Issue(s): Thor #427, Thor #428, Thor #429, Thor #430
The story begins with Thor returning to Earth "at long last". It's a little unclear where Thor is returning from. I assume that it's supposed to be after his adventures in the Black Galaxy and Asgard from the previous eight issues. A narration panel says, "Two weeks have passed since the mighty Thor embarked for the dreaded Black Galaxy. It was a desperate journey which eventually led to Asgard and the eve of Ragnarok!". But when Thor gets back, he observes that the workmen that he hired have been making progress and talks about how the apartment has felt "so empty... so alien" since he/Eric gave up custody of Kevin.
Eric's apartment was damaged and he gave up custody of Kevin during the Black Galaxy saga, before he left for space. There doesn't seem to me to be a lot of time for him to have immediately hired workers, and certainly for not for him to have gotten that impression of the apartment feeling so empty. That says to me that he's been back to Earth since the Black Galaxy/Asgard stories, and for placement purposes i'm therefore allowing other Thor appearances to have occurred since last issue.
Eric also calls his ex-wife Marcy to see if he can pick up Kevin. He's not acting like he's disappeared off the face of the Earth since giving up custody.
He does note that he's lost track of what day it is, but says that happens whenever he turns into Thor for prolonged periods.
Anyway, the point of this mini-story is actually Eric's love life. We see Eric thinking about how great Susan Austin is, even though he starts doodling a sketch of Sif while he's daydreaming. But when he snaps out of it, he seems to resolve to contact Susan.
But, in a twist, he actually goes to the apartment of Jackie Lukus. At first it seems like she's dating Gilgamesh or somebody.
But that beefy dude turns out to be Jackie's brother, and when that misunderstanding is resolved, Eric and Jackie express their feelings for each other.
With the mushy stuff out of the way, we can now get to our main story. Thor is called to Avengers headquarters, where he demonstrates that he doesn't understand the point of a training session and destroys all the stun drones that Captain America was practicing with. C'mon, Thor, you're smarter than that and i've seen you engage in Avengers practice sessions before.
Thor is told that the British government wants to know what happened to the Juggernaut, who was being held in a British prison until he was released for a fight with Thor during Acts of Vengeance. Oddly, though, the British are using multiple channels to get this information. Since the Avengers are "currently out of favor with their government", Excalibur is sent in to investigate.
Meanwhile, we're not entirely done with the mushy stuff.
And the Wrecking Crew invades a D'Agostino's.
And Loki, the Enchantress, and Sharp Dressed Ulik are in the picture as well.
And also Code: Blue, in a scene that reminds me of the hilarious scene of Dum Dum Dugan "training" the Howlers in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1 (towards the bottom of the entry).
A lot going on! Most of these groups will converge, though. The Enchantress actiavtes a magical beacon, meant to attract the Wrecking Crew, since Loki doesn't like beings with their Agardian power running around. Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and Quasar all sense the beacon as well, but can't hone in on it.
The Wrecking Crew are currently powering up a new wrecking ball for Thunderball (who, sadly, still harbors plans to overthrow the Wrecker).
They feel the beacon and are drawn to it. And so is Rachel Summers, so she brings Excalibur to the area. So those two groups get into a fight.
Eric Masterson feels the beacon as well, and transforms into Thor. When he arrives, the Wrecker uses his Asgardian powers to create an illusion of the Juggernaut (i guess it's something Ulik taught him), tricking Excalibur into fighting Thor.
So Thor gets pounded from all sides.
Code Blue shows up as well.
I have a little difficulty buying that Thor can't just bust out of the pavement that Shadowcat trapped him in. But let's face it, Thor is a bit of a drama queen and he's going to go with the most explosive solution.
I also have trouble buying that the Juggernaut couldn't have busted out of that pavement, but Kitty thinks differently.
Of course this is a comic where cops with high tech weapons can take out members of the Wrecking Crew.
I had a dyslexic moment with the scan below. I thought Meggan was complaining that the Wrecker hurt her brain.
The Enchantress takes advantage of all the chaos to bind the Wrecker, since it's him that she and Ulik are really after.
Lockheed senses that something is up and starts breathing fire at the invisible Asgardians. They therefore withdraw, and the Wrecker is freed. The Wrecking Crew then also flee (leaving an unconscious Bulldozer behind), and that ends the illusion that was causing Excalibur to think that Thor was the Juggernaut. So that ends the fight.
Excalibur then ask Thor where the real Juggernaut is, and he teleports them to the dimension that the Juggernaut was banished to. Except instead of the Juggernaut, they find armored goons, who attack and capture them.
And the Juggernaut is their ruler.
Juggernaut got elected by running on an Occupy Wall Street platform.
I mean, seriously, maybe this is a win-win situation? The masses seem to like the Juggernaut, and now he's off Earth. But of course the heroes don't see it that way.
Allies of the deposed Prince Zalaski launch a rescue of the heroes. Over Captain Britain's objections, Thor swears to not turn on Zalaski if he's freed to fight the Juggernaut.
After a quick check to confirm that there are no New Warriors around to muddle things up, it's time for a Thor/Juggernaut rematch.
If you're looking for a straight slugfest between these two powerhouses, you're still going to be a little disappointed. Thor figures out that the Juggernaut's powers are magic-based, and uses his hammer to create a whirlwind that disables his powers.
But even so, Thor has to touch the hammer every 60 seconds, and he's not able to knock Juggernaut out during that time.
As usual, i can't keep track of all the secondary powers that Thor has (he can disable magic with a whirlwind?) or what the rules of his hammer are (i thought the 60 second rule was only applicable on Earth). I'm also not sure how the Juggernaut retains his strength and can still take hits from Thor if his power is disabled.
The battle continues, with the Juggernaut now focused on keeping Thor away from his hammer.
Thor uses that to toss the Juggernaut into space.
Excalibur managed to escape on their own in the meantime (Kitty just phases them out of their force-sphere prisons), but they don't do anything. Thor then transforms into Eric Masterson and gives the people of this dimension a speech about how they don't need a strong-armed dictator; they can rule themselves. Thor and Excalibur returning to Earth and parting ways happens off panel. The next we see of Thor/Eric, Jerry Sapristi and Susan Austin are in his apartment telling him that they know his secret.
But while all of that is going on, the Wrecking Crew launch an assault on Code: Blue to get Bulldozer back. And that draws the attention of Ghost Rider.
The Wrecker attacks Ghost Rider with his Asgardian magic, and it has the effect of summoning Mephisto.
Back in his office, Loki does a facepalm; something like this is apparently exactly what he was afraid of. Loki therefore goes to visit Mephisto, and they have a polite conversation.
Mephisto shows Loki that he's got minions weaving a shroud for an immortal that will die soon. When Loki sees the face on the shroud (we don't, until the end of this arc, but it's Thor if you didn't guess), Loki realizes that they have something in common, although it's made clear that Loki doesn't trust him.
Meanwhile, the Wrecking Crew seems to have fled the scene after Mephisto showed up. Understandable, but the Wrecker now has to convince the rest of his Crew that he isn't a coward.
It also turns out that Jerry and Susan think that Eric's "secret" is that he's an alcoholic.
But before Eric can correct them or ask why they think that, Kevin shows up with Eric's ex-wife, allowing Eric to focus group the idea of Thor growing his beard back.
Eric and Marcy having a normal healthy relationship upsets Susan, but then again, everything upsets Susan.
We'll later see that Susan is being influenced by the Enchantress to make a play for Eric by manipulating Kevin.
Eric transforms into Thor to fly around and clear his head ("Oh man, I'm starting to sound like some hokey soap opera character!"). Thunderball spots him. The Wrecker was focused on hunting down Ghost Rider to prove that he isn't afraid of him. But Thunderball convinces him to go after Thor instead, assuming that the Wrecker will get trashed. The Wrecker's erratic behavior after the Mephisto incident means that the rest of the Crew doesn't really have his back either. But at least they participate in the fight, unlike Thunderball who is noticeably absent.
Ghost Rider shows up too, guided there by Loki, who wants to make sure that the Wrecker is taken down.
Loki also takes out the lurking Thunderball, and drains his power.
And does the same with Piledriver.
Loki then causes the Wrecker's blasts to open a portal to Mephisto's realm, unleashing demons. And Ulik attacks the Wrecker.
The Wrecker is knocked out and taken by Loki. Thor banishes the demons and apprehends the rest of the Crew. Ghost Rider doesn't stick around to help Thor get the injured Crew to a hospital for medical attention.
Crazy breakneck fun. The phrase "action packed" sometimes gets thrown around, but this arc has full claim on it. Lots of fights, lots of guest stars, lots of cool villains. Just pure fun. Often campy fun, but still fun, especially with Ron Frenz's art.
Ghost Rider vaguely recognizes Mephisto in this story.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: See above regarding Thor's return to Earth. Since Kitty Pryde is with Excalibur, this has to take place after Excalibur #34.
As Michael notes, Mephisto is shown holding the crystal that holds/held Centurious and Zarathos (per Ghost Rider #81).
It's unclear when Centurious & Zarathos escaped (or were let out?) of the crystal, so i'm not tagging them as characters appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Ron Frenz draws a pretty Shadowcat. It seems like only the great Alan Davis had a really good handle on her up to this point. It looks like I have to give some additional props to Frenz as one of the underrated greats!
Posted by: Bill | July 23, 2015 8:06 PM
This arc makes it clear that the crimelord in issue 414 was Loki.
Posted by: Michael | July 23, 2015 8:11 PM
The four-way fight was certainly fun. Captain Britain had a fine showing against Thor (being called "a stranger to defeat" by goldiloks), and Thor did well against Phoenix's psychic blast as well.
And sure, the blasting of the pavement to get free was something of unneeded drama... but it was fun!
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 23, 2015 9:27 PM
Wait, I've always thought that if Kitty phased someone into solid matter, it would kill them?
Anyway, I have a question: how does the Eric-as-Thor merger works, exactly? When Eric transforms into Thor, whose personality is the dominant one?
Posted by: Piotr W | July 24, 2015 3:50 PM
I'm with Piotr on Thor's phasing into a pavement. Kitty mortally wounded an alternate Nightcrawler in Limbo by phasing his foot into the floor. Thor is not Nightcrawler, but effectively the pavement has just turned solid inside his internal organs. i know it's the opposite way round, but either way his atoms and the pavement's atoms are now both solid and occupying the same space. In short, that's gotta hurt. It's much, much further than Vision's old partially solidifying his arm trick. This is fully solidified, and a larger mass. Maybe that wouldnt kill Juggs due to his forcefield, and maybe it doesnt kill Thor cos he's a god, but it should kill pretty much anyone else. There's no drama that he couldn't smash the pavement around him, but inside him there would still be a chunk of pavement bonded to him. That's why he needs to magic his way out. (i think Kitty does the same thing to real Juggs in the Last Stand film, which probably should kill him since he's a mutant in the film, not a magical avatar, and yeah he just smashes his way out, which seemed stupid but then again so did everything else in the film, so who cares.) As for Thor vs Juggy, i think DeFalco's idea was Juggs has Hulk/Thor level strength and a similar amount of invulnerability. He then also has a forcefield which provides total invulnerability. So Thor removed the forcefield, so but Juggs still had the Class 100 strength and toughness.
Posted by: Jonathan | July 26, 2015 1:47 PM
Piotr—If I remember correctly, they have two separate personalities, but have some knowledge of what the other is doing when in control. So, Eric is in charge when they're Eric and Thor's in charge when they're Thor, but both mostly remember what happened when the other was in control. But, it's been a long, long time since I've read this run.
Posted by: Darth Weevil | July 31, 2015 9:23 PM
Nothing says early 90s Marvel like a Ghost Rider guest appearance. Ah memories.
Posted by: Red Comet | July 31, 2015 10:07 PM
The page of "Eric Masterson" doodling away at his drawing board, Eric is a spitting image of Ron Frenz. It's like he couldnt even bother with subtly having them both be artists.
IDK whether to be amused or find it the height of arrogance to rework an A-List character into being yourself.
Posted by: JC | October 24, 2015 11:53 PM
Didn't bearded Thor look like Simonson?
Posted by: Thanos6 | October 25, 2015 2:13 AM
What bothers me even more than the mistake about Kitty's powers is the awful characterization. As if she were the type to make a casual decision about rendering someone permanently immobile? (or more accurately, about killing someone?) Puh-leeze.
Posted by: Matt | May 9, 2016 6:49 PM
I always get a chuckle whenever I see that scene in issue #430 with Piledriver freaking out when he realizes that Ghost Rider is an actual ghost.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 9, 2016 10:45 PM
Comments are now closed.
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