit into the standard US magazine-sized comic boxes. I personally ordered Marvelman comics with UK prices thru Advance Comics. Advance Comics was Capital City Distributing's customer order mag, similar to modern-day Diamond Distributing's Previews order mag. In the mid to late '80s, Capital City orders forms came in two sections, one for color comics, & the other for black & white comics. They included UK comics and a few mainland European comics. Capital City went out of business right around the time that Marvel acquired Heroes World Distributing in the early '90s. IIRC Capital City sold out to Diamond.
Posted by: Holt | November 5, 2017 3:48 PM
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Moore , Moore submitted a Judge Dredd script to 2000 AD, which was not published, but which landed him his first writing job at 2000 AD. I thought I remembered reading something, somewhere, about Moore writing Judge Dredd. This was probably it. I'm uncertain from this reference whether it came from [b]Thrill-Power Overload[/b] by David Bishop, or [b]Alan Moore Spells It Out[/b] by Bill Baker.
I've read a lot of interviews and other stuff about Alan Moore over the years, including a comic size pamphlet by Moore on how to write comics. He's still one of my favorite writers although I feel he's probably a little past his prime. Would recommend his work on Swamp Thing to anyone, even those who aren't comic book fans. So now I guess I am a bit off topic. *runs away*
Posted by: Holt | November 5, 2017 4:36 PM
Happy Guy Fawkes Day!
Posted by: Holt | November 5, 2017 4:38 PM
Just to clarify, as another poster mentioned above, that Alan Moore didn't create Marvelman/Miracleman. The character was created in the 1950s by a British writer/artist, Mick Anglo, because the company he worked for no longer had Fawcett Captain Marvel stories to reprint. What Moore did in the 80s was to revive the character, changing him radically.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | January 3, 2018 7:21 PM
Although Alan Moore never wrote for 'Judge Dredd', the Dredd strip that comes closest to Moore's sensibilities is probably the infamous satire scripted by Pat Mills in which Dredd kills various corporate icons gone bad, including Burger King and the Jolly Green Giant! (All appearing without approval of their copyright holders.)
Posted by: Oliver | January 4, 2018 11:33 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|