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Knock yon braggart’s block off! – The Mighty Thor #126

June 21, 2010

When I first started buying older comics a couple of years ago this was one of the first books that I picked up.  At that point I had no knowledge base upon which to evaluate condition, hence the rather tattered status of this copy.  But quality control’s loss is my blog’s gain, so let’s have at this fantastic story.

“Whom the Gods Would Destroy” was crafted by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and this one issue (the first in which Thor shucked off his Journey into Mystery heading) may very well be tops amongst their many collaborations.  Honestly, I could read stories like this until the end of my days.  Lee’s take on Thor-speak was never more entertaining than it is here, and Kirby’s muscular action style had well-suited combatants in Thor and Hercules.

The basic setup for this story is jealousy, as Thor sees Jane Foster cavorting with the Olympian and, like males of every species since the beginnings of sexes, they fight it out to determine who’s the alpha.  While this is going on, Odin is, for the umpteenth time, upset about Thor defying his will and is fulminating most magnificently in Asgard.

But who cares about all that?  To quote Mills Lane, “Let’s get it on!”

In the early going Thor demostrates himself to be the more mature of the two, as Hercules cares little for the damage he causes and the lives he endangers.  Though they often use parts of their environment to batter each other, usually they settle for bare knuckles.  Kirby fills panels with the two characters, giving us an impression of how vicious this close-quarters clash is:

And not only does Thor have his fists and Mjolnir with which to batter the son of Zeus — he also has his fearsome power of alliteration:

This is such great stuff.

Perhaps the highpoint of the action is this full page blast:

I could do a deep parsing of every word in those two balloons, but I’ll just settle for my three favorite phrases:

“mealy-mouthed cabbage” — Huh?

“bristling beard of Odin” — A lovable old chestnut

“pounding paroxysm of wrath” — My veins are throbbing just typing that.

The story ends with Odin robbing Thor of half of his godly powers, and, since Thor even then won’t surrender, Hercules levels him with a roundhouse right.  Herc gets a movie contract out of the fracas from a admiring producer as Thor is openly mocked by pedestrians.  Jane tries to let him know that she still loves him, that she was just trying to make him jealous by flirting with Hercules, but Thor sulks off in a deep depression.  Then Odin has his millionth change of heart and exhorts Jane to go after him:

We’ll let Odin get away with the “woman” this time.

This issue certainly didn’t mark the end of the Thor/Hercules entanglements — in fact, it signalled the beginning of a wonderful series of adventures that saw two heroes come to a rapprochement and had Thor rescue Herc from the underworld.  But that’s fodder for another post.

This entire issue is everything comics should be — fun and exciting — and I didn’t even get to the “Tales of Asgard” backup story.  Perhaps this issue’s sterling quality is why its cover has been aped so many times.  I can think of both the Walt Simonson cover with Beta Ray Bill’s intro and a Dark Horse Presents cover off the top of my head, and I know that there are others out there.

But I’m still trying to come to grips with “mealy-mouthed cabbage.”  I did a Google search and apparently it’s the only time those words have been strung together in the history of the world.  For that great service to humankind, Stan, I thank you.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2010 2:59 pm

    Yea, verily, yea!

    Of course, every time this epic issue is brought to my attention, I can’t help but think of the similar duke-em-up in Thor #356. That filler issue in the midst of Simonson’s legendary run was a real gem.

    To quote the cover: “Oh, Herky…you’re so…so godly!”

    • June 21, 2010 9:16 pm

      When Hercules is handled properly he’s wildly entertaing — the swaggering but lovable oaf of the Marvel Universe. Anyone who once tried to defeat Galactus by slipping him a mickey can’t be all bad.

  2. February 7, 2011 6:05 pm

    I still like “I say thee nay!” Early Thor or JIM was one of my favorites as a kid buying them off the rack.

    • February 8, 2011 11:19 am

      I’m envious of anyone who bought these classics of the wrack.

      • February 10, 2011 3:14 pm

        Ah yes. Comic wishes. We used to wish we had retained all the books we bought in near mint contidition. Unfortunately we had a comic fight one night in a tent and tore the crap out of vintage Marvel and DC. Later in 8th grade or so, my best friend Torg and I decided to sell all comics that didn’t matter to us. The amount was phenomenal, about 2,500. We sold them for 5 cents each at a flea market in the Fairgrounds in Fairbanks (land of the midnight sun). We sold the balance after one day to a junk dealer who gave us $20 bucks each. He said when I met him later when I was in college that he turned that investment into thousands of dollars. We kept our favorites. My friend inherited his uncle’s Superman collection from the 1950 and kept various Marvel titles. I still have the JIM No. 84 I bought and nearly everything from 90 on through the early 1980s. I’ve carted around the more than 10,000 I still have for years. Kind of a heavy proposition to move.

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