Issue(s): Thor #419
(The slightly miscolored Mr. Hyde in the above panel is probably due to the other villain in this issue.)
But i hadn't been keeping up with Hercules since that story, so WTF is with this nightmare stuff? I did see Hercules in Avengers annual #17 and he seemed fine to me!
But that has been the ongoing subplot in these issues (we also saw in John Byrne's She-Hulk issues that Byrne was waiting for DeFalco to clear Hercules for use there), and it comes to the forefront for this issue. There's actually two parts to it. The first is the fear, and more specifically the helplessness that he felt after Goliath disabled him and left him for the other Masters of Evil, mostly the Wrecking Crew, to beat up. And the second is the way he's been gazing into the stars lately; he says in this issue that he feels like a part of him must have been left behind in space after getting rescued from the Black Galaxy. This issue deals with the first part, and then beginning next issue is a six part story returning to the Black Galaxy.
If we wanted some real character development for Hercules, he could go and apologize to the Wasp for disobeying her orders and getting himself beaten up in the first place. Alternatively, i do like the idea that it was the helplessness of the situation that is particularly galling to Hercules, and it almost seems progressive for that to happen to a male character. And that might lead to Hercules learning to be more cautious or accept that he can't run blindly into every fight. But the resolution to this story is the old standard of Thor having to pretend to lose to the Wrecking Crew to force Hercules to come to his rescue. Pretty generic stuff.
Before that, though, we have to get the Wrecking Crew back together. It seems that Thunderball has managed to escape the Vault with Piledriver and Bulldozer and convinced them to join up with him in attacking a convoy carrying the Wrecker.
(I'm still assuming that the Guardsman armor, which had been modified to only work in proximity to the Vault, can also draw power from something inside their convoy trucks.)
But it turns out they're not there to rescue the Wrecker. Thunderball just wants his crowbar. But it turns out that the Wrecker has been playing possum.
And he's able to "convince" Thunderball to accept him back as leader of the team.
And also take on a new member: Ulik the Troll.
The inclusion of Ulik is interesting. Much like Loki's recent interaction with the Absorbing Man in Quasar #5, Ulik is able to teach the Wrecking Crew - especially the Wrecker - how to use Asgardian magics more directly. So the Wrecker can now teleport the team...
...and throw his crowbar and have it return to him.
I hated these developments when i read this book in realtime, and i still can't say i love it. The Wrecking Crew are the ultimate big dumb guys. Thunderball excluded, but he's a scientist, not a magician. Giving them extra powers breaks their characters. They should be beaucoup strong, but that's all they need. I do appreciate the Asgardian connection more now (at the time i had no idea who Ulik was or how the Wrecking Crew got their powers in the first place), but it feels like being clever for the sake of it. The Wrecker was (accidentally) granted power that translated into super-strength and invulnerability. There's no reason to think there was anything more to it.
One thing i am sure about is that the Wrecking Crew have no motive for hunting down Hercules, even accepting the idea that Ulik is preparing his revenge on Thor. To make this story work as a way for Hercules to overcome his fears, you'd think he should come across the Wrecking Crew engaged in some scheme for their own benefit, and he'd be like "Oh no, not those guys!" but then force himself to fight them. Instead, they just conveniently attack.
And, very quickly, Thor shows up and lets himself lose.
While Ulik slinks away...
...Hercules overcomes his fear.
One thing i do like is Thunderball reasoning with the Wrecker. I really hate the inter-team fighting that had been orchestrated for this group, and while this issue is right to acknowledge it, i'm glad that it (seems to) move past it.
I also like the sheer power behind Ron Frenz's art. When i picked this up as a kid, it felt like i was being thrown back into the stuff i read in Origins Of. Very old school. And it is. In plot, in dialogue, and yes, in art. But being more of a Kirby aficionado than i was at the time, i can appreciate the art for being a deliberate callback to that. On the other hand, having now read through the whole DeFalco/Frenz run up until this issue, it feels like the "tribute" has gone on for far too long.
The Tales of Asgard back-up continues the "visit" from the Celtic gods, with Sif having agreed to marry Leir in return for getting out of Asgard. The question, which feels like a response to questions posed by fans, is why is it that other people can enter and leave Asgard, such as the Celtics and, for example, the New Mutants, but not the Asgardians. The answer at this point is basically, "It's magic!".
Of more immediate concern is Odin clearly not being in control of himself.
Leir and Sif flee to Earth as Odin starts going crazy.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The events of last issue happened "yesterday". The Tales of Asgard does not necessarily continue directly from the previous part. Pushed back in publication time to allow for Hercules' appearance in Thor annual #15.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBulldozer, Caber, Heimdall, Hercules, Kevin Masterson, Leir, Odin, Piledriver, Samantha Joyce, Sif, Surtur, Thor, Thor Replicoid, Thunderball, Thunderstrike, Ulik, Vizier, Wrecker, Ymir
As if Thor in the comic is not enough, DeFalco has to keep on adding all these leads into the book on an ongoing basis (as opposed to a special guest star who is gone). There is no reason for Hercules to be here for so long, or the Celtic gods, or anyone else.
DeFalco is a competent writer, and he occasionally has some very good story arcs, but he's ultimately fairly pedestrian.
Posted by: Chris | May 26, 2015 9:58 PM
It makes me think that DeFalco and Frenz didn't read Avengers #274 that carefully, since Hercules was unconscious and face down when the Wrecking Crew started beating on him.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 10, 2015 9:54 AM
In fairness, DeFalco and Frenz are to some extent giving the Wrecker back some of the powers he demonstrated in his very first appearances, where he did stuff like create bullet-repelling force fields and banish people back to Asgard.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 10, 2015 7:45 PM
Omar, are you the same Omar Karindu who used to write for the Marvel Appendix website? We're trying to get all of the old writers to come back & write a new profile as part of an event to celebrate the 10,000th profile on the site. The editors are handling formatting and such. Any chance you'd be willing to come back to write a small profile for the event? If you're interested, shoot me an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by: Proto Man | November 16, 2016 4:59 PM
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