Raise your hand if you’ve waited since 1962 for the return of the Stone Men of Saturn! Anyone? No? Me neither. But you’re getting them, whether you want them or not, as Thor and his pals make an unscheduled landing on a lonely asteroid, only to be ambushed by those self-same anonymous bad guys who hadn’t been seen since Thor’s original journey into mystery.
A bit of hammer work and the hapless Stone Men are marooned once more, while Thor sails off in his outer space Viking boat in quest of the missing Odin. Throughout this story, Thor and his fellow Asgardians seems to function just fine in the same kind of inky blackness of space where Thor froze solid in his own Annual. No matter, just go with it … or as they like to say in Asgard, So Be It!
- Script: Len Wein
- Art: Tony DeZuniga
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Thor Annual #6
Thor is plucked out of 1977 and flung forward to the 31st century, where he pops in on Korvac, who rants and raves. (If you were a shopping cart from the waist down, you’d rant too). Korvac sends Thor out into space, where he freezes over. While this enables a nice call-back to the Avengers finding a frozen Captain America in the drink, it doesn’t make a lot of sense — I recall Thor flying through deep space in his cape and boots all the time. (Then again, I just saw something very like this scene in Avengers Infinity War, so I guess that’s ANOTHER thing we owe to the deeply-missed Len Wein).
Korvac plans to blow up the sun, but how his incompetent band of underling losers are to help in this is not clear. (To be fair, the slime guy was pretty cool). Punching and hammer throwing ensues. It is all very passable, and instantly forgetable. Sal Buscema was rarely better than his inker, and he has Klaus Jansen here, so he’s pretty good.
- Script: Len Wein & Roger Stern
- Pencils: Sal Buscema
- Inks: Klaus Jansen
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Way back in 2011 I saw Thor.
I reacted with Geek Glee, Geek Rage, and Geek Envy.
Chris Hemsworth defied my expectations and was terrific in the lead role — handsome, charismatic, and heroic. Asgard and the Asgardians came off OK, the Destroyer got to blow things up, Loki was sympathetically malevolent, and Anthony Hopkins‘ Odin chewed the scenery. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but I really could not have hoped for a better Thor origin movie.
(Geek Glee! They got it right!)
I read my first Thor comic book a decade before Chris Hemsworth was born. I stuck with the series through some lean creative years, and developed that irrational sense of ownership geeks get over their closely-held secret obsessions.
(Geek Rage! How dare someone else cash in on my discovery!)
When I was twelve, I found my dad’s sculpting hammer and leaped around the overgrown hillside below my house, throwing it at trash heaps and rusty water heaters. I was still enough of a child that I fantasized discovery of an ancient hammer might transform me into a superhero, instead of the aimless and underemployed teen and twenty-something I would later become.
(Geek Envy! I was supposed to be Thor, not this talented Aussie with superior bone structure!)
That’s how old I was in 1974, the year I discovered comics, and fell in love with Thor.
(I kind of liked Green Lantern, too, though after seeing that movie, I think I’ll edit out that part of my past.)
All these characters and more besides came to the screen in the summer of 2011. This was either the apotheosis of my pop culture youth, or a rare moment of perspective on my Möbius-strip path through life.
Thor #227 — my first!
My little lad Jack was eleven. Miles was fourteen. They bracketed my age from the summer of ’74.
In 1974 I lived in Hollywood, California, which was no more glamorous then then it is now. My home in a 1920s-era bungalow on Cahuenga Blvd was up a daunting hill from a newsstand just south of Hollywood Boulevard. World News & Books is still there, and doesn’t look much different than I remember. Maybe they still sell comics, but those comics will be as different from the .25 cent books I bought as a kid as am I from the twelve-year old boy that braved that hill to buy them.
My boys have come and gone from the age I was when I discovered comic books, and they would never have dreamed of hiking a hill to buy comics with their allowance. They still watch comic book movies, but they far prefer video games or binge-streaming Netflix to reading comics or anything else. It troubled me that they refused to embrace my old comic book heroes, denying me the excuse to re-live my youth through them. But despite the boys (thankfully) growing into their own persons, superhero movies are a place where our interests intersect.
We liked Thor — liked it a lot — which was something, because after the first movie trailers, with all the screaming beards and hospital interns being thrown around, I expected the worst. We geeks always expect the worst when our heroes are reimagined for an audience that couldn’t be bothered with them in the first place. We threaten our dignity by letting our geek flag fly for Thor or the X-Men, and we imperil the rosy memories of our past by revisiting the deep affections of youth and remembering who we were, and who we might have been.
in the 1970s, Thor was often at his best in books other than his own
Watching these movies should be a victory lap, but instead it’s an ass-puckering second chance to feel ridiculous for loving comic books. Only now I’m not alone in a dim garage filled with comics longboxes — I’m defenseless in a theater, with my friends, my wife, and my kids. Even as Marvel’s movie franchise has grown to dozens of pictures with unprecedented and worldwide appeal, I still feel a little ridiculous embracing my comics fandom.
My favorite characters from my pivotal summer of ’74 got big movies all at once, validating in that only-money-makes-it-matter fashion that I had good taste as a kid. I stuck with comics, off-and-on, into my late twenties, but largely abandoned them as a fan during my brief career as a comic book writer.
And after coming home from Thor in 2011?
I was either ready to get out of comics once and for all or reawakening to a call long past its final echo.
I didn’t see it coming when I took the boys to Thor, but no sooner had that Sturm and Drang faded from the screen than Jack turned to me and said, “Hey dad, do you have any Thor comics out in the garage?”
Boy, did I.
behold, the Longbox Graveyard!
Longbox Graveyard is about coming to terms with comic books, and trying to enjoy them again. It is my method for examining why I ignored and denied my interest in comics for decades, to the point where I become burdened and a little embarrassed by my Accumulation of books.
My focus is on Marvel and DC books from the Bronze Age (1970-1985), because that “Bronze Age” was the “Golden Age” to me. Longbox Graveyard follows the transformation of my comics Accumulation into a Collection. I purge the books I no longer like, and tell you which books escape the Longbox Graveyard (and why). I write about getting (re)started in comics collecting — building databases, buying and selling back issues, and grading books. And I eventually try to come to terms with my own unsuccessful career as a comics creator.
I welcome your comments. Positive or negative, your participation encourages me to continue this blog.
(And if my nostalgia has you itching to read some comics, please shop through my affiliate link to MyComicShip.com, where your purchases award Longbox Graveyard with trade credit to buy … even more comics! Huzzah!)
NEXT WEEK: #2 The Micronauts!
(Special thanks to Farzad Varahramyan — a legitimate genius and a better friend than I deserve — for creating this blog’s original header art)
Originally published June 22, 2011