Last issue left Thor at the mercy of the Destroyer –seconds away from being… uh,destroyed. Loki,in an attempt to stop the very plan he’d set in motion found himself quickly imprisoned and shackled in an Asgardian dungeon. This issue picks up where that one left off… sorta.
Apparently,Stan &Jack left themselves too little wiggle room at the end of the last story. This issue finds Thor exactly where he’s supposed to be,but Loki is no longer in his “cliffhanger”shackles. It’s not a big deal,but the shackles seemed like they would be a large component of the dilemma for this issue,so it’s odd that they just evaporated. Luckily though,that doesn’t detract from an otherwise great issue.
Like #118 before it,the issue continually switches between Thor’s confrontation with the Destroyer and Loki’s attempts to escape his cell and get Odin to turn the Destroyer armor off. While Loki was no longer shackled,Thor was right where we left him last issue – trapped in the floor,seconds away from certain death.
Luckily for Thor,he inexplicably becomes intangible and escapes from the Destroyer for a few minutes to catch his breath. No,this isn’t some strange deus ex machina. It’s Loki! He’s straining to manipulate events from afar,locked in his cell. I really appreciated this turn of events –not just seeing Loki have to help Thor,but the extent to which he has to do it. Loki’s jailers find him passed out on the floor from the strain. Thor,meanwhile,doesn’t look a gifthorse in the mouth,he takes his intangibility in stride and uses it to save himself. I enjoyed that. Anyway,while it took nearly all Loki had to give Thor that last minute save,he still manages to comes up with another solution. He calls upon the Norn Queen to wake Odin from his slumber. Lucky for him,she’s not too pissed about her missing stones to answer his call.
Back on Earth,Thor has switched to an ‘evade &survive’ approach in his battle with the Destroyer and,ultimately,comes across the hunter’s unconscious body (remember the Destroyer is being powered by the Hunter). Thor decides on a desperate gambit and uses the hunter’s body against him. With Thor holding it,the Destroyer will destroy his original body if he attacks Thor. It’s at this point that the Norn Queen successfully wakes Odin. Odin wakes up rather grumpy and is ready to get to work,but the beauty of this story is that Loki &Odin are ultimately not needed. It’s Thor’s comic,remember? While the hunter talks big,he can’t bring himself to destroy his original body. The hunter relents and returns to his own body,where Thor lays the smack down. He destroys the temple and buries the armor under tons of rock.
Our first epilogue shows Odin punishing Loki for his schemes (finally),this time by ordering him to be apprenticed to a royal sorcerer (he did try to save Thor,so Odin shows some mercy). Loki takes a walk of shame to his new job,but promises himself that he’ll get everything sorted out sooner or later.
The second epilogue shows Thor letting the hunter go free and then attempting to return home himself. But,remember,the Destroyer damaged the hammer in the last issue. Thor comes crashing back to Earth in what was surely a wound to his pride. All is not lost,for he still possesses the Norn stones,including the one of levitation. With it in hand,he begins his long journey home.
I really enjoyed the issue. Thor spends most of his time running from the Destroyer,but without his hammer,I’m not sure he could do much of anything else. I really enjoyed watching Loki trying to aid Thor as he must have known all he could do was succeed in lessening his punishment too. The one thing that really surprises me about this issue is that the Hunter has apparently never returned. I mean,yeah he was a nameless plot device,but it seems like the first guy to animate the Armor in eons would think of little else then getting back inside the armor. How has it affected his life? What was he doing &thinking when he would hear about the Destroyer armor reappearing in later tales? I think there’s some good stories left dangling by this issue. Someone call Fraction &Gillen…
This issue also contained a very important Tales of Asgard. The ongoing plot of determining who is messing with the Odinsword doesn’t really advance much,but we do meet three very important characters as Balder crafts the roster for the ship’s crew. We’re actually shown five new characters,but two of them – Kroda the Duelist and Magrat the Schemer are new to me. It’s the other three that are familiar,yes,three.
You might’ve heard of ‘em. Hogun,the Grim,a silent and sinister warrior,Fandral,the Dashing,dressed exquisitely and tweaking his mustache,and finally,Volstagg,the Enormous. It’s Volstagg that gets the most attention in this story. The other two are relegated to a mere panel each,while Volstagg gets the last three pages by brawling &boasting his way onto the sailing vessel. Volstagg is instantly rather lovable,hopefully the other two of the warriors will be similarly spotlighted soon…