I have been reading comics since 1978, and I’m here to tell you that there’s a lot of bad comics out there. By bad, I mean racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, full of clichés, nonsensical, and violent. Don’t get me wrong. There are also good comics, but Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor Volume One does not number among them.
Here’s the good: Jack Kirby drew some of these issues. That sums up the good. I rate Thor above the first volume of Iron Man, but that’s not a high fence to hurdle. Thor’s creators were still figuring him out as a character, which means his powers fluctuate according to the needs of the plot. In one issue Thor destroys half the earth, and in the next he’s laid low by a mobster. Thor’s personality is also in flux, in that he doesn’t have one. Sixty years later and he still doesn’t!
These stories reminded me of the first volume of Iron Man, a never-ending series of twelve page one-shots. The most memorable villain in this volume is Thor’s evil step-brother Loki, who gets chained up as much as Wonder Woman. Other villains include The Cobra, Mr. Hyde, a lone Lava Man, and The Radioactive Man. Most of the plots revolve around 1. Thor losing his mighty hammer and transforming back into Donald Blake, usually in the middle of a fight; 2. Thor mooning over Jane Foster.
Thor’s alter ego, Dr. Don Blake, can’t express his love to his nurse Jane Foster because he’s lame and there’s no way she could love a cripple. That’s what he tells himself, anyway. When Blake musters up the courage to tell her he’s secretly Thor, his father the mighty Odin cock-blocks him.
Two things stand out in this graphic novel. The first is an extended fantasy sequence wherein Jane Foster imagines domestic bliss as Mrs. Thor, wherein she polishes his hammer, irons his cloak, and gives him a nice, short haircut so he doesn’t look like one of those beatniks. I hope the creators were laughing their asses off when they created that sequence, because I sure was.
I can sum up the second standout in two words: chromosomatic gland. Loki hits Thor’s chromosomatic gland, which reverses Thor’s brain and leads to him raising his hand against the mighty Odin and then destroying the earth with his crazed half-brother. The issue ends with Odin hitting Thor’s chromosomatic gland and re-reversing his brain, which leads to our beloved hero regaining his nobility. Of course, the earth is still destroyed, but Odin undoes all the damage and erases everyone’s memories of the event. I’m unsure if he raises all the people his sons killed from the dead, but am assuming the creators would say nobody died.
This issue might be the worst comic I’ve ever read, and (as mentioned) I’ve read a lot of comics. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is where they got the idea of retconning Spider-Man’s marriage.
For Thor junkies only.