Monday, December 8, 2014

Arc of Triumph? Thor 232-234

Karen: Here's one of my favorite stories from Thor's 1970s run. Loki gains control of Asgard and invades Earth! He neutralizes all the super-heroes except Thor (of course). Thor teams up with the US military to stop him, and eventually Firelord shows up to help Thor. It all ends with a great confrontation between the two brothers. Gerry Conway wrote it, John Buscema drew it, and three different inkers -Dick Giordano, Chic Stone, and Joe Sinnott - well, inked it. Anyone else get a kick out of this story?


William said...

Karen, I've never read that one, but it sounds like a pretty cool story. I was never really into Thor much back in the day. I really liked him in the Avengers, but I never got into his solo book except for the occasional issue here and there.

It's times like this that I lament the fact that they never got around to releasing a DVD with digital versions of all the Thor comics. I think I have complete collections (on disc) of just about every other major Marvel character that started out in the Silver Age: Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The X-Men, and even the hard to get Daredevil. But they never got around to Thor before the series was discontinued.

It's a shame, because as I said, I didn't read a lot of Thor so it would be really nice to be able to check out stuff like this story. Ah well, I may have to go the old fashioned route and just pick up as back issues.

Doug said...

William --

I couldn't agree more with your complaint about Marvel stopping the dvd-rom reprints. Thor is a title I've been trying to build through Essentials, the second volume of the Omnibus series, and the Bronze Age tpbs that have been released.

I was a semi-regular Thor reader, but darned if I didn't miss this story! I think I became a bit more regular in my acquisition of this title a bit after this arc.


Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, these are from a bit before my time - I think the first issue of Thor I bought off the spinner rack was #249. And I only became a semi-regular reader sometime during that Eternals saga much later.

By the way, recently I've been reading some earlier Thor stories, i.e., the issues just following Kirby's departure from the book, when Neal Adams did a few issues and then John Buscema came on as the regular artist. But I guess that doesn't move the discussion of these particular issues along...

Doug said...

Edo --

I, for one, would be happy to hear your thoughts on the departure of the Kirby "house style" and the movement toward the "realistic" portrayals of Adams and Buscema. That's quite a contrast over just a few issues!


Karen said...

"Me three" -I find the DVD versions invaluable, and I am so glad I scooped those up (I don't have the Daredevil one, but my FF one includes the Silver Surfer). I guess Thor must not have been considered all that popular at the time -were those put out at the period of time when Marvel wasn't even publishing a Thor title? In any case, it's a huge omission. A friend did send me a disc of Thor books that someone had scanned but sadly the quality is not up to the Gitco versions -it is difficult to navigate, does not include all pages (like letters pages!), and I even find story pages missing. Therefore I seldom use it...I have a pretty good Thor collection, utilizing comics, trades, and masterworks from about Thor 125-the late 200s.

This storyline was a real standout in the Conway run. Another great example of the two brothers pitted against each other. Another notable aspect was the three different inkers -each book looked very different! Giordano on Buscema is a very unusual look -I think his inks were perhaps too light for Big John's pencils, but it was an intriguing look to be sure. I did not care for Stone's inks -seemed crude. Sinnott was of course fine but I think this would have been spectacular with Palmer on board.

Doug said...

Karen --

Do Giordano's inks give off a Neal Adams vibe?

Sinnott's Sinnott. I thought he was great over Kirby on the FF, helped tie Big John's FF art to Kirby's, but overall I felt Sinnott overpowered JB on other books. I find inks that are a bit "rougher" -- DeZuniga, for example (although I'm not always fond of the "Tony" shining through in the finished product over JB's pencils) -- to be more to my liking for books like Thor, Conan, and Tarzan.


Karen said...

Doug, Giordano's inks don't remind me of Adams. They just look sort of feathery to me. Here's a link to a page of art that I hope will demonstrate what I mean:

As for Sinnott, agreed -whatever he inks looks like Sinnott.Not necessarily bad, but it tends to cover up the artist.

Karen said...

OK, looking at other pages in that issue, I can see that Giordano's inking varies -but there's still a bit of lightness or sketchiness to it. Although it's not bad. I wonder if some of the work was rushed? I just don't know if these two mesh well.

Humanbelly said...

What. . . what is going on with Thor's legs on the cover of #232, there? And that's almost certainly a Big John cover, right?

But-- Thor either somehow has two left legs. . . or the right one has fall off at the hip joint or something. . .

(nit-picky, nit-picky)

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, I didn't mention this above, but I'm reading those stories in two rather recently published Panini digests: "When Gods Go Mad" and "In the Shadow of Mangog." The first book starts with issue #179, Kirby's last issue.
I have to say, I like the art - you can't go wrong with the young Adams, followed by Big John. Most of the inking is by Joe Sinnott. Interestingly enough, I think Karen's point about him overpowering the artist is more true for Buscema than Adams.

By the way, Karen, thanks for posting that sample of the art from these issues. If you hadn't told us, I would have never guessed that those are Giordano's inks - and it also has the odd effect of making John's art look a bit like Sal's.

Doug said...

HB --

Cover artists:

#232 = Buckler/Palmer
#233 = Kane/Severin/Sinnott
#234 = Kane/Giordano/Romita

Some hall-of-famers there, huh? But like you, I could probably find something to nitpick on each cover.


Doug said...

Edo and Karen --

There seems to be a uniformity of width to Giordano's line in the panels of that sample page. There doesn't seem to be much craft to it -- it really does nothing to enhance the art. It's almost like what one would do in creating a coloring book, where the lines simply need to be darkened, owing any depth to the coloring.



pfgavigan said...


Bought these books off the spinners and thought that they were pretty good. Kinda standard fare for the House of Ideas at the time, but good. I wasn't quite a Marvel Zombie at that stage but I did know which company I preferred and which I could pretty much pass on.

So here's a question for everyone. Conway was one of the writers I associated with bouncing back and forth between DC and Marvel. He was comfortable with the characters of both companies and could usually tell a compelling story. But I didn't follow him. If he was working primarily at Marvel I'd give the books a look and maybe a buy. During his tenure at the Distinguished Competition I'd give his books a look and probably a bye.

So here's the question, can anybody recall following a creator? The only one I can recall do so was Byrne's stint on the Superman books and my interest in those ended before his tenure there did.


Doug said...

PFG --

I would say that the only time I did that (follow creators) is when Dark Horse opened their Legends imprint. I bought Byrne's Next Men, Miller's Sin City, and maybe tested a couple of other creators/titles. But Byrne and Miller were the main two that I followed.

I would not say I "followed" Byrne to Man of Steel and Superman. I bought them because at the time I thought they were fresh and exciting.


Doug said...

True story --

About an hour ago I walked into class, and as usual on a Monday asked in general who had a good weekend. A student sitting near my desk said that he did, so I asked what he did that was so great. He said he read comics all weekend. I told him that I thought that was cool, and asked what he read. He answered "Suicide Squad". I said, again, that that was cool, but added that I don't care for new comics. So we got into a brief discussion on my likes, time, the current market, etc. I told him that I like books from the 1960s through around 1990. He got this incredulous look on his face and then exclaimed,

"1990? But that's when the art got so much better!"

Again, true story.


Martinex1 said...

Ohhh Doug that story pains me. I cannot look at much 90's art and not think "what a mess". So often I can honestly not tell what action is happening. And to me the coloring really is poor nowadays. I much prefer the flat colors and clear storytelling from our era. My nephews have the same outlook as your student though. I guess it is what we are raised into. But I just cannot see the attraction (sometimes literally).
On the Thor story, I really want to read that one. I always liked Firelord, mainly because of his design and what I thought was a rather odd run as a herald of Galactus. The relationship between Firelord and Gabriel was always of interest to me. I missed this story though and am very curious.

J.A. Morris said...

Thor is one of those series I never got into. I guess I was turned off by Thor for the same reason I was turned off by Superman. Too damn powerful. Sure, I never expected Spider-Man or the X-men to be killed, but at least they were a bit more vulnerable.

I had a random issue here and there drawn by John Buscema, like the art, story didn't do much for me.

Doug said...

J.A. --

We've had this conversation before, but your mention of Thor's power is exactly why I most enjoy his adventures along the cosmic or other-worldly vein.

When he's in the Avengers, they'd better be dealing with Kang or Ultron, maybe Nefaria in #s 164-166. Any baddie less than those and the God of Thunder is probably wasted.


Karen said...

HB - you are correct sir. Thor definitely has a weird looking leg on that cover. But Buckler also gave Reed Richards two left hands or something like that, so is it any surprise?

PFGavigan -I followed Steve Englehart over to the JLA when he took over that title.He "Marvelized" it -I think it might have ticked off long-time DC fans, but it made it readable to me. I also followed George Perez to Wonder Woman, a character I had never had any interest in prior.

Usually though, I would say a change in creator probably got me to leave a title rather than pick it up.

Doug - a distressing story on one hand, but at least your student is reading comics. I saw a video where they showed kids from about 3rd grade through high school the trailer for "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Almost all of the kids were excited by it and really wanted to see the film. They also knew the movie was based on comics. Yet none of them read comics. And when asked if they thought about reading comics, they all said either no or it was unlikely. It broke my heart. Then again, the books being put out now aren't exactly aimed at them.

Doug said...

We've said this before, too:

It is completely amazing to me how "out of the closet" comics are today. The people you see wearing comics-related merchandise nowadays boggles the mind. I will stand by my comment that if I'd tried that in high school I'd have been ostracized. And I was a fairly popular kid, in athletics, etc. But there was a definite line drawn with comics back then.

And I agree -- Marvel's popularity stems from non-print media, and I'd say almost solely.


Humanbelly said...

Rich Buckler (working his John Buscema impersonation) was absolutely going to be my second guess for that cover! Firelord in particular looked so JB-ish that it convinced me. I should have listened to the skepticism alarm that the irregular anatomy was setting off, eh?

I think Simonson's run is the first time I ever started to buy Thor regularly, although I'd pop in and out with him with an issue every couple of years. Honestly, my main problem was that he simply wasn't terribly deep or interesting as a character, and seemed to be terribly inconsistent in temperament. Sometimes he could be as brash and volatile as Hercules, other times he's aloof, regal, and measured. Even with the benefit of thought balloons, as I reader I never felt like I was "inside his head", y'know?


Karen said...

Martinex -Firelord was a big selling point for me on this too. I just thought he looked so cool. To think he was sort of the first iteration of Firestorm! Blows the mind. Yes, Gerry Conway designed both characters -I have it straight from the horse's (or in this case, writer's) mouth.

I would agree that Thor himself was never a particularly involving character. I always enjoyed the title more for the stories than for his personal situation. Thor being who he is/was, could propel things into any direction imaginable: mythological, outer space adventure, mystical, etc. It made for some really epic tales. But I feel I do the Thunder God a disservice. He was at least consistently portrayed as noble and willing to sacrifice everything for a cause -and in the most dramatic way possible! And as Doug says, when Thor showed up in Avengers, usually that meant a pretty major beat-down was about to occur!

Anonymous said...

Doug, you gotta take that kid aside, show him your stash of classic Bronze Age comics, and tell him, 'now kid this is what real art looks like!'. The likes of Kirby, Buscema, Kane, Colan and others should snap him out of that 90s haze!

Is it just me or has comic art devolved from the smooth flowing lines of a Big John Buscema to more sketchy comic art especially from the 90s onwards? The only thing better in comics nowadays is the computerized colouring, with seamless shading and colour transitions, but with a few exceptions I'm not a fan of most of the artwork I see around me.

Regarding Joe Sinnott's inking, I do agree his inks tend to overpower nearly every penciller he inks. The same goes with Tony DeZuniga. However, since these two esteemed gentlemen are among my very favourite artists, that ain't necessarily a bad thing! Hope Big John isn't listening up there in comics heaven 'cause you know how much he hated inkers obliterating his pencils!

- Mike 'doodlehead' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Karen said...

And with our contribution from Mike from T and T, we now conclude our broadcast day.

Robert L. said...

I do remember the covers but not the issues. I have a few vague memories of the battle with Fire Lord...however I'd have to buy the Marvel Essentials volume to check them out.

On the subject of the DVD-Rom Marvels:

I purchased the 10 disc CD rom of Spidey for $50 and further down the line the Fantastic Four DVD. All of them had the first 500 issues!

I agree that they should have made more. However Marvel wants fans to pay fifty dollars a year now to access all their comics I really disagree with their reasoning.

The comic shop I purchased the DVD's from had the audacity to open the discs and copy them on to their computer before I bought them. Needless to say the owner of that store went out of business years later for copying DVD's. He paid a very hefty fine for piracy.

But I digress, the DVD's saved me a lot of money because now that's how I read all my classic comics. I also have a Star Trek DVD of the first 500 issues of all the Trek comics from various publishers up to 2002.. It's still available on line at at a reasonable price. They aren't asking $500 for them like the Marvel DVD comics.

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