Issue(s): Thor #373
Actually most of this issue is a downtime/housekeeping issue and it's only the last few pages that deal with the Massacre. On his way back to Earth from Asgard, Thor feels a fleeting "palsy" that we know from the previous arc is a "gift" from Hela. Thor then arrives on Earth and tries to continue the quest for his father. He has searched for Odin on Earth, in Hel, and everywhere except Surtur's plane of Muspelheim, so he decides to try to vortex himself there. He's doing it on Earth because he thinks if he tried it in Asgard his fellows would worry that he might shatter the barriers between worlds (and let's hope that Thor just doesn't put much credence to that idea as opposed to just not caring if Muspel spills into Earth). But he finds the way to Muspelheim blocked.
From there he briefly stops at the apartment he keeps as part of his Sigurd Jarlson identity, which is very spartan (although we know that just out of view is the empty chicken bucket that Hercules left on the floor, as seen in West Coast Avengers annual #1), and then stops a mugging. And then, feeling a little lost, he stops in at the site where he was doing construction as Jarlson and winds up getting invited home by his former boss Jerry Sapristi.
Jarlson is a big hit with Sapristi's large family...
...and he takes the kids out to Central Park to tell them an inconclusive story about his father being a jerk.
And it's at that point that we get into the Mutant Massacre. And the reason why is thanks to Thor's recent inroads with the Central Park frog community. His friend Puddlegulp shows up and tells him that something bad is happening in the Morlock tunnels...
...and he agrees to look into it.
The Sapristi kids are of course bemused to see him talking to frogs, but they've already figured out that he's Thor. Their father is Nick Fury's cousin (it's how Thor got the job at the construction site), and had previously guessed that Jarlson was Spider-Man and then Captain America. But the kids figured based on his hair and beard that he was really Thor, and they also peeked into his bag and saw his hammer.
Thor vortexes the kids home and then heads into the sewers. It's worth noting that the disturbances the frogs were concerned about was coming from the alligators. Frog/alligator relations seem to have thawed, but unfortunately the Massacre likely put an end to that.
Thor traverses the tunnels, lamenting the endless death and destruction about him, and then encounters Blockbuster, Harpoon, and Vertigo torturing Angel.
He chases them away (they'll be back next issue)...
...and only then notices Angel on the wall. At this point he gives no indication that he recognizes the former X-Man.
I said that Thor's inclusion in this story was because Walt Simonson is also on X-Factor, and i don't know if that's really true, but it's definitely the case that Simonson uses the prominent death in the tunnels to tie in with Hela's vendetta against Thor.
So thematically it fits very nicely, and in any event it's cool to see a non-mutant character and especially an Avenger play a role in fighting the Marauders.
While all of the above is going on, Balder and the raven Muninn begin a very important quest in Asgard.
And Volstagg breaks the news to the children of Ruby from the previous arc that their mother is dead.
Mixing talking frogs with the Mutant Massacre is a risky thematic move, but Simonson makes it work, blending Thor's fantasy elements with the grim and gritty (hey, the story takes place in a sewer!) mutant world in a way that doesn't feel at all silly. The darker side of Thor's fantasy world - Hela - fits even better into this story, and it's also nice to see the godly Thor scattering the Marauders like roaches (even if next issue, thanks to Hela's curse, they'll be a little bit more of a challenge). And all the downtime scenes have a lot of heart and are rendered nicely by Sal Buscema.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue begins with Thor flying away from Asgard saying "At last the time has come for me to return to Midgard". And then in the Avengers Mansion Siege saga, it's said that Thor's appearance there occurs during this issue, after he lands on Earth but before he shows up at Sapristi's construction site. The MCP don't place the Avengers story there, but they do use that gap to fit a few Thor guest appearances: the Eternals miniseries, Daredevil #233, and West Coast Avengers annual #1. The reason for the middle-of-the-book placement for those stories is that Thor ends issue #372 in Asgard and is shown leaving at the beginning of this issue (and his time before #372 and after the Mutant Massacre are loaded with dependencies). But since i have an anti middle-of-the-book bias, i'm instead saying that those guest appearances just occur between #372-373, with Thor having left Asgard, participated in those books, and then returned to Asgard again. The MPC places Thor's appearance in the Avengers Siege after the Mutant Massacre, and i agree with that. Finally, this is part of the Mutant Massacre, of course, and while a lot of events in that crossover are happening concurrently, i'm following the order used in the trade paperback; the most important thing is that this occurs after X-Factor #10 which is when Angel is pinned to the wall.
Crossover: Mutant Massacre
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAngel, Arclight, Balder, Blockbuster, Harpoon, Heimdall, Hela, Jerry Sapristi, Kevin Mortensen, Mick Mortensen, Muninn, Puddlegulp, Thor, Tina Sapristi, Vertigo (Savage Land Mutate), Volstagg
Thor on one end, Apocalypse on another...why the heck did the Marauders even decide to do this if all these powerhouses keep showing up in the Morlock tunnels?
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 8, 2014 9:23 AM
Thor's appearance in the Mutant Massacre is a thrill to me to this day. A welcome breath of fresh air and hope after so much angst and sorrow in the X-titles. The closing scene of this issue and most of the next one are very uplifting.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 8, 2014 8:43 PM
These two issues were the only ones on the Simonson run I actually read in real time because of the Mutant Massacre tie-in and boy was I confused at the time.
I do love that the kids are just like "Oh yeah, we guessed you were Thor, but we also peeked in your bag and saw your hammer." Maybe shouldn't leave that lying around? Of course, for years, the hammer was a stick, so he didn't really have that problem.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 5, 2015 10:03 AM
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