Wednesday, September 15, 2010

History of the Marvel Universe: August 1965, part 2


Thor continues his desperate fight against the indestructible Destroyer. Loki, still locked in a cell on Asgard, tries to help him with some long distance magic and does manage to save the Thunder God at one point. Then he contacts the Norn Queen and gets her to use HER magic to wake up Odin.

But that all proves unnecessary, as Thor manages to use his wits to defeat his more powerful opponent.

Loki is punished again by Odin for his wrongdoings, but the All-Father shows some mercy for his adopted son, sentencing him to basically become a roadie for Asgard’s chief warlock.

The “Tales of Asgard” feature is an important one. Thor and Balder are signing up crew for their flying galley. Among the crew are three of the most entertaining supporting characters in the Marvel Universe: The Warriors Three. Hogun the Grim, Fandral the Dashing and Volstagg the Voluminous. These guys would become a regular part of Marvel’s Asgardian cast. Roughly analogous to the Three Musketeers, they (like Porthos, Athos and Aramis) form a perfect synergy of different personality types, with character designs that give each of them an appropriate and distinctive appearance. Pretty much any time they pop up in a story in the future, they amp up the Bogart/Karloff Coolness Rating by at least a point-and-a-half.


Count Nefaria failed to get Stark last issue with his dream-making machine. Now he uses Tony’s black-sheep cousin (who owes Nafaria a large gambling debt) to help. The cousin, named Morgan, pays a visit to Tony and then secretly uses an image projector to convince everyone Tony is seeing things and going whacko. It works at first—Tony gets bad press and Senator Byrd tries to get Congress to cancel all his defense contracts.

But a fortuitous alien invasion, fought off by Iron Man, provides “proof” that Tony wasn’t seeing things. That particular plot twist was just a teeny-bit contrived, but Shellhead’s fight against the aliens is fun. The best part of the issue is when we hear Tony’s opinion of Senator Byrd. The senator is arrogant as all get-out and his visual design reminds you of a stereotypical career politician. But Tony recognizes him as a dedicated man who really believes Stark is an irresponsible playboy and a poor risk to be handling defense contracts. It makes the senator a interesting character.

Captain America is still back in World War II, breaking free of the Red Skull’s brainwashing just before he otherwise would have shot Eisenhower. He and Bucky then quickly mop up the Nazi commandos.

But there’s no rest for the heroic. Soon, a Nazi agent has stolen an experimental disintegrator ray. Cap has a running fight with him through a forest, frantically dodging the ray, until he tricks the Nazi into blowing up the secret weapon with a Brer Rabbit trick. Another strong, action-oriented entry into Cap's WWII past.

That’s it for now. Next week, we’ll hang with Namor on his first adventure, then look in on the Hulk, the Avengers and Daredevil.

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