Issue(s): Thor #390
Basically, "I'm home, you guys.".
I mentioned in the entry for Avengers #288-290 that the writing session that Roger Stern attended where they worked out the story that Stern eventually refused to do and got fired for included the Thor creative team, and here we see why. This issue continues the heavy push, begun in that Avengers arc, that shows how awesome Steve Rogers is...
...and by comparison what a terrible leader Captain Marvel is.
At least she knows not to pound a hole in Hydrobase.
Thor is disappointed to see how different the Avengers are these days.
Right, because the Avengers never had personal lives before Captain Marvel was in charge.
Thor hears about Cap's recent fight with Iron Man, and Thor isn't sure if it means that Tony is drinking again or if Steve has "gone mad".
Back in Asgard, the war with the hordes of Seth continues.
But Seth is really interested in vengeance on Thor, who is on Earth, and basically trapped there since the Rainbow Bridge has been destroyed.
But Seth still has the ability to access Earth, so he attacks Thor there.
The Black Knight gets in on the fight...
...but let's face it: Thor and the Captain are the only ones that matter.
How awesome is Captain America? Just you goddamn wait. Thor drops his hammer during the fight. Seth's minion Grog can't pick it up.
Thor can't get to it.
But guess who can?
What a guy! Humble, too. He gives the hammer back to Thor.
Thor fails to remember what Captain Marvel told him.
If only Captain America had told him. Because that guy can lead. But Thor seals up the hole with lightning, and then the two awesome bros revel in their awesomeness while the Black Knight cleans up in the background.
For years i heard about the time when Captain America lifted the hammer of Thor, and i had mixed feelings about that but i held my judgement. And then when i read the issue in isolation, it just seemed like your typical badly scripted Tom DeFalco comic. But seeing it in the context of Mark Gruenwald's Fuck Captain Marvel tour, it's actually really awful. Ok, making Captain Marvel look bad is just incidental, but the way Captain America's greatness is being shoved in our face is hilariously obvious and handled with all the subtlety of a four year old playing the piano.
This collusion between DeFalco, Gruenwald, and Ralph Macchio in the aftermath of the firing of Roger Stern is also a great indicator of the era that we're about to get into. These guys do have their good points - a deep knowledge and respect for Marvel's history and a reverence for the Silver Age. That does lead to things like the very retro feel of this Thor run (Ron Frenz of course contributes to that as well) and the favoring of longtime characters like Captain America over the newer (non-white, non-male) Captain Marvel, but these guys will also be a kind of counter-balance to the Image period. We'll get into all that later; for now i just thought seeing these three Marvel editors clunkily push through the story that Roger Stern refused to do made for an interesting symbol of where we are in Marvel's history.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 190,600. Single issue closest to filing date = 204,048.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place soon after Avengers #290. Cap says he's next going to fly out to Los Angeles to finish his business with Iron Man, which will happen in Captain America #341.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBalder, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Captain America, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Dr. Druid, Fandral, Grog, Hogun, Marrina, Seth, She-Hulk, Stingray, Sub-Mariner, Thor, Volstagg
FNORD, considering what they do to Captain Marvel in the next few issues, she got off lucky this time. I personally liked the "tearing down" of the Avengers that's coming up. It was a different kind of battle than "The Siege of Avengers Mansion". It was more a battle for the "soul" of the Avengers.
Posted by: clyde | May 18, 2014 6:39 PM
Clyde- the problem was that it damaged both the series and the characters involved for years. More on that soon.
Posted by: Michael | May 18, 2014 6:55 PM
"Come along, Stingray?"
And he actually gives an excuse. Sheesh! Stingy gets no respect in what is basically his first call to Assemble. It only adds insult to injury that Hydrobase was already his turf to begin with.
Thor should've known that it was Cap right away. Same costume style, right down to the wings on his mask. Thor even calls out Cap but seems to ignore Stingray and Marrina, both of whom should have stood out as strangers to Thor. Stern wouldn't have bothered with this scene if he'd been writing it.
I browsed through this issue off a supermarket rack in real time and thought it was a pretty big deal for Cap to lift Mjolnir. I clearly remember that last panel with the guys in front of the sunset and thinking that DeFalco was solidifying the Cap/Thor friendship even as Cap and Iron Man were severing theirs. It felt truly poignant at the time.
I wasn't reading Thor on a regular basis so I didn't pick up this issue for some reason. Maybe I was a buck short or something, but the book's direction did not impress me. DeFalco and Frenz shamelessly brought the series smack dab back to the Silver Age, right down to the Lee-ish cover hype. I didn't view it as progress, but it did serve as a small counterbalance to all the Image weirdness which lay ahead in the 90's. In today's age of extreme decompression, such a long and retro-geared run would read like a breath of fresh air.
Posted by: Clutch | May 19, 2014 9:17 AM
Having read this in real time and revisiting it now, I'm still not sold on Cap being able to lift the hammer. Maybe I'm interpreting the hammer's enchantments too literally, but Mjolnir is primarily an OFFENSIVE weapon and can be used for killing, something Captain America would never intentionally do, which the hammers knows.
Posted by: Haywerth | May 19, 2014 6:55 PM
The quote of the hammer says it all: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor". Obviously, Captain America is worthy. Also, the hammer can be used for many purposes, including being used defensively.
Posted by: clyde | May 19, 2014 7:16 PM
I had problems with the issue as well precisely because of Cap lifting Mjolnir. On one hand, yes, it makes sense that if anyone else could lift it - it would be Cap. At the same time, the intent of the magic is that Thor and Thor alone could wield it. But let's face it, that went out of the window with Beta Ray Bill.
I actually like what Busiek wrote in the Avengers/JLA miniseries a decade later when Superman lifted the hammer. Supes could do it once in battle, but not a second time after the battle and Thor explained Odin's enchantment allowed another worthy figure to temporarily wield it.
Still, we're on an awfully slippery slope here. Once Don Blake was revealed to be a fake identity for the real Thor, the wording of the enchantment should be interpreted very strictly.
Posted by: Chris | June 12, 2014 10:00 PM
I admit I'm probably being too literal, but I interpret "...If he be worthy..." to mean only the hammer knows who is worthy to wield it, who is not, and under what circumstances, and its definition of worthy may not necessarily line up exactly with my own. It knows something about me that I may not know about myself. We weren't even sure Beta Ray Bill's worthiness because at the time his intentions were unclear to us, but not to the hammer. When I think of the time Odin proposed a fight to the death to between Thor and Beta Ray Bill to determine who will possess the hammer, my first reaction is, Captain America would never agree to that.
Posted by: Haywerth | June 29, 2014 11:01 AM
There are (or I guess, were) actually two rules about Thor's hammer. First, taken from the original myths, is that it's too heavy to be lifted by anyone but Thor, period. The second, added by Stan and Jack, is that anyone worthy who holds it will possess the power of Thor. So if Cap got hold of the hammer in its walking stick form, he could turn into Thor, like Beta Ray Bill, but he shouldn't be able to lift Mjolnir when it's in its hammer form. The two rules seem to have blended into one now, with anyone who's worthy being able to pick it up and wield it, so I guess I shouldn't complain. But that's always bothered me.
Posted by: Andrew | March 17, 2015 12:48 PM
The problem really started with Simonson's Thunderfrog story in Thor 364-366. There's no way that a frog could have the super-strength necessary to lift Thor's hammer. The Official Handbook tried to explain this by suggesting that if you're a human, you need superhuman strength but if you're a frog, you need super-frog strength, which Thor had. But the end result was the two rules blending into one.
Posted by: Michael | March 18, 2015 8:11 PM
@ Michael - Although, bear in mind that Thor was wearing his Belt of Strength when he was turned into a frog and that probably makes a big difference. And he barely gets it lifted before it transforms him.
Personally, I prefer how they handled this issue in the new film, with Steve being able to make it move a little, but not actually lifting it. I especially like Thor's reaction to that.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 31, 2015 7:17 AM
Yeah, that scene was great!
Posted by: Berend | July 31, 2015 9:17 AM
It's kind of amazing how much, well, dumber DeFalco's Thor is than Simonson's. Not the the writing: the character himself. This version of Thor just isn't that bright.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 26, 2015 5:58 PM
I can't imagine Thor as written in this issue ruling Gillian's Island, much less the whole of Asgard. DeFalco's Silver Age mania to reset Thor to Stan's established surface characteristics is just so wrong headed.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 20, 2016 2:06 AM
I've got to say, for grown men, it's the logic of a little kid that somehow making Cap the leader of the Avengers again (and then having the other Avengers in awe of his every move) would somehow translate into bigger sales for Captain America. I mean it- it's how small children think, if they thought about things. Kids often argue about who is in charge of their social groups. How would this translate to sales? People who only bought The Avengers probably were already content with already seeing Cap there.
Posted by: Wis | December 27, 2016 1:27 AM
Please take it to the thread: http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=96
Posted by: AF | December 27, 2016 8:11 AM
The hammer must magically adjust its effective weight, or it would sink into the ground or break through the floor when at rest. Arguably it should float if dropped on a body of water.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | December 27, 2016 9:39 AM
Comments are now closed.
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