This cover doesn’t know it,but a new era in Thor comics does begin here. Jack Kirby returns with this issue and,together with Stan Lee,the two will steer Thor’s future for the next six years (or 4 months in “Daily Thor”time) and move him into his second decade as a Marvel Comics’ character.
And if Kirby returning wasn’t enough,this issue also features the return of one of Thor’s first villains,cameos by some of Thor’s Avengers teammates,and also does a great job of feeling truly episodic instead of just being a random Thor story. It’s again the first part of a two-parter,but it also relies heavily on the issues that came before.
I want to take a moment to say that I love the cover of this issue. Zarrko appears standing on the hand of a giant robot that is just off-panel (off-cover?),but the positioning and the clouds make it seem more like the hand is coming down from the sky. I can’t say exactly what it is that makes it great,but it possesses a very dynamic appeal.
The issue itself inadvertently starts off cute. I probably shouldn’t say that about Thor,but it’s true. See,he’s fighting mad after having his petition to marry Jane denied a second time. Remember when he lost Jane and tore up his office? Well,magnify that because now he’s tearing up the city! I long for this to tie into Thor being considered a criminal last issue,but that wasn’t meant to be. His rampage through the city does at least attract the attention of the Avengers. Frankly,that’s awesome. The Marvel Universe is starting to gel…
The story quickly switches its focus to Loki &Odin who are watching the tirade. I’m not sure why Odin is just letting Loki hang around and provide counsel,but we’ll go with it. Loki persuades Odin to punish Thor for pining about Jane – Thor’s power (including the hammer) is halved,his control over storms suspended,and he’s forbidden entry into Asgard until he gives up his quest to marry Jane. Ouch,Dad.
With Thor at a disadvantage,Loki seeks out an opponent to destroy Thor and chooses Zarrko,the Tomorrow Man from JIM #86. Loki simply restores Zarrko’s memory and lets the chip fall where they may. As you’d no doubt expect,Zarrko builds a giant robot and travels back in time to seek revenge.
Thor battles the robot for nearly two-and-a-half pages and it’s a hard fight to watch. With so much of his power stripped away,Thor gets the crap beaten out of him. After a few failed attempts to stop the robot and to protect the people around him,Thor surrenders and agrees to travel to the 23rd Century as Zarrko’s prisoner. It’s another terrific Stan Lee cliffhanger,but,after last issue,I’m weary if the second half can live up to its billing.
This issue is getting the favorite tag for a variety of reasons. One,I really appreciate the nature of the story and its willingness to take the time to explore the facets of the plot. The Avengers would notice Thor’s rampage. The Asgardians are seemingly always watching. Pretty much everything I would expect to occur given these events happens. I would’ve liked to see a few people reference Thor’s recent “crime spree” as it would fit in rather naturally. And this issue would’ve also been a nice place to recap some of Thor’s villains before Loki simply chooses Zarrko,but those are minor quibbles. In essence,Jack &Stan have reunited on this issue of Thor and suddenly the books feels a lot more evolved.
In the Tales of Asgard backup,we’re treated to another episode of young Thor. In this issue,Loki has created a means for the enemies of Asgard to gain entry and leaves Thor to guard the passage in hopes he’ll be defeated by the over half-dozen enemies that attack en masse. Thor does nearly suffer defeat before Odin arrives with the Asgardian Army,but Odin reassures Thor that his victory was in buying the time Odin needed to marshal his forces. The Asgardians turn back the invaders and Thor can lift the hammer ever higher.
As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #101 along with Thor confronting the enemies of Asgard…