Tuesday, April 06, 2010

And you will know, his name is Thor...wait, is that right?

Even though Thor #380 sticks in mind because it's the all-splash page fight with the Midgard Serpent, and #382 is the double-sized capper to Walt Simonson's run; I always forget and am always surprised that Thor #379 is really good. "They Were Giants in Those Days (or, a discourse between heroes and villains)" Written by Walt Simonson, art by Sal Buscema.

As the story opens, Loki is having a bad day: his house has been destroyed, he's been double-crossed by Frost Giants, and owes his life to his hated step-brother Thor. Thor's also rescued X-Factor's Iceman, who Loki planned on using to power up the Frost Giants before they got all grabby.

Meanwhile, Thor isn't doing much better: he's under Hela's curse, which has turned his bones as brittle as graham crackers. His new armor is giving him a little protection, but Thor is also cursed to be unkillable; which means best case there's no sport or challenge left in his life, and worst case that he'll be reduced to an immortal sack of skin and goo...and pain, I guess.

But, as Thor dwells on his next course of action, the Frost Giants try to lure the Midgard Serpent, Jormungand; since they figure this is the Serpent's one chance to break the prophecy of Ragnarok and kill Thor first. Instead of Jormungand, the Giants get the surprisingly chatty Fin Fang Foom, who I don't think had appeared in Marvel Comics for like 25 years or more at that point. Still, the Giants tell Foom that Thor could turn him into "fishbait," and Foom obligingly goes to take a gander at him.

Hey, big red cape, could've been anyone, right? The Giants didn't tell Foom what Thor looked like now--armor, beard, a little grumpy-looking--so Foom attacks, then apologizes for his mistake. Thor plays along. Foom explains this is his opportunity to take out "an ancient enemy," and that he and Thor are supposedly fated to kill each other. Like the Frost Giants before, Thor doesn't think the dragon looks big enough to take him; but Foom slyly suggests appearances can be deceiving, and his name is, "merely a nom de guerre."

Fin Fang Foom then considers taking out the humans gawking at him and Thor, since he considers them mildly dangerous insects. He offers Thor a challenge: if he can lift the dragon's paw, they will adjourn to a less-crowded venue. Or, Foom can merely kill them all now. Thor manages to lift Foom's foot, but only with a mighty effort. He climbs aboard Foom's back, and they take to the hills.

Once there, 'Foom' offers Thor a boon: he will reveal his true name, before he kills him. The skin of 'Foom' falls away, revealing...

On the brighter side, Thor doesn't have to worry about Foom's shorts now... Jormungand, the World Serpent! Around the Serpent and Thor, the entire world stops in its tracks, frozen in that moment in time. (All except the Frost Giants, who suddenly realize Foom's identity, and start running like crazy in the hopes of seeing Thor go down.) The Serpent then realizes he didn't ask the little hero's name, but plans to attend his funeral, where "the women will their lamentations and cry thy name aloud. And I shall know my foe."

Jormungand won't have to wait that long. Thor will just tell him:

Oooh...crap. Maybe the Serpent should've noticed the hammer, but in his defense, he's huge compared to that thing, and I don't know if snakes have great vision anyway.

A high point from a run of high points. And even though I wasn't the biggest fan of Thor's beard, I'd be glad to get a figure in that armor. Hint, hint.


Olav The Hairy said...

I wrote out the dialog from the last 2 pages of this comic and got Walt to sign it, and now have it framed along with a photo on my wall. "The hammer sings the death of Jormungand!"

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