Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Woden!

Marvel Comics decided to call him Odin - the father of the gods.

Back in the day - maybe it's true now, but I don't really know anymore - Thor was about as rough and tough as super hero could be. He was Marvel's version of Superman. If the story Stan Lee told was true, he struggled with the idea of how to create a hero as powerful, or even more powerful, than the Hulk. So he decided that only a god would fill that role, and The Mighty Thor was born.
Also, they may have gotten married.

As the mythos expanded, his father, Odin, was on order of magnitude mightier than Thor himself, a cosmic entity that was far above the triumphs and failures of mortal men. For a time, probably for much the same reasons that DC has struggled so much with Superman, it was tough to find bad guys that Thor couldn't just pound to a pulp and be done with it. So he spent much of his time battling other gods, demons, cosmic entities and the like. Leaving earthly concerns to Spider-Man and Captain America. It seems like much of the 70's and early 80's Thor was just pissing off his dad. Dating Jane Foster, Dating Sif, being a doctor, a warrior, a cripple, a god. Blah blah blah.

So the storylines weren't always the most accessible. What was a young and impressionable youth to do?

Get lucky. In my opinion now, looking back, most of Thor was crap. Wasn't my thing then, and isn't my thing now. So why did I love him so?

Because the first issue I ever picked up (#337) started what I think was the greatest story ever told in comic book form. For the next year and a half, I got sucked into the soap opera (before those year long story arcs were cool) and he became my favorite hero. During that year and a half I spent all my time thinking of how lame all other comics were. In fact, once the storyline was complete I  hung on for a few more months, but really, my heart wasn't in it any more. I quit comics for 20 years.

But that story arc brought Odin to the forefront, and I became a huge fan of his too. Just thinking about it makes me want to rush out and purchase all the graphic novels in hopes of reliving the glory. But I'm afraid to read the story again, as is often the case, it might suffer if I read it as an adult.

So, in an ode to the greatest story I ever read, well, at least to an 11 year old boy in 1983. Here's to you Thor, and to your Father, Odin. They should name a day of the week after you, both of you.

9 comments:

Rogue Mutt said...

What was that story? Maybe I should look it up on Wikipedia or something.

Rusty Webb said...

It was the Surtur saga I believe. If it were me reading it for the first time though, I'd start with ish 337 and run through 353 or so. I think they've broken it up some and the Surtur Saga proper is only a few issues, but the real story is being set up way back in 337. Ah, the memories.

Andrew Leon said...

My favorite Thor story arc was one by Walt Simonson where Thor got turned into a frog. It was awesome!
Thor was never my favorite, because, well, Spider-Man was, but I did always like Thor.

mooderino said...

I used to like Thor, but you're right, the really super super heroes were the hardest to make interesting, just too powerful.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I missed the one with Thor as a frog... Obviously, he got better!

Rusty Webb said...

Andrew - I read that one just a couple of years ago, and yes, it was great. I think Walt Simonson (who also did the Surtur saga) is widely considered to have done the best work on Thor, finding a way to mix the mythic with the modern very well.

Mooderino - Agreed, I'd say just make the bad guys even more powerful still, but it has to end somewhere.

Alex - he did eventually find his way back to human form, but he was a godly frog.

Andrew Leon said...

Well, you know, Simonson just does generally great work. He did a great run in Fantastic Four, too, with this great chase scene with Reed and Doom. If I remember correctly, they were time travelling all during it.

Rusty Webb said...

Andrew - Sounds great - I've got all the FF's on disk. I'm going to put them into a reader and go through them all some day.... I've been saying that for a while now. Maybe I never will. No, I will, dammit.

Anyway, I did like the Byrne run on FF, but after he left I stopped reading them. I didn't know Simonson even worked on the series.

Andrew Leon said...

I like Byrne, but I don't think he's as good as Simonson. I mean, I've never read anything by Simonson that I didn't like (where he was the writer and not just the artist). Byrne is awesome when he's "on," but when he's "off"... well... yeah.

Simonson was FF writer from 334-354.