Essential Thor volume 7 by Len Wein and David A Kraft (graphic novel review).

‘Essential Thor volume 7’ collects, in glorious black and white, The Mighty Thor # 248-271 and The Mighty Thor Annuals # 5-6. It opens with Annual # 5, scripted by Steve Englehart, in which the Asgardians have a war with the gods of Mount Olympus. It’s well done and Odin the All-Wise actually demonstrates some sagacity for once. Usually, he behaves like a spoiled six year-old.


Len Wein was scripter on the closing issues of ‘Essential Thor volume 6’ and he carries on in this collection. Ray gun mjolnir puts in an early appearance on page three of issue # 248 but is thankfully absent thereafter. Captain Kirk doesn’t hit people with his phaser and Thor shouldn’t shoot rays from his hammer. It’s most unsuitable.

There’s nothing new in the stories but old plots are given a fresh outing. At first, it seems that Odin has gone mad. Then there’s a long quest through space to find the real Odin. Thor, Sif and the Warriors Three, Fandral, Hogan and Volstagg, ride around the stars in their little sailing ship meeting bad aliens. They are accompanied by the Recorder of Coloniser fame, who precedes his statements with the word ‘statement’ and his observations with the word ‘observation’ but is a loveable chap really. While they’re away, Loki plots against Asgard.

The appeal of quests as stories is lost on me as I usually find them very dull. This one’s not too bad and when the good guys return to Asgard, the action picks up. Len Wein was either a fan of the older ‘Thor’ comics or did some diligent research because he revives a couple of historic villains. Artist Walt Simonson adds to this by reintroducing the old costumes, including the more decorative look that the Destroyer sported in his first appearance.

The pencils on issues The Mighty Thor # 248-259 and The Mighty Thor Annual # 5 are by John Buscema, so obviously they’re great. On # 260-271, the graphite is wielded by Walter Simonson and it’s a different look but nearly as good. It’s all inked by Tony De Zuniga, a perfectly good artist in his own right. This gives the volume a sort of unity but also makes all the pages look a bit like Tony De Zuniga’s work, which is not the worst thing I guess.

There’s a pleasant interlude with The Mighty Thor Annual # 6, pencilled by Sal Buscema and inked by Klaus Janson. Perhaps because of brother John’s towering reputation, Sal is often underrated but I think he’s very good, especially with a skilled inker like Klaus Janson. Thor teams up with the Guardians Of The Galaxy for an epic adventure in the stars where their starship, it must be said, looks more at home than his Viking sailing boat.

In the last few issues of the regular title, Thor goes back to Earth and resumes his identity as Doctor Don Blake. This, too, harks back to those halcyon days of yore on this title. Lee and Kirby used to alternate a big Asgardian epic with a few Earth adventures and it’s a good pattern to follow. You can’t have the imminent end of the universe every other issue and even Odin can only sleep so much.

These stories first appeared in the very different era of 1976-1978. All in all, it’s a satisfactory slice of past Marvel at a bargain price which will give hours of mild, low level pleasure to old fans and perhaps some new ones, too.

Eamonn Murphy

July 2014

(pub: Marvel. 504 page black and white softcover graphic novel. Price: £12.11 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-78516-683-2)

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