Jonathan, son of Kevin:
Characters Appearing: Bloodaxe (Jackie Lukus), Bobby Steele, Carjack, Ed Marrero, Gary Paretsky, Mad Dog Rassitano, Marcus Stone, Marcy Masterson Steele, Mother Majowski, Rigger Ruiz, Samantha Joyce, Stellaris, Susan Austin, Thunderstrike
Issue(s): Thunderstrike #1
This issue has a Jun cover date, and issue #2's cover date is Nov. But looking at Mike's Amazing World of Comics, issue #2 only came out a month after issue #1, so it seems that issue #1 was delayed, not issue #2. In the meantime, Eric Masterson appeared in several other books, spoiling the surprise of his new look a bit.
We last saw Eric in Thor #459. Odin had given him a new hammer, or actually mace, which was engraved with the word Thunderstrike. But Eric hasn't actually taken that name, and a lot of this issue is about him being uncomfortable with people still calling him Thor while saying that he needs to get home and look at a thesaurus to find a new name for himself (Thunderstrike is meant to be the name of the weapon, like Mjolnir). He thinks that it shouldn't be too hard to come up with a new name, "considering the Einsteins who usually write those hokey comic books that my son is always buying". But in the end he does just go with Thunderstrike. Look, if Odin himself is going to have a name carved into your hammer, that's probably the name to go with (just do a quick spellcheck first; you don't want to wind up as Thorr).
Before the name change, Eric, who is currently living at Avengers Mansion, agrees to move in with his friend Samantha Joyce.
Also in this issue, Eric's ex-wife's husband, Bobby Steele, is attacked by a carjacker.
The carjacker turns out to be working for a villain called, er, Carjack.
Eric as "Thor" had already apprehended a few of Carjack's goons. But Eric's previous sparring partner Bloodaxe doesn't think that the goons being arrested is enough, so (s)he decides to go kill them. Before doing so, he gets Carjack's location.
Eric is learning that his new weapon handles flight a little differently (although i don't think it will make much difference in practice; technically what Eric describes here is really how Thor's flight is supposed to work, too).
He notices a commotion at the police station and finds Code: Blue scrambling in the aftermath of Bloodaxe's slaughter. Eric figures out that he can cause his mace to trace Bloodaxe's energy, so he leads Code: Blue to Carjack's headquarters and stops Bloodaxe from attacking Carjack.
Carjack and his goons take off their masks and leave the building. They're arrested, but they feel confident that since they wore masks during their crimes, they won't be able to be identified by witnesses (i have to think that their garage is full of incriminating forensic evidence, but maybe they're hoping it'll get destroyed by the fight).
Eric is beaten by Bloodaxe, but a mysterious blast saves him from the killing blow.
Eric decides that he needs to carve out a new identity for himself. So he takes some designs to the costume shop where his Thor costume was made. The shop owner tells him that capes are out but earrings are in.
While the costume is being designed, Eric goes on a dinner date with Jackie Lukus. But Eric gets a call from his ex-wife saying that Bobby has gone out after the carjackers, so Eric has to leave. We see Jackie upset that a call from his ex-wife would cause Eric to quit their date.
And then Bloodaxe is seen teleporting in where Carjack is.
Eric arrives in his new costume. I guess he's anticipating being called into the Avengers; he's already got his brown jacket.
While Eric fights Bloodaxe, Carjack orders his men to shoot both of them. Bloodaxe reflects the bullets, seemingly killing Carjack and his goons.
Eric finds that his new weapon can emit an energy blast (not necessarily the blast that saved Eric before).
We see Bloodaxe staggering off after the subsequent collapse of the building, but without the axe, which Eric retains.
It's after this fight that Eric decides to take the name Thunderstrike for himself.
Nothing i haven't said before, but: i find Tom DeFalco's use of mysteries - mystery blasts, mystery identities - to be more tedious than anything, and i find the contrast between the old fashioned scripting and art and the idea that Thunderstrike is a hip Thor for the 90s to be kind of hilarious. The characterization is poor and the plotting is stale. But Ron Frenz is pretty great about giving us big blocky characters fighting each other. I can't remember if i bought this issue in realtime or picked it up later, but i definitely picked up next issue off the stands, since it featured the Juggernaut.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Eric officially becomes Thunderstrike and gets his new costume.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
fnord, I remember Thunderstrike #1 being several months late. This was around the time that Marvel was trying to expand their line massively to flood the market. At one point I read somewhere that Marvel was shooting for the goal of having one hundred ongoing monthly series, which even back in 1993, when comic books were selling like hotcakes, sounded absolutely insane. The actual result of all this was a whole bunch of books shipping VERY late, and nearly all of the new titles from Marvel getting cancelled within a couple of years when the market finally imploded.
All of that aside, I thought that Thunderstrike was one of the better of the many new series that Marvel released at this time, and I read it right until the very end. Of course, your mileage may very, and if you were not a fan of DeFalco & Frenz on Thor then you probably wouldn't have cared for this spin-off, either.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 2, 2016 12:32 PM
How much better would this be if comic book Bobby Steele was Bobby Steele of the Misfits?
Posted by: Mark Black | September 2, 2016 2:04 PM
I loved this title. I always liked Thunderstrike ten times better than Thor. As soon as Eric left THOR, I dropped that book and followed Eric here.
Despite Jackie being Bloodaxe by this time, she really cared for Eric. If only...
Posted by: Andrew Burke | September 2, 2016 3:01 PM
That glove has got to be one of the silliest costume accessories ever.
Posted by: Matt | September 2, 2016 3:52 PM
Yeah, 1993 was a CRAZY year when it came to Marvel comics being late- we never knew when the new issues would come out and often, for example, issue 95 would come out would come out after issue 94 was supposed to come out. I'm not sure that the volume of books being produced was the main factor, though. The quality of the editorship had definitely declined since Shooter was in charge- under Shooter someone would have lost their jobs if several high profile books came out months late.
Posted by: Michael | September 2, 2016 11:18 PM
Not really a bad concept but DeFalco wasn't the guy to execute it. Some of Frenz's best work though.
Posted by: MindlessOne | July 16, 2017 11:36 PM
Okay, my re-read of the DeFalco & Frenz stories has now reached Thunderstrike. So, a few random thoughts...
DeFalco is once again attempting to have his cake and eat it too. Thunderstrike is clearly intended to be a cool, edgy, 1990s version of Thor, someone who supposedly doesn't take any crap from bad guys... but at the same time the character is very much rooted in the Silver Age, as demonstrated by his absolute horror at Bloodaxe killing criminals. It's a very weird dichotomy.
Given the recent ambiguous remark on FB by Frenz, I'm really wondering if at this point he and DeFalco had not yet fully committed to Jackie Lukus being Bloodaxe's secret identity. Bobby Steele is clearly a red herring, but several other supporting cast members seem much more likely suspects than Jackie at this point. The one time we see Jackie this issue, she's on a date with Eric, and then is very upset that he abruptly runs off to find his ex-wife's new husband, who has apparently gone off to confront the carjacking gang. The narration makes it clear that Jackie is upset not about the carjackers being released due to insufficient evidence, but about Eric rushing off to help Marcy. Then on the very next page Bloodaxe teleports into the carjackers headquarters and tries to kill them. I suppose Jackie could be taking her frustrations about the ruined date out on Carjack's gang, but it feels like an abrupt transition.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 26, 2017 11:47 AM
(continued) Also, I do notice Carjack, as cheesy as he is, does have an interesting gimmick. He's a white male, he's clearly very educated, and he has an expensive lawyer working for him. However he wears an outfit that you could describe as "thuggish" complete with a really scary mask with huge fake dreadlocks. It appears Carjack is deliberately attempting to make his victims think he's African American, playing to racial prejudices by assuming the trappings of a black "hoodlum" to deflect from the fact that he's actually a white guy.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 26, 2017 11:55 AM
OTOH, in Thor 456, Rigger suggests that Bloodaxe is a woman and we see that Bloodaxe is not Susan but someone who knows Susan. The only other women who know Susan are Marcy and Samantha Joyce, Eric's lawyer, who would be a copout.
Posted by: Michael | November 26, 2017 12:50 PM
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