Tuesday, March 01, 2011

There's a Bendis line somewhere in Siege, where to psych themselves up for the invasion of Asgard, a villain declares that Asgardians aren't that tough. Except for Thor, "who's like their Spider-Man." That's the extent that I'm going to research that, since I didn't read Siege, and why should I research that when Bendis didn't research Asgardians?

Let's look at the old Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition. The Warriors Three can each press in the thirty to forty ton range (per issue #14) but they would be considered tough even among other Asgardians, right? Well, even Loki, who wouldn't be thought of as a big fighter, can press about thirty tons. (Per #7.) For comparison, going by the old numbers, Thor can press about 100 tons, Spidey about 10. While physical strength doesn't win fights alone, someone who can turn a human into a gritty paste with an open-handed slap is going to have a solid win-loss record fighting on earth. Any earth; which brings us to today's issue: The Night Man #22, "Encounters in a Crowded Alley!" Written by Steve Englehart, pencils by Dean Zachary, inks by Bruce McCorkindale; and guest-starring Loki!

This wasn't the Marvel Universe's first incursion crossover with Malibu; but the stakes were being raised: Loki wipes out last month's villain Chalk (no loss there...) as he arrives to claim the Reality Gem from the Infinity Gauntlet. Always the trickster, Loki tells the Night Man about how he rules Asgard ("save for a few minor distractions!" meaning Odin and Thor) and has come for the gem.

Thinking him a loon, the Night Man tries to overpower Loki, who is far stronger than he looks. Loki throws him, but NM lands by the gem and grabs it. Maybe.

Now this gets tricky: is the Reality Gem warping the Night Man's perception and judgement? Or is it a trick from Loki? Every possible choice the Night Man could make, every possible outcome, creates another divergent Night Man, several of whom are straight up freaking out. One tries to "be all!" and pull it all back together; instead, the universe is too much, and he disintegrates. Eventually, he manages to pull himself together, which leaves him two choices: fight Loki to the death, or not mess with the Reality Gem, which splits him in two again. The Night Man that chooses fight is killed instantly by Loki; who takes the Gem and taunts him.

The remaining Night Man confesses that he's learned his limitations, and asks Loki if he's done the same. Loki leaves with the Gem, but a spare Night Man is seen in the background in the end...It's implied but not completely clear, that Loki let the Night Man grab the Gem first, so it would do what it did to him. That interpretation is given a little weight since Loki easily could've pushed him down and just taken it.

This would be the second-to-last issue of this run of Night Man, although he would get a couple of limited series later. While his powers (the ability to 'hear' other people's evil thoughts) were interesting, I rather liked the trial-and-error approach he took to superheroing. Sadly, it looks like he had more episodes of his syndicated TV show than comic issues.

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