Issue(s): Thor #283, Thor #284, Thor #285, Thor #286, Thor #287, Thor #288, Thor #289, Thor #290, Thor #291, Thor #292, Thor #293, Thor #294, Thor #295, Thor #296, Thor #297, Thor #298, Thor #299, Thor #300, Thor #301
Ah, Roy Thomas, continuity "fixer". Within the span of this crazy arc, he attempts to explain how the Eternals fit into the Marvel Universe (Even though it's pretty clear that they didn't fit, he makes the claim in some of the letter columns that eventually some Marvel writer was going to bring in Ikaris or someone in an issue of Marvel Two-In-One or Team-Up, so if someone was going to do it, it ought to be him so he could do it right)...
....and why the Marvel Norse Gods don't match the myths by introducing the Ragnarok cycle that shows that Asgardian continuity basically resets itself every so often.
On a smaller scale, Thomas explains why Odin built the Destroyer (as a weapon to fight the Celestials, but it isn't good enough)...
...explains why there were no female Norse goddesses from the myths in the Thor series until issue #168 (they've been off tending the Young Gods)...
...gets rid of the Young Gods (an offering to the Celestials to get them to leave the planet)...
...and reveals who Thor's mother is (Gaea, the Earth goddess).
There's really not much story here. There's a lot of exposition and a mishmash of plots that don't have much to do with each other all getting sewn together whether it makes sense or not. We're dealing with the Eternals...
...a re-interpretation of Wagner's Ring Cycle...
...some demonic luchadores...
...and a giant floating eyeball.
There seems to be a fight going on between Thomas and Gruenwald/Macchio. Every time Thomas has Sersi use her powers, he make a point of having her or an observer state that her powers are only an illusion.
This of course was not the way her powers were depicted in the Eternals series or in the Odyssey (unlike a lot of the Eternals with homonym-onomous names, Sersi is indeed supposed to be the Circe of myth, hence her penchant for turning people into pigs).
When Gruenwald and Macchio take over at the end of this arc, they make a point of having Sersi say that her powers really are molecular rearrangement, not illusions. She was only saying it was illusion because "that is what I wished you to believe", although she doesn't say why.
The Eternal called The Forgotten One goes through a couple changes in this arc, taking on the name Hero for a while.
He had been working for the Celestial called the One Above All since we last saw him in the Eternals series. In this arc he's sent him to warn the Eternals not to interfere with the Celestials, and he fights Thor one-on-one and more than holds his own. Eventually he overcomes the Celestials' control, and Zuras is convinced to accept him back into the Eternals' ranks.
In general, things definitely get a little better when Thomas leaves and Gruenwald/Macchio take over. You get a sense that they've been charged with wrapping this thing up already.
There's also a few subplots that kind of distract from the main plot. The Warriors Three spend time on a quest that eventually uncovers the Young Gods.
And Sif fights a giant.
There's also some lingering details from issues prior to this arc dealing with Mimir and Red Norvell that just add to the clutter.
To top it all off, Thor has to beg for a portion of energy from each of the pantheons of Earth's gods in order to restore health to Odin.
All of the gods agree willingly except the Hindu pantheon. Thor has to beat Shiva into submission before getting their energy.
There are some cool moments in this story:
Thor banging away ineffectively on a Celestial.
Odin coldly deciding to let the human race get destroyed.
The always cool Destroyer.
And some nice scenes with Eternals, Deviants, and Celestials. Nothing quite reaches Kirby levels of awesomeness, but they're still cool.
Note that one of the scans above shows the One Above All. That's the first on panel appearance of that entity. He was mentioned as being on the Celestial mothership in the original Eternals series, and he acted behind the scenes on at least one occasion, but we never actually saw him, and the implication seemed to be that he was something higher than the Celestials. Maybe God! But here he does turn out to be just another Celestial, although he is the master of the Fourth Host.
Meanwhile, Odin is, of course, awesome.
Overall, though, this is a real stinker. Especially once Buscema leaves. Because Buscema is awesome.
Sooooo much going on! Too much, unfortunately. A lot of cool scenes along the way, but a big incoherent mess when put all together.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 179,915. Single issue closest to filing date = 172,376.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: MCP says Avengers annual #9 and Avengers #189 take place during Thor #285, but i'd rather say the Avengers issues take place after the Thor annual but before Thor #283. Either way, they take place sometime during this arc. Hulk #243 shows a Celestial and references this arc, but there's nothing in that story that's related to the Celestials' appearance in Thor. The appearance in Hulk has to occur either before or during the Thor story since they've apparently been on Earth since the Eternals series and they leave at the end of this Thor arc. It works better if the Hulk appearance actually occurs before the Thor story, due to some convoluted reasoning in my head that involves the Wasp appearing in Defenders #76-77.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Thor: The Eternals Saga #1, Thor: The Eternals Saga #2
Inbound References (17): show
i think you identified it with Sersi. Roy didnt like powerful female heroes and depowered them whenever he could (miss America in the Invaders for example)
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 7, 2011 5:05 PM
Klaus Janson was the originally annnounced inker for the annual.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 8, 2012 8:45 PM
The issue where Thor fights Shiva was eventually retconned that it was not Shiva, but Indra. The reason was that Shiva is still actively worshiped while Indra, as one of the old Vedic gods, was not. It was like if Thor fought and defeated Jehovah. So as not to offend Hindus, it was changed.
Posted by: Chris | December 9, 2012 11:07 AM
Never have I been so bored in all my life. These are the only Thor issues I didn't take with me when I moved most of my collection to my current address. (On a re-read of 301, it's clear that I would have benefited by keeping 300 and perhaps some of the introductory issues in the 280s, but the mere thought of all that Wagnerian crap sends Shivas, er, shivers, down my spine.)
Yes, you read that correctly; I took "The Zaniac Craves Blood!" with me and left this mess behind.
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 3, 2013 3:19 PM
Personally, I've always thought Kirby's Eternals -- a few reclusive super-immortals mistaken for various pagan gods by different primitive civilisations -- to be a cleaner and cleverer concept than the messy cosmology / theology of mainstream Marvel, exemplified in the scans above. Is every single member of every single pantheon supposed to be equally 'real'?! (Japanese Shintoism alone believes there are EIGHT MILLION gods!) Let's not kid ourselves that actual pagan deities would act according to the Comics Code, either.
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 9, 2016 8:02 AM
There's a lot to like here. I like that the Odinsword is explained after so long. I like the explanation for why Marvel's Asgard is different from mythological Asgard. But the professional wrestling story is stupid, and the convoluted rebelling of the ring cycle is almost as bad. What's worst is how the book treads water waiting for the 300th issue, but when it finally arrives they have to squeeze everything into a bunch of tiny panels because they've run out of room.
Posted by: Andrew | April 11, 2016 8:06 PM
"Roy didnt like powerful female heroes and depowered them whenever he could."
Not that I make a habit of defending the "rascally one", but Sersi as Kirby conceived her -- the literal, immortal Circe of myth, with Molecule Man powers as well as strength, flight and invulnerability -- is too powerful a character to write for easily.
(Also, as Mastermind in the X-Men proves, 'mere' illusions can be very effective in their own right.)
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 20, 2016 7:37 AM
Sersi IS ridiculously over-powered. When she's a member of the Avengers, she transmutes the entire team to survive certain environments on several occasions.
Posted by: AF | April 20, 2016 7:49 AM
The disgusting behavior of Odin and Frigga ruined this arc for me. Odin is running around giving away women to giants as payment for services rendered, and otherwise being the biggest villain in the Marvel universe, while Frigga makes him kill his own son in retaliation for him rescuing her from the man who kidnapped her as a child. A couple of sociopaths are running Asgard.
Posted by: Vancelot | August 23, 2016 2:06 AM
The deviant version of Ereshkigal, who reappears in Quasar, says she is also known as Hecate. I wonder if she's the same Hecate who appeared in Ms Marvel 11-13?
Posted by: Andrew | November 21, 2016 9:58 PM
That may have been the intention and worked, but the 2011 Herc series said no.
Posted by: AF | November 22, 2016 8:07 AM
I've never read this issues, so I was kinda wondering: how does Thomas explain away the fact that the Eternals have names and powers resembling ancient human deities, but in the Marvel Universe those deities also exist for real, separate from the Eternals?
Posted by: Tuomas | March 26, 2017 9:21 AM
Tuomas, in Thor annual #7 the similarity in names is noted, but it's said that "neither group is named for the other". In Thor #291, when the Eternals fight the Greek gods, there are a lot of comments like this one from Makkari while fighting Mercury: "Amazing! I always thought Mercury was only a myth -- and that my deeds were attributed to you only because of human speech impediment."
The first Marvel Handbook, though, says, "Olympia was built on the site of the interdimensional portal to Olympus... Representatives of both groups signed a mutual non-interference pact, and even benefited from human confusion between their two races."
These issues have a long and winding story with many reversals, and with many revelations dropped casually into random snippets of dialogue, so it's possible that something in here gives us a better explanation or that things end up closer to what the Handbook says. But i just flipped through the issues again until my brain gave up on me, and this was all i could find.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 27, 2017 9:07 AM
I picked this run up off ebay because I love Buscema Thor...it's a total slog, barely readable. 300 has some nice visuals though.
Posted by: MindlessOne | April 8, 2017 9:52 AM
I remember reading that Handbook entry and assuming that the material was actually taken from a book somewhere. Seems like a pretty important point to introduce in the OHOTMU. They even state that Thena's real name is Zura and that she deliberately took on the "Thena" name after meeting Athena in order to further the confusion in the minds of humans.
Posted by: Dan H. | April 10, 2017 8:48 AM
In reference to the appearance of Shiva being retconned as Indra, Shiva will reappear in Thor Vol. 2, issue 61. It's definitely the same guy, with purple skin and 3 eyes, and this time he's accompanied by Vishnu and Brahma, so it's unquestionably all 3 of the currently still-worshiped Hindu trinity.
Posted by: Andrew | June 7, 2017 2:50 AM
Vancelot, To be fair, Odin (AKA Wotan) is the biggest villain in the universe, and a total sociopath, at least according to Wagner's Ring Cycle. Loved by the Nazi brass, the Ring Cycle is a 15 hour 19th century German opera, and a retcon of a medieval German poetry collection called the Nibelungenlied, which itself is a retcon of Old Norse and German myths, songs, and poems dating at least as far back as the 5th century AD. My dad warned me not to look any further than Bulfinch's Mythology and the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, but, no, I had to dig into all that unholy heathen crap. Not only does Odin/Wotan whore out goddesses and Valkyrie, commit adultery, kill his own children, tell lies, break promises, weave intricate deceptions, and set Gotterdamerung (Ragnarok) into motion, but it's also full of incest, patricide, greed, & just about any other kind of avarice you can imagine.
A better retelling is in P. Craig Russell's "The Ring of the Nibelung" from Dark Horse Comics.
Here, in these horrible Thomas authored and edited Thor comics, which the reviewer has so wisely compressed into a single entry for us to more easily skip over, Thomas has retconned all the aforementioned mess, along with the Kirby & Lee Thor mythos, Eternals mythos, & the kitchen sink, into a contiguous multi-issue blob of a story, in which it turns out that Odin reincarnates his own son Thor as the incestuous Siegmund, and then, as Siegmund and Sieglinda's son Siegfried.
Posted by: Holt | November 11, 2017 8:31 AM
One of my fondest hopes for Marvel Comics is that some other writer has since retconned all of this Thomas retcon out of existence, but, if such is the case, I sadly haven't learned about it yet.
Posted by: Holt | November 11, 2017 8:34 AM
I think pretty much every writer since Thomas has at best paid lip service to this cycle of stories, and at worst ignored them. Not because they are bad, necessarily, but because they severely limit any other stories involving Thor's family. Simonson brushed them off with a single line in Thor 355: "Were I told conflicting stories by my father and a floating eyeball, I know which I should believe." And since then Straczynski and Fraction, and probably others, have told stories of Odin's youth that line up with Simonson's stories, rather than these.
Posted by: Andrew | November 11, 2017 2:11 PM
Thanks Andrew. Since reading your comment, I took the time to reread Thor #349-355, a far better story arc IMO, than what we have here in #283-301. I had read them before, when published, but either missed or forgot the "floating eyeball" connection you mentioned. They read much more cohesively when read in one session, than when reading them one at a time with a month between each issue. Simonson, along with Kirby & Lee, is what *I* consider to be the good stuff, but that's just my opinion...
It's only fair to say that all versions of the Norse/Germanic gods & their legends are retcons. That includes the Poetic Edda, Snorri Sturlson Edda, & Volsung Saga, all of which went into Nibelungenlied and Wagner's opera. I don't read any Norse or Germanic languages, so all I've ever read are English translations or stuffy old scholarly treatises on the subject matter-- it's all based on later written accounts on the fragmentary remains of older songs & poems, & maybe some small smattering of spin-doctored propagandistic so-called "history" from days long forgotten.
More recent retcons are the Kirby & Lee version, the Thomas & Simonson versions, & later versions, as you mentioned. I prefer the Kirby, Lee, & Simonson versions mainly because they're more heroic & moralistic in a modern sense I can appreciate. Thomas' version is just as valid from a historical sense because there's really very little history involved in any of it. Not as original, IMO, but...
Posted by: Holt | November 11, 2017 9:58 PM
... if anything, Simonson and the others you mention are being truer to the Kirby & Lee version, and truer to the Norse versions, than to the Germanic versions, which seems more appropriate, since we are, after all, calling him "Thor" and not "Donner," which is the Germanic version of his name.
The sentence you quoted from Thor #355 refers specifically to a Thomas retcon regarding Odin's origin, which has nothing whatsoever in common with any of the other versions. Thomas had said basically that Ragnarok had already happened, and hence that the comic book Odin, as we had always known him, was not the original Odin.
Thomas was reacting to some readers' complaints that Thor didn't have red hair or a beard, or to other small discrepancies between the Kirby & Lee version, and the versions we read about in textbook mythology accounts. I think that's really the main thing I take issue with... I want my Odin, and my Thor, Asgard, etc., to be the originals, and not some second hand knockoffs. Odin is the son of Bor, son of Buri, just as Simonson had him to be, and as Kirby and Lee had him to be. He is definitely not a composite being, composed of 4 other gods who got together after the last Ragnarok cycle. That's what Thomas was saying, and that's what Thor's great-grandfather "Tiwaz", AKA Buri, was disagreeing with, when he made his "floating eyeball" comment. Thomas' retcon diminished the importance of Buri, who in Simonson's story was the true and original all-father.
Posted by: Holt | November 11, 2017 10:19 PM
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