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The senses-shattering return of Frog-Thor! (Kind of!) – What If…? #12

May 6, 2013

whatif12

There are two great character contributions that Walt Simonson made during his long tenure as the God of Thunder’s writer and artist. The first was Beta Ray Bill, the equine alien cyborg who stumbled into possession of Mjolnir and became one of the staunchest allies that Asgard ever had. The second was Thor as a frog. Repeat: THOR AS A FROG. Thanks to another dickish spell from Loki, the worst adopted brother in the history of this or any other world, Thor slummed for a couple of Simonson issues as a short, strong-legged amphibian in New York City’s Central Park. He even found a little love along the way, with a frog princess (this was the cherry on top of this deliciously silly sundae).

Though this story was of course made up, you can’t make this up, if you catch my drift.

After a couple of issues, Thor returned to his tall, blond, Nordic, human self, much to the chagrin of the frog princess he left behind and the fans who — quite understandably, frankly — thought this was the greatest damn story that they had ever seen. But guess what — this wasn’t the last time that Frog-Thor appeared in a Marvel comic. Indeed, the Frog of Thunder was that special hind of oddity which has legs — no pun intended. You can even find busts and Heroclix figures of the guy, if you’re so inclined. And there’s old this issue of What If…?, which features an all-too brief appearance of Thor-as-frog.

Frog-Thor is so spectacular, the cover’s promise of Storm carrying the God of Thunder mantle almost goes by unnoticed, but that’s perhaps the more important element of the story. The point of divergence for this alternate timeline comes from X-Men  Annual #9 and the New Mutants Special Edition #1, when Xavier’s mutants — all of them — wound up in Asgard during Thor’s amphibious absence, and battled various godly threats and matched wits with the nefarious Loki. The story ended with the God of Mischief returning all of the X-teams to Earth, but with a hitch: he said he would only do so if all of them wanted to return. If just one of the mutants wanted to stay amongst the gods, then so would they all. In “reality” all agreed to return — some more reluctantly than others — but here it doesn’t go so smoothly. Eventually it goes to a majority vote (Memo to Loki: If you’re going to have rules, have rules…), and the deciding ballot is cast by Storm, who feels comfortable as the Goddess of Thunder (can’t blame her). So Loki sends back the X-Men who want to leave (again, rules…) and lets the rest stay.

The story is both scripted and penciled by Jim Valentino, who would of course go on to be one of the Image imprint’s founders, with inks by Sam de la Rosa, and this symmetrical two-page spread gives you an idea of who stayed and their motivations — it’s actually quite well done:

whatif12a

But, let’s be honest: WE WANT FROG. The comic oh so briefly obliges, as another of Loki’s schemes goes sideways, a cross-realm war is ignited, and he needs reinforcements. Enter the Frog of Thunder,  to do battle with Storm:

whatif12b

Awesome. Sadly, we only have a couple of panels left before Thor is returned to his normal Norse state (boooo…), and one of them is filled with exposition, explaining why Thor isn’t able to ribbit out “Hey, it’s me, Thor, not a demon”:

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The comic ends with lives lost, destinies altered, blah blah blah, and another two-page spread — with the dragons on top and Uatu on the bottom this time — gives us the state of our principals at the end:

whatif12d

Was this what Blake was talking about with his “fearful symmetry”?

The Frog of Thunder’s appearance is all too brief, not even long enough for a good, loud “I RIBBIT THEE NAY!” Story-wise, this What If…? doesn’t quite live up to Conan travelling to 1970s New York, a story so great it necessitated a sequel. But really, how could it? And that’s not even taking into account the all-too fleeting appearance of Thor-Frog, who hops onto and off of stage far too quickly for this reader’s taste. That said, the scrumptious Valentino spreads probably elevate it above the more middling What If…? fare, like this story, which oddly enough, had Thor possessed by the Venom symbiote. Poor Thor.

Anyway, the Frog of Thunder is pretty great. Thor Corps material. And this What If…? gives us a little nibble of those tasty frog legs.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 8, 2013 11:36 am

    great fun

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