Thor Corps #1-4
Issue(s): Thor Corps #1, Thor Corps #2, Thor Corps #3, Thor Corps #4
Around this time (the September cover date) Marvel released two mini-series with ridiculous premises. The first was this Thor Corps, featuring a team-up between three Thor imitations (and eventually Thor himself). The second was Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective, which featured a team-up between three imitation characters - USAgent, War Machine, and Thunderstrike (who is also in Thor Corps) - who are then pitted up against their counterpart originals. In a different era, such concepts might have been handled with some self-deprecating satire, but in 1993 both books are delivered with deadly and dull seriousness. I remember seeing the first issues of these in the store, being outraged at the absurdity, and then promptly buying them both. But they were both so boring i didn't pick up the rest of the issues until years later during a fit of completionism, and i don't think i've ever really read them through entirely until forced to for this project.
A minor note about the cover dates. Issue #4's cover says Dec, but also says that the issues was "long awaited" and the indicia says January 1994. That makes it seem like issue #4 was late. However, Mike's Amazing World of Comics shows that the issues came out about a month apart, so i guess that wasn't the case. But i still wanted to note the cover vs. indicia dates.
As for the story, the truth is that this is a stealth story about Dargo Ktor, the future Thor, that the other Thors happen to get swept up in. The villain is Demonstaff, a villain that we saw mentioned in Thor #440 as an already established villain of Dargo ("my greatest enemy"). But that (plucked out of time) appearance and this one are his only appearances. The guy is pretty lame. First of all, he looks like Deadpool cosplaying as Gambit.
And that has to be the least threatening name for a Thor villain this side of Demon Nerf Gun.
Anyway, he's a mad scientist. He blames the guy he's shouting at for ruining one of his experiments, resulting in him becoming Demonstaff and his wife getting thrown into the dimensional void. His wife Ellene has wound up "prisoner" of a Warlord Kargul. Throughout the mini we'll get Rashomon-like versions of the story until we eventually learn that Demonstaff's experiment failed thanks to his own incompetence and his wife hooked up with Kargul because Demonstaff was a neglectful husband. But in the meantime Demonstaff kidnaps Dargo's girlfriend Sally to force him to "rescue" his wife. And Demonstaff teams Dargo up with Beta Ray Bill and Thunderstrike because this book is called Thor Corps, dammit.
I mean, if you are a villain manipulating a Thor-level hero, you might as well go all in and triple the odds of getting your head smashed in with a hammer when that plan inevitably backfires.
Beta Ray Bill and Thunderstrike are both pulled away during moments of crisis. Bill is defending his annoyingly entitled people from an overgrown artichoke...
...and Thunderstike's apparently idiotic son Kevin is about to run in front of a car.
The Warlord Kargul casts a spell that sends the Thor Corps through time to prevent them from reaching him. This allows for two issues of the Thor Corps going through various time periods and alternate realities. This doesn't have much value in terms of the larger plot; it's just running on the novelty of reminding us that these timelines existed (and we've done this sort of thing so many times it doesn't feel like a novelty anymore). It also serves to make me realize that Captain America can be a real pompous windbag when he's wrong (and/or when he's scripted by Tom DeFalco).
The timeline of 2099 is possibly a new addition to this sort of thing (although we possibly saw 2099 in Darkhawk #26-29) and DeFalco also adds a self-serving appearance by future Franklin Richards, who apparently doesn't remember any of his personal interactions with super-heroes as a kid and has to take his grandfather's word for it.
Along the way, DeFalco continues his strange habit of having his characters complain about what a shitty comic book they are in.
While the Thor Corp are having their adventures, the Warlord Kargul is invading Demonstaff's timeline...
...but Demonstaff is a step ahead of him; he's dressed the guy he blames for his accident in a Demonstaff costume. It also turns out that his plans are bigger than just getting his wife back. He's really planning to destroy the universe.
And his machinations start to cause timelines to break down (Phantom Eagle, Conan, and early X-Men cameos).
The Thors see what's happening and get back together. Weirdly, in my opinion, Bill doesn't think to bring along the Guardians of the Galaxy to help, even though the cosmically aware Aleta seemed pretty willing and able. But they do decide that they need help, so they put their hammers together and pull in the real Thor. Because what this story needs is moooooaaaar Thor.
So the Thors start powering through Warlord Kargul and then Demonstaff's defenses. Meanwhile, Dargo's girlfriend Sally starts convincing Demonstaff that all of his nihilistic rage is really just because his wife scorned him, and she says that he should just try winning her back instead, or at least using his universe warping powers to make her come back. But he says that he's unlikely to win back his wife on account of him no longer having a face. Failing that, Sally gets on her knees and promises to "do anything" to get Demonstaff to stop destroying the universe, and i'm hoping that it's me, and not DeFalco & Olliffe that has the dirty mind.
Also, here's what Warlord Kargul looks like when he's not crackling with yellow energy and riding into battle.
Like, i know your husband was neglecting you, Ellene, but you didn't exactly trade up.
The Thor Corps eventually make it to Demonstaff and fight him, with Bill smashing the staff (and look how sad it makes him).
That doesn't stop Demonstaff's destructive wave, though. So Ellene returns to Demonstaff and promises to be with him if he'll end it. So he does. Kargul banishes both of them to a void dimension where Demonstaff won't bother anyone anymore (and he gets his face back). Bill and Eric are returned to their timelines in time to save their loved ones. The (inconsequential) end.
Pat Olliffe's art is fine. He seems to be going for a Walt Simonson thing at times. Olliffe is good with facial expressions and humor, talents that are wasted with this story, and he's instead required to draw a lot of busy scenes full of random fighting. If i actually cared about the plot of this story (which would require me to care about Dargo Ktor and Demonstaff) i'd say that i liked the fact that the resolution comes from the two civilian women convincing Demonstaff that he's a psychological mess making bad decisions, rather than him getting hammered out. And, sure, the various dimensional visits are fun enough. But the story makes nothing of the high concept of four Thors teaming-up, and just plays everything as a straight, rushed adventure.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I don't count the "locals" in time travel stories. That potentially excludes Dargo Ktor's supporting cast but a) most of them don't seem to appear again anyway and b) there's a Limbo Loophole to that rule that lets me tag characters like Immortus who exist out of time. In this case, the domain of the Warlord Kargul is "Elsewhen" so i think that qualifies for the loophole. Kargul himself will appear again, so i've tagged him. And of course i've tagged Dargo Ktor himself. His other supporting characters either don't ever appear again or this is their only appearance outside of their local time period, so they aren't tagged. Eternity gets a tummy ache from Demonstaff's actions, and i'm going to say that happens in all time periods at once and it therefore counts as an Eternity appearance.
When the Thor Corps bring in the real Thor, they wonder what time period they'll be plucking him from and whether or not he'll be suffering from the Warrior's Madness. That's never explicitly resolved. It's worth noting that Thor instantly recognizes Eric Masterson in his Thunderstrike guise even though we haven't seen Thor and Eric together after Eric updated his look. But he could just be recognizing Eric, not the costume. The MCP are slightly inconsistent about placement, placing this before Thor #468 (part one of Blood and Thunder, but as a reminder that's not when Thor's Warrior Madness began) for Beta Ray Bill but after Thor #468 for Thor. And since the characters are grabbed at separate times during a time-travel story, that's actually not a problem for them. But i want to tag this as a "real" (i.e. not out-of-time) Thor appearance, so i want to assume he comes from the same time as Beta Ray Bill. I'm placing it before Thor #468 and after Infinity Crusade (Thor #467 was a Crusade tie-in). Thor's Madness was somewhat subdued during Crusade and i'm assuming that that can continue for this story.
As Michael notes in the comments, at the beginning of this story, Eric thinks to himself that "there's something about Bobby Steele that I just can't stomach!". Yeah, like maybe the fact that he hit Marcy in Thunderstrike #2? So maybe this story needs to go prior to Thunderstrike #2-3? But that would interfere with the idea that this takes place after Infinity Crusade. And in Thunderstrike #2-3, Sif is trying to convince Eric to help her deal with Thor. It would be weird if Eric's last meeting with Thor was this story, where Thor seems totally fine, and Eric didn't bother telling Sif that. So there's an argument to be made for this to take place both before and after Thunderstrike #2-3. I'm going with "after", and i'm assuming that when Eric found out that Bobby left Kevin safely with his grandparents he gave Bobby more of a pass than he should have. Thunderstrike #2 makes a point of having Marcy tell Eric that the incident was "isolated" and that Bobby had been under a lot of stress, in part due to the brutal mugging he had recently experienced.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBeta Ray Bill, Dargo Ktor, Eternity, Kargul, Kevin Masterson, Thor, Thunderstrike
I bought the first (and only the first) issue of this and hated it. I don't even remember why I bought it, to be honest, since I was not a fan of Pat Oliffe's previous work on Thor at that time. I appreciate it more now, though. Oliffe's art, I mean, not this turd burger mini.
Posted by: Robert | February 20, 2017 2:34 PM
"Eternity gets a tummy ache from Demonstaff's actions" LOL!
You say you want to count this as a "real" Thor appearance, but you don't actually have him as a Character Appearing.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 20, 2017 7:00 PM
"A minor note about the cover dates. Issue #4's cover says Dec, but also says that the issues was "long awaited" and the indicia says January 1994. That makes it seem like issue #4 was late. However, Mike's Amazing World of Comics shows that the issues came out about a month apart, so i guess that wasn't the case. But i still wanted to note the cover vs. indicia dates."
Posted by: Michael | February 20, 2017 8:29 PM
I know you don't track Conan appearances in his own era, but I think it's worthwhile to shout out the Conan appearance in case people are using the search function.
Posted by: cullen | February 20, 2017 11:47 PM
Added Thor, added a note about Eric's thoughts on Bobby Steele, and mentioned Conan.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 21, 2017 8:23 AM
Some of the inking/hatching here has a kind of Janson/Sienkiewicz/Baker style to it, which I like.
Posted by: cullen | February 21, 2017 12:29 PM
Everything beginning with the second scan under "He's really planning to destroy the universe." is inked by Romeo Tanghal. Everything above it is inked by Olliffe.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 21, 2017 12:36 PM
Karl Kaufman is the real name of the Phantom Eagle, so that's another cameo.
I can't believe I actually remember this, but Warlord Kargul later pops up during DeFalco's run on FF.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 21, 2017 3:27 PM
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