Posted - December 11, 2010 | Updated : August 27, 2015
The Mighty Thor 281 and 282
Issue no. 281 begins with a full page shot of Thor flying, or rather, being tugged along by Mjolnir, his enchanted hammer.
The first thing that struck me was the excellent quality of the art, so I quickly scanned who was responsible.
Keith Pollard. It's one of those times when a name unlocks all sorts of memories. I had read these late 70s Thor issues a long time ago, but from that time to now some details went hazy - like the name of Keith Pollard. But now it comes flooding back in. He was one of my favorites. I even bought an Eternals limited series on the strength of his cover art. Through the years, I even confused him with Keith Giffen, all the time thinking Giffen did Thor. Giffen did Legion of Super-Heroes. Pollard did Thor - and very well, in fact. I quickly looked him up in Wikipedia and it turns out that he left comics back in 1994; sad but true. Anyway we have The Mighty Thor issue no. 281 and the subsequent issue 282 to remind us of the great Keith Pollard.
Oh yeah, Pablo Marcos, who is a countryman of mine (Filipino) does the inks. If I remember correctly I read from Mark Evanier that Filipino artists from the 70s where regarded as not effective as pencillers but adequate as inkers for some reason. I'm sure glad that that's over, right, Whilce Portacio?
The next page, we have a shot of my favorite Celestial: Arishem the Judge. Check him out. If that thumb goes down the Celestials destroy the Earth. Arishem is shown here as background detail, he's not part of the main story; that's for future issues.
Here's something. Thor uses Mjolnir as a time-travelling device - a capability that Mjolnir will lose by the end of this story arc. So Mjolnir transports Thor to Limbo a gathering place of timelines. And here he meets The Space Phantom, last seen in Avengers no. 2. and - kudos to Mr. Pollard - excellently portrayed. I, for one, really love it when writers delve into Marvel's rich history.
At this point, the Space Phantom begins narrating what happened to him since his banishment to Limbo in Avengers no. 2. Now, based on reading a lot of comics, this background opportunity is exactly the place where a lazy writer can let the reader down (witness Hyperion's lame stories in the previous issue 280 courtesy of the normally brilliant Roy Thomas). This time around, Mark Gruenwald, delivers an excellent tale involving the Space Phantoms eternally warring planet, Phantus, and, Immortus, no less. I remember when Mark Gruenwald took over the writing chores in the Defenders there was also a marked improvement in quality. He's building a good reputation.
Pay attention to the backgrounds of the following panels. In Limbo, the timestreams cross so Thor sees all sorts of visions in the mists.
Like his fellow Avengers.
Here's a great panel. Thor and the Space Phantom looking at the Space Phantom's world, Phantus.
We are taken to Phantus, a place of advanced technology. Once again an opportunity for a lazy writer to fall on stereotypes. And once again, Mark Gruenwald respects us enough to avoid the pitfall. Instead of showing advanced technology as the usual standard laser and force fields, Mark shows us a delightfully creative set of Phantusian weapons.
Vibromines that can shake apart any object they can touch.
Plasma bombs designed to dehydrate on contact.
Graviton bombs that increase the gravity around their target causing the target to be buried alive.
He is unaffected by the dehydrating effect of the plasma bomb.
He rips the metal from an enemy ship, compacts what seems to be tons of metal with his bear hands and shapes it into a hammer to take the place of the missing Mjolnir.
A graviton bomb falls on him and he is buried under a mass of metal but manages to shake it off Hulk-style.
This story is already immensely satisfying but its not over. Well actually, it is. Gruenwald delivers the perfect ending as Thor is trapped by the Space Phantom in a place between the universe and Limbo to prevent Phantus from sliding into Limbo. There seems to be no hope of escape for Thor. Remember, this issues were published a month apart. So you get this great cliffhanger and you spent the rest of the month delightfully anticipating what happens next.
The first issue of The Mighty Thor volume1 was retitled from the former Journeys Into Mystery (which I think is a really nice title). So this issue, no. 282 marks the 200th issue of the Mighty Thor comic.
It begins were we left off from last issue, with Thor lured into a trap between our dimension and Limbo by the conniving Space Phantom. Since he doesn't have Mjolnir, the part of Thor in our dimension begins turning to Don Blake. It's a great picture. Look at Thor's thighs. What a great comparison of the super-powerful Asgardian Thor and the normal human Don Blake.
The following just made be burst out with laughter. After maltreating Thor by trapping him, the Space Phantom still has the gall to call one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe an imbecile.
This is a one page shot of Immortus' castle in Limbo. Magnificent.
Ok. Thor approaches Immortus' castle and it's being guarded by this huge ice-like giant, Tempus.
Mark Gruenwald could have done the stereotypical dumb giant. But he doesn't, one of the many lazy temptations Mr. Gruenwald evidently resisted to make this issue and the one before it so special. Not only is Tempus intelligent he also hates his job! That's right, he hates his job and wishes he were dead - unfortunately he's too powerful to die. What a neat twist. He actually gets blasted into bits and pieces by Thor in this issue but Space Phantom reassures the Thunder God that Tempus will resurrect.
Another nice touch is that Tempus is not a new creation. He makes reference to fighting the Fantastic Four before this. I always love it when the Marvel Universe ties into each other particularly here in the Bronze Age when crossover events were a thing of the future. Tempus will appear again in the pages of Avengers Forever.
During my commentary on last issue I mentioned how Thor compares to Hulk in the power department. The previous issue was a showcase of how tough Thor is - going through a gauntlet of the incredible weapons of Phantus. This issue is a showcase of his strength. Witness him lifting, and then throwing, this tower.
Tempus has this huge club that Thor manages to lift and use against its owner.
That was a very satisfying battle with Tempus. Now we are in front of Immortus, who proceeds to relate his Egyptian origins and his dual identity as Kang the Conqueror. Huge chunk of Marvel history here. What a treat.
Like most of Marvel's main villains, Immortus is a complex character. Not really a bad guy but someone with an agenda the implementation of which may sometimes be judged by onlookers as 'evil'. Here Immortus simply 'borrowed' Mjolnir for study. But I noticed that he also manipulates things so that Mjolnir is shorn of any time travel capabilities - an ability that Immortus, as the self-styled Master of Time, would rather the Uru hammer not have.
And with that, this wonderful story arc ends. I took a peak at the next issue which was written by Roy Thomas and drawn by industry legend John Buscema. A strong team, but Gruenwald and Pollard really gave us a ride with this story arc. What a gem.