Issue(s): Thor #478, Thor #479
He then flies to Asgard to confront his father about Donald Blake. Odin is clearly jealous of the High Evolutionary, and things get heated.
And that's when Thor finds out that there's a new Thor in town.
Thor comments on how Norvell's speech patterns alternate between colloquial and Asgardian.
Odin reveals that he's retrieved Norvell from Valhalla and equipped him with the Belt of Strength and Iron Gloves (bathed in the Fire of Gierrodur) again, along with a new Uru hammer. Odin makes it clear that he's brought Norvell back because there's another Ragnarok coming, but Norvell doesn't seem to grasp that he's a sacrificial lamb. But Odin is also taking about Norvell like a replacement for his son, who is "dead to me".
Odin orders Norvell to attack Thor.
The Thors throw their hammers and they crash together. Instead of either hammer breaking, both hammers go careening out the window, leaving the Thors to fight hand-to-hand.
But eventually the Thors go out the window too, and they retrieve their hammers.
The fight threatens to bring all of Asgard crashing down. Odin halts the fight, having now decided to tell Thor the truth about Donald Blake. Odin says that a vision from Volla the prophetess showed that Thor would die before Ragnarok. So Odin, following a trail from his Runestaff, went to Midgard and found young Donald Blake, a descendant of Odin-worshipping Norsemen, in Minnesota. Odin came up with the plan to hide Thor in Blake to avoid the prophecy.
And so, when Odin said he was sending Thor to Earth as a punishment for his lack of humility, it was just a ruse. And the idea that Donald Blake was just a template based on Keith Kincaid was a lie.
Asgard then weathered a series of attacks, including one from a giant named Hrym. After that, the danger predicted by Volla's prophecy had passed...
...and Odin allowed Blake to discover Mjolnir. Odin was also trying to get Blake away from Jane Foster, since he didn't approve of Thor being in a romance with a mortal. When Blake found the stick and struck it, Odin secretly transported Blake's body to Wundagore because it was once a "place sacred to far-wandering members of my cult".
It's not clear why Odin didn't immediately restore all of Thor's memories or why he kept Thor tethered to a (replica) mortal body. It is said that Blake's body became less frail and more muscular over time because Thor was subconsciously re-shaping it.
Odin's story angers everyone - Thor, Sif, Frigga - and when Odin offers Thor another chance to remain in Asgard, he refuses, saying that he needs to train the Godpack and saying that Odin only wants him because of the upcoming Ragnarok, not out of fatherly love.
I don't know what Roy Thomas was hoping to do with all of this. Thor's origin didn't need any more noodling, and i can't imagine that anyone was clamoring for the return of Donald Blake or was upset that he wasn't a real person prior to getting bonded with Thor. The return of Red Norvell feels like Thomas mining his own old stories just for the sake of it, and it even feels like it's going in the same direction as last time. In any event, with Thunderstrike appearing in the last story and Beta Ray Bill standing around in the background in this story, we really didn't need yet another active Thor imitator running around.
The revisions don't make for a good story and they don't seem to be fixing anything in need of fixing, so this all feels tedious and pointless. The highlight of these two issues is the meaningless fight between M.C. Wyman's two hyper-steroidal Thors, and that's not much of a highlight.
I also want to note the poor coordination between this series and other titles. Issue #475 had the unrelated story from the annual crammed into the middle of it, and issue #476 had the Thunderstrike appearance which cited Thor's appearance in Thunderstrike #10 without making room for it. And this issue references Red Norvell's appearance in Hulk #421-423 despite the problems i've noted (in the last entry) around when it can take place. It's not a problem specific to Roy Thomas but considering his interest in continuity you might expect a little more coordination.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted in the last Thor entry, some time passes between issues and that allows for Red Norvel's appearance in Hulk #421-423 in between. Thor is seen leaving Asgard at the end of this arc and arriving in Wundagore at the beginning of issue #480. The High Evolutionary will say that it's been "two days" since Thor left Wundagore in issue #476.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBalder, Beta Ray Bill, Fandral, Freki, Geri, Grimgerta, Heimdall, Hildegarde, Hogun, Huginn, Krista, Muninn, Odin, Red Norvell, Sif, Thor, Valtrauta, Volstagg
I don't understand what Thomas was thinking with the return of Don Blake mess. I could almost understand why Roy would do something like this if he wanted to bring Blake back as a supporting character. Conversely, I could understand having Odin tell a story like this and then revealing Blake was a fake and Odin lied. Instead, in a few issues, Roy reveals that Odin's story this issue was true but that Don Blake is a magical construct created by Sigyn after she accidentally killed the real Don Blake. So this entire mess serves no purpose except to complicate Thor's origin. Especially since Odin's story doesn't explain why Blake and Kincaid resemble each other and are both doctors, which the earlier "template" explanation did. (Are we supposed to assume Kincaid was also descended from the Vikings, and Blake and Kincaid are relatives?) Every writer since has ignored this story and for good reason.
Posted by: Michael | February 20, 2018 10:58 PM
My best guess is that Thomas saw returning Blake as a back-to-basics move. It doesn’t fully restore an old status quo, like Thomas's restoration of Dr. Strange’s eye and artifacts in the last solo book he wrote, but it brings us closer. DeFalco had used Eric Masterson to restore the old status quo in his own way, and I think both DeFalco and Thomas, traditionalists that they are, thought Thor needed a human anchor to give the series feeling. Simonson disproved that, but nobody could replicate what he achieved. Blood and Thunder certainly didn’t make Thor seem like a remotely interesting character on his own, possessed or not.
It all gets aborted pretty quickly, but it would be surprising if Thomas, being Thomas, wasn’t headed toward fusing Thor and Blake back together again.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 20, 2018 11:35 PM
If so, he certainly was taking the most complicated, nonsensical route to get there he could, but that's Roy Thomas for you.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 21, 2018 9:06 AM
And we get back around to Thor having another Donald Blake style status quo in Dan Jurgens run with Jake Olsen.
Posted by: AF | February 21, 2018 12:00 PM
It's worth noting that pretty much every attempt to go back tot he Don Blake status quo ends up exactly the way that status quo originally did: with someone realizing that Don Blake or mortal alter egos in general just make Thor boring and take away from the unique element of his godhood.
There's a reason Kirby and Lee all but dump Blake by the end of their run, and why most of the really great Thor runs don't use this setup.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 21, 2018 2:48 PM
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