Thor annual #10
Issue(s): Thor annual #10
From it came the Elder Gods.
When the other Elder Gods became forces for chaos and evil, Gaea withdrew and triggered the Demiurge to send Atum.
And Atum became Demogorge, the God-Eater. Very few of the Elder Gods survived his purge.
Eons later, the beliefs of man formed their pantheons of gods through the Demiurge.
From there, we shift to the modern period, where the Asgardians are holding a belated funeral for Nanna.
And let's pause here to acknowledge Frigga's awesome Zabu Cart.
Meanwhile, a gathering of Hell Gods plan a scheme to merge their various kingdoms.
Aide from Hela, Pluto, and Set, who we have seen before, there is the Babylonian Ereshkigal, Yama "of the Orient", and Ahpuch of the Mayans.
Also with them is Mephisto. I always fight a losing battle regarding this. I consider Mephisto a cosmic entity, a symbolic representation of all evil in the universe. This is because we've seen him playing an outsized role in the Marvel universe, often seen alongside such other cosmic entities (consider his role in Secret Wars II, for example). It's also worth noting that in the religion of many of the actual gods here, the afterlife is not a true Hell designed for eternal punishment, it's simply an afterlife. So i don't like mixing Mephisto with these gods. I actually like his inclusion among the various demons like Satannish and Thog in the Defenders' Six Fingered Hand storyline if he must be put among peers.
But that outsized role that Mephisto plays is at least in part thanks to the prominence of Christianity in western culture, and Mephisto is essentially a representation of Satan (sometimes he literally is Satan; other times they are separate entities). So i guess from that perspective it's inevitable that he's part of this group. Alternatively, he's manipulating these gods.
Yama is actually a god worshiped in Hinduism and Buddhism. I am not clear on whether or not he's actively worshiped (please school me in the comments if you know more) but it seems more likely that he is than the others. If so, you'd think that he wouldn't need to participate in this. But if Mephisto is meant to represent the Christian Satan, i suppose you could say the same of him.
But the idea is that most of these gods are from dead religions and are no longer acquiring souls. So a merger is looking reasonable to them. Except for Hela, who has recently reconciled with Odin and is only reluctantly going along with this.
However, when they attempt to merge their kingdoms, they accidentally unleash the Demogorge.
The Demogorge begins eating the Hell gods, sucking them in "through a moist, pulsing orifice in its leathery palm". Gross!
Contradicting my high opinion of Mephisto, he's easily tossed around like the other gods.
One of Odin's ravens, Huginn, observes the attack and warns Odin. Please note that while both Huginn and Muninn are both mentioned in this issue, only Huginn is shown on panel (unless he is among the Ravens of Mourning). Fans of Muninn will want to skip this one.
Odin sends Thor to assemble a cross-pantheon God Squad (no, they're not called that, and yes, i'm referencing the later Hercules Secret Invasion story) to go up against the Demogorge.
Thor quickly learns he's been shackled with a bunch of losers.
Yeah, yeah, your staff withers. Let's go fight the monster.
Of course, Thor's dismissal of his companions works to his disadvantage when he creates a thunderstorm that drowns out Apollo's music, which was the only thing that seemed to be having an effect on him.
Ultimately none of the gods are able to stop Demogorge and they all get sucked inside him. But unlike the others, Thor keeps fighting.
And his fighting spirit (ha, ha!) convinces Demogorge that it's not really time for him to die, and so he spits out all the gods he swallowed.
The idea that Thor alone possessed the will to keep fighting might feel like it's unfair to the other pantheons, but i tie this in with what i was seeing in the past year of Thor's comic, where his continued presence on Earth must have resulted in new worshipers. I said that his active effort to do so ultimately failed, but that didn't mean that it had no effect, and i'm still sure that on Marvel earth, people worship Thor like a god. But what's surprising is that the Demogorge restores all the gods he ate. I kind of figured many of the gods, never seen before in Marvel comics, were designed as godfodder to let the Demogorge wrack up a bodycount and even do a little clean-up and explain why we get so much representation of some pantheons and not others. But that turns out to not be the case. I guess the Demogorge just isn't a precision instrument; it's an all or nothing deal.
Hela's reluctance to work with the other Hell Gods and her attempts to help Thor against Demogorge ensure that Odin isn't mad at her at the end of the story.
I do like the idea that all gods are manifestations of the Demiurge shaped by human belief. I would definitely leave out truly cosmic entities (and i would still include Mephisto in that category) and only focus on Earth-based deities, since the Demiurge is "the sentient life-force of Earth's biosphere". It does say that Earth was a "very special planet", but it stands to reason that other planets should have a similar life-force, and i wonder if, say, a planet of atheists' Demiurge is utilized in a different way, or does their's just lay unused (or full of Elder Gods)? And could this also be tied into the World Mind on Acroyear of the Micronauts' planet, and therefore Captain Universe? Or is that something different?
Anyway, despite being a Cosmic 'Splainer, this is actually a really cool issue. The cosmic history stuff is laid out clearly and plainly so it doesn't become a headache, and Demogorge makes an awesome annual-sized villain. Nice look, and Bob Hall's art generally works well here among all the various inkers. Alan Zelenetz's script again keeps things straightforward; there isn't a ton of personality, but we're dealing with gods here so that's understandable.
The annual also includes a map of Asgard, along with a Gazetteer describing each area. What's still not clear to me is, which if any (besides Asgard), are the Nine Realms. Or which are the remaining Seven, since Midgard is not shown.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Thor #314-315, which is basically as soon as would have been possible after Nanna's death and the reclamation of Valhalla.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Strangely, this issue implies that Nanna's soul went to Valhalla but Nanna's soul is in Hel in Thor 361.
Posted by: Michael | July 28, 2013 9:58 PM
I'm with you, Fnord, I always thought Mephisto was in a different category from the likes of Hela and Pluto. He's not part of a pantheon, after all. What do the '80s Official Handbooks say? They categorize demons into three classes, as I recall: Elder Gods (Cththon, Set), extradimensionals (Dormammu), and, uh, whatever Mephisto and Satannish are?
There's a flip side to the problem: I'm fairly sure in some older stories Odin was treated as pretty much a cosmic deity. But I may be mistaken.
My explanation for Thor alone being able to resist the Demogorge, other than this being his book, is that he's a first-generation offspring of Gaia. Maybe the combo of Gaia for a mother and a much later god, Odin, for a father makes Thor different from gods whose lineage is tied to a particular generation.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 28, 2013 10:46 PM
Well, there's a problem there with Mephisto.
Marvel's web-site classifies Mephisto as a "Hell-lord".
The origin of Mephisto was told by Jim Starlin in the pages of Silver Surfer, and he clearly meant for Mephisto to be something greater. His origin dates back to the beginnings of the universe.
As the review points out, he's not part of a pantheon, because he's been used as a Marvel Universe version of the Christian Devil a great deal, and Christianity is a monotheistic faith with dualist aspects, instead of being polytheistic and pagan.
So, basically, Mephisto hasn't been used very well so that it's clear.
Marvel's version of Hell is really a mess, but that's a side-topic.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | July 28, 2013 11:06 PM
Chris, keep in mind that Mephisto's origin was narrated by *Mephisto himself*. That's the definition of an unreliable narrator. And yes, Thanos acts like it was the truth but Thanos expected Mephisto to try to betray him at some point, so it's not clear if he was just playing along to lull Mephisto into a false sense of security.
Posted by: Michael | July 28, 2013 11:15 PM
Oh, Yama is definitely not a demon-figure in Buddhism. I'm not sure what his exact role is, but it seems to relate to some kind of afterlife.
I am fairly certain that he is not in any way evil in Hindu lore, either. Basically he is a judger of the dead, a role that isn't really associated with punishment or evil in non-Abrahamic religions far as I know.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 21, 2014 7:04 PM
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