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I can think of no better company in which to celebrate this blog’s one year anniversary than you, my dear readers. And the God of Thunder. – The Mighty Thor #156 & #318

March 25, 2011

 Yes, it was roughly a year ago that I started this thing. More on that in a moment — and don’t worry, you won’t have to read much self-congratulatory, horrifically solipsistic wanking. Enough of that gets done in regular posts. More like some observations and resolutions on what I need to do better.

We’ll start with the lesser of the comics in this celebration twofer, the more recent one. I plucked it out of the archives mainly because it makes a fitting bookend to my maiden year of blogging. In one of my very first posts I took a quick look at a Jack Kirby-infused Super Powers book from the ’80s, one that had Easter Island statues climbing out of the ground and bedevilling DC heroes. This Gil Kane Thor cover is very reminiscent in composition, but, though I like it’s more ominous color pattern, the baby arms on its statues can’t compare to Kirby’s rocky paws.

The interior art (script: Doug Moench) is oddly un-Kane-like (unKaney?), and his Moai take on a very un-Easter Island appearance when they come alive thanks to some Norn stones:

Still, you have to like Thor’s Whac-A-Mole method for defeating them:

There. Now that there’s a little symmetry to for this debut year we can get to the main event, a comic from a character whose original book gave me the title of this blog.

Could this be the very best Jack Kirby Thor cover every forged? It’s possible. There’s some stiff competition, but there are so many magical elements working for this one: the humongous Odinsword, a cowering Volstagg, a defiant Thor, a giant, unseen, looming menace. Pure greatness.

Thor #156 (inked by Vince Colletta) is in the middle of one of the better storylines in the Silver Age run. The gigantic, over-powering Mangog, a proxy for a tyrannic-race long ago eradicated by Odin, is moving inexorably towards Asgard. Once there he (it?) plans to draw the Odinsword and bring about Ragnarok. The stakes are high and so is the drama, with every player in the Thor mythos (from Queen Karnilla to Heimdall) making their presence felt. Let’s look at some of the best moments.

If there’s any hero that doesn’t know how to give in when confronted with an unbeatable foe like the Mangog (and is also unafraid to vocalize that determination), it’s Thor:

Stan really knew how to write this stuff, didn’t he? From now on I’m going to repeat “The Sinews of Thor! The Sinews of Thor!” over and over again while I’m doing bicep curls. It shall be my mantra. Can’t hurt, can it?

While everyone else is out battling this direst of dire threats, Loki is where you’d expect him to be — playing around in Daddy’s chair:

What do Larry Craig and Loki have in common? They both have a wide stance on the throne. Hah!

In a classic case of counting his chickens before they hatch, Loki’s already revelling in having all this power to himself. After all, Thor will be killed by the Mangog and Odin’s taking an Odinsleep power nap, so no one will be in his way. And his sorcery and loyal forces will surely shield him from harm at the hands of this Mangog gent. The bank will never call in this mortgage, right?:

D’oh!

Thor and the Warriors Three spend most of their time getting their asses handed to them. Still, in the midst of that desperate chaos there was something in this one panel that made me laugh out loud:

If Volstagg had said “Feets don’t fail me now!” I might have shot whatever I was drinking out of my nose. Or crapped my pants. One or the other. Thank you Stan and Jack. This little bit made my day.

As Mangog draws closer and closer to his goal, a chesty Sif takes up a position as the Odinsword’s last line of defense. The huge blade in question looks more like a parked Millennium Falcon than a weapon one would wield, no?:

And, speaking of the Falcon, though I like the Lee dialogue spilling out of the Recorder’s (a cross between Uatu the Watcher and Machine Man) mouth, I couldn’t blame Sif if she switched him off like an exasperated Han Solo with C-3PO.

Ahhhhh. Wasn’t that great?

I’ve droned on before about Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the Norse magic they created with Thor. I won’t go through that again. But I’m struck how, every time I read one of these Silver Age gems, my 33-year-old self is almost compelled to pick up the carpenter’s hammer I keep around for small projects and twirl it around my head. Maybe even tie a red blanket around my neck. Making deities underdogs against an unbeatable foe is so hokily stirring. I love it. The characters in Thor were the most fantastic (sorry, FF), but they were also in some ways the most fleshed out and were without doubt the most colorful. I pray that the Kenneth Branagh Thor doesn’t suck, but if it’s as tenth as good as these Lee/Kirby efforts it’ll be sublime.

————————————————————

Now for the purely self-centered garbage.

I’ve very much enjoyed doing this thing, and plan to keep doing it into the foreseeable future. A few quick observations…

1. I hate scanning comics and then editing the picture files. It’s monotonous. It takes time. It takes patience. I have little of the first, and absolutely none of the second. It is the price paid for more robust commentary. I will continue to pay said price, but I do so under protest. Perhaps I need a Kramerica-type intern.

2. I’ve done a horrible job of joining the broader comics blogging community. I don’t read and comment enough on other people’s blogs, many of which I’m sure are vastly superior to my own. I don’t know if that’s going to change much (that time thing again). But I’d like for it to.

3. A thank you to those who’ve stopped in to read what I’ve written, those who’ve left a comment or two or many more, and those who’ve linked to my blog. All three things are truly very much appreciated.

4. Perhaps the best thing to come out of this is that I’ve become more more omnivorous in my comics acquisitions. Instead of focusing solely on the big gun titles in the quixotic quest to fill out complete runs, I’m now much more willing to pick up comics off the beaten path, with the thought of “This might make a good blog entry…” flashing through my several brain cells. When I come across certain comics now I can almost see the titles and contents of entire posts. That’s fun. It makes me wish I had started doing this sooner.

5. I like writing the posts. It’s all as simple as that.

Enough wanking. One year down, an unknown number to go. Until next time, true believers.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2011 1:27 am

    Happy Bloggiversary! On the scanning issue, almost all the comics out there have been scanned in over the last 13+ years; some by private collectors and s0me by the companies themselves. Marvel published several terrific sets around 2005 or so with many of their features complete with ads, Bullpen Bulletins, letters pages, etc. Very reasonably priced as well; I think the complete FF was something like $50.

  2. March 26, 2011 8:45 pm

    Happy Anniversary —

    And yes, you should pat yourself on the back — I enjoy your blog. I can certainly relate to everything you wrote about the prep time. It’s a labor of love, but honestly a pain-in-the-butt! Thank the lord that Karen and I have (between us) the dvd-roms for all but the Hulk. But that doesn’t help with all of the other Marvels or the DCs. I could also relate to what you said about wanting to expand your reading choices. Sometimes I feel like there won’t be enough time to get to all of the things we want to cover.

    Keep it coming!

    Doug

  3. March 27, 2011 9:27 pm

    I don’t read a lot of comics blogs. I’d like to. I’ve done a lot of looking for ones I like and haven’t found too many. I check in on yours regularly. Keep up the good work. Happy anniversary.
    WK

  4. March 28, 2011 11:40 pm

    Thank you all for the well wishes. My ego has been sufficiently stroked.

    As for the scanned or dvd-rom comics, it’s not a bad idea to look to those other sources. There are a couple of factors mitigating against it for me. One, I’d have to spend money for something I already have. I think that might drive me even more nuts than scanning things myself. Second, hunting down scans of some of the more esoteric material that I want to yack about might take some time and could be a wild goose chase, one where I end up with nothing to show for my search. Might as well “scan while the scanning is good,” know what I mean?

    Plus, as much as I might bitch, there’s something to be said for having having my own labor poured into this thing, not to mention items from my personal “archives.” For the fine people who created the material that’s featured, I suppose doing some involved logistical work is the least I can do. Especially if I have some unkind things to say.

    I appreciate the ideas, though. I’ll definitely keep them in mind. They certainly have a lot of merit.

  5. Thelonious_Nick permalink
    March 29, 2011 8:47 pm

    Congratulations! I haven’t been reading for a couple weeks because for some reason, the firewall at work won’t let me read your site anymore. Guess I’ll actually have to use personal time to check you out now…. By the way, I believe you’ve said before E.G. Comics is your regular store. I try to stop by there at least once every few months (my regular store is Nova Comics in Springfield). Maybe I’ll see you there sometime. I’ll know it’s you when I see you looking at 40-year old back issues of Black Goliath, or something similarly obscure.

    • March 31, 2011 1:05 pm

      Sorry to hear about the firewalling. I don’t know whether to be vexed about that or honored. Maybe both.

      I’m in E.G. once a week, with the sad regularity of a junkie getting his fix. The owner knows me reasonably well (in an owner/frequent customer sort of way), so if you mention this blog he’ll definitely know who and what you’re talking about. I’m usually there on slow days, when the mad rush of the new comics hoi polloi won’t block my view of things like the Master of Kung Fu section.

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