Thursday, April 12, 2018

You're an Avenger, Cap. It's right there in the name.

Although, he probably had to lug Iron Man's carcass a ways, and it's doubtless heavy as hell. From 1981, What If? #25, "What If Thor fought Odin over Jane Foster?" Written by Peter Gillis, pencils by Rich Buckler, inks by Dave Simons.

The title makes it sound like Odin's after Jane, but that's not it: back in Thor #136, to marry Thor, Jane Foster was given powers and the chance to prove herself worthy of immortality, and she failed hard. In the regular continuity, Jane was given a new life, away from Dr. Donald Blake; and Sif was conveniently introduced here as a new love interest for Thor. In this issue, Thor protests that maybe throwing Jane at "the extra-dimensional monster called only the Unknown" wasn't exactly a fair test; and Odin exiles both Thor and Jane. Furious, Thor then goes to the Avengers for vengeance against Odin, who he claims is possessed or corrupted. (This feels like a lie, to get his team on his side.) With the exception of Quicksilver, who perhaps correctly feels like this wasn't their problem, the Avengers join Thor's fight. (A somewhat common problem for Quicksilver, I think: even when he's right, he can be such a dick you don't want to take his side...)

Battle lines are drawn quickly in Asgard: Odin's Vizier tries to talk him out of this, but then has to side with Thor. Odin, needing "a weapon against his son," summons Loki out of exile. Loki in turn calls in the Enchantress and Executioner; and still has Balder, who is too loyal to contest this. Meanwhile, since the Avengers would be at the forefront of Thor's forces, the Vizier cranks up their powers. Hawkeye in particular is grateful...

OK, maybe not. The Executioner delivers Odin's proclamation, and a bit of smack talk, to Hogun the Grim; which seems to be setting up a fight for later, but doesn't happen! Later we see Goliath beat the Executioner, and I'm not sure we see the Enchantress again the whole issue. Jane is flattered, but that's before the battle ensues; that turns to dismay over the carnage. Heimdall tells her this is what happens when dreams and plans conflict, as Thor's and Odin's have. Iron Man, seeing echoes of Vietnam in this fight, goes to Odin to call for a truce: Odin agrees, but Loki murders him before he can get back to Thor. Loki then has his henchman Igron use the "Glove of the Lamia" to surreptitiously steal the Odin-Power, but while he's able to beat Thor, he's then accidentally killed by the Wasp when she hits him with her amped-up sting at full power.

With his Odin-Power lost after Loki's death, Odin is down to one card: trying the Oversword and ending Asgard, which seems a bit much. The Vizier and Jane get Odin and Thor to talk it out, and while they understand each other in the end, they can't be around each other any more. Thor and the Avengers leave Asgard, never to return: Thor builds a new city for his followers, and pride would keep him and his father from ever reconciling. It's not shown here, but I always had the feeling Jane wouldn't stay with Thor either after this: the way she was written here, being a goddess might've been a bit much for her. It would take a while for her to toughen up!

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

I have this one too, and while it's a pretty solid story, man does it really rely on Thor and Odin being stubborn AF too heavily. I mean I guess that was the whole point, and but as you pointed out, Quicksilver was pretty much the only voice of reason here. I mean you'd think the smart ones like Cap, Tony or Hank would've at least asked for some kind of proof or something. Maybe, not but still...

I will say it definitely does showcase why Odin's punishment for the sole purpose of teaching Thor some humility was needed, even if he went about it in the wrong way.