Issue(s): Thor #379, Thor #380
Here there be dragons. Well, actually, just one dragon, although he initially disguises himself as a different one. The frost giants that Thor defeated last issue decide to summon some help, so they convince one of their dumber brethren to swim around in the waters of northern Norway holding a fishing hook.
They were hoping to pull up Jormungand the Midgard Serpent, but instead they get Fin Fang Foom.
Disappointed to not get Jormungand, they nonetheless explain that Thor is currently in a weakened state and would be ripe for Jormungand. Foom seems interested enough in this.
Somewhat suspiciously, Fin Fang Foom finds Thor sitting on a park bench in Brooklyn, but apologizes when he sees Thor's new appearance (it's suspicious because Fin Fang Foom shouldn't recognize Thor at all).
What follows is a really fun conversation of the sort one has with dragons in fairy tales and fantasy stories like The Hobbit.
I also like that Sal Buscema drew in some scenes with onlookers instead of framing everything as close-ups.
While Thor doesn't let on that he really is Thor, he does say that he's a super-hero, and he's not about to allow Fin Fang Foom to go on a rampage. Foom says that if the hero can just lift his foot, he'll take their battle off to a less populated area instead of endangering the lives of the people in the city. Thor manages to do so.
When they arrive at their destination, "Fin Fang Foom" reveals that he really is Jormungand.
With that revelation, time stops.
But of course, Thor has a revelation of his own.
Before i get on to the battle, some other notes from issue #379.
It's worth noting that the giants' plan to awaken Jormungand is the same one that Loki hinted at a few issues back when he last visited Hela. Loki comments on that this issue as well and suggests that the idea might have rubbed off on them while they were invading his castle. More likely Walt Simonson decided it would be more fun to have the giants interact with the dragon (and not know his true identity) and revised his plans.
Loki awakens at the beginning of this issue to find that he had been rescued by Thor. It was said in Thor #378 that Thor hoped that Loki would learn a lesson of honor, since Thor defended Loki from the giants even after all that Thor had been put through. It doesn't seem like Loki has learned that lesson; when he wakes up he is outraged that it was Thor who saved him.
But later we see him heading to the site where the Celestials (of whom, "not even Odin could truly fathom their motives") melted the Destroyer to slag. And we'll see that this is ultimately Thor's salvation from Hela's curse. So who knows...
Here is the scene of Thor returning Iceman to X-Factor after the events of the previous arc. This scene is concurrent with the one from X-Factor #17.
After this, Thor returns to his spartan apartment, and i'm allowing that his appearances in Avengers #278-285 take place after this (with this entry being placed based on the rest of the story, beginning with Thor's encounter with Fin Fang Foom).
The other subplot in #379 is the curse of stiffness that had been plaguing all in Asgard except the Mortensen boys. This issue, their crying awakens Kurse.
And he brings them to "the president of Asgard", Balder, who, through the ravens Huginn and Muninn, gives them a potion.
Finally, a modern reader might wonder about the use of Fin Fang Foom as an identity for the Midgard Serpent. There's really no in-story reason why the Serpent should be using this nom de guerre.
It's possible the idea was that all appearances of Foom to date were really the Serpent. It's worth noting that so far there had only been two such appearances, the original Monster Age story in Strange Tales #89 and the silly and obscure (but fun!) one in Astonishing Tales #23-24 where he teamed up with the Living Colossus to fight a third giant monster (an alien gargoyle). The idea that Fin Fang Foom had a connection to the Mandarin's rings and was therefore really an alien hadn't been put forth yet.
It's also worth observing that Foom is colored here in his original orange as opposed to the green from Astonishing Tales. So it's possible that Simonson and company were discounting/weren't aware of the Astonishing story and weren't thinking of Fin Fang Foom as an actual Marvel character at all (he doesn't have an entry in the Handbooks published to date, either, although he does get a few mentions). So while it's possible that the idea was this was retconning Foom's previous appearances to be Jormungand, it's also possible this was just meant as an Easter egg referencing the old Kirby story. In any event, due to the Mandarian/alien retcon and the increased use of Fin Fang Foom as a character, any connection between Jormungand and Foom doesn't stick.
And now, on to the battle! Walt Simonson returns to pencils for issue #380, albeit only for breakdowns. And the battle is simply 23 pages of splash panels, depicting the epic nature of the fight between the dragon and Thor, which was prophesied to end in both their deaths.
The text from the issue is loosely based on the verse from the Elder Edda.
The battle ends in the "deaths" of both fighters...
...but Thor is currently still under the curse of Hela's that prevents him from dying, so instead he is "just" reduced to a literal pulp inside his armor (the Serpent will return as well). The final page of the issue is the only one to contain multiple panels.
The "all splash panel" issue was done before by John Byrne in a story intended for an issue of Hulk but which ran instead in Marvel Fanfare #29. And nothing against that issue (which is great!), but a battle between Hulk and second-stringers Hammer and Anvil doesn't necessarily call for this format as much as this battle between Thor and the World Serpent. In Walt Simonson's run, we've already had incredibly epic storylines, including the Surtur/Ragnarok issues and Thor's invasion of Hel and his battle against the unstoppable Beyonder-powered Kurse. So how to top all of that? The all-splash format works very well to make this an extra special event.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening scenes of issue #379 take place concurrently with X-Factor #17 (Thor returning Iceman to X-Factor), and then there is a break after Thor returns to "Sigurd Jarlson's" apartment. We next see Thor on page 13, which occurs "some time later", and i'm placing Avengers #278-285 prior to that. It's really the only place where Thor can appear while still under Hela's curse. This story ends with Thor's body reduced to jelly, and he next appears in that state in Mephisto vs... #4, which has scenes concurrent with Thor #381.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBalder, Beast, Destroyer (Asgardian armor), Enchantress, Fandral, Grundroth, Heimdall, Hildy, Huginn, Iceman, Kevin Mortensen, Kurse, Loki, Mick Mortensen, Midgard Serpent, Muninn, Rusty Collins, Sif, Thor
FNORD, when you say in the considerations section "We next see Thor on 13", what is that in reference to?
Posted by: clyde | March 17, 2014 6:45 PM
Page 13. Updated that. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 17, 2014 6:47 PM
After this story, I thought Fin Fang Foom always was the Midgard Serpent, but then years later the occult horror book Legion of Night basically made FFF a Cthulhu-like monster. I never read the issue where FFF was tied into the Mandarin origin. I wonder how everything gets reconciled.
The all splash page Thor vs Jormungandr issue is awesome. One of my favorite issues.
Posted by: Chris | March 17, 2014 10:13 PM
It took this review to realize for all the Essentials I have read I never crossed Fin Fang Foom and after some research he apparently appeared rarely before this.
Curious about the Custer line and I hope I'm not opening a big can of worms here. I'm from a different generation from the people who wrote this, or maybe I'm remembering the quote wrong, was Custer revered as a hero for so long? Guy came off as a thug to me, and from a military point a bit of a fool too.
But I admit perhaps I should educate myself more on those involved of Custer's Last Stand and I could be remember Fang's quote on winners wrong. Should have mentioned the 300 Spartans + co.
I had a nasty flu a few weeks ago when I read these issues in the doctor's office, I figured the Serpent/Foom knew it was Thor all along and was testing him but apparently not.
Still, I like how polite the two are.
Posted by: david banes | June 12, 2014 12:58 AM
Custer was revered as a hero and martyr, at least to the general public, up through the mid-twentieth century or so before peeling back the layers on historical figures became more accepted. I've seen movies about him or that referenced him from the '30s thru the '50s that portrayed him as heroic rather than foolhardy or worse. So the line is accurate that both Custer and the Alamo fallen were loved despite having 'lost,' certainly for someone from Simonson's generation.
Posted by: Robert | June 12, 2014 1:25 AM
"So it's possible that Simonson and company were discounting/weren't aware of the Astonishing story and weren't thinking of Fin Fang Foom as an actual Marvel character at all"
I have a big problem with this kind of occurrence. There is no excuse for writers to not research the previous appearances of characters that they're using. They are at a comic company that has archives for just such a reason. It's not like a regular person who would have to track down all the comics that have that character or just use this website;).
Posted by: clyde | June 5, 2015 1:03 PM
My in-continuity explanation regarding the Midgard Foomy: it just got sick of being called the "Midgard Sock Puppet" based on a previous appearance and just decided to go with something cool...and Fin Fang Foom is cool.
Posted by: Ataru320 | June 5, 2015 2:05 PM
One last hurrah for Simonson's pencils on Thor and it well worth the price of admission.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 15, 2015 7:17 AM
The all-splash-page battle issue with the Midgard Serpent is EPIC. Simonson excels at this kind of thing (another extremely impressive all-fight issue of his is Orion #5, 2000).
And who hasn't wanted to see the Marvel Thor in battle armor with gauntlets ... although not necessarily for the precise reason here. (Gauntlets were one of the prize possessions of the Thor of mythology, who needed them to wield his hammer, and he even had a name for them: Jarngreipr or "Iron Grippers.")
Posted by: Instantiation | August 4, 2015 11:12 PM
Simonsons has said in interviews that Thor was in bad shape, sales-wise, so Marl Gruenwald (!) told him he could ignore whatever he needed to in order to tell good stories.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 24, 2015 8:21 PM
Well, that's weird, because I'm pretty sure Fin Fang Foom wasn't a popular character like now, so I doubt it was really needed to ignore his previous stories to make this work. My personal explanation is that Jormungand once met him, or at least heard of him, and took this disguise for whatever reason. (most likely serpent trickery and schemes) It just can't be the real FFF in this issue, even if it's what Simonson intended when he wrote it.
At any rate, that was a fantastic issue, and I love the splash pages.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | November 15, 2016 4:08 PM
I sort of dig how Fin Fang Foom initially is such a dapper, well-spoken dragon. Although I do wonder how a dragon sleeping under the ocean knows such phrases as 'doubting thomas' and references to the Alamo.
Posted by: Wis | December 24, 2016 4:51 PM
The banter between Thor and FFF about how common red capes are in the super-hero business may be a nod to Superman. At this point at least 3 Marvel super-heroes -- Thor, Dr Strange, and Nighthawk -- have that same color scheme of a blue costume with yellow highlights and a red cape.
Posted by: Andrew | April 26, 2017 8:15 AM
The Warren Ellis/Mike Deodato stay was all-too-brief, and the Dan Jurgens/John Romita, Jr. run breathed new life into the Thunder God, but the Walt Simonson era (with the often-unsung contributions of Sal Buscema) remains the measuring stick for Thor storytelling to this day. And that stick is nearly as long as Jormungand himself.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 22, 2017 3:45 PM
Recently had the good fortune of finding well-preserved copies of these two issues (also of # 381 and # 382) at a gem of a comic store tucked in the corner of a sprawling, Home Depot-dominated shopping center about 20 minutes from home at more-than-reasonable prices. Returned home, settled in on the sofa, popped in Jethro Tull's "Broadsword" from BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST (A great choice for this read, although even better if reading Lord Elric or Conan),and enjoyed the ol' Simonson magic while reminiscing of a great time period never to be fully recaptured.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 17, 2017 1:00 AM
#380 is one of the best comics ever done.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 29, 2017 11:29 AM
Maybe include Fin Fang Foom in the character appearances? I mean, yeah, maybe he wasn't supposed to be the real FFF, but there's nothing to indicate that *here* so it's a retcon, so maybe include him? Just for completeness?
Posted by: Stephen Frug | February 1, 2018 7:45 PM
That's not really how it should work. When the Super-Skrull was posing as "Captain Hero" in PM&IF, he was tagged as the Super-Skrull, since that's who he was really intended to be.
Posted by: clyde | February 1, 2018 9:44 PM
Yeah, sorry Stephen, but that's just not the way this site works. I only count cannonical appearances.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 2, 2018 12:31 PM
Comments are now closed.
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