Running 500 pages, Thor Epic Collection: Ulik Unchained is yet another example of Marvel packing a lot of story into their reprinting line. This collection, which features stories first printed in 1973 to 1975 written by Gerry Conway with art by John Buscema, packs a lot of punch storytelling wise. Stories contained in this collection feature a team-up with Hercules, tons of space combat, the true origin of Ego the Living Planet, and more.
This collection contains Thor (1966) #217-241, Marvel Premiere (1972) #26, and material from Marvel Treasury Edition (1974) #3. When it comes to epic cosmic adventures, this era stands up against the best of them. We’re talking about a story with Galactus who faces an enemy so evenly matched he needs Thor to help him. Or in another case, a story involving entire planet of aliens that face annihilation from a threat called Black Star. In both stories, entire cultures, backstories, and revelations are revealed in epic fashion, expanding our minds and offering incredible sci-fi ideas at the same time.
And yet, a battle with Absorbing Man takes place over multiple issues. Thor is very much a fight comic, and the art holds up its end of the bargain in that regard. In another story, Thor must go on a journey to save a very sick Jane Foster. This was the era of Donald Blake, where Thor could change into his human self, but for the most part he’s off in space taking on giant threats in this collection.
Reoccurring characters in this collection include Firelord, Galactus’s herald, and Hercules who fights by Thor’s side multiple times. Firelord supplies an interesting perspective as he’s been a Herald for so long and is freed at one point, replaced by Destroyer thanks to Thor. Hercules ends up adding a familiar bravado as Thor, giving some of these stories a buddy team-up vibe that works.
The standout story here is the Galactus team-up, which starts with Firelord fighting Thor in a bit of miscommunication. Soon, Thor learns Galactus seeks his help as Ego has gone off his rocker and must be contained, but Galactus’s powers are equal to Ego’s, resulting in a stalemate. The story ends up revealing Ego’s backstory as well as explaining he was just a man like any other at one point. It’s an example of how Conway took fantastical ideas from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby era and humanized them, making them more relatable and complex.
Thor Epic Collection: Ulik Unchained features stories from an excellent era for Thor as he zips around space solving problems for colorful characters and even mainstays like Galactus. It also serves as a different era as he’s not alone, but usually aided by Hercules or his trusty Asgard buddies.
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