Issue(s): Thor #240, Thor #241, Thor #242, Thor #243, Thor #244, Thor #245
Mantlo's story is a two-parter properly introducing the Egyptian pantheon (we had a glimpse in the previous arc) and the Wein starts with a four-part Zarrko the Tomorrow Man story.
Odin has been without his memory and living with a group of farm activists, but we saw at the end of issue #239 that he's been subsequently picked up by a group of Egyptian gods that landed a pyramid in an orange grove. Thor was unaware of this, however, so when he went looking for his father he started in Asgard, where he now finds that all of the Asgardians have become weak and demoralized. Poor Tyr isn't even looking like himself (this is more or less his first on-panel appearance and he'll later be redesigned).
After getting into a scuffle with the Warriors Three, Thor asks the Vizier what's going on, and the Vizier summons the Head of Mimir to lay out the exposition. This is Mimir's role, and he's a little cranky about it. But unfortunately for him he's quite good at it, so this is his lot in life. This is his first appearance.
So Mimir explains that Odin is with the Egyptian gods, and provides their background. There's Osiris, the king, Isis his wife, and Horus, their son. There's also half-brother Seth, the serpent-god of death. Once, Seth hacked up Osiris while he was sleeping and spread his bits around Egypt (and i guess his composting body parts helped the land and made him the God of Vegetation). Isis eventually found all his parts and put him back together, and then they sent Horus after Seth.
But Seth defeated Horus and sealed up the Egyptian gods in their pyramid, "until the day that Atum-Re -- the father of the Gods -- return to Earth". This was back in the days of Octavius Caesar, explaining why the Egyptian gods haven't been seen until now. I guess one pantheon's All-Father is as good as another, so Odin's arrival on Earth seems to have triggered the Egyptian god's return, and they've... acquired the amnesiac Odin and convinced him that he's Atum-Re.
Thor shows up to confront the Egyptians and Odin seems to recognize him but is easily confused. The Egyptian gods - these are the good guys, remember - beg Thor to just let it go because they need Odin/Atum-Re to fight Seth.
Jane Foster shows up as well and demands to go into the pyramid with the gods. And it is pretty awesome on the inside.
We briefly meet Geb and Nut, two more Egyptian gods that have already succumbed to Seth, and then Seth attacks with an army of skeletons.
Thor and Horus managed to defeat Seth, with the help of a still-addled Odin whose aim is directed by Jane Foster. But when the Asgardians and Jane leave the pyramid, and the Egyptians leave, Odin gets his memories back. And is he happy to see his son Thor? Angry to have been used by the Egyptian gods? No, he's mad that Thor is hanging out with Jane Foster again. And he sees no irony (or hypocrisy) in the fact that he's got feelings for the farm worker he'd been living with.
So Thor is (once again!) banished to Earth, so he makes his way back to Don Blake's apartment, where he finds that the Warriors Three have already moved in and made themselves at home.
That's when the giant Servitor robot attacks.
The Warriors Three help pile on against Servitor, but he is a tough opponent. What is cool is seeing Jane channeling her inner Sif (literally, as we'll see later).
The fight is long...
...but Thor eventually prevails.
That's when Zarrko the Tomorrow Man shows up.
Now, Zarrko is completely untrustworthy and Thor knows this better than anyone. And considering that Zarrko's first move here was to have Servitor kidnap Jane to force Thor to do his bidding, Thor is remarkably willing to listen to Zarrko's story about Time-Twisters starting at the end of time and working their way back to the present, in 30 century increments.
Zarrko has recently conquered the 50th century, and he's just learned about the coming of the Time-Twisters. But he argues that if Thor doesn't stop them, they'll move on to the 20th century. So Thor agrees to help, and the Warriors Three and Jane Foster accompany him.
To keep themselves in fighting shape, on their way to the future the heroes get to fight a bunch of random creatures and people from various points in the time stream, including a dinosaur...
...as well as a Mongols horde and guys on space-sleds. During the fight Thor kinda gets distracted thinking about Sif and lets his storm run a little too long, but the Warriors Three snap him out of it.
There's also a rivalry of sorts going on with Servitor.
Servitor is really only interested in serving his master (it's right there in his name!) but Thor can't really seem to wrap his head around the fact that he's just a robot, so whenever Thor threatens Zarrko or refuses to go along with one of his orders, Servitor gets mad. We learn that Zarrko built the robot in a last ditch effort after he was defeated by Kang in the 23rd century, and you have to admit that he did a good job, because the robot is quite powerful.
When they finally get to Zarrko's time, they find, of course, that he hasn't exactly been a benevolent dictator, but the Time-Twisters show up before Thor gets to pursue his objection to that.
Zarrko tells the Asgardians to cool their heels a bit, and he instead sends his hordes of starving masses against the Time-Twisters. They are quickly annihilated (Thor is outraged but seems a bit passive about this)...
...and then Thor and company head out to confront them directly.
On Jane Foster's advice, Thor tries talking to the Time-Twisters first, and he learns that they have indeed started at the end of time and are on their way to find the beginning.
They weren't aware that their visits were causing destruction, but they say it's irrelevant, and are unwilling to stop on Thor's say-so.
So Thor and friends attack, and the Time-Twisters bring in more warriors from various time periods, including vikings, cavemen, WWI soldiers,etc.. Jane Foster briefly transforms into Sif during the battle.
The Asgardians fail to stop the Twisters. Zarrko and Servitor flee the planet, leaving them on a dead world. Thor surmises that the only reason the Asgardians survive is because of Sif's powers over time and space, which must now be part of Jane.
Zarrko immediately shows up again (just kidding!) and the group decides to travel further into the future to find the origins of the Time-Twisters and stop them at the source. That sort of thing is what makes time travel stories give me a headache. I thought the Twisters had already destroyed the future...? In fact, all the Time-Twisters really did in the 50th century was destroy a planet, and that only after they were attacked. Maybe they're not really so bad? Maybe Zarrko is lying?
Anyway, the group makes their way to the Temple at the End of Time. Servitor is destroyed fighting through its defenses, and then the group meets He Who Remains.
He is the last survivor of his race, and he is tending to "destiny's seeds", three babies in incubators that the group knows will grow up to be the Time-Twisters. His plan is to have the three children start up the circle of life again, but Jane convinces him that the babies will grow up twisted...
...and after the group leaves he pulls the convenient Terminate Life-Support Systems lever.
This puts everything right. When the group again arrives in the 50th century, we learn that Zarrko has been overthrown, and when the Asgardians return to the present, it is as if nothing ever happened.
The Time-Twisters will return for a Timequake event in the second volume of What If? (and indirectly factor in to Avengers Forever).
Meanwhile, Odin is getting increasingly nasty and weird...
...and when Vizier questions the wisdom of banishing Thor one too many times, Odin has Vizier lock himself up in a tower, and orders Balder to free Loki's former advisor, Igron.
Some heavy stuff here. The introduction of the Egyptian pantheon, along with an explanation of why we've never seen them before, is pretty cool even if not much is really done with them here and they come across a bit weak and manipulative, having to rely on an amnesiac Odin and Thor for help. And the Time-Twister stuff is pretty cosmic, although it does raise all the usual time paradox problems. Odin's banishment of Thor is a bit tired; even though we're definitely heading towards a Something's Up With Odin story, it's telling that not even the characters involved are too surprised by Thor getting banished yet again. The biggest problem with this arc is filler. Issue #242 is just a giant fight with Servitor that is ultimately pointless (even though Servitor-by-Buscema is pretty awesome), and #243 is worse, with random time-tossed warriors getting thrown in for action. The battle against the Time-Twisters is similarly disappointing since it involves more warriors and less direct fighting of the Time-Twisters. But it's a fairly cool payoff in #245 and lots of nice John Buscema art along the way.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP has Thor's appearance in Avengers #150-151 taking place towards the end of Thor #239, before Thor begins his return to Asgard. Thor arrives in Asgard at the start of #240. So technically the end of #239 is occurring during this entry. This arc concludes with Thor on Earth, making him available for his appearance in Marvel Two-In-One #22-23 before the beginning of Thor #246.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAst (Time-Keeper), Ast (Time-Twister), Balder, Fandral, Heimdall, Hogun, Horus, Igron, Isis, Jane Foster, Mangog, Mimir, Odin, Osiris, Servitor, Seth, Sif, Thor, Tyr, Vizier, Volstagg, Vort (Time-Keeper), Vort (Time-Twister), Zanth (Time-Keeper), Zanth (Time-Twister), Zarrko the Tomorrow Man
I seem to recall reading somewhere that Isis only found 13 of Osiris' body parts; the 14th being the naughty bits.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 4, 2013 5:40 PM
For what it's worth, the Zarrko footnote in #242 does cite "THOR" (i.e., JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY) #101-102 as well as #86.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | December 28, 2014 8:02 PM
I kind of liked the Time Twister story. The antagonists are not crazy just see themselves as gods and are too powerful to fight. So Thor and co have to cease their existence.
Posted by: david banes | December 28, 2014 8:39 PM
@Matthew - thanks. At this point i don't remember if there was another footnote that neglected the #101-102 story or if i just missed it in the footnote i cited, but i've updated my reference bullet.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 31, 2014 11:17 AM
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