Issue(s): Thor #498, Thor #499, Thor #500, Thor #501
As we saw last issue, a union boss ("labor czar") has been getting death threats and has decided to reach out to Thor (and the Enchantress) for help. The reason he's in trouble is because he has a magic sword that people want.
Thor agrees to help in return for "expenses" but Enchantress furthers the negotiations after Thor leaves the room. Thor then talks Kim Gaunt, the policewoman he first met last issue, asking about the homeless man that he thought was his father last issue. While they're talking, they're attacked by a helicopter. Thor defeats the helicopter, with his hammer not quite returning the way it's supposed to...
...but then the Praznikis are attacked by metallic arms, pulling the Praznikis underground.
Homeless Odin also wanders out and winds up in the sewers, as do Thor and Kim. Odin is babbling and missing memories. Exploring the sewer, Thor and Kim find a door, and behind it is Loki, holding the Praznikis prisoner.
Odin recognizes the sword as his own and grabs it. That causes everyone to get transported to Sword & Sorcery Land.
"I look like a Cimmerian hooker." - Sylvia
The cover of issue #499 has an example of what Dave Campbell calls De-Nudification. Mike Deodato draws a woman in a thong, but an editor has the colorist color her butt purple so that we're not looking at her exposed cheeks, as if the color makes a difference. (Here's part two of Dave's review; it's funny, you should read it!)
Amazingly Gaunt and the Prazniki ladies all have Red Sonja level fighting skills.
Victor Prazniki didn't get transported with the others, and so he's being held by a seemingly comatose Loki.
(I guess also the Enchantress wasn't taken; it's hard to tell all the Deodato Dames apart.)
Someone (who?) in prison decides to check in on the Mad Thinker, but he, like Loki, is also comatose.
There was also a Fantasy Land Loki, but it turns out he's unrelated.
There's also a great art mistake, where "Sylvia" is supposed to have been kidnapped, but she's right there.
I mean, the women all look the same to me, but there's only supposed to be three of them, so one can't be missing. This continues throughout the issue. Messner-Loebs just plows on through with his intended script, regardless of the art.
Thor fights his way through a number of Norse-flavored threats, but it's definitely Wagner style Asgard, not the Marvel version. It ends with Thor killing Wagner-Odin with the magic sword and suddenly getting transported to what he knows to be the Marvel Asgard, which has been destroyed. It's all insanely rushed, possibly due to sudden news that the series is being canceled.
In Asgard, Thor is attacked by trolls and gets very violent.
Among the trolls' prisoners, Thor recognizes Dr. Strange.
Strange provides what feels more like a recap of what should have been in an issue leading up to this, saying that the Earth Loki we saw was really one of the Mad Thinker's robots, but his mind was shattered by the sword's magic, and then Strange (and the Enchantress) were captured by an even greater magic.
Enchantress, meanwhile, has landed with the frost giants (she later becomes a prisoner of some of them). The giants attack the ruins of Asgard, which puts them in conflict with the trolls.
And i guess the Praznikis are here too.
Thor and Strange end up working alongside Urik and the trolls against the giants. And then they find the sword (again). Odin is supposed to wield the sword, but he's still too addled, so Thor does, and i guess that restores him to full power, which he uses to fight off the trolls. He then leaves the trolls in charge (i guess their use of chattel slavery wasn't that abhorrent) as long as they promise not to hurt the missing Asgardians (which Ulik says he'll only do if they stay away from the conquered Asgard, which, um, isn't much of a promise). Strange says that he has a premonition of disaster, so he and Thor rush back to Earth.
The disaster in question is clearly Onslaught, but i guess Thor still has a little time before that begins, because in issue #501 he's got time to search for the one semi-Asgardian that he knows about: Red Norvell ("one of the many 'Thors' created by my father to punish me"). Norvell's not in great shape.
But, after dealing with a crime boss called "Johnny The Gent", he gets his powers back and agrees to help Thor search for the missing Asgardians.
I mock some things about Deodato but i actually like his style and if wants to do Swords & Sorcery stuff, that's fine with me. It's just a shame that things obviously got rushed and compressed due to Onslaught, and everything just feels like a jumbled mess. Messner-Loebs obviously had a bigger plot planned. The story will i guess be resolved in Journey Into Mystery, and it's kind of cool that the story winds up with Norvell as the protagonist there, but that series is by Tom DeFalco and "Deodato Studios" and i never followed it.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: An "earthquake" (presumably the result of the fight from last issue, but a cop surmises that it was caused by the Hulk) is said to have occurred "yesterday". The Lokis appearing here are not the real ones. The MCP have the Mad Thinker here after his appearance in New Warriors #75, since the Thinker's mind is blown in this story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAnnie Prazniki, Dr. Strange, Enchantress, Kim Gaunt, Mad Thinker, Mroth, Odin, Pyllar, Red Norvell, Snagg, Sylvia Prazniki, Thor, Ulik, Victor Prazniki
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