Tuesday

OMU: Thor -- Year Four

Stan Lee concludes his run on The Mighty Thor during the next twelve months in the character’s life, passing the torch to 19-year-old Gerry Conway. Immediately, the series starts to feel a bit repetitive, as once again Loki seizes power, Mangog attacks Asgard, and Thor defies Hela and fights off Pluto. Also returning are Tana Nile and the Rigellians, Galactus, and Ego the Living Planet—all scenarios that Jack Kirby had already done. To make matters worse, the stories become increasingly incoherent as the supporting cast grows and grows. Though the scripts are weak, the series benefits from the solid, dependable art of John Buscema, who draws most of the issues from this period, and there is a nice balance between science fiction and mythological style stories. Most interesting is the fact that Thor spends very little time in his mortal identity of Donald Blake, M.D., and seems to have soured on the whole idea. Since Blake is usually portrayed as Thor’s main Achilles’ heel, it should come as no surprise that the thunder god now sees his human life as merely a recurring “bad dream.”

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Hearken ye to… The True History of the Mighty Thor!


January 1965 – Thor spends much of his time at Avengers Mansion or patrolling New York City for crime, trying to avoid his mortal identity as Donald Blake, which he has come to see as an annoyance. He generally transforms himself only when Blake’s surgical skills are needed, though it means carrying his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, around at all times. One day, Thor suddenly finds himself on a dingy subway platform in Manhattan with no memory of how he came to be there. Iron Man, Goliath, Captain America, and the Falcon are with him, but they are equally perplexed. Iron Man, who is acting a bit strangely, flies off while the others return to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, the four heroes rescue Iron Man from a gang of uniformed men wearing jetpacks. Seemingly dazed, Iron Man flies off again without explaining himself. The Avengers agree to let Iron Man handle his own personal business.

A few days later, Thor sees a news report on a group of African American insurgents engaged in a standoff with the San Francisco Police Department. He recognizes the group’s leader as Lionel Dibbs, whom Don Blake diagnosed with terminal cancer last September, even amputating his right hand. Feeling a responsibility to his former patient, Thor decides he must try to reason with Dibbs before somebody gets killed. Before leaving town, Thor tells his Avengers teammates that he must deal with the crisis in San Francisco on his own. When he arrives at the scene of the standoff, Thor finds Dibbs’ group under attack by three costumed superheroes called Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak. Thor drives them back, only to find that Dibbs has apparently recruited a superhero of his own, a silent figure called Black Bolt. To make matters worse, Dibbs has replaced his amputated hand with a weaponized prosthetic acquired from Stark Industries. Thor summons up a fierce thunderstorm to stop the fighting while he pleads with Dibbs to stand down. Refusing to listen, Dibbs orders Black Bolt to destroy the city, forcing Thor to knock Dibbs out. Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak then reveal that the man called Black Bolt is an impostor, but before Thor can do anything, the impostor is struck by lightning and killed. As the storm blows itself out, the police take Dibbs and his insurgents into custody. Saddened by the whole affair, Thor returns to New York, leaving Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak to continue their search for the real Black Bolt.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Thor receives a call from the Avengers summoning the founding members to an emergency meeting. He soon joins Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Captain America at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. Regaining consciousness, the Vision recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Mister Fantastic realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that Black Bolt is the king of the Inhumans, but has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt was exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, realizing that Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak were Inhumans too. Captain America suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, though, saying the rescue of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, but soon after Cap, Goliath, and Rick have left with Triton for California, the Vision changes his mind. Thus, Thor uses his hammer to generate a spacetime vortex that instantly transports Iron Man, Vision, and himself to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge in the Himalayas.

Finding that the hidden city is sealed within a black force-field dome, Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision each try to penetrate it, without success. Moments later, the Quinjet lands nearby and Cap, Goliath, Rick, and Triton disembark, joined by Black Bolt and a San Francisco boy named Joey. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and Thor uses his hammer’s enchantments to enable it to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Thor and Iron Man pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Thor watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. Thor announces that he will return to Asgard to see if his father, Odin, can determine what has befallen their comrade. However, the thunder god soon discovers he is unable to cross the interdimensional boundary and so returns to Avengers Mansion. There, the Vision informs him that most of the others have gone to deal with a group of rabble-rousers called the Warhawks, and when a call to Stark Industries shows Iron Man to be collaborating with the Warhawks, Thor decides to investigate. Flying over to the scene of the Warhawks’ riot, Thor discovers that their leader is none other than Ares, the Greek god of war. The music played by Ares’ pipers causes the Avengers to turn against Thor, and they manage to separate him from his hammer and gang up on him. Luckily, Hawkeye turns up, having abandoned the Goliath identity, and helps Thor regain his hammer before the thunder god reverts to his mortal form. The Vision, who is also immune to the music’s effects, knocks out the pipers, depriving Ares of his mind-controlled followers. His scheme undone, Ares teleports away. Hawkeye then reveals that he has found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear. The pair easily fights off the Avengers and kidnaps Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Thor heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. The others are not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but, sensing his sincerity, Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. As soon as they have passed through the dimensional portal created by Mjolnir, the five Avengers are immediately attacked by centaurs, satyrs, and other mythological creatures. They fight their way through the horde to reach the temple where Hercules is being held prisoner by the Enchantress, who boasts that Ares plans to unsheathe the Odinsword and thereby bring about Ragnarok. After chasing off the Enchantress, Thor battles Ares in hand-to-hand combat and defeats him. Humiliated, Ares surrenders the Ebony Blade to the Black Knight. Thor frees Hercules, then the Avengers regroup and find that the Hulk has singlehandedly defeated an army of demons and captured the Enchantress. Thor instructs Hercules to turn the Enchantress over to Zeus, now that the spell over the Olympian gods has been broken. The heroes return to Earth, materializing amongst their teammates in London, England, though Hercules must remain in Olympus to help Thor close Ares’ interdimensional portal. Having won the day, the Avengers go their separate ways, and Thor returns to New York.

March 1965 – While flying across New York City, Thor sees a group of protestors outside the Latverian embassy. When one of the protestors is injured in a confrontation with a crowd of hecklers, Thor flies her to Don Blake’s medical offices and changes back into his mortal form to treat her wounds. The woman identifies herself as Cosette LaFarge, daughter of a noted weapons-system designer who was kidnapped by Doctor Doom two years ago. She had been held prisoner in Doctor Doom’s castle, she says, while her father was forced to work on the tyrant’s ICBM program, until she was smuggled out of the country by the Latverian Underground. Blake assures her that he knows someone who can help and sends her on her way. He then contacts newspaper reporter Harris Hobbs and feeds him a story about a revolutionary plastic-surgery technique, hoping to draw Doctor Doom’s attention. The next day, Doom kidnaps Blake and transports him to his castle in Latveria, where Blake recoils with exaggerated horror at the sight of Doom’s ravaged face. As expected, Doom throws Blake into the dungeons, enabling him to change back into Thor to search for Pierre LaFarge. Once he has located the engineer, who seems terrified of betraying his captor, Thor breaks through the wall of the castle and confronts Doctor Doom. The dictator threatens to launch a thousand missiles unless Thor surrenders his hammer immediately. Solemnly, Thor hands it over, knowing Odin’s enchantments will prevent Doom from lifting Mjolnir from the floor. While Doom is thus distracted, Thor smashes his missile launch controls, then retrieves his hammer and utterly destroys the ICBM complex. Returning to Pierre LaFarge, Thor is shocked to discover that the man has been working for Doom willingly, expecting to earn vast wealth as Latveria’s chief weapons designer. He grabs a gun and shoots at Thor, but the thunder god deflects the bullets with his hammer. A ricocheting shell strikes LaFarge in the heart, killing him. He dies cursing Cosette for getting Thor to interfere in his scheme to get rich. Disgusted by the man’s greed, Thor returns to New York. He informs Cosette that her father died fighting for what he believed in, and that his last words were of her. Satisfied that he didn’t actually lie to her, Thor hurries to Asgard in response to Odin’s urgent summons.

There, Thor is immediately struck by the air of doom and despair in his father’s palace, and Odin reveals the looming threat to the universe of a being called Infinity. He has already sent the Warriors Three to investigate, but they’ve gone missing and, to make matters worse, the Odinsword has been trying to unsheathe itself, forcing Odin to push it back into its scabbard each day. Furthermore, a cadaverous figure whom Odin calls the Silent One has appeared, portending a cosmic catastrophe. Thus, Odin announces, he has summoned Thor to guard the golden realm while he himself confronts Infinity. Thor objects to this plan, but Odin ignores his concerns and sets off with the Silent One at his side. Thor immediately orders the warriors of Asgard to prepare for battle. Learning that Odin has gone, Loki kidnaps Balder the Brave and leads an army of Trolls and Storm Giants to attack Asgard. Thor confronts them on the Plain of Ida outside the city and, going into a berserker rage, routs Loki’s forces and rescues Balder. As the god of mischief flees, Sif soothes Thor’s rage. Feeling the realm is safe for the time being, Thor decides he must go help Odin defeat Infinity.

Using Mjolnir’s enchantments, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that carries him to a silent realm of shadows and swirling mists, which Odin has described only as the World Beyond. He is immediately attacked by a six-limbed brute calling himself the Guardian, but the thunder god overcomes him. Infinity manifests itself then as a giant claw-like hand of darkness, striking the Guardian dead as punishment for his failure. Saying both Thor and Odin are beneath his notice, Infinity disappears again. However, the Silent One emerges from the mists and grants Thor a vision that reveals that Infinity plans to turn all the sentient life-forms in the universe into his mindless slaves. As if to prove the point, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun the Grim then emerge from the mists, glassy-eyed, and charge at Thor with their weapons drawn. Unwilling to fight his friends, Thor reopens the spacetime vortex, transporting the Warriors Three back to Asgard. The Guardian is suddenly resurrected and attacks again, rising anew each time Thor smashes him. Finally, the thunder god traps his foe within a force field created by his enchanted hammer, then drives away the swirling mists, revealing that they are on a large asteroid floating somewhere in space. In the distance, Thor sees a storm of colorful energies that he realizes is the site of Odin’s battle with Infinity.

Before Thor can join his father, though, the Silent One leads him to Hel, where Hela, the goddess of death, reveals that the Silent One is her servant. She tries to lay her touch of death upon Thor, but he evades her. Frustrated, Hela blasts Thor with energies that rapidly age him into a desiccated husk. Still, Thor refuses to yield, so Hela teleports away. With a tear in his eye, the Silent One then sacrifices himself to restore Thor’s youth and vigor. Vowing to be worthy of the enigmatic figure’s sacrifice, Thor speeds back to the battle, arriving in time only to witness Odin’s defeat. Now possessed by Infinity, Odin turns on Thor. No match for his father’s power, Thor retreats to Asgard, where he finds that Loki and Karnilla have been persuaded to combine their sorcerous might to free the Warriors Three from Infinity’s thrall. After informing the others of Odin’s fall, Thor withdraws to his father’s inner chambers with the Grand Vizier and transforms himself into Don Blake, hoping the surgeon’s analytical mind will discover some clue to Infinity’s nature that Thor’s warrior instincts have prevented him from seeing. Reviewing Asgard’s recent travails, Blake realizes that Infinity is Odin’s shadow-self, unleashed about four months ago when Loki had imprisoned the All-Father in the Sea of Endless Night. Hela had found the unconscious Odin there and managed to siphon off a portion of his life-force, from which she created the evil persona of Infinity. As this non-corporeal anti-Odin made its way toward Asgard, it consumed countless worlds, gaining strength and power as it went. Now it seeks to merge with Odin’s corporeal form to become infinitely more powerful. Despairing, Blake changes back into Thor and informs his comrades of the truth of what they are facing.

As word spreads of Asgard’s impending doom, a ragtag army of trolls, giants, and other demonic creatures breaches the walls of the golden realm. Thor sends the Warriors Three out to lead the counterattack while he tries to think of a way to defeat Hela and save Odin. Finally, he leaves the palace and uses Mjolnir to create a hurricane that blasts the invaders out of Asgard, though it devastates the city in the process and shatters the Rainbow Bridge. Then, after consulting with Karnilla, Thor decides on a desperate plan of action and summons Balder, Sif, Heimdall, and the Warriors Three to the crumbling palace. As the Norn Queen casts a powerful spell, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that carries the gods’ divine life-force in a single bolt of energy that strikes Odin just seconds before his merger with Infinity is complete. Woken from his trance and instilled with the knowledge of Infinity’s nature and origins, Odin is able to shatter his shadow-self and safely reabsorb his stolen energies. Odin teleports himself back to Asgard and uses his vast reserves of power to undo all the damage to the worlds Infinity had absorbed, erasing all memory of the events from mortal minds. The ordeal leaves Odin’s powers at a low ebb, and he is in need of the restorative Odinsleep. However, he fears that Hela, deprived of her victory, will now strike at Thor instead. Thus, he restores the Rainbow Bridge and sends Thor back to Earth in his mortal guise, hoping Hela will not be able to find him in that form. Dutifully, Don Blake goes about his normal routine under strict orders not to change into Thor.

A few days later, Volstagg tracks Blake down and reports that Loki has betrayed his location to Hela, and she has come to Midgard to search for him. Thus, Blake suspects a trap when he hears a news report that firemen on the scene of a burning building have suddenly turned into old men and are unable to rescue the people trapped inside. Heedless of the danger, Blake transforms into Thor and flies to the burning building, rescues those who are trapped, and douses the flames by summoning a heavy rain. As expected, Hela appears and coerces Thor into surrendering to her touch of death. However, Odin arrives at the last second and blasts Hela with his scepter of power, killing her instantly. Thor is shocked, realizing that death is a necessary part of the natural order, and implores his father to restore Hela. Acknowledging that he acted rashly, Odin does so with a heavy heart, summoning Sif to be at Thor’s side as Hela again ages the thunder god to the brink of death. Wracked with grief, Sif begs Hela to take her life in exchange for Thor’s and, touched by the display of love and devotion, Hela relents. She restores Thor to full health and slinks off to her dismal realm. Thor, Sif, and Odin return immediately to Asgard.

When they arrive, they find that Loki has taken advantage of the chaos and staged a coup d’état by seizing Odin’s powerful Ring Imperial. His mercenary army of trolls and giants patrols the ruined streets. Heimdall and the Warriors Three have been banished from the realm, and Balder has been sold like a slave to Karnilla in exchange for her support of Loki’s scheme. Thor is outraged, but Odin is strangely passive about the crisis, and when Loki orders him to enter the Odinsleep, the All-Father obeys without objection. Loki then sets about humiliating Thor, commanding Karnilla to use her magic to create a creature with the power to kill the thunder god. When she has done so, Loki names the fearsome figure Durok the Demolisher and sends it to wreak havoc on Earth. Thor sets off in pursuit, and their ensuing battles cause tremendous amounts of property damage in New Orleans, New York City, Washington DC, and the capital of a small South American nation. Though he refuses to yield, Thor begins to suspect that he cannot defeat Durok. Luckily, the Silver Surfer takes over the fight, freeing Thor to return to Asgard to deal with Loki. Fighting his way back to the palace, Thor arrives to find Sif being dressed up in a revealing wedding gown, about to be made Loki’s unwilling bride. Thor challenges Loki to single combat, but during their battle, Loki realizes the Ring Imperial is draining away his own life-force to power itself. In desperation, he rips the ring from his finger and throws it away. At that moment, Odin steps out of the shadows and picks up the ring, then uses it to banish Loki and his minions from the golden realm. Sitting upon his throne, Odin explains that he knew Loki was doomed the moment he put on the Ring Imperial, not understanding that it takes power from its wearer rather than granting it, and he recognized that Loki did not have the inner strength to wield it for long. Thor realizes that his father needed the Odinsleep to restore himself after his struggle with Infinity and took advantage of Loki’s coup to do it. Clearly, Odin felt Thor could handle Loki for the duration. The assembled warriors of Asgard then celebrate their victory with a massive feast.

April–August 1965 – Thor remains in Asgard for the next several months as work begins on restoring the devastated city to its former glory. Odin continues to regain his strength, but seems haggard and weary, preoccupied by grave matters he will discuss only with his Grand Vizier. Thor is glad to have time to spend with Sif and his friends, though he keeps an eye on Earth in case an emergency should arise there.

September 1965 – Odin sends Thor and the Warriors Three on a dangerous quest to obtain water from the mysterious Twilight Well on a distant planet. After an arduous journey, they overcome the spells of a sorceress named Satrina and her dragon to reach the well and confront its guardian, Kartag the Keeper. As Thor battles Kartag, they tumble into the well’s icy waters, where the thunder god receives a vision of Asgard besieged by the monstrous Mangog. He sees that Odin sent them on their quest so they would not be present when Mangog attacked, and likewise sent Sif off on a mission of her own. Now, Odin is preparing one last desperate measure to avert the golden realm’s utter destruction. When Thor’s senses clear, he finds the three Norns have materialized by the Twilight Well, and they provide magical sheepskin gourds for Thor and his comrades to collect the water in. The warriors then return to the Rainbow Bridge, accompanied by Kartag, but are shocked to discover that the bridge has been shattered and the entire Asgardian landmass has disappeared. Undaunted, Thor puts his trust in Odin’s wisdom and anoints Mjolnir with drops of water from the Twilight Well. He then uses the hammer to generate a spacetime vortex that carries them all to Asgard, now adrift in some nameless dimension. They are shocked to see their city has again been decimated by Mangog’s merciless onslaught.

Thor, Kartag, Fandral, and Hogun the Grim rescue Odin from Mangog’s clutches while Volstagg takes the sheepskin gourds to the Grand Vizier. When he regains consciousness, Odin confirms that Thor’s guesses were correct—the waters of the Twilight Well have been added to Odin’s own Cosmic Well, thus launching the Asgardian landmass through hyperspace back to its original location. They then pursue Mangog into the royal palace, where the monster draws the Odinsword from its scabbard. Odin disarms Mangog with a mighty blast of energy that also severs the psychic connection between the creature and the population whose hatred and desire for revenge sustains him. Succumbing to a berserker rage, Thor pummels Mangog with his hammer, and as they battle, the creature gets smaller and smaller as he burns up his own substance to remain in existence. Finally, Mangog dwindles away to nothing, and Thor, his rage spent, turns back to his comrades. The thunder god is stunned to see that Odin has apparently dropped dead, and he howls in grief over his father’s body.

The Asgardians assemble to carry out a grim funeral procession for their fallen liege. Odin’s body is laid in a boat, which is placed in a tomb at the edge of the continent, to be launched when Asgard is back in its proper place. Here, Thor learns that Heimdall was sent to Earth on a mysterious mission right before the Rainbow Bridge was shattered and is presumably marooned there. There has likewise been no word from Sif. Then, realizing that Hela has not appeared to claim Odin’s soul, Thor assumes it is because they are traveling through hyperspace. Hoping to protect his father’s spirit, Thor uses his enchanted hammer to generate a time vortex around Odin, as he once did for Jane Foster when she was dying. Finally, Kartag the Keeper asks Thor’s permission to return to his own planet, and, receiving it, he teleports away. As their journey continues, Hela finally materializes and tries to take Odin’s spirit to Valhalla, only to find she cannot penetrate Thor’s time vortex. Just then, Pluto, the lord of Hades, arrives on the scene with a fleet of ships carrying an army of trolls, intent on capturing Odin’s soul for himself. Hela attacks Pluto, trying to drive him off while Thor and the warriors of Asgard tear into their foe’s troll army. The Greek god overwhelms Hela, though, forcing her to teleport away to safety. Undaunted, Thor attacks Pluto and they fight viciously. Pluto tries to induce the thunder god to surrender by teleporting the Warriors Three to Hades, but Thor continues battering him with his hammer. Finally, Odin emerges from his tomb and commands that the fighting cease. No match for Odin, Pluto retreats to his ship, accompanied by his remaining troops, and sails off into the mists. Thor is intent on rescuing the Warriors Three, but Odin reveals that he was able to divert them to Midgard, where they are safe and sound. Still, since his comrades are not accustomed to life among mortals, Thor heads back to Earth, accompanied by Balder, before the Warriors Three get themselves into trouble.

No sooner have Thor and Balder caught up with the Warriors Three in the streets of New York City than they are joined by Sif, who appears in a flash of light and is followed by the Asgardian warrior Hildegarde, the Rigellian colonizer Tana Nile, and a human sea captain named Silas Grant. They are pursued by a giant crystalline monster called Ego-Prime, which Thor learns was inadvertently created when Tana Nile sliced off a chunk of Ego, the Living Planet. During their battle, Ego-Prime evolves itself into a humanoid form and announces its intention to wipe out the human race and use Earth as the seed for a new Bioverse in which it can evolve into a new living planet. The fighting rages on for many hours, demolishing several buildings and terrifying the populace, until Heimdall arrives with three mortals who absorb the evolutionary power of Ego-Prime and are transformed into the first of a new race of Young Gods. The process causes Ego-Prime to disintegrate, ending the threat. Odin’s visage then appears in the sky and reveals that this was his purpose all along for sending Thor, Sif, and Heimdall on their different quests. Thor is outraged by the destruction his father’s scheme has unleashed on Earth, so Odin undoes all the damage and erases all memory of the events from mortal minds. Even so, Thor continues to argue the point, until Odin loses his temper and banishes the thunder god from Asgard. Sif, Balder, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, and Hildegarde turn their backs on Odin, casting their lot with Thor. Tana Nile and Silas Grant explain that they, too, are now marooned on Earth, as he is the last survivor of a planet called Blackworld and her spaceship was lost when his world was destroyed. Thus, Thor leads them all to Avengers Mansion, where he informs the butler, Edwin Jarvis, that his entourage will need to stay there for a little while. Later, Iron Man drops by the mansion and meets Thor’s guests. While telling Iron Man of his recent experiences, Thor realizes that Volstagg disappeared sometime during the battle with Ego-Prime.

The next day, Balder, Fandral, and Hogun go out searching for Volstagg, while Tana Nile, Silas Grant, and Hildegarde explore the sights of the city. Thor, however, merely sits in front of the television, brooding about his exile, until Sif insists he give her a tour of New York. As she has borrowed some earthly raiment from the Scarlet Witch, Thor changes himself into Don Blake and they head out. Blake leads Sif to the building where his private medical offices are, only to find he’s been locked out due to non-payment of rent. The building’s new owner, Karl Sarron, proves less then cooperative, but agrees to schedule a meeting so they can get the situation resolved. Frustrated, Blake takes Sif back to Avengers Mansion. A few hours later, after Blake has changed back into Thor, he and Sif are transported to Hell by Mephisto, who has also kidnapped Balder, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant, along with numerous influential men from around the world. Mephisto wants revenge on the Asgardians for invading his realm last year and plans to unleash a wave of evil across the world by merging the kidnapped men with his demons. Mephisto first uses mind-control to make Thor’s friends attack the thunder god, and when that fails, he sends his legions of the damned to overwhelm them. For hours, Thor fights his way through the ghostly hordes until he is able to confront the arch-demon in his inner sanctum. Impressed, Mephisto reveals that he is determined to corrupt Thor’s soul and enslave him, but Thor remains defiant in the face of his foe’s seemingly superior power. Finally, Thor manages to throw Mephisto into a lake of fire and trap him there by blasting the cavern’s ceiling with mystical lightning from his hammer, causing it to collapse. With Mephisto temporarily incapacitated, Thor is able to generate a dimensional vortex that transports all the kidnapping victims back to Earth, stripped of any conscious memory of being in Hell. He then creates a second vortex that deposits him and his entourage on the New Jersey Palisades, from which they make their way back to Avengers Mansion.

October 1965 – Thor joins Iron Man and the Vision at Stark Industries for a chess match between a human grandmaster and a new computer called Nimrod. Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch also arrive for the media event. However, the garrulous Soviet chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital. While the Avengers follow the ambulance, Thor slips away, changes into Don Blake, and volunteers to assist the surgical team. Blake determines that the patient has been poisoned, prompting the Avengers to return to the scene of the crime, where Thor soon joins them. The team tracks down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. They split up, and Thor speeds to Naples, Italy, hoping to protect a young boy. The thunder god arrives too late, though, and Tippit manages to put his victim into a coma. Easily evading Thor, Tippit then teleports away. After getting the boy to the nearest hospital, Thor rendezvous with his teammates at Stark Industries. Soon, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine Iron Man has built to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. As the device is activated, Tippit regains consciousness. Suddenly, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. Thor is called to testify next, but the judge rules that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters before Thor even takes the stand. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Thor is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Thor joins his teammates for a late-night meeting at Avengers Mansion. The Scarlet Witch opts to take a stroll through Central Park instead, only to be kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by scientist Peter Corbeau, who reports that his new space station, Starcore One, has detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes their way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. She soon brings her teammates a possible lead—a news report of three Chilean scientists being kidnapped by a group of men with strange powers. Thor and Sif agree to accompany five of the Avengers to Tierra del Fuego to investigate. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Lorelei. Thor and Sif defeat Barbarus while their teammates take care of the rest of the Mutates. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

When the team arrives back at Avengers Mansion the next day, Thor and Sif rush off for a meeting with Karl Sarron, Don Blake’s landlord. Sarron has already postponed the meeting a couple of times and is again out of the office, leaving Blake angry and frustrated. He changes back into Thor and returns to Avengers Mansion to round up the Warriors Three while Sif goes to meet up with Balder and Hildegarde. On the way, Thor is distracted by a fight in an alley, which he finds to be between a pair of muggers and an exceptionally acrobatic young man. When the muggers’ victim gives her rescuer the cold shoulder, Thor strikes up a conversation with the irreverent youth. Suddenly, the city is enveloped by a strange “negative time” effect. Recognizing that Loki once cast such a spell, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that protects him and the young man, who, to the thunder god’s surprise, turns out to be Spider-Man. They then spot an army of Asgardian Trolls marching through the streets, and Thor recognizes their leader as an old enemy, Kryllk the Cruel. Kryllk brags about his Dark Crystal, which he used to generate the “negative time” effect, and of his plan to conquer Asgard. Thor leaps to attack them, but the Trolls evaporate like wisps of steam. The two heroes race to Avengers Mansion, where they find the others all frozen in place like a photographic negative. Spider-Man rewires the communications console so they can use it, allowing Thor to determine that the Dark Crystal’s arcane energies lead both to Asgard and an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. After sending Spider-Man to Asgard, Thor transports himself to the Jovian asteroid, where he finds Kryllk and his horde hiding out in a deep cavern. The thunder god fights his way through the Trolls, only to discover that Kryllk is protected by a force field. Suddenly, Kryllk collapses, as though stricken by a massive heart attack, after which the Trolls and the Dark Crystal all vanish into thin air. They reappear a moment later along with Spider-Man and the Watcher, who explains that Kryllk’s misuse of the Dark Crystal led to his defeat. Taking the Dark Crystal for safekeeping, the enigmatic Watcher teleports Thor and Spider-Man back to Earth. Thor then finally reaches Avengers Mansion, where Fandral informs him that his teammates have all gone out somewhere searching for Quicksilver.

After Tana Nile and Silas Grant have moved out of Avengers Mansion and gotten a small apartment together, Thor is called in by the United Nations to help guard a “mermaid”—a red-skinned aquatic woman—who has caused an international incident. The Sub-Mariner soon appears and announces that the “mermaid” is a citizen of Atlantis, but, because her skin is red rather than blue, Thor requests proof of his claims. The Sub-Mariner merely loses his temper and attacks Thor, and their fight leads them out into the East River. Thor ultimately overcomes the Sub-Mariner and drives him off. This gives the government officials the chance to move the “mermaid” to a high-tech water tank in a secure vault deep within the UN Building. Satisfied that he has fulfilled his duty, Thor returns to Avengers Mansion.

Two weeks later, Thor is still brooding about his exile from Asgard and declines to go camping with Balder and the Warriors Three. Instead, he slumps into a chair in front of the television, until Jarvis informs him that Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, is on a rampage on the other side of the city. Thor rushes to the scene, where he finds his old foe battling Sif and Hildegarde. Creel slams his ball-and-chain into the ground, generating a shockwave that knocks the two goddesses out. Furious, Thor attacks him, and their battle causes a great deal of property damage to the street and surrounding buildings. Throughout, Creel complains of a pain in his head driving him to kill Thor, and Thor suspects Loki is behind it. Thus, when Creel absorbs the properties of Thor’s uru hammer, the thunder god pretends to be defeated, hoping that Creel will lead him to Loki.

On the second night of their search, Thor, Sif, and Hildegarde track the Absorbing Man to the woods outside of Rutland, Vermont. As Creel attacks, Thor orders his companions to keep out of the fight. Sif objects, but Hildegarde merely picks her up and carries her off into the trees. After a fierce battle, Thor finally manages to daze Creel with a massive blow to the head. Knocked into the chilly waters of Otter Creek, the villain inadvertently absorbs the properties of the stream and dissolves into the current. Thor barely has time to catch his breath before Loki appears and sics two monstrous dog-creatures on him. Thor dispatches them with a small tornado, but Loki is unimpressed. He merely manifests the Fire-Sword, a magical weapon that draws its power from the life-force of a small group of people nearby, whom Loki has ensorcelled. The fight does not go well for Thor, and Loki soon separates him from his hammer, knowing he need only keep them apart for the sixty seconds until his brother becomes a vulnerable mortal once more. However, at the last moment, a fierce thunderstorm appears out of nowhere, distracting Loki and allowing Thor to regain his hammer. Thor immediately calls down a powerful lightning strike that destroys the Fire-Sword and frees Loki’s victims from the spell. Seeing that they are unharmed, Thor turns back to find that Loki has been struck blind and, howling in rage and panic, has run off into the woods. Thor chases after his brother but soon loses him in the darkness. He spots Hildegarde standing alone on a nearby hilltop and flies up to join her. Hildegarde reports that Sif made a deal with Karnilla, promising to help the Norn Queen find Balder if she would use her sorcery to save Thor. Thus, Karnilla conjured up the thunderstorm and then teleported away with Sif. Thor is angered by this turn of events, and Hildegarde wonders if they’ll ever see Sif again.

November 1965 – Thor and Hildegarde return to Avengers Mansion a few hours before dawn, where the thunder god takes out his frustrations on Jarvis. Hildegarde castigates him for his inexcusable behavior toward a servant, prompting Thor to apologize to the butler, who responds graciously. After daybreak, Thor wanders the city, trying to shake his foul mood, while Hildegarde goes exploring on her own. When he returns to the mansion later, Thor realizes the place is deserted. He goes to the communications room to try to locate his teammates, and, after a while, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, the Black Panther, and the Vision enter with Jarvis, all looking exhausted. Before Hawkeye can tell Thor about their recent adventure, the archer’s chair collapses under him, giving the Avengers a good laugh. The Scarlet Witch is in no mood for joking around, though, as Quicksilver is still missing. The Vision goes to comfort her, and as they embrace, Thor realizes that his two teammates have fallen in love with each other. He suggests to the others that they withdraw so as to give the Vision and the Scarlet Witch some privacy.

Sometime later, Thor is shocked by reports that Hank and Janet Pym have apparently died in a house fire, but Ant-Man soon turns up alive and enlists some of his former teammates to help rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. Thor is relieved to hear that the couple escaped the fire and is doing fine, though they’ve decided not to resume their superhero careers. Thor spends the next couple weeks hanging around Avengers Mansion with Hildegarde, waiting for Balder and the Warriors Three to return from their camping trip. He makes repeated attempts to contact Karl Sarron to resolve the situation with Don Blake’s lease, but without success. The thunder god becomes increasingly irritable and depressed as the days go by.

Finally, the Warriors Three return in their borrowed Quinjet, but Thor is annoyed to learn that Balder has decided to remain in the wilderness on his own. Wanting to free Sif from Karnilla’s service as soon as possible, Thor sets off to find Balder without further delay. However, as he is flying across the city, he spots a strange glow in Don Blake’s medical office and decides to check it out. Entering through the window, Thor discovers a weird alien calling himself the Fourth-Dimensional Man, who is absorbing the residual energies left from every time the thunder god transformed to and from his mortal form in that room. The Fourth-Dimensional Man attacks him, intent on absorbing the last of Thor’s energies directly, and their fight spills out into the streets of Manhattan. Soon, the Warriors Three join in, giving Thor a chance to slip away and head for the New York Public Library. After changing into Don Blake, he spends half an hour researching a way of defeating his foe. Then, resuming his godly identity, Thor snatches a large I-beam from a construction site, drops it on the Fourth-Dimensional Man, and melts it to slag with the awesome power of Mjolnir. As Thor expected, the Fourth-Dimensional Man quickly reaches critical mass and implodes. Afterwards, Karl Sarron is reported to have disappeared, and Thor assumes he was murdered by the Fourth-Dimensional Man.

December 1965 – Watching Hawkeye work out in the Avengers’ combat-simulation room, Thor realizes the Scarlet Witch’s burgeoning romance with the Vision is causing dissention among the team, as the others are worried that a relationship between a mutant and a synthezoid won’t go over very well with the general public. Later that morning, Hawkeye disappears from the mansion. After two days, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that Hawkeye has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Preoccupied with his own problems, Thor doesn’t think much of it.

Having searched North America for Balder without success, Thor flies across the Atlantic Ocean to check Europe and Scandinavia. He stops for dinner at a pub in London, England, where he is visited by the astral form of the Grand Vizier, who can’t understand why Thor has yet to beg for his father’s forgiveness. Their chat is cut short when the building is wrecked by a powerful blue-skinned man calling himself the Demon Druid. Thor confronts the Demon Druid, only to get blasted by an energy beam that knocks him out. When he comes to, Thor confers with Detective Chief Inspector Prichard of Scotland Yard, who informs him that the Demon Druid has marched southwest and is now fighting the British Army in the suburb of Esher. Thor flies to the scene and confronts the Demon Druid again, with no better results. The Demon Druid knocks Thor into a building, which then collapses on top of the thunder god. Two hours later, Thor digs himself out of the rubble and catches up to his foe on the Salisbury Plain, where they blast away at each other again. Finally, DCI Prichard convinces Thor and the army to leave the Demon Druid alone, allowing the mysterious figure to walk into the center of Stonehenge and dematerialize. Prichard speculates that the Demon Druid might have been a member of a group of ancient aliens who was somehow left behind on Earth, and has now gone to join his people. Thor wonders if he may have acted rashly in meeting him with violence.

Continuing his search, Thor flies across Asia, where he is attacked by the Red Chinese Army. Though they manage to bury Thor in a rockslide, the soldiers flee when the thunder god emerges unharmed. Frustrated by his fruitless search, Thor wraps himself in his cape and goes to sleep. When he wakes up, Thor finds he has been kidnapped by Ulik the Troll and his minions. While Thor is battling Ulik, the other Trolls manage to steal Mjolnir with a powerful magnet and dump it into a large furnace. Thor braves the heat and flames of the furnace to retrieve his hammer before he transforms back into his mortal form. Thor then learns from Queen Ulla, wife of the Troll-King Geirrodur, that Ulik is leading an invasion of Midgard. Thor follows the Troll army back to Midtown Manhattan, where he is joined by the Warriors Three, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant. Thor beats Ulik into unconsciousness, humiliating him in front of his troops, which causes the Trolls to retreat. Once the invaders are gone, Thor and Tana Nile seal up the Trolls’ tunnel with the rubble of a demolished tenement building. The Warriors Three then inform Thor that Balder has returned to New York, but something has driven him mad. Thor storms into Avengers Mansion to see for himself, then, blaming Odin for Balder’s madness, he generates a spacetime vortex that carries him, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant to Asgard, leaving Volstagg to look after Balder.

When they materialize, Thor and his entourage are shocked to find the golden realm deserted. They soon come across a group of bedraggled creatures led by a 10-foot-tall lizard-man named Sssthgar, who claims they’ve escaped from the alien slavers who have captured the Asgardians. Thor convinces Sssthgar to lead them to the slavers’ home planet, and they all set out in an Asgardian ship, the Starjammer. Upon arriving on the distant world, Thor is outraged to find Odin in chains on an auction block, and leads his comrades into battle against seemingly impossible odds. However, no sooner have Thor and the others defeated their foes than Sssthgar reveals that he, too, is one of the slavers—he and his crew were marooned on Asgard by his former partners, the Vrellnexians, and Thor has just eliminated his enemies for him. Sssthgar’s crew overwhelms Thor’s band of warriors and throws them into a dungeon with the rest of the captured Asgardians. Though the slaves are kept docile with drugged gruel, Thor manages to break free before the guards can feed it to him. He frees Hildegarde and Tana Nile, who also have not been drugged yet, and they soon meet up with the underground resistance movement. While the freedom-fighters go to blow up the drug factories, Thor and Hildegarde attack Sssthgar and his crew while they are carousing, giving Tana Nile the chance to free the Asgardians and lead them to the Starjammer. Defeated, Sssthgar reveals that Sif and Karnilla were not brought to the slave-market because the Vrellnexians sold them to some miners from the Dark Nebula beforehand. The Starjammer then takes the Asgardians home and, along the way, Odin gratefully remands Thor’s exile. Then, Thor, Odin, Heimdall, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, Hildegarde, Tana Nile, and Silas Grant set sail in the Starjammer again, heading to the Dark Nebula to rescue Sif and Karnilla.

Arriving in the Dark Nebula, Thor and the crew of the Starjammer are shocked to find the mining operation is being attacked by the Fourth-Dimensional Man and his henchmen. The villain, who reveals that his name is Mercurio, explains that he was saved from the implosion last month by a transdimensional red jewel that appeared to be sentient. He has tracked the jewel to the Dark Nebula and is intent on using it to save his own race from extinction. Suddenly, the jewel erupts from the ground and looms over everyone like a skyscraper. Thor is outraged to see that Sif and Karnilla are imprisoned within the crystal, and his righteous anger grows when the jewel announces telepathically its intention to use the goddesses’ life-force to conquer the galaxy. Mercurio convinces Thor that they should join forces, and so, when the jewel leaves the Dark Nebula, the two groups pursue it aboard the Starjammer. The crystal then assumes a humanoid form, calling itself Xorr, the God-Jewel, and destroys a solar system for sustenance. While Xorr is feeding, Mercurio and his men attack it, but Thor drives them back, worried that Xorr will harm Sif and Karnilla. Mercurio once again convinces Thor that their only hope is to work together. Thus, Odin leads Xorr to a supergiant star, and while Xorr is preoccupied with absorbing such a tremendous amount of energy, Mercurio uses his powers to free the two goddesses. As Thor flies them back to the Starjammer, the supergiant star goes nova, as Odin had planned, and the sudden surge causes Xorr to explode. Mercurio and his men harvest the shattered fragments of the God-Jewel and return to their home planet to avert its destruction. Reunited with Sif, Thor sets course for Asgard.

When they reach the golden realm, the crew of the Starjammer discovers that they have been replaced by impostors. Odin confronts his doppelgänger, leading to a huge brawl. While battling the false Heimdall on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor knocks his foe off into the void, and as he drifts away, the impostor disintegrates. Thor grabs Sif and flies out over the city until he spots Balder, who, Thor reasons, must be an impostor. Thor attacks him, forcing the false Balder to reveal himself as the wizard Igron, one of Loki’s former minions who snuck back into Asgard while it was deserted. Igron traps Thor and Sif, only to be defeated by the real Balder, who has come home with Volstagg. Without Igron to sustain them, the doppelgängers soon fade to nothingness. Balder convinces the warriors of Asgard that the true Odin and Thor have returned at last, bringing the fighting to an end.

Later, Thor, Sif, and Balder set out again in the Starjammer to take Tana Nile and Silas Grant home to Rigel III, though Odin has warned them to expect grave danger. Upon arrival, they find the planet has been evacuated, except for the mutant underclass, which has been left to die. Learning what has happened from the mutants’ leader, Jukka, Thor offers them passage aboard the Starjammer, and the mutants gratefully accept. The ship soon rendezvous with the Rigellian fleet, where Thor and his comrades meet with the Grand Commissioner, who reveals that Rigel III has been completely destroyed since the Starjammer left just six hours ago. Its nine billion inhabitants have been crowded onto only about 700 spaceships, which is one reason the mutants were left behind. An intergalactic “message in a bottle” alerted the Rigellians to the approach of the Black Stars, a marauding system of five planets, each of which would dwarf Jupiter, forcing them to evacuate their homeworld. Thor decides to put an end to the Black Stars’ reign of terror.

On its way to the Black Stars, the Starjammer is intercepted by Avalon, one of the giant living robots who run the world-destroying matter-scoops. Avalon explains to Thor and his comrades that he and his fellow robots are kept as slaves and forced to maintain the Black Stars’ technology, though they yearn for liberation. However, another robot, called the Protector, has detected the organic lifeforms within the matter scoop and flies up to attack them, but it proves to be no match for Mjolnir. When the matter scoop is retracted to its base on one of the Black Stars’ planets, Thor is astonished to find a race of giants so large that he is like a flea to them. Undaunted, Thor tries to attack the giants, but they barely notice his mightiest blows, and the Asgardians are forced to fight off swarms of robots seeking to exterminate them. Luckily, Jukka and the other Rigellian mutants are able to make contact with the leader of the giants, Lord Kragonn, and convince him his planet is the only one of the five to still harbor life. As such, Kragonn decides they no longer need to destroy other planets to power their own civilization. Avalon petitions Kragonn for his people’s freedom, and his request is granted. The robots deliver Thor and his comrades to the flagship of the Rigellian fleet before seeking their destiny among the stars. Thor, Sif, and Balder bid farewell to Tana Nile and Silas Grant, then sail the Starjammer back to Asgard.

No sooner have they docked in the golden realm, though, than Hildegarde reports that her sister Krista has been kidnapped by Pluto and Hercules and imprisoned in Hades. Thor is outraged by his friend’s betrayal and sets off for Olympus alone, where he fights his way into Zeus’ palace and brawls with Hercules. Zeus stops the fight and assures Thor that Hercules has been enjoying a festival of wine, women, and song for at least a fortnight, and could not have been involved in the kidnapping. Zeus convinces the two headstrong warriors to work together to rescue Krista from Pluto. Thus, Thor and Hercules head out to storm the gates of Hades. Along the way, Hercules suggests they pay a visit to the reclusive sorceress Chaga, who, in exchange for an hour of gossip, reveals that Ares had disguised himself as Hercules in order to assist Pluto, and he will be waiting for them at the entrance to Pluto’s infernal realm. Thus forewarned, Thor and Hercules are ready when Ares confronts them, and, after a brief battle, Thor is able to bury the God of War under tons of rubble. Marching through Hades, Thor and Hercules are set upon by vicious snake-women, who delay them long enough for Pluto to sneak off with Krista. Frustrated, Thor generates a spacetime vortex that takes him and Hercules directly to Asgard.

There, Odin determines that Pluto has taken Krista to Earth and teleports Thor and Hercules to Times Square in Manhattan. They quickly find Pluto and his prisoner on a nearby rooftop, where he admits that he had hoped to start a war between Asgard and Olympus that would have devastated both realms. Enraged by Pluto’s taunts, Thor smashes him with his hammer, knocking him off the roof, but the Lord of Hades is able to teleport himself back to his own realm. Seeing that Krista needs emergency surgery, Thor and Hercules rush her to the nearest hospital, where Thor transforms into Don Blake in order to assist the ER doctors. Hercules is at first confused by Thor’s mortal form, but soon catches on. The demigod agrees to go out on the town for a few hours while Blake is busy in the operating room. The surgery is successful, though while visiting Krista in the recovery room a little while later, Blake notices that the Destroyer is on a rampage several blocks away. Though he had hoped to spend some time in his mortal identity, Blake immediately changes back into Thor and flies to the scene.

Thor finds Hercules battling the Destroyer and takes over, as the unstoppable robot is of Asgardian origin. Thor sends his friend to search for whoever’s soul is animating the Destroyer, knowing he can never defeat Odin’s creation with brute force. Luckily, Hercules succeeds in short order, and the spirit of the mad scientist Dr. Clement Holmes is returned to his body, causing the Destroyer to shut down. Leaving the inert robot lying on a pier, Thor and Hercules head back to the hospital, where the thunder god becomes Don Blake again. Hercules is dumbfounded that Thor would maintain such a dual identity, but Blake explains that when he’s in mortal form, he has little interest in the affairs of the Asgardians, and when he is in his godly form, the life of Don Blake just seems like a bad dream. Their conversation is cut short, however, when they come upon Firelord, the latest herald of Galactus. Hercules attacks the flaming alien, but as soon as Blake transforms into Thor again, Firelord shoots energy rays from his eyes into the sky to summon his master. Claiming he bears the earth no ill will, Firelord then flies off. Thor realizes there’s little he or Hercules can do until Galactus makes his move, though he vows to fight the Devourer of Worlds to his dying breath.

A few days later, Galactus arrives on Earth, but explains he has come only to enlist Thor’s aid against Ego, the Living Planet. He apologizes if Firelord’s volatile temperament conveyed the wrong impression. Relieved, Thor and Hercules accompany Galactus up to his spherical mothership, which then carries them back to the nebula known as the Black Galaxy. As soon as they are within range, Ego attacks them, causing Galactus’ ship to crash-land on the surface of the living planet. Thor, Hercules, and Firelord hike out a ways, fighting off automatons that Ego generates out of his own substance. Believing that Ego has gone insane, Thor decides that their best bet is to find the planet’s brain and, if necessary, destroy it. Thus, he uses Mjolnir to blast a tunnel into the ground, and they descend into a deep cavern. After a while, Thor figures they must be nearing the planet’s core, though Hercules wonders why there’s been so little change in the air pressure or gravity. They then enter a new cavern with a large brain floating in the center of it. More automatons swarm out of the walls and battle Hercules and Firelord, but Thor manages to hurl Mjolnir at the brain. As the hammer strikes the mass of tissue, Thor is hit with a psychic backlash that overwhelms him. His mind is suddenly awash with images that he takes to be Ego’s memories of how he came to be. The images show how a man named Egros attempted to save his race when their sun went nova but failed. The radiation from the solar holocaust caused Egros to merge with the dying planet, and in the process he inadvertently absorbed the life-force of its two billion inhabitants. He emerged from his metamorphosis as Ego, the Living Planet, a being consumed by guilt. Feeling great sympathy for Ego’s plight, Thor is reluctant to destroy the floating brain, but Hercules and Firelord convince him he has no choice. Thor blasts the brain with mystical energies from Mjolnir, though not enough to destroy it completely. The entire planet convulses, and Thor, Hercules, and Firelord rush back to Galactus’ ship. They find that Galactus has not only repaired his ship, but also attached a propulsion unit to Ego’s south pole. When Galactus activates the thrusters, Ego is sent hurtling out of the Black Galaxy and off into deep space.

On their way back to Earth, Firelord petitions to be released from Galactus’ service. Galactus says he will grant Firelord’s request if they can find another herald to replace him. Thor offers Galactus the Destroyer, saying the Devourer of Worlds could animate the armored shell with a portion of his own life essence, and it would serve him more faithfully than any herald ever could. Galactus agrees to the plan and, finding the Destroyer still laying on the battle-damaged pier in New York, imbues it with the Power Cosmic. After Galactus and his new herald have departed, Firelord streaks off into the sky without so much as a word of thanks. Leaving Hercules behind, Thor flies back to Avengers Mansion, where he finds the team having a late-night meeting. The Scarlet Witch has become convinced that the letter from Hawkeye is a forgery, and Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and the Black Panther agree to investigate. They track Hawkeye to a remote location in the Mojave Desert, where they find Champion has captured the archer and tied him to a large bomb. Though Champion’s body armor makes him a force to be reckoned with, he and his henchmen are quickly defeated by the Avengers. Despite the timely rescue, Hawkeye is determined to make it on his own, so he tenders his resignation from the team, effective immediately. After all of Champion’s bombs have been dismantled, the Avengers leave Hawkeye in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – Thor and his teammates find themselves in a Lovecraftian mystery in Avengers #88 when the insectoid creature Psyklop kidnaps the Hulk. Realizing he is outnumbered, Psyklop teleports the Avengers to the New York City subway platform, erasing their memories of the entire affair. Iron Man’s odd behavior is due to him being mind-controlled by Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, as shown in Iron Man #39, in which Thor briefly appears. Thor then heads to San Francisco to confront Lionel Dibbs in the Inhumans story in Amazing Adventures #8. Tony Stark must have created Dibbs’ weaponized prosthetic while under the influence of his Chinese foes, as it seems unlikely he would have done it otherwise. Next, Thor joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93–94. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War and foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest across Avengers #94–100.

March 1965 – Thor’s adventures continue in Thor #182 and following. I believe that the Silent One is really Bor, Odin’s deceased father. Using his ghost would give Hela a psychological advantage over Odin and make him more vulnerable to “Infinity.” Thor does not recognize Bor due to his cadaverous appearance, but it explains the Silent One’s self-sacrifice to save the thunder god in Thor #186. During the battle, everyone on Earth is forced to face doomsday, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened. Only Thor would be aware of how close the earth came to destruction. The Silver Surfer ultimately defeats Durok the Demolisher by transporting him through time and leaving him marooned on a barren Earth in the distant future, as seen in Thor #193. In the next issue, Thor changes into Don Blake after losing his hammer, even though that enchantment is normally inactive while Thor is in Asgard. It’s reasonable to assume that Loki triggered the change using the power of the Ring Imperial.

October 1965 – The Avengers face the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the team appears at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by Avengers #102–105. Thor and Spider-Man battle Kryllk and his trolls in Marvel Team-Up #7, then Thor fights with the Sub-Mariner over the aquatic alien Tamara of the Sisterhood in Sub-Mariner #59. On Halloween, Thor fights the Absorbing Man and Loki outside Rutland, Vermont, as depicted in Thor #207. Thor is doubtless unaware of all the other weirdness going on in Rutland on that particular night.

November 1965 – Thor briefly meets up with the Avengers following their battle with the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper at the end of Avengers #108. The thunder god remains behind the scenes during the Pyms’ travails in Ant-Man’s revival series in Marvel Feature. Thor does not realize that “Karl Sarron” was merely the Fourth-Dimensional Man’s cover identity while he was on Earth and needed unfettered access to Blake’s medical offices.

December 1965 – Thor observes Hawkeye’s training exercises at the beginning of Avengers #109. In Thor #209, I believe it is when the Demon Druid causes a building to collapse onto Thor that Inspector Dai Thomas’ wife is killed, as seen in the flashback in Captain Britain v.2 #1. They were probably in Esher to do some Christmas shopping, and the experience leaves Thomas with a deep-seated hatred of superheroes. While Thor is battling the Destroyer in Thor #225, Odin decides to have his master craftsman, Eitri the Dwarf, build a magical machine to copy the thunder god’s essence, in case Odin should ever need a substitute Thor to defend Asgard, which we learn in the flashback in Thor #277. As explained in Fantastic Four #245, the “brain” that Thor, Hercules, and Firelord find within Ego the Living Planet is merely a decoy, and the images Thor sees are not Ego’s true origin but a falsehood designed to gain the thunder god’s sympathies. Egros’ friend Chimu looks suspiciously like the Rigellian Grand Commissioner and Project Worldcore is a dead ringer for the Citadel of Science on Mount Wundagore, suggesting that much of the imagery is drawn from Thor’s own memories. This brings us up to Thor #228. The Avengers rescue Hawkeye from Champion at the conclusion of Avengers #109.


Jump Back: The Mighty Thor – Year Three

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