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Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 2
by Robert Greenberger
The marvel universe was about five years old when I discovered it and was immediately entranced thanks to the animated series featuring five of their heroes. As a result, it wasn’t until high school that I had a chance to sift through the wondrous back issues and discover those early tales. My best friend Jeff somehow managed to compile an practically complete set of the early Marvels so I’d go there and read a title just about from the beginning. The one I remember the most was Thor, as it went from a wildly uneven series about the Norse god of thunder on earth to an epic fantasy.
The stability Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought to journey into mystery implied they could begin spinning long continuities which began around issue #115. The two hit a creative period unrivaled by any writer/artist team in comics’ history. between this title and fantastic Four, the concepts and stories introduced over the course of 1965-1968 is an extremely fertile, exciting time. In anticipation of the second feature film this fall, marvel is collecting the bulk of that classic run in Mighty Thor Omnibus volume 2, essentially collecting volumes 4-6 of the Masterworks series, including journey into mystery #121-125, Thor #126-152, Thor annual #2 and Not brand Echh #3.
The theme of the series was Thor’s fascination and affection for Midgard (Earth) and its inhabitants, notably the beautiful Jane Foster. This often brought him into conflict with his dad Odin and offered Loki a new playground where he could torment his step-brother (inadvertently creating the Avengers along the way). This also implied Lee and Kirby could send their hero to earth or Asgard and as we see here, beyond. The book opens up with the menace of the absorbing man and we immediately switch to bringing Crusher Creel to Asgard. soon after, we visit Olympus and the demigod Hercules, ready for a rematch with Thor. In fact, when these titans clash, it is fitting the book’s title is renamed merely Thor. Along the way, we visit the Underworld and for the first time see the machinations of Pluto.
Just as quickly, though, we switch to space adventures as we encounter Ego the Living planet and meet the Rigelians and the android Recorder. then we’re back on earth meeting the High Evolutionary and the Knights of Wundergore (in #134, the very first marvel I ever owned).
Along the way, we never lose the personal stories such as the romance between Thor and Foster. He finally reveals that he is also Donald Blake, the doctor she works for. He beseeches the Allfather to let them wed but Odin insists she pass a test, earning her immortality and his son’s hand. Her visit to Asgard is a little wince worthy given the status of women today, but it brought the romantic relationship to an exciting climax. and just like that, she’s back on earth given a second chance for love and a melancholy Thor meets Sif before the last panel. Odin works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he?
Lee and Kirby successfully relocation the adventures from fantasy to science fiction to superheroic action with new risks in the form of the growing man and the Wrecker. but all the while, Loki, Ulik, and Hela scheme to undermine him and the other gods. In fact, Loki can be credited in this volume for the birth of the absorbing Man, the Wrecker, and the Destroyer.. through issue #146, each story is backed with an installment of Tales of Asgard, the five pagers that focused on Thor’s earlier days and adventures with the entertaining Warriors Three. Apparently, Kirby entirely plotted these stories on his own, thumbing through a worn paperback of Norse tales and when the book was exhausted, so was the backup feature, which was retired in favor of The Inhumans (collected elsewhere).
While Vince Colletta’s work practices has been the subject of much debate, his work here is excellent, softening Kirby’s work without losing its power, feathering the linework to make it feel just right. much as Joe Sinnott’s work made the FF a powerhouse SF title, Colletta can be credited for making Thor a incredible fantasy.
These hold up as a great, breathless reading experience so if you’ve never been exposed to these tales, this volume is a great way to see marvel Magic at its finest.
Mighty Thor Omnibus Vol. 2 HC