Issue(s): Thor #419, Thor #420, Thor #421, Thor #422, Thor #423, Thor #424
The Black Galaxy Saga is Thor's bi-weekly summer event. The threshold for the summer events seems to have been lowered this year. There are twice as many, and (therefore) some of the books that got to go bi-weekly were not necessarily Marvel's top sellers.
One thing i like about the bi-weekly event in this title is that it's an organic continuation of the ongoing storyline, which is not the case with most of the others. This story builds off the events of Thor #406-408, and since then we've been seeing from both the High Evolutionary and Hercules that there is more to that story.
In fact, let's start with the High Evolutionary. The Rigellians notice that a Watcher (it doesn't seem to be Uatu) has recently showed up in the Black Galaxy, so they send their Recorder robot to find out what's so important, and he learns that the High Evolutionary is back.
The fact that he's only in the area to create some new gods is apparently not so reassuring to the Recorder, so he tries to inform the Rigellians. But instead he's disabled by the Evolutionary.
But the Recorder wasn't the only one seemingly concerned by the High Evolutionary's actions. A few issues back we saw that a Celestial seemed to be sending their Thor Replicoid to Earth in reaction to what the Evolutionary has been planning. He's still flying through space at the start of this issue, and he's being hunted by someone that has a grudge against Celestials: Stellaris.
Meanwhile, Tom DeFalco reminds us that Eric Masterson, like Donald Blake before him, is lame.
He's still dealing with custody issues regarding his son Kevin, and we get to see a memory that i don't know if we should take at face value.
She might as well just be saying, "I'm a horrible person." I've talked about what feels like a biased perspective on this topic in past entries, and there's actually a bit of a surprise coming up in that regard. For now, though, maybe a home where Greek orgies are likely to bust out at any moment really isn't the best home for a young boy anyway.
The Replicoid arrives on Earth while Eric is meeting with construction supervisor Jerry Sapristi. The Replicoid takes on the form that Thor used when he was working as a construction worker for Jerry: Sigurd Jarlson.
"Sigurd" takes his leave but Eric gets the message and follows him as Thor. The Replicoid tells Thor that his masters, the Celestials, want him and Hercules to return to the Black Galaxy. While Thor is getting riled up about the rude way that the Replicoid has worded the request, Stellaris attacks.
A lot about Stellaris reminds me of Death's Head. The armor, the cycle, and the odd speaking pattern. But a lot about Stellaris is actually up in the air.
The attack from Stellaris attracts the attention of the Avengers.
It comes out during the fight that Stellaris attacks the Celestial's creations because they destroyed her home planet.
Stellaris starts off claiming that she's actually killed Celestials, but she walks that back later. (Sorry for giving away the fact that Stellaris is a female. We haven't learned that yet.)
Stellaris is able to destroy the Thor Replicoid, and then heads off to find another character that has been infused with Celestial matter: Hercules (Herc was touched by Celestials in the aforementioned Thor #406-408).
Stellaris attacks Hercules while he is babysitting Kevin, confirming for Kevin that his father's friend Harry Cleese really is Hercules. Thor and the Avengers show up to help Hercules out against Stellaris...
...and eventually Thor challenges Stellaris to a one-on-one fight. Stellaris reconfigures herself again before the contest.
And it's during this fight that Stellaris' stunning secret of femininity is revealed.
Captain America forces Thor to let Stellaris go when she says that she's got a bomb that will blow up the Earth.
Spending time as Thor has once again interfered with Eric Masterson's battle for custody of Kevin. This time, though, Eric comes to a realization and decides to give up fighting for custody. As i said earlier, a nice surprise.
And an even nicer surprise: Marcy turns out to not be such a horrible person after all.
I can't help but laugh at Eric's assistant Susan's reaction to all of this.
After the fight with Stellaris, it almost seemed to me like Eric was going to tell his son that he was sharing a body with Thor, but that doesn't turn out to be the case. It also seems like Jerry Sapristi is going to tell Susan that Eric is Thor, but we don't see the conclusion to this conversation. Note also Susan's enchanting new roomate, Leena Moran.
The High Evolutionary, meanwhile, starts pulling together enough matter in the Black Galaxy to form a "living planet".
The Black Galaxy is where Ego the Living Planet came from, but in this story the High Evolutionary isn't actually making another Living Planet. He really is creating New Gods.
After Marcy takes Kevin away, Thor and Hercules are off to the Black Galaxy, in a Quinjet powered by Thor's hammer. We've seen Thor powering a Quinjet this way before (Thor #334), but this time Thor is still holding Mjolnir to avoid any questions about how the 60 second rule works in space.
The Recorder, now reprogrammed and rebuilt as the Analyzer, shows up to greet them.
We also see that Stellaris is following their ship.
The Analyzer takes Thor and Hercules to the High Evolutionary, and we meet two of the three New Immortals, Zon and Juvan.
Stellaris, meanwhile, infiltrates the Evolutionary's ship and makes her way to the third.
This third Immortal, Nobilus, is troubled, and Stellaris winds up freeing him. During the chaos, Count Tagar decides to subject himself to the New Immortal process.
It comes out that Nobilus was created with the cell samples that the High Evolutionary took from Thor. So that makes two Thor clones in this arc: the Celestial Thor Replicoid and Nobilus. The problem with Nobilus is that the cell samples that the Evolutionary took were from the period where Thor was bewitched by Loki, and that bewitching apparently was on a genetic level, so Nobilus is corrupted.
Thor fighting an out of control, super-powerful creation of the High Evolutionary is an obvious recall to the first High Evolutionary story and Thor's fight with the Man-Wolf.
Stellaris swoops in and flies away with Nobilus. Good timing, too, because Nobilus had just knocked Thor's pants off, and i'd hate for Thor to lose any more clothing.
Thor, Hercules, Juvan, and the Analyzer follow, and wind up in the middle of the Black Galaxy where a Celestial seems to be constructing a new member of his race.
All of these events cause the Rigellians on the outskirts of the Black Galaxy to flee.
When Hercules arrives, he winds up getting sucked back into one of the Celestial helmets, like he was before.
When Thor tries to break him out, he instead gets a vision of various versions of himself, including the future Dargo Ktor version from Thor #384 (which isn't included in my project since it takes place entirely in the future).
A blast from the Celestial then separates Thor from Eric.
And Tagar resurfaces, telling the High Evolutionary that the Black Galaxy is in fact a giant gestating brain...
...and we are about to witness the birth of a new Celestial, an event "millions of years in the making".
The High Evolutionary is still wrapped up in his own plans, and of course he has a bit of an ego.
So he goes to the asteroid where the Celestial is being built, expecting to be pulled into the new Celestial.
Instead, Eric Masterson is taken. The idea is that the Evolutionary has evolved himself as far as he can go, but an ordinary human represents the unlimited potential of evolution. Then Stellaris decides to go off and try to kill the Celestial.
But instead, her armor is taken and incorporated into the new Celestial as well. And all the bio-verse matter of the Black Galaxy is sucked into the armor.
And a new Celestial is formed.
The High Evolutionary, who had been closely analyzing the event, becomes comatose when it's all over. Thor has no sympathy for him. The Analyzer/Recorder also winds up shutting down, but not before he notes that there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Per the Anaylzer, it's unclear if this is how Celestials are always born or if they were just taking advantage of the existence of the Black Galaxy. The deal with Stellaris' armor (which never looked specifically like Celestial tech to me, aside from Ron Frenz's general Jack Kirby influence) is also not explained. And i wonder why they needed the armor since, as we saw, the Celestials had a lot of armor arranged around the Black Galaxy already in anticipation of this event. I guess the answer is that stuff, which seemed to be mostly helmets, is actually just canisters.
Hercules and Eric are inside the canister that is left behind. Since his original visit to the Black Galaxy, Hercules has been feeling like he was missing a part of himself. It's confirmed at the beginning of next issue that that's all taken care of now.
Also, we shouldn't be too hard on the High Evolutionary for assuming that he was going to be taken by the Celestials. After all, it was him and Hercules that were trapped in the canisters the first time.
The story ends with a lot of questions. The value of the High Evolutionary's New Immortals is undetermined. And there is a lot still open about the Celestials - is this indeed what the purpose of the Black Galaxy was all along? Why did the Celestials create a new member of their race now? In that sense, this is kind of an unsatisfying story, a case where the main characters just happen to be around while something mysterious is happening. But i guess we can't really expect more; the Celestials would only be diminished if all their secrets were itemized.
The Tales Of Asgard back-ups start with a wizard being chased by a group of frost giants. The wizard makes it to a chasm called the Endless Circle, and tosses a bag of frost giant blood into the crevice (and winds up going with it).
This causes Ymir to rise from below.
Meanwhile, something continues to not be right with Odin.
Odin sends the Warriors Three off to investigate the rise of Ymir. Meanwhile, Heimdall discovers what happened to the Vizier...
...but he pledges his loyalty to Odin even as we see Odin casting a shadow in the shape of Surtur.
The Warriors Three find frozen Frost Giants (pretty cool imagery)...
...and then Ymir himself.
The rising of Ymir is a portent of the latest Ragnarok prophecy...
...with the added concern of Odin being (seemingly) possessed by Surtur.
As Ymir leads his forces against Asgard...
...Odin begin to reveal his true purpose (we're also introduced to Arko, an Asgardian warrior whose wife Deilla is about to give birth).
For Odin, the twist isn't that he's possessed by Surtur. It's actually the opposite; Odin is possessing Surtur so that he can fulfill the prophesy in a controlled fashion.
This will become the main story starting next issue.
Speaking of the Tales of Asgard, the back-ups from previous issues, with Sif and the Celtic gods, spill into the main story in issue #423. Sif and the Celtic gods have come to Earth.
And they go to Susan Austin, looking for Thor.
Note that whatever Jerry Sapristi said to Susan, it doesn't seem like Susan thinks Eric is Thor at this point.
A fun cosmic arc. It's still very much in Kirby homage mode (except that these New Gods/Immortals are entirely uninteresting, even less so than Gerry Conway's also similar Young Gods). But with Ron Frenz only doing breakdowns, the art is looking a little less like a complete Kirby lift, while maintaining the classic storytelling style. And i should keep in mind something someone writes in to the lettercol. Reacting to complaints that Eric Masterson is a complete rehash of the Donald Blake scenario, which many fans were happy to see jettisoned, someone says that other fans never got to experience the older stuff, so let them enjoy it now for the first time. On the one hand, this is a lot like saying that i wasn't around for Led Zeppelin, so let me enjoy my Kingdom Come. But i guess at a time when reprints or digital copies weren't readily available, it makes a kind of sense, and the book in general has provided an option for people looking for something with a nostalgic feel. I definitely love the long term plotting. DeFalco started with the events of the Evolutionary War and took his time getting to the resolution here, and he weaves it in with the events of the God war in Thor #396-400 and other things (e.g. the Tales of Asgard back-ups with Sif and the Celtic Gods).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: For what it's worth, construction is still going on in the Avengers subbasement. Next issue begins directly after this, but since it's separate from the Black Galaxy storyline i'll place it in a separate entry. Thor and Hercules are said to be "off planet" in Captain America #373, meaning this story would have to place before or during that one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showArko, Balder, Bloodaxe (Jackie Lukus), Caber, Captain America, Count Tagar, Deilla, Enchantress, Eson, Fandral, Heimdall, Hercules, High Evolutionary, Hogun, Jerry Sapristi, Juvan, Kevin Masterson, Leir, Marcy Masterson Steele, Nezarr, Nobilus, Odin, Oneg, Peggy Carter, Quasar, Recorder, Samantha Joyce, Scientist Supreme of Rigel, Sersi, She-Hulk, Sif, Stellaris, Surtur, Susan Austin, Thor, Thor Replicoid, Thunderstrike, Vizier, Volstagg, Ymir, Ziran, Zon
Fun story. As one of the (apparently few) unabashed fans of DeFalco's run I like a lot of what he did but even I didn't care a lick about the New Immortals. I remember when they showed back up during the Thomas/Wyman run it was enough to make me tell my LCS to take Thor off my list. The Stellaris reveal was nicely done I thought but it somewhat undercuts the later Bloodaxe reveal. It felt a bit like DeFalco was reusing a twist. Also, I wonder if he didn't toy around with the idea of having Marcy turn out to be Bloodaxe. I don't know how far in advance he had the idea of the character but it might explain why there are all these little moments early in the run where she's played up a certain way.
Posted by: Robert | June 14, 2015 2:54 PM
"Big bad armored person is actually a woman!" reveals are always pretty stupid in my eyes, but Thor's reaction is especially baffling. Surely he's met enough kickass warrior women by now to take that reveal in his stride? I mean... She-Hulk is right there!
Posted by: Berend | June 14, 2015 3:30 PM
Posted the image of Ymir showing up twice. I guess he had to go back for something. :P
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 14, 2015 3:35 PM
Thanks, Max_Spider (and Robert for first pointing it out in the forum).
Posted by: fnord12 | June 14, 2015 4:13 PM
I'm not going to spoil it but suffice it to say Jerry doesn't think Eric is Thor.
Posted by: Michael | June 14, 2015 5:33 PM
Has anything ever showed that Stellaris is wrong to be trying to stop the Celestials? At least with Galactus we know why he devours planets. Celestials, not so much.
Posted by: Thanos6 | June 14, 2015 7:01 PM
"A lot about Stellaris reminds me of Death's Head" Take. That. Back. :) Comparing Death's Head to a DeFalco creation, which usually have names like Devlok The Demolisher, or whatever the hell it was? You sure know how to hurt us Brits. Haven't read these particular issues in years, so was pleasantly surprised by the ending to the custody battle. Maybe DeFalco's smarter than we give him credit for, or maybe someone else was making the same criticisms as Fnord did. Regarding DeFalco's run as a whole, I do prefer it when Frenz is doing full pencils, I think the Kirby thing works on Thor. It wouldn't work on any comic, but Frenz knows that, he had a more Ditko meets Romita style when he was on Spidey. I do make fun of DeFalco's retro scripting but there's a good few high points. I loved the 387-400 battle with Celestials and then Seth, got bored in the early 400s and stopped reading, came back for Juggernaut fight, then I got bored again, returned for the Juggernaut rematch, loved the buildup to the great Thor-Loki clash in 432, and then kept reading through most of the Thunderstrike period... It's not all gold, but the high points are great retro fun. And other than Lee and Simonson, I'm not sure there's been that many great runs on Thor.
Posted by: Jonathan | June 16, 2015 11:34 AM
'"A lot about Stellaris reminds me of Death's Head" Take. That. Back. :) Comparing Death's Head to a DeFalco creation, which usually have names like Devlok The Demolisher, or whatever the hell it was? You sure know how to hurt us Brits.'
And us Irish people who grew up on the Marvel UK Transformers comic, yes? ;)
Posted by: Harry | June 16, 2015 5:18 PM
Apologies for missing out the land of my great grandfathers! :) Seems to be a few of us Marvel UK fans on this site. Also, can't believe I missed out Paibok The Power Skrull when ragging DeFalco for terrible character names.
Posted by: Jonathan | June 16, 2015 7:15 PM
Never really got into the Marvel UK created US-style comics later on, not even sure if I bought an issue of Death's Head, though I may well have gotten 1-2 of Dragon's Claws. Also the US-style Action Force comic now and then, and saw that Death's Head meets the (Seventh) Doctor strip reprinted in some Marvel UK summer special. And Transformers, of course.
Posted by: Harry | June 16, 2015 7:37 PM
I liked Transformers, Death's Head and Dragon Claws (and the UK Secret Wars and Spider-Man & Zoids...), I couldn't stand the early 90s Marvel UK comics (Death's Head II, Motormouth & Killpower etc) though, I thought they were as bad as the Image comics of the time. Which is a shame for Fnord really, cos I think they'd have to be included in this project...
Posted by: Jonathan | June 17, 2015 12:37 PM
Well, fnord should be doing Knights of Pendragon soon, so we'll get a chance to see how bad (or good) Marvel UK was.
Posted by: Michael | June 18, 2015 7:55 AM
Touched by a Celestial would be the worst ABC Family show ever. Or maybe the best.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 14, 2015 11:41 AM
If you think this iteration of the "youthful replacement gods" idea is lousy, wait'll you meet the Godpack in all their Thomas-y "glory."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 10, 2015 9:06 PM
I recently bought a copy of the Black Galaxy Saga, it hasn t aged well. What I remember from reading some of the issues on real time is what a bad artist Gary Hartle is, he is just horrible.
Posted by: Patricio Córdova | November 26, 2015 12:55 PM
Having Quasar make a giant crossbow and firing She-Hulk from it is like the most ridiculously awesome thing ever.
Posted by: AF | March 31, 2016 2:03 PM
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