Issue(s): Thunderstrike #2, Thunderstrike #3
From Thunderstrike's perspective, the story is that he went to visit his ex-wife, Marcy, and found that her husband Bobby gave her a bruised lip. Bobby has also been disappearing a lot; he's a red herring for Bloodaxe. When he goes looking for Bobby - who has Eric and Marcy's son, Kevin - he finds the Juggernaut instead.
From Juggernaut's perspective, something has gone wrong with Black Tom's wood implants. Tom got the implants at a French facility, but the Juggernaut has learned that Genetech did some of the work, so Juggernaut is in New York to get a copy of Tom's medical records. When he called Genetech to ask for the records, they cited doctor-patient confidentiality, so Juggernaut is rampaging on his way to the Genetech facility in order to scare them into giving him the documents.
Thunderstrike tries to stop things with "minimal violence" but that results in the stoomping you see above. When he attacks Juggernaut directly, he gets help from the mystery blaster again (like we saw in issue #1).
Thunderstrike will later assume that it's Sif that helped him, but it's not. We do see the mystery figure calling Thunderstrike "blondie" in a thought bubble, which i guess gives us a hint to her dialect pattern. And at the very end of issue #3 we get a closer look at her silhouette (and she almost looks like Juggernaut).
While the Juggernaut is crawling out of the hole caused by the blast, Thunderstrike realizes that if he's going to end his fight in time to go looking for Bobby and Kevin again, he needs more firepower. So he gives the axe he took from Bloodaxe a try. It slices off Juggernaut's helmet.
And that ends the fight.
As i've said before, the way that every Juggernaut fight causes me to pull my hair out is probably a sign that i'm the one who's not getting it. But removing the Juggernaut's helmet should be meaningless if you don't have a telepath around. And you don't need anything enchanted to get the helmet off. The idea really doesn't seem hard to grasp. The Juggernaut is immune to physical attacks, but he can be hurt telepathically or magically. And the helmet protects him from telepathic attacks (magic doesn't care if he's wearing the helmet). Normally the X-Men with physical powers fight the Juggernaut until they can pry his helmet off, and then the team telepath can blast him.
In this case you can make enough assumptions that there isn't really a problem. The Juggernaut is just impressed at how quickly the helmet came off, and is therefore assuming the axe is enchanted. And maybe he did feel a magic tingle which is why he decided to stop the fight (i.e. regardless of the helmet). Or else he just stopped the fight because he was impressed and/or finally succumbed to Thunderstrike's request to be reasonable. He does tell Thunderstrike at the end that he didn't really stop him. So it's totally fine. But one could also read this and come away with the impression that the way to defeat the Juggernaut is to use something magical to get his helmet off, and i felt the need to spell it all out to avoid leading any impressionable young writers astray.
Thunderstrike goes to Genetech and they hand over the file, and the Juggernaut hands over some cash to pay for the file and all the damage he's done.
Bobby turns out to have just taken Kevin to Eric's parents' house, so everything's fine on that front for now. He visits with his parents for a while, and then "eventually" returns home, where Sif is waiting for him.
Note that Sif is wearing a very different outfit than what she wears in the scenes in Thor leading in and out of this appearance here. It's also very weird.
Eric doesn't want to go with Sif to help Thor (he even says she's trying to "con me into joining her"). So issue #3 begins with a sniper at Kevin's school. Eric transforms into Thunderstrike, but is not able to catch up to the sniper. He does find the phrase "Sangre means blood!" sprayed on a wall. The police indicate to Thunderstrike that the shooting wasn't random, and it'll turn out that the person that was shot was into kiddie porn and Sangre is the mother (i think) of one of the victims.
Noting the sudden arrival of Thunderstrike, Kevin asks his dad if he's got anything to do with him, and Eric lies to him but apparently not convincingly.
Sif has apparently been sleeping through all of this, and she's later discovered by Eric's roommate, Samantha Joyce.
I want to pause to appreciate Ron Frenz. Sure, the Juggernaut fight is great fun, but it's also worth observing how he's got the pacing down for comedy moments in both of the above scenes.
Thunderstrike, with an unhappy Sif in tow, goes to offer his services to Code Blue, who are mobilizing against the sniper. And then he locates Sangre, who was targeting the school's district supervisor.
Thunderstrike tells her that he knows that the supervisor is in on the kiddie porn ring, but he can't let her kill him. But she manages to distract him with a bola and hit him with gas and then get away. Code Blue and everyone else is under the impression that Sangre is male, and even Thunderstrike isn't sure, which allows her to get away more easily once she de-masks. I don't know whether to call that a way to put readers on alert regarding Bloodaxe ("hey, don't assume that all mystery characters are male") or a red herring ("they wouldn't do the same thing twice!").
Observing all this is the Punisher.
Credit where credit is due: the Punisher's appearance isn't gratuitously touted on the cover.
In the end, after making Sif wait around for him for at least a day, Thunderstrike declines to help her deal with Thor's madness.
I should also mention the ongoing mystery of Bloodaxe's axe. These issues start with the Black Knight doing an analysis of it (i put the scan in the Considerations section). We also see Eric getting uncharacteristically angry while trying to rent a car at the beginning of the story (car rental places are very frustrating). Sif later identifies the axe as Skurge the Executioner's. Thundestrike intended to ask Sif to take the axe back to Asgard, but he forgets in the excitement of their argument about helping Thor.
I don't think much of Sif's appearance. She's mopey, she doesn't participate in any of the fighting, and she's put in a bizarre costume designed to show her skin even though it's completely off model from what she's wearing in the Thor book. I guess i should appreciate that she's depicted as being muscular, although it doesn't excuse the lounging around naked in Eric's sheets stuff. And the plot doesn't even go anywhere, which i suppose could be "realistic" but it's an odd narrative choice.
Beyond that i'm neutral about the Sangre plot and still slightly annoyed with the various ongoing mysteries (the axe/Bloodaxe, the blaster-helper, what's going on with Bobby Steele). But we did get a Juggernaut fight and that goes a long way to making up for things (although it wasn't enough in realtime to get me to continue beyond issue #2).
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Juggernaut appears here "a few months" after Deadpool #1-2 (the first half of the Circle Chase mini). The MCP list Black Tom as appearing in this issue. I don't see him, but i guess it counts as him being behind-the-scenes, so i'm listing him.
Sif appears here between Thor #463 & #466, which places this story during Infinity Crusade. I'd rather place it early during that crossover since this book wasn't intended to take place during it, and there's therefore no evidence of it (i.e. criminals are still criminaling). Some of the Avengers appear at the beginning of this arc...
...so that portion must either take place before Infinity Crusade starts, or at least after the Goddess creates the initial signs in the sky (e.g. Black Knight sees the grail) but before she actively recruits them.
Sif's appearance begins at the end of issue #2, after Eric Masterson spends an indefinite period of time visiting his parents. That could allow me to create a break separating the Juggernaut fight from Sif, but that wouldn't really gain me anything. Juggernaut would still have to appear here before or during Infinity Crusade, and Deadpool #3-4 still have to take place after Infinity Crusade. And there's still plenty of evidence of criminal behavior in issue #3 (moreso, in fact), which is the portion that definitely has to take place during Infinity Crusade.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAndrew 'Jock' Jackson, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Tom, Bobby Steele, Crystal, Ed Marrero, Fireworks Fielstein, Juggernaut, Kevin Masterson, Mad Dog Rassitano, Marcus Stone, Marcy Masterson Steele, Mother Majowski, Punisher, Rigger Ruiz, Samantha Joyce, Sangre, Sersi, Sif, Stellaris, Susan Austin, Thunderstrike
You're right on in your appreciation of Ron Frenz's mastery of timing. Look at that first scan again. It's a Doonesbury strip. And I mean that in the best way.
Posted by: Andrew | December 1, 2016 5:02 PM
The names of 4 of the members of the kiddie porn ring are given as Lee, Larsen, McFarlane and Liefeld. I felt what DeFalco did with Priest (Aloysius Jamesley) was understandable but this- this is totally beyond the pale.
Posted by: Michael | December 1, 2016 7:56 PM
DeFalco is off the hook on the list of names in issue 3.That was me. I was frankly surprised and embarrassed that the names made it into print.At the time there was a lot of trash talk coming from the Image side and I was reacting childishly back. No excuse.
Posted by: Ron Frenz | April 22, 2017 9:48 PM
To be fair, it would be the fault of the Editor in this instance to let it slip through. I think that was a tense time but it's understandable- obviously Michael disagrees- Wizard had really fostered and instigated a bad environment amongst comic professionals in that time.
Posted by: Wis | April 22, 2017 11:39 PM
My apologies to Mr. DeFalco.
Posted by: Michael | April 23, 2017 9:17 AM
Agreed with fnord about Ron Frenz's great storytelling abilities, especially in the sections of these issues that are played for comedy. Looking at the artwork, I definitely believe Frenz was only doing layouts here, since there's a lot of All Milgrom's style in the finished artwork, more than we've previously seen during their collaboration on Thor.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 26, 2017 12:02 PM
Comments are now closed.
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