"The Wrath of Odin!"
Stan Lee-Jack Kirby/Vince Colletta
Doug: We've all commented on that book or two we've read and read again, until the cover literally fell off of it. Today, and again next Sunday, I'll be taking you inside of a couple of yard sale finds from the mid-1970's. In fact, these consecutive issues of Thor are among, if not, the first 12c books I ever owned. And, rather than do our usual service in providing a nice cover from the folks at the Comic Book Database, I've decided to scan the one I'm reading -- gape if you will at the frayed edges, wrinkles, so-called "Marvel chipping", rolled spine, the places where the tape stuck to the cover and peeled away the color, etc... this is a well-loved book! So let's have a peek inside:
Doug: One of the reasons this book stands apart is that it was my entry level for so much of the Thor mythos. At the time I first read this story I was fascinated with Greek mythology -- this comic then encouraged my entry to Norse mythology. Inside these covers we'll find not only the base villainy (well, for what that's worth) of the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime and evil Loki, but also Asgardian mainstays Odin, Sif and Balder, and the whole Asgard/Earth dichotomy. I'm pretty sure I had had some solo-Thor exposure around this same time in the then-current mags, but let's face it -- with the adventure possibilities in this comic series, one could land just about anywhere and in any situation. So all of this felt new to me. Add in the fact that in the current issues of the time the art was by John Buscema and here we find the classic team of Jack Kirby and Vinnie Colletta and this story again could not have been more different. So I was fully aware that I was in the middle of something much older (I'd have been only a year and a half old when this first saw the spinner racks), and somewhat seminal.
Doug: We pick up the story right after Thor's battle with the aforementioned Ringmaster. Trapped in a gallery of some unknown (to me) description, a dazed and confused Thor had been assisting Princess Python in the theft of an enormous golden bull. The ringing of police-fired bullets snaps the God of Thunder to his senses. But we quickly learn that he has been stripped of his god-like control over the thunder and lightning, along with his immortality. Still, with his wits now about him, Thor sees what he was doing and lifts the 5-ton statue back onto its base. The police begin to read him his rights, when the Princess's giant snake suddenly finds her and spirits her away. She seems to have a thing for Thor, but nonetheless joins her band of do-badders as they speed away. And what of Thor? Always one to do the right thing, he allows himself to be arrested. And at the local precinct, after being interrogated, Thor surrenders the now-powerless Mjolnir.
Doug: Cut to a hellish place full of Kirby Krackle, where we find the God of Lies holed up and awaiting his final judgement. Loki has been banished from Asgard, yet still plots to gain revenge upon his half-brother. Suddenly he is summoned to the Realm Eternal. The All-Father Odin has deigned Loki be free once again, promising to do no further mischief. At this point Sif and Balder enter the room and draw Odin's ire by questioning the wisdom of such a strategy. Odin reminds them what happens to those who step on the royal piggies, as he shows them an image of Thor in jail on Earth. Sif cries out for mercy, and Loki stalks off. It's only about two panels later before he's on his way to torment his brother.
Doug: Arriving on Earth, Loki disguises himself (in a Clark Kent sort of way) and posts Thor's bail. His timing could not have been better, as Thor was about to mop the place with a tough who was making trouble. Lucky for him... Once outside, Thor is as dense as he's ever been, not recognizing Loki behind the shades. But as they get into a car, the conversation takes a sinister turn and the ruse is quickly over. The car disintegrates around them by some sort of magic, and before Thor can get his bearings Loki cold cocks him. Remember, Thor is depowered by Asgardian standards -- he maintains his natural strength (he did just lift five tons after all), but this ain't yer daddy's Thor. Loki knows it, and brings an endless intensely physical assault. Thor fights valiantly, but is really no match for Loki's strength.
Doug: At about this same time, I had received the Bring on the Bad Guys tpb for Christmas. In it were a couple of reprints of the "Tales of Asgard" series, so I knew Loki always relied on guile and rarely if ever dirtied his hands. This was, as far as I was concerned, uncharted territory.
Doug: I remember just having a blast reading this over 35 years ago. As I said, there was a true sense of discovery, and Kirby was at his bombastic best. Dabbling in DC's at the time, Stan Lee's over-the-top scripting was a real treat -- they just didn't write like this in the Batman or Teen Titans mags! Additionally, these were the days when the Inhumans were again guesting in the Fantastic Four, and their solo series was in the offing. This issue of Thor contains one of the Inhumans back-ups, telling their Kree origins. Sentry-451 is featured in this story. I have the complete back-up series in the first volume of the Inhumans Marvel Masterworks, and have hinted to Karen that if she has access to the same stories and is game, we could run a "Tales of Attilan" series. We shall see.