Issue(s): Thor #442, Thor #443
For a while now, Ron Frenz has been doing breakdowns instead of full art, and it's been looking more and more wonky. We've definitely moved away from Frenz's Silver Age pastiche.
Some time after the surgery, Eric returns to talk to Don, convinced that Don is really Thor, trapped again in Blake's body by Heimdall's banishment. So he hands Don his walking stick, thinking that Don can use it to transform back into Thor. But "Blake" turns out to really be Mephisto.
When Mephisto disappears to his realm with the stick, Eric goes to Dr. Strange for help. Even though Eric is stuck in human (non-Thor) form, Dr. Strange recognizes him and agrees to help. Eric insists on dealing with the problem himself, not going to the Avengers as Strange suggests. So Strange gives Eric a magical ring, amulet, and talisman (which transforms into a gun in Eric's hand) and teleports him to Mephisto's realm. Mortal Eric, running around in Hell with a grappling hook and a gas mask, is one of the dumbest things i've seen. He should have died instantly; i don't care what trinkets Dr. Strange has given him. Hell isn't just another exotic environment to explore. It's... Hell. It should be beyond the capacity of mere mortals to handle.
Dr. Strange kind of agrees and says that dealing with Mephisto directly is really something that someone like Adam Warlock or the Silver Surfer should be doing, so he summons the Surfer to help Eric.
While the Surfer battles Mephisto, Eric tries to get the hammer back. Despite the trinkets from Strange, Eric gets into trouble with Mephisto's demons, but he's helped out by a mysterious figure from the bag with Thor's face that we've seen Mephisto holding. Eric thinks it is Thor.
Eric gets the hammer back and transforms into his Thor persona, and tries to help the 'real Thor'.
But Dr. Strange's spell runs out of time, and Eric and the Surfer are transported back to Earth. Strange refuses to send Eric back to Mephisto's realm, saying that Mephisto will be prepared for an attack this time. So Eric goes home, only to find that he's being evicted from his apartment.
Issue #442 is broken into three parts, with the first and third dealing with the Donald Blake/Mephisto reveal. The middle part is a "Tales of Asgard" dealing with Sif and Balder's separate search for Thor. This story is written entirely by Tom DeFalco, unlike the other portions that are co-plotted by Frenz. Sif and Balder's quest takes them to Beta Ray Bill's new home planet, where Bill's people have recently been woken up from their long sleep in stasis.
Sif claims that her relationship with Bill has always been chaste, and it looks like Balder isn't happy to also be put in the "chaste" category.
Bill's people turn out to be skittish and, frankly, terrible people. They initially mistake Sif and Balder for demons, which is understandable given how they were terrorized and driven from their original planet by demons in the first place. But even after that misunderstanding is cleared up, the people demand that Beta Ray Bill kill the "invaders". And when Bill defends his Asgardian friends against a mob, Bill's leaders find fault with Bill ("our cyborg lap dog") for 'attacking' them. The Imperial Leader demands that Bill turn over his enchanted hammer. Despite protests from Sif, Bill agrees to turn over the hammer, saying that at this point he's looking forward to a quiet life. But he transforms the hammer back into walking stick form before turning it over, creating a 'sword in the stone' style situation as Bill's people line up to see if they can activate it.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is another Silver Surfer appearance that takes place during the final pages of Silver Surfer #60.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBalder, Beta Ray Bill, Dr. Strange, Enchantress, Gary Paretsky, Jerry Sapristi, Mephisto, Odin, Sif, Silver Surfer, Susan Austin, Thunderstrike, Wong
So many questions.
What did Mephisto want with the hammer? Can't he just steal it back nao that's it pubic property? If the Enchantress can immediately sense him, given their respective power levels, shouldn't he had alrdy sensed her first? Why can't the combined might of Thor and the Surfer take on any "preparedness" Mephisto may have? How chafe is Sif's love for Bill? Is it bestiality if the horse can talk? Can she even take the whole thing?
DeFalco bringing you the hard hitting questions!
Posted by: JC | January 14, 2016 2:50 AM
JC- it's implied that he DOESN'T want the hammer, he just needed a way to get Eric to see the Thor bag without Eric getting suspicious.
Posted by: Michael | January 14, 2016 8:02 AM
Oh? And wat's in the bag?
Posted by: JC | January 14, 2016 8:56 AM
"How chafe is Sif's love for Bill?"
I think you mean chaste. Or maybe not...it makes sense with our wording as well...
Posted by: Thelonious_Nick | January 14, 2016 1:49 PM
JC - telling you what's in the bag would spoil the surprise ;)
Posted by: clyde | January 14, 2016 2:26 PM
Yeah I almost told him earlier but decided not to because fnord is covering the issue with the revelation later in 1992.
This here is one of the big problems I had with DeFalco's run, a run that I actually was enjoying for awhile for its Silver Age throwback-ness. The Thoric story wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, so resolving it here or at least setting it up to be resolved at the 450 milestone would have been a good idea. But no, we have like 10 more issues before we even find out about the stupid bag and another issue or two after that before the real Thor is back in place. Perhaps DeFalco would have ended it with 450 but Galactic Storm put that idea on hold, I don't know, but he could have cut or changed some of the filler issues coming up to make it work.
Posted by: Robert | January 14, 2016 4:19 PM
Well nao I won't tell yew how chafe Sif's love for Bill's protruding hammer is =p
Actually I think I can figure it out from the character's appearing list, though to be fair it wouldn't have been my first guess =p
Posted by: JC | January 14, 2016 7:11 PM
I really liked these two issues. I remember at the time thinking that "Donald Blake" must be a red herring, but I had no clue who he could really be. So I was on pins & needles reading #442, with its cover warning of "stunning dramatic final pages."
I clearly remember that #442 was cleverly laid out so that you see "Blake" stamping down the cane on the bottom of the page, then you had to turn it for the big reveal... oh crap, it's really Mephisto!!! Well, when I was 16 years old that made an impression on me.
What I liked about #443 is that it showed why Eric Masterson was a hero. Yeah, he was often bumbling about and making errors. But here DeFalco & Frenz show him as a powerless human invading Mephisto's infernal realm to fix his mistake and recover Thor's hammer. Eric didn't have the best judgment and he was inexperienced, but he was definitely brave and had a real sense of responsibility.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 15, 2016 10:07 AM
"Waltz" is a reference to the Fred Mustard Stewart early 1970s horror novel/film.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 15, 2016 5:12 PM
Mark, the ghost of Franz Liszt will haunt you tonight.
Posted by: Robert | January 15, 2016 5:21 PM
Unless he resembles Roger Daltrey I'm not worried.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 15, 2016 6:52 PM
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