The 90s were a wild time for superheroes, The Mighty Thor very much included. Recently collected in an “Epic Collection” capturing Thor #419 through #436, the stories featured are large in scale and scope and because it was the 90s: Thor dons a new costume! This was a period of time when Thor was splitting his time as a god and as human Eric Masterson. Asgard also no longer had a Rainbow Bridge to make traveling easier for the God of Thunder and the demi-god Hercules was shacking up with Eric seriously ruining his domestic life. Here are three takeaways from one of the most epic Thor collections on the stands.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
If death be his destiny! When the High Evolutionary plans a new race of immortals in the Black Galaxy, Hercules and the Celestials play a part in a space-faring saga with major implications for Thor – and his new mortal host, Eric Masterson! Thor will experience flame, frost and fury courtesy of Surtur and Ymir, but will a new god take charge of Asgard? On Earth, Code Blue serves and protects New York from superhuman dangers like the Wrecking Crew – but things get out of hand when Thor and Excalibur take on the unstoppable Juggernaut! And when Loki crosses the line, Thor commits an unspeakable act – and the consequences leave Eric Masterson in charge! Can Eric fill the thunder god’s shoes, or will his first outings as a solo hero be his last?
1: A Celestial is born.
Celestials have always been a wonder in the Marvel Universe with their presence ranging from distant deities told in stories to literally being turned into the Avengers headquarters (see Jason Aaron’s latest run). In this collection, Celestials take up a big part of the first quarter of the book as they’re the reason why Terminus was a threat to Earth, they connect to the High Evolutionary and his experiments, and then later Hercules is used to help birth a Celestial. It’s a wild turn in the story complete with lots of back story and explanation. If you’re looking to get a bit more info about the Celestials first hand check this book out.
2: Thor gets a new look and a new identity.
It seems like every character got a revamp on their costume in the 90s. Whether it actually boosted sales or if DC and Marvel were attempting to top each other remains to be seen, but with Thor, it was a change that actually made sense. About two thirds through this collection Erik and Thor are split and Erik is given the power of Thor directly. It’s an interesting turn in the story since Erik speaks like any normal American and thus Thor no longer talked like he was in a Greek play. The costume was pretty boss too, especially by today’s standards as he had a big blonde beard and a new helmet that also served as a mask. The cape and main costume staid the same. Read all about how he made the costume in Thor #433.
3: So many sci-fi adversaries!
There are quite a few wild ideas afoot in this collection. The High Evolutionary takes up a big chunk of the book as he attempts to improve upon humans and allow them to break away from their potential which apparently has a ceiling. He does it and it looks shockingly like a James Bond babe more than anything else. He’s an intereting villain for Thor to spar with partly because they are both distracted by the birth of Celestial. The poor High Evolutionary loses his marbles because he can’t help but record data and learn from every experience including the birthing process of a Celestial.
Other adversaries include a genetic duplicate of Thor called a replicoid made by the Celestials (they beat Mr. Fantastic’s Clore by decades), a space motorcycle driving Celestial slayer called Stellaris, Terminus, and Annihilus. Of these Terminus has the most interesting and robust back story as it is revealed the Celestials attempted to kill his race and he was able to skirt death only to be trapped in the Earth’s core. If that sounds wild you have seen nothin’ yet! He also fights Excalibur which reveals how Kitty Pryde can easily take out Thor save for Mjolnir getting him out of that sticky situation in Thor #427.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
There are tales of Asgard mini-stories that serve as backup stories for the first few issues collected here that don’t really jive well with the main story. They’re fun medieval-style style stories with horses and what not and while they do involve the Warriors Three they are so disconnected from Thor’s adventures they are skippable.
Showing the age of this book is a rather hokey police officer team called Code Blue. Their first appearance is in this collection and while DeFalco’s attempt at making them work is admirable they are more like a decent idea for a Saturday morning cartoon than a group worth sticking in a superhero book.
Is it good?
This is a wild time for Thor and Marvel Comics alike. The amount of cosmic elements, especially with the variety of villains, is stellar and you have to admire the 90s addiction to changing heroes and their costumes.
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