Issue(s): Thor #375, Thor #376
Watching all of this is Loki. We learn that Loki is "no longer plagued" by Lorelei, who is apparently now in the garden.
This frees him up to turn to Thor, who prevented him from taking the Asgardian throne. And he is impressed with the nature of the curse and thinks he recognizes the handiwork. So he travels to Hel to confirm it. What follows is, i think, the first recognition that Hela, per the Norse myths, is Loki's daughter (as noted below by Kveto and Ataru, Loki himself has made previous reference to this in Thor #275, although with ambiguous phrasing). And also just a really funny "fatted calf" line.
Loki decides that he's going to pile on and says that he's next going to summon "one of your brothers". He departs, leaving Hela to realize that her hatred of Thor is "a pale and slender thing next to the towering fury that would sacrifice its own children to the storm".
Flying over the Rocky Mountains, Thor notices a gleaming light in a nearby town, and when he goes to investigate, he finds the Man-Beast on a rampage.
Nearly losing some of his brittle ribs to the Man-Beast's super-karate...
...Thor manages to defeat the creature, only to see it transform into the body of a local man, unnaturally aged.
Saying that the Avengers must be notified at once, Thor flies out. But due to the urgency of the situation and the continued pain from his broken arm (wink, wink), he by habit flies east towards the East Coast Avengers instead of back to the West Coast compound, and on his way there spots another gleam, this time over "the heartland of America".
And this time the villain is the Wrecker.
Already suspecting that the villain is a facsimile and therefore not wondering how he got out of jail and into the heartland so soon after the Raid on Avengers Mansion (wink, wink), Thor battles the Wrecker.
And again, after the battle, the villain reverts to an aged version of a local man.
Thor continues to New York and this time finds the Absorbing Man.
Loki, meanwhile, has been making a tenuous alliance with the Frost Giants, promising to restore them to their full statures after having been shrunken by Balder.
And, showing them Thor's battle with the Absorbing Man, he reveals that this time it's the real thing. But since Thor doesn't know that, he will be holding back against his most powerful mortal foe.
The Absorbing Man himself doesn't know how he got there (he blames Thor), and to further the confusion, Loki creates a facsimile of Titania (who Thor barely seems to recognize).
News reporters, played up as stereotypical sensationalists, watch and narrate the battle, which doesn't show Thor at his best due to his injuries and the fact that he's afraid to let loose for fear of killing what may turn out to be fake villains.
Thor does attempt to flee, but Absorbing Man follows and the battle continues.
During the course of the battle, the Absorbing Man absorbs both a storm and then the Uru metal of Thor's hammer.
One of the more recent Avengers cartoons had Absorbing Man absorb the properties of Thor's hammer only to find that Thor could therefore control him. And i wasn't sure if that was ever the case in the comics, and this shows that it wasn't. You would think that Thor could control Absorbing Man-as-storm, though.
Thor again tries to flee, this time summoning a vortex that will take him away. But Absorbing Man thinks that he's summoning another wind storm, and absorbs it.
Absorbing Man is therefore banished to another realm.
The reporters of the Marvel universe are, by necessity i guess, a bunch of geeks.
Unfortunately for Thor, the battle resulted in many more injuries, and he passes out trying to get to Avengers Mansion, which, in his pain, he is still forgetting has been destroyed (wink, wink).
Meanwhile, Loki finishes concocting an elixir that, when he releases it, summons a horde of demons.
Subplots for these issues include Fandral and Hogun taking Volstagg's newly adopted mortal children under their wing...
...and even giving them slices of the apple of life.
And Heimdall tries to help the Enchantress overcome her grief and guilt regarding the death of the Executioner.
Balder also has Surtur's Twilight sword sheathed and held closed by wires created by Eitri the dwarf.
I love the cranes. There's been little sprinklings of modern or even sci-fi elements in Asgard since the Jack Kirby days.
A fun arc with top-notch art from Sal Buscema and high stakes due to Hela's curse. It's nice to see the Man-Wolf and the Wrecker sort-of appearing in Simonson's Thor run, and of course a battle with the Absorbing Man is always nice. And interspersed with the epic fighting are the (ironically) more human scenes with the Asgardians.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Everything about this issue fits just fine after the Raid on Avengers Mansion (wink, wink). Thor wakes up in a hospital next issue, so i'm pausing here to let some other stuff catch up, especially due to the appearance of X-Factor next issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAbsorbing Man, Balder, Enchantress, Fandral, Frigga, Grundroth, Heimdall, Hela, Hildy, Hogun, Huginn, Iron Man, Kevin Mortensen, Loki, Mick Mortensen, Muninn, Sif, Thor, Volstagg
I'm not sure I understand the "wink wink" joke. Would you please explain? Sorry to be uncannily dense.
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | February 26, 2014 10:20 AM
Sorry UM. It's pretty clear from this story that it wasn't meant to take place after the Avengers Mansion was destroyed, but it pretty much has to, so we have to let a few things slide.
The reason why: Hela's curse came into effect during the Mutant Massacre, and we know that the Mansion was still standing after the Massacre due to Power Pack #28. Thor shows up during the Avengers Seige with no exo-cast or armor (as a result of the events here and the next few issues, he'll resort to wearing full body armor) but definitely looking weakened, indicating that it should take place after the curse. So the best placement has Thor appearing in the Seige between last issue and this one. But that leads us to wonder why he's trying to get to the east coast Avengers in this arc, especially when he had just left Tony Stark on the west coast.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 26, 2014 10:33 AM
Perhaps he's just not the brightest god in the pantheon. Thanks for the explanation!
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | February 26, 2014 12:15 PM
Not sure why I remember, but I think Loki refers to Hela as his daughter during ragnarok (Issue 275?) my first issue of Thor. Or he says something along the lines of "Some call her my own daughter" cant remember exactly
Posted by: kveto from prague | February 26, 2014 2:43 PM
Just checked: the very first panel that fnord used of the "False Ragnarok" arc was the one with Loki referring to Hela as "some call her my daughter".
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 26, 2014 3:09 PM
Thanks for pointing that out, guys. "Some call her my daughter", including me!
Posted by: fnord12 | February 26, 2014 3:41 PM
The other reason with this has to take place after the Mansion Siege is because when Creel next shows up in Hulk 348, he thinks Titania is dead, which is hard to explain if this takes place before Mansion Siege.
Posted by: Michael | February 26, 2014 7:59 PM
I like the Sal Buscema Man-Beast design way more than the original Conan-villain-with-a-dog's-head look.
Posted by: Alex F | August 11, 2014 1:52 PM
A nice counter-balance here. I don't love what Thor goes through in these two issues, but I absolutely love the Asgard scenes, especially the ones with the Enchantress (I love her meek little "no" when Balder asks if she needs help). With Thor, it seems at this point that Simonson is biding his time a little before the big two-part finale of Thor being reduced to nothing, then storming Hel.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 8, 2015 11:45 AM
I'm in agreement with Michael - when the Wrecker careens into Thor, he is holding the hammer in his left hand...the hand on the arm broken by Blockbuster in #374.
Imagine what the Masters of Evil could have done to him, had he the misfortune of being there in the beginning of the mansion siege.
Loki could have called up Jormungand and supplied him with a straw.
Fnord, hell yeah Sal's work is top-notch on this book. His inks on #380 are just beautiful.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 10, 2015 12:48 PM
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