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Super Reads Thor

Written by SuperginraiX on Saturday, May 07 2011 and posted in Features
Mighty Mighty Thor

Celebrating a Marvel Movie Milestone Event!

Today, we check out check out three different Thor #1 issues and Blast to the Past for as many past Thor appearances as we can fit in.  Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

Super Reads Thor
Thor's out in the USA and Super Reads wants in on some of that action!  To celebrate the big event, I'm going through all my past columns and dropping some choice Thor appearances into one massive article of pure joy.  I'll also be reading through three Thor #1 comics so there's some new material for everyone!

If you like what you see and want to read more, I'm all set up for that action.  You can check in on years worth of comics and funny panels right at THIS LINK.

Now, let's check out Thor and see what we can see.

The Mighty Thor #1The Mighty Thor #1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

In this issue:

• It's a church service in Broxton!  Expect a pastor to fumble through a sermon about the "gods" living among them.

• The Silver Surfer brings Galactus to a dead world to feed.  It's hardly enough.  Norrin Rad senses a tasty meal and tracks it.

• More sermonizing.

• Thor and Sif dive to the root of the World Tree and fight with its living immune system.

• Loki argues with the Ironsmith that makes those cool interdimensional diving helmets.  The god of mischief had a dream that he'd save his bro and needs the helmet to do so.  When he tells the Ironsmith this, the man gives him the gear.

• Kid Loki dives in and arrives just in time to save Thor.

• Thor brings a World Tree seed back to Odin but he doesn't feel like celebrating this successful quest.

• The Silver Surfer approaches earth.

The Asgardians have been in Broxton, Oklahoma for a while now.  It's been long enough that they've left for Latveria and returned only to have their city destroyed by the Sentry/ Void.  The World Tree, Yggdrasil, filling in the sky is new, though.

I mention this because the opening scene of this comic has a church service and a lot of people are showing up this week with questions about HOW God can be real if they live right next door to a city FULL of lower case "g" gods.  Why this happens right now is a complete mystery (Fear Itself, probably).  Why the pastor seems to sense the mood of his congregation and speak to it is yet another mystery.  Maybe he speaks about those Asgardians in every sermon.

The BIG problem with these scenes is that the pastor isn't particularly GOOD.  The back lighting from the stained glass windows don't help because they make him look more villainous than the actual story contends.  Now, this isn't unusual that we'd have an uninspired religious leader because I've gone to quite a few churches in my time and have only met two or three pastors that not only know what they're talking about but can connect to their congregations and inspire deeper faith or at least provoke people to think about their relationship with God.  This guy doesn't represent those guys and it's no wonder.  You're not buying a Thor comic to actually see what Christianity is all about and you certainly don't want to be preached at.

What's amazing is that even as a watered down religious figure, he really fails at his only task in this book.  His job here is to give us and the congregation some insight on how the church would view the Asgardian gods.  In his sermon later in the book, he dances around the issue instead of just saying what seems SO OBVIOUS and has already been said in better Thor comics.  The people of the Marvel Universe don't really have a huge spiritual issue with Asgardians.  At worst, they think that the Asgardians are super-humans PRETENDING to be gods.  At best, they recognize that none of the Asgardians seems particularly omniscient or omnipotent so they don't sit on the same level as their own God.  It's a city of super-powered beings in a world loaded with super-powered beings.  Sure, living next door to them might change your perspective a little but that should still be the easy answer to this important religious question.

But enough of that talk.  Let's move on to more fun things.  Like the death of a planet!  Meet Norrin Rad, the Silver Surfer.  He finds planets for his master, Galactus, to devour.  Since Norrin has a conscience, he looks for worlds devoid of life.  That means he begins this issue by staring at a world with a dead civilization, buildings and all.  It is a sad sight but at least it'll help feed Galactus.

The problem is that the Devourer of Worlds has a gigantic appetite and needs to feast on a lot of planets to keep going.  Silver Surfer is constantly looking for the Big G's next meal.

Suddenly, he senses something that could sustain Galactus for a good long while.  It's too good to pass up.  The Surfer tracks it down.

Back in good ol' Broxton, the pastor sermonizes on.  It looks like this guy is having his own crisis of faith and has a lot of questions that he doesn't even try to answer.  Part of that is nice because it's honest.  Still, he's got a whole group of people coming to church because they already HAVE some of these questions and either want some comfort or just the pastor's take on things.  They probably aren't getting that with this sermon.  Maybe that part happens off panel.  Maybe they just really like singing hymns.

Well, that's long enough NOT having Thor appear in his own comic.  In earthly Asgard, Thor and Sif are diving to the root of Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  Because the World Tree is broken, Odin has ordered his son and Sif to swim through the ethereal, space-time soil around Yggdrasil and bring back the Worldheart, a seed that will probably be used to make a brand new World Tree.  They're connected to the surface by a magic chain and wearing space suit armor for the journey.

As they get closer to their goal, the two Asgardians encounter some gigantic, see-through centipedes.  These things are probably part of Yggdrasil's immune system and attack Thor and Sif because the two are foreign objects here.  Right now, all that's important is the attacking part.  The centipedes are seriously formidable.

Someday, Cap Armor, Thor Armor, and Iron Man are going to get a six issue mini-series.

This mission to the root of the World Tree is short by one member.  Kid Loki was supposed to join Thor and Sif but he's having some trouble securing his breathing helmet.  The Ironsmith that created the helmet has already accepted payment for it but then remembered that the old Loki was the one responsible for bringing Asgard low.  He asks Kid Loki's guardians, the Warriors Three, if THEY trust the god of mischief to journey to the heart of the World Tree.  The answer is a resounding "Hell, no."

Fandral DOES mention that the dangers near the root of Yggdrasil have a greater chance of killing Loki again and that the kid will be watched by Thor and Sif so there's hardly a chance for trouble on Loki's part.  When Loki tells the Ironsmith that it is Thor that's in danger and only the god of mischief can save the thunder god, the Ironsmith relents.

Loki reaches the hole in the earth and has a chat with All-Father Odin.  Odin remarks that there's only one chain and it's already in use.  Loki leaps in, sure that he'll find Thor and that the thunder god will bring him back to the surface.  He "saw it in a dream."  Once he's on his way, Kid Loki regrets the action.

Below, Thor is in actual danger.  One of the World Centipedes has curled around him and stabs his side with a sharp mandible.  Loki spears the monster in the proverbial nick and our hero is free.  The kid god describes more of his dream, saying that in it Thor died from a wound that spewed out its own laser light show.  This is IMPORTANT.

Thor gives the seed to his pop and retires for the evening.  Everyone else parties hard at his success.  The fact that the Odinson isn't joining in on the fun troubles Sif and she mentions it to Thor when they go to bed and the thunder god isn't into a little nookie.  She then realizes that Thor was injured during the adventure.  It's hard to miss because the wound glows in the dark.  That's troubling when you consider Loki's dream.  Thor tells his lover that the Worldheart being in Asgard is a BAD IDEA.

Back at the church in Broxton, the pastor is closing up for the night when he notices he has a visitor.  This is Natalie and like most young people, she's questioning her faith.  She blurts out all her questions but chief among them is basically, "What if there is no God?"

Again, the pastor doesn't really tell Natalie anything like, "Of course there's a God, you fool!"  He actually just calms her down and tells her that she's not the only one to ask hard questions like this and only she can come up with an answer that will satisfy her.  Which actually isn't a half bad response.

What he does guarantee, though, is that there IS something out there looking down on them all.

Speaking of which, here's the Silver Surfer, flying down to the earth, looking down on us all.  Probably not who the pastor was thinking about.

I wonder if he's here for a delicious Worldheart...

Thor #1Thor #1
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

In this story:

• Thor dreams of his past adventures which gives us a rundown of all the events leading up to this issue.

• Doctor Donald Blake shows up in the void to convince Thor to live again.  He also explains why he exists at all.

• Blake tells Thor that the rest of the Asgardians are scattered all over the planet, stuck in the bodies of mortals who don't realize it.

• To get out of the void, Thor has to fight other creatures who don't want him to leave.  He battles his way to Mjolnir and suits up.

• After Thor "wishes to live," Donald Blake picks up a walking stick in the middle of nowhere and starts his journey to...

• Broxton, Oklahoma!  Blake rents a room at Beth Sooner's hotel.

• When he gets inside, Don slams his walking stick on the floor hard.  Lightning explodes in the sky over Broxton.

Wow.  This issue is going to require a bit of back history.  You see, Thor went into Avengers: Disassembled in his own book but didn't come back out the other side.  His tale was all about Ragnarok.  Thor learned that it was a cycle for the Asgardians.  They kept repeating it over and over in a more successive pattern.  To end the cycle, Thor had to stop the resurrection of the Asgardians.  When this Ragnarok was over, the only dude walking out of it was Beta Ray Bill, who wasn't really Asgardian anyway.

So that was the end of Thor and Asgard for quite a while.  Then, in the pages of Fantastic Four, Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, fell from the sky and landed in Oklahoma.  This led to Doctor Doom trying to lift the hammer and we all know how that would end up.  After that, the hammer became a curiosity with people from everywhere coming to try and lift it.  Eventually, a dude with a suitcase labeled "DB" picked the thing up and the sky exploded.

And now, we can get into the issue at hand!

Thor is still dead but not REALLY dead.  In his current state of unlife, he dreams about the life he once lived.  We get pictures that tell a brief history of this thunder god and it leads right up to "DB" grabbing the hammer.

In Thor's void of non-existance, he suddenly realizes that he's existing again.  He asks aloud who would DARE bring him back to existance and finds himself facing... himself.  Well, Don Blake ("DB"), at least.  The line that separates these two is squiggly at best.  Is Blake a separate identity?  Is he the creation of Odin?  This issue doesn't delve too deeply into these questions but it looks like if Donald Blake had once been only Thor in human form, he's now a fully realized person with his own credit cards and everything.

The doctor explains that he's lived in this void ever since Odin made him not exist to free his son from always having a hand on Mjolnir to keep that godly physique.  This held until the final Ragnarok when Donald Blake blinked back into existance witht he death of the last god.

So we've got that mystery solved.  Now, we get to learn why Don is here.  He tells Thor to get out of his pajamas and start existing again.  The world needs him.  Thor is mostly unmoved so Blake shows the god of thunder a future without Thor in it.  Cities destroyed.  People dead.  Fires burning out of control.  It's your typical post-apocalyptic future but one wonders if this is the first look we got of Fear Itself.  If Thor isn't in position to act against this future, it'll come to pass.

Thor is still concerned that his return would bring back the cycle of Ragnarok but Dr. Blake tells him that the cycle is broken.  Thor returning won't bring it back.  Even more, the rest of the Asgardians can return as well.  Right now, they're out there in the world waiting to be found, hidden in the hearts and minds of men.  Even Asgard can return if it's Thor's will.

Thor asks his human counterpart how Blake came to know all of this.  Don tells the thunder god that he's been walking through the void for quite a while and he's picked up a lot of interesting tidbits in that time.  He's pretty wise.

The journey back to earth won't be easy.  Thor will have to fight his way to Mjolnir, fighting a lot of creatures who would rather he didn't leave the void.  Well, you don't get the title of warrior-born for being bad in a fight.  Thor battles his way through the void in his one-piece pajama shirt.  It's a tough fight but the thunder god plods through overwhelming odds until he reaches his hammer.

He grabs Mjolnir and lightning dances around the void.  The hammer also gives Thor a brand new suit to wear which is pretty awesome looking.

He's also afraid of clowns.

With his foes defeated, Thor makes a wish... to live again.

Back in Oklahoma, Doctor Donald Blake picks a stick up from the side of the road and starts walking down what looks like a never-ending highway.

He eventually walks into Broxton and finds Beth Sooner's hotel.  He takes out a room for the foreseeable future and engages in some clever dialogue with the lady.  When she asks for Don's ID, Blake pulls out a blank plastic card that becomes a New York Identification Card when he shows it to Sooner.  Some Odinforce at work?

Mrs. Sooner hands him a key to room 216 and the good doctor heads up to his room.

Don puts his pack down and sits on the bed.  He raises his walking stick into the air and slams it down.

Outside, the sky fills with storm clouds and a giant burst of lightning zags it's way to the ground.

Thor is back!

The Mighty Thor #1The Mighty Thor #1
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciler: John Romita Jr.

In this story:

• Hostage scene!  The hostage taker demands to see Thor and gets that wish fulfilled.

• The criminal claims to be Heimdall and with the Asgardians missing, Thor is unsure whether to believe him or not.  He decides to take this "Heimdall" to Asgard.

• Colonel Case oversees the transport of a box containing the Destroyer and is foolish enough to touch the case with an ungloved hand.  Big explosion.

• The prophetess, Volo, tells Hela that Thor is going to die.

• When the man sees fallen Asgard, he realizes that he isn't really a god and Thor takes him back to earth.

• EMT Jake Olson is about to go home after a busy day at work when he and his partner are called to the docks to deal with injuries caused by the Destroyer.  When he calls his fiance, she's less than pleased.

• Thor brings the man who claimed to be Heimdall to Doctor Jane Foster and then learns about the Destroyer fight.

• Jake Olson is rescuing a victim of the Destroyer's rampage when a gas leak and fire meet up and start making beautiful music.  He saves the injured man but gets caught in the explosion.

• Thor doesn't do much better against the Destroyer.  His fight ends after the big metal guy beats him to a pulp and lowers his visor, killing the god of thunder.

You ever notice that Asgard is always in a terrible state when a Thor #1 comes out?  Let me tell you a little back story to catch you up on this particular Thor #1.

The thunder god returned from Heroes Reborn only to find that Asgard had seen a great battle and was drained of its citizens.  Since then, Thor had been working with the Avengers and used his free time to search out any sign of his missing people.  So far, that search was fruitless.

This issues actually gives him a sign of hope in the most unlikely of places.  Some crazy man has holed up in a day care center, taking hostages and demanding an audience with the god of thunder.  The police aren't used to giving into demands from hostage takers but there are kids involved and no sniper is able to take this guy out without risking young, innocent lives.

Thor makes people uneasy because he claims to be a god.  It definitely gets him a different reaction than Captain America.  When he shows up, the crowd and police have all sorts of reactions before catching him up to speed.  They tell him that this criminal claims to be another Asgardian god.  Thor takes off to handle things even though the police don't want him interfering.

At the same time, we're introduced to Jake Olson, an Emergency Medical Technician who's on the scene to get the injured the help they need.  No one needs him just yet but this is a very delicate situation that requires tact and diplomacy.

Or, y'know, Thor could just break a wall down needlessly.  This is why Damage Control exists, I suppose.  The fallen wall separates this presumed god from his hostages so no one gets hurt.

The hostage taker claims to be Heimdall, turned to human form through the mechanations of Loki.  With Asgard in ruins, Thor gives the man the benefit of the doubt but still doesn't think much will come of this.  He uses his hammer, Mjolnir, to teleport the two of them to Asgard itself.

Down at the docks, a very important case is being delivered to the United States, care of the military.  Overseeing this bit of postage is Colonel Preston Case who has a serious bug up his behind.  This is because his men keep talking about him behind his back.  They don't respect him because Colonel Case has never served in combat.

Even though everyone touching the case is wearing some extreme protective gear, the Colonel thinks it's a brilliant idea to touch it with his bare hand, even after warned against doing so.  The results are explosive.

Back at the day care center, Jake Olson and his partner, Dimetrius, check to make sure the kids involved in the hostage situation are ok.  Jake has plans with his fiance Hannah, that are about to be spoiled when his ambulance is called in to help down at the docks.  He tries to get out of it but when he learns how bad things are, he has no choice but to go save some lives.

In Hel, Hela is getting some good news from her prophetess, Vola.  The old lady predicts the death of the god of thunder.  She's cryptic about who's actually going to die here but that's who she's talking about.  This gets Hela pretty excited.   A dead Thor is like Christmas for her.

By this time, Thor and the presumed "Heimdall" have arrived at fabled Asgard.  Thor's been here since it's been destroyed but it's still a sad sight for his eyes.  The Rainbow Bridge is broken.  Buildings are crumbling.  No one's taken out the trash.  The thunder god is on the verge of tears.  "Heimdall" goes one better.

Seeing this fallen city, the man claiming to be Heimdall admits that he isn't a god.  He's just a crazy man what got sucked into the delusion of being the watchman of Asgard.  Even though Thor was pretty sure this wasn't Heimdall, learning for certain takes away his small glimmer of hope and he tosses his hammer in anguish.  Mjolnir breaks through already broken buildings, freeing an ancient prisoner in its passing (a plot point for another day), before returning to the god of thunder.

Thor has a pretty meaningless flashback about how Loki stole a goose right out of his hands when they were kids.  I think it's just here to show us Loki and Sif but it also shows us how easy it is to steal from the god of thunder.  The Avenger wonders why Loki, Odin, Sif, Balder, or the Warriors Three weren't enough to guard Asgard.

But his musings will have to wait.  Thor needs to get this human back to earth and to the help he needs.  To Midgard!

Jake and Demetrius are driving to the emergency site.  On the way, D is getting in a quick bite (this is OT, after all) and Jake is calling up his finace on a gigantic cell phone to cancel their date.  Hannah is understandably upset and tries to get Jake to forget about saving lives... but what are you gonna do?  It's an imporant job that needs doing.  when she hangs up the phone,her daughter, Amanda, tells her mom how worthless Jake Olson is but Hannah doesn't believe it.  She's mad but, again, what can you do?

Thor and the fake Heimdall return to earth.  The thunder god brings this crazy man right to the person he knows can help him: Donald Blake's former nurce, Jane Foster.  Jane is a doctor now.  Their reunion is cut short when Doctor Foster mentions the Avengers battle taking place right now down at the waterfront.  Thor takes off for the fight, leaving Jane Foster wondering if this will be the one Thor won't walk away from.

The docks are a warzone and it's all the Avengers can do to save lives.  They still don't know what the threat is until Thor arrives.  Then, out of the first comes this issue's big bad.

It's the Destroyer.

Quick catch up for those not in the know:  The Destroyer was an ultimate weapon created by Odin to fight the Celestials (or Ragnarok itself by some accounts).  It requires a life force to control it and it somehow always gets in the hands of the bad guys.  This time, Colonel Case is driving the thing.  He's not really a BAD GUY but the armor is bringing out all of his worst tendencies while also being a rush of pure power.

So, yeah.  This thing was made to fight near Galactus level threats.  What do you think the Avengers' chances are?

Is it a good thing if you can't stand up after seeing a movie?

The team gives it their best but the Destroyer is pretty much power personified.  Thor is definitely the most powerful Avenger but even he is out of his league.  All he can do is buy his teammates time to get all the innocents out of the area.  Iron Man tries to help but Shellhead's sneak attack is ruined when he announces his every action.

Most of the civilians have been removed from the area which is good because the fires are about to claim the whole place.  Before leaving, Jake Olson notices one last dude trapped under a wrecked car.  It's the worst situation you can think of because the car is leaking fuel that is inching ever closer to the open flames.  Through a Herculean effort (natch), Jake is able to lift the vehicle and free the man.

Olson picks up the injured citizen and makes a run for it.  The gas reaches the fire and flames travel right back to the car.  It explodes, blasting shrapnel all over the place.  Jake takes some heavy injuries and drops to the ground, dying.  He tells the injured man to crawl out of the warzone.

All this time, Thor has been channeling the wind and lightning with his hammer and hitting the Destroyer with its combined power.  This is not even close to stopping Preston Case.  He strides through the wind and lightning like it ain't no thing and then unleashes a blast of his own that knocks the thunder god out of the sky.

On the ground, Thor takes a beating that knocks him unconcious.  The Destroyer isn't done yet, though.  He drops his visor, unleashing a destructive blast more powerful than pretty much anything.  The sky lights up from this burst of pure power.

When it dies down, Captain America and the rest of the Avengers race in to check on the fate of their friend and ally.  The Destroyer is gone but Thor remains, battered, bruised, and very much dead.

And that's all the new material I have for you today.  What follows is some of the many Thor appearances that have been chronicled in Super Reads over the years.  It's definitely not all of his appearances but it's pretty much all the imporant ones that I've gone over.  Enjoy these repeats and then go out and watch the Thor movie with more (or less) knowledge than you had before!  If you've seen it once, see it again.

It's probably worth it!

Journey Into Mystery #83Journey Into Mystery #83
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• Dr. Don Blake visits Norway!

• Rock aliens invade and test out their crazy abilities in sight of a local fisherman!

• That fisherman tries to warn the authorities but no-one believes him... except for Don Blake!

• Blake hikes out to investigate and finds the same aliens.

• They also notice him and the race is on!

• Blake traps himself in a cave and finds an old stick.

• Don tries using the stick to lever up a boulder blocking another exit to the cave but it doesn't work.

• In frustration, Dr. Blake strikes the rock with the cane and turns into Thor!

• Thor easily lifts the boulder and exits the cave.

• Thor tests out his abilities.

• The rock aliens begin their invasion and find earth's defenses to be very weak.

• Thor swings his hammer into the game and defeats the rock aliens, escaping without being seen by the authorites to end the story.

August, 1962. This was finally when Stan Lee kicked the fledgling Marvel Universe into high gear! Fantastic Four had reached issue 5 and Incredible Hulk reached it's second issue the month prior (both were bi-monthly) when the team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced their next hero into their line-up. Unlike their last creation who was more monster than super-hero, Thor had all the trappings of the genre. In time, Stan and Jack would explore a good deal of Marvel's Asgardian mythology but when this thing started, it was basically used as a means to an end. Thor seemed more like a power source for the mortal, Dr. Donald Blake, and the enemies were typical alien invaders instead of the other gods that would appear later.

Thor wasn't alone for the month of August; another Marvel hero made his debut in the final issue of Amazing Fantasy #15: Spider-Man. Both Thor and Spidey made their first appearances in books that were already being published by Atlas/Marvel. This continued the trend begun with Hank Pym's first appearance: phasing out the current Twilight Zone-like stories (which still appeared side by side with the super-hero work for quite a while) without starting brand new books, which had been the case for both the Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk. Marvel was obviously not sure what their audience wanted and was hedging their bets with a more conservative approach.

Donald Blake himself is an enigma. It seems like he was originally intended to be the true personality for Thor while the god of thunder was basically a costume he put on. When the title got it's bearings, Blake would disappear for issues at a time and it became apparent that Thor himself was in the driver's seat. The Donald Blake personality was originally forced on Thor to teach the son of Odin something about humility but, in later years, Blake is a personality all on his own. He's not a very INTERESTING personality but he's his own man nonetheless.

Our issue opens with Doctor Donald Blake vacationing in Norway. What we might notice from these very small panels is that Blake walks with a cane. He's got a bum leg which technically makes him handicapped but he usually manages fine with just the cane so it's not too impairing. After he gets a good look at the coastline, Don turns away just in time to miss the landing space craft.

Our aliens for this issue are Stone Men from the planet Saturn. In time, we'll learn that they are really Kronans from the planet Ria and have just been using a moon orbiting Saturn as a staging ground but that's not important for this first issue. It's also not too important that Korg of the Warbound (from the Planet Hulk storyline) is one of their number but it IS a nice little bit of trivia. Right now, this invasion force of orange rock creatures are more interested in testing out their abilities than giving us a clear picture of their origins. Aliens from Saturn would be enough for now.

Abilities? These guys have some abilities. Super strength, nigh invulnerability, incredible technology... the Stone Men are pretty formidably and they like to test all of their powers for our benefit (we have to learn all this somehow). The one ability they could use is some sort of radar. While they're busy showing off, a local fisherman sees them and makes off for town to spread the word.

No-one believes our heroic fisherman. Maybe he's told some tall tales in his day. More likely it's the fact that you usually don't believe when someone tells you an alien invasion is on your doorstep. They just think he's drunk and/or lying. Only Doctor Blake wonders if this old fisherman is telling the truth. The next day, he takes a hike to the location the fisherman mentioned to do some investigating of his own.

Blake is startled to find that the aliens are real. We're surprised to learn they haven't done anything yet. What, are they still testing out their abilities? Anyway, the aliens announce that they need to kill anyone who finds them just as Don makes his presence known by snapping a loud branch at his feet. The Stone Men start chasing him. You'd think this would be a simple matter since Blake relies on a cane but the Stone Men don't seem particularly fast. Even when the doctor loses his walking stick, he still manages to reach the relative safety of a cave before the aliens can overtake him. Heck, you've gotta be wondering if he's even being followed at this point.

Donald Blake is certain that the invaders are right behind him and thinks this cave is little protection. Even after finding a back way out of the cave, he's still stuck. It's covered by a massive rock that Blake has no chance of moving. He sits and sulks at his poor fate. In sulking position, he somehow activate a mechanism that opens up another chamber in this cave. Inside on a raised rock platform, sits a simple stick. Looks like Don Blake has solved his walking troubles again and, if he's lucky, he'll be able to use this stick to pry that boulder out of his way so he can escape the cave.

It's a no go. The rock is just too big. In frustration, Dr. Blake strikes the rock with his new cane and a remarkable transformation occurs. In a flash of blinding light, Doctor Donald Blake turns into Thor. His new walking stick turns into the hammer, Mjolnir. On the side of the hammer, the new Thor finds this inscription:

"For a good time call Sif. 555-243-1854"

Oh, wait, I mean:

"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of... Thor"

This pretty much means anyone worthy can be Thor. What it translated into later is that only Thor or someone worthy could even lift the hammer. For now, it's still Donald Blake talking within Thor's body. No hidden memories are revealed. In fact, once Thor lifts the obstructing rock out of the way and leaves the cave, he has to try and figure out what being Thor means from what he remembers from school.

This is a natural reaction.  Well, besides Thor's faux gangta speak.

He remembers that Thor "was the noblest and strongest of all the Norse gods." and that Thursday was named for him. After that, it's time to test out his abilities. The most important of these is that he reverts to Donald Blake when separated from Mjolnir for about a minute. The hammer seems to hold most of the power here. Sure, Thor is super strong but it looks like lightning and storms are created by manipulating the hammer. Thor can also throw Mjolinir off to destroy whatever he aims it at and the hammer will return to his hand when done. When he's become familiar with his powers, Thor changes back into Don Blake so that he can send out his own warning about the Stone Men.

This will reach the world too late. The aliens have already begun their invasion and encounter some NATO jet fighters as resistance. The Stone Men activate a holographic generator that creates the image of a giant dragon before the defending pilots. This is MUCH scarier than an invasion fleet and the pilots eject from their planes before they fly into the giant beast. Missiles are launched at the aliens next but these are repulsed by a forcefield. Just like in ID4.

From the ground, Don Blake has seen just how defenseless the world is to the invading Stone Men and enters the fight as Thor. He takes to the air and we learn another power possessed of Thor's hammer. Thor can't ACTUALLY fly. What he does is throws his hammer into the air and catches the unbreakable strap, following the hammer. In mid-air, he can redirect himself by throwing Mjolnir once more. This is the comic book equivalent of the videogame "double jump." Both make no real sense but who doesn't love a double jump?

Thor doesn't fly up to the aliens' ship. Instead, he lands in the middle of the Stone Men camp and fights the rocky aliens on the ground. The invaders plan on capturing this super-hero alive so they can do some probing. They drop a cage on Thor's head but that only holds the god of thunder for a moment before he tears the bars apart and escapes.

The Stone Men change up their strategy and decide that capturing this blond warrior is probably a bad idea. They raise their superior weapons to blast Thor into oblivion. In response, Thor throws his mighty hammer which somehow attracts the aliens' disintegrators. Unarmed, the aliens sic a killer robot on their opponent. Another toss of his hammer shatters the best of the Stone Men's weapons.

And this is just one guy. The alien invaders retreat, worried that more like Thor will appear. Thor raises his hammer in triumph.

When NATO soldiers start arriving, Thor changes back into Donald Blake to avoid them. He's not ready to reveal himself to the public. They might think him some strange scientific curiousity and start the experiments. The arriving soldiers don't know why the aliens have retreated but they know that the man limping around with a cane probably wasn't responsible.

Thus begins the adventures of Thor, god of thunder. Over the years, Thor has had a wealth of tales all over the Marvel Universe and is a founder of the Avengers to boot. The Siege focused on Thor and his Asgardian people defending against Norman Osborn and HAMMER. Currently, Thor is appearing in his own title as well as The Avengers. Since there's a movie out in theaters right now, Thor books are the newest trend as Marvel gets their library available for the occasion.

Journey Into Mystery #85Journey Into Mystery #85
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

Newcomers may not realize that Loki isn't usually a kid. Actually, newcomers may be quite confused by Marvel's Loki. He's a bit different than the world's view on the Norse god. Instead of being Odin's Bloodbrother, Loki is instead Odin's adopted son. This makes him Thor's brother and more relevant to the book.

This was the third adventure of Thor and the first appeance of any other Norse gods or mythological elements. They start pretty full blown, though.

Our tale begins in Asgard which is connected to Earth by the rainbow bridge, Bifrost. Loki has already been defeated at this point. He has been trapped inside a tree until someone comes around and cries about it. No one in Asgard gives a damn about Loki, though, so the odds of someone naturally crying over it is very, very low. Loki has been using his time wisely, though. He's used it to gain some control over his tree prison. When Heimdall (the ever vigilant guard of Bifrost) passes by, Loki sends a leaf from the tree and times it to strike his eye. This causes the eye to tear up and, thus, Loki is freed from the tree.

Loki looks for revenge against the one that captured him: Thor. No one's seen Thor in Asgard for a long time (for undisclosed reasons). Loki searches out Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and locates him on Earth. Thor is entertaining sick children at a hospital.

Loki now knows where to head off to and quickly runs down Bifrost to earth.

You can't avoid obvious jokes.

Knowing that the clothes he wore in Asgard may cause him to be noticed on Earth, he switches up his attire to something more suitable for a man in the 1960's. He quickly heads to the children's hospital where he just missed the god of thunder. Loki has no choice but to cause some sort of disturbance and hope that Thor shows up instead of Spider-Man. He uses his magic to make a few people appear like photographic negatives.

Doctor Don Blake and Nurse Jane Foster are in a crowd that is witness to this transformation. Blake quickly loses himself in the crowd and transforms into his alternate form of Thor. He approaches the scene and uses his hammer to create anti-matter particles which immediately solve the problem.  Anti-Matter Particles: They're not just for destroying the known universe any more!

Loki has successfully revealed Thor. He approaches his arch-enemy and greets him. Thor, being more Don Blake than Thor at this point, doesn't recognize Loki until he gets rid of his swanky 1960's suit and returns to his Asgard gear. Jane Foster immediately finds Loki to be awesome but it's a fleeting thought (like Xavier being attracted to Jean Grey... sometimes Marvel history is AWKWARD).

As Thor runs over his Norse Mythology, Loki challenges him to battle. Thor has no choice but to accept. They take to the air and, because Loki is leading Thor, Thor is hypnotized by the sun's rays reflecting off his hammer as he rises through the sky. That's hard to explain without images, but Loki hypnotizes Thor and that's all you really need to know. Loki orders Thor to give him Mjolnir but Thor cannot obey because of the Will of Odin (Odin's in charge even if you get hypnotized and his Will is that Mjolnir belongs to Thor and you can't have it *n'yah*). Loki then orders Thor the throw it away but the hammer returns to him just like it is supposed to. Man, this is harder than Loki thought!

Finally, Loki creates a duplicate Thor and orders the hypnotized Thor to hand the hammer over to the fake. This works. He orders Thor off to free the animals kept in the park as the doppleganger Thor disipates and Mjolnir falls to the ground. Loki's gaze is set to watching in amusement as a bunch of humans try in vain to lift Mjolnir from the ground. In sixty seconds, Thor is replaces by Dr. Donald Blake who is NOT hypnotized. He returns to his hammer and, in a flash of light that blinds any onlookers, becomes Thor once more.

Loki tries to escape on the backs of a flock of pigeons but Thor quickly overtakes him. Loki lands and loses himself in a crowd of New Yorkers. Thor gives chase and they have adventures in a theater and a subway before Loki is able to bring a Mobilgas pegasus to life. After Loki has a tantrum across the skies, Thor is able to knock him from his mount with a well thrown piece of piping. Loki lands in the Atlantic where his magic powers are useless. Thor can't leave him to die in a Silver Age comic and comes to his rescue.

Before Loki can dry off and regain his powers, Thor takes him to the top of the Empire State Building, ties him to his hammer, and hurls him back to Asgard where the rest of the Norse gods (including Odin) marvel at Thor's triumph. Mjolnir returns to Thor before his minute is up (which would have caused him to revert to his Donald Blake form). Later, Blake has found Jane Foster and the two continue their walk as Jane remarks on the wonder of two gods battling it out in New York City.

And that is the tale of Loki's first appearance and face-off against the Thor.

Journal Into Mystery #88Journal Into Mystery #88
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

After Loki's last (and first in-continuity) duel with Thor, he was returned to Asgard tied to Mjolnir, Thor's hammer. Odin orders Loki confined to Asgard but he's not trapped in tree form this time. At least put a house arrest bracelet on his ankle, Odin!

But Loki's not just going to run back down to earth to face his much more popular step-brother without some sort of plan. He uses his magical powers to peer through the veil and watch the goings on in Midgard. It's very soon that he finds out that Thor has the secret identity of Doctor Donald Blake. He needs to remain in contact with his hammer or, after sixty seconds, he'll revert to his mortal guise.

So Loki just needs to get Mjolnir away from the god of thunder for a minute and the battle is won!

But that's just part of the problem. First, he has to escape from Asgard and that's no easy task. Heimdall guards the Rainbrow Bridge as isn't likely to just let Loki run down it especially considering Odin's order for Loki to remain confined to the heavenly realm. Heimdall has excellent eyesight, besides, so it won't be easy to sneak past him. Well, unless you duck...

I swear, Heimdal gets better at his job.

Apparently Heimdall doesn't look down much. Just straight ahead.

Loki dresses up as an old man and uses his powerful will to make Jane Foster allow him access to Dr. Blake's inner labs. Once inside, Loki reveals his true self to the surprised doctor. Blake still reacts swiftly; switching to his more powerful and godly form in an instant.

Loki isn't here to immediately challenge the thunder god, though. He's just here to issue a challenge to meet him in an hour at Central Park. Thor, knowing the havok Loki will cause if his challenge isn't met, accepts. Dr. Blake leaves his office to join the battle little knowing that his nurse and love interest, Jane Foster, is still under the influence of Loki and is integral to the mischief god's strategy.

Thor and Loki soon engage in battle in Central Park. Little does Thor know that Jane Foster is also on the scene to play her critical role. When Thor throws Mjolnir at Loki, the god of mischief dodges the attack and enacts his master plan. Loki changes the tree behind Jane Foster into a raging tiger. Thor, noticing the danger that his lady friend is in, runs to her aid instead of catching his returning hammer.

Thor defeats the tiger but is unable to retrieve his hammer before returning to his mortal form. To compound matters, Loki surrounds Mjolnir with a magical force field. Don Blake is unable to touch the hammer. Loki gloats in his victory over Thor by leaving the scene of the battle in order to cause chaos throughout the world.

Luckily for Blake, Jane fainted before learning his secret identity. He wakes up his nurse and accompanies her home.

Loki wastes no time messing with the entire world. There's no allegiance to his antics. Both sides of the Cold War face his tricks. Soon, the entire world is calling for Thor to come and deal with his fellow norseman. Dr. Blake, of course, is unable to respond as his alter ego. His hammer is still beyond his reach. He needs a plan... and after another antic of Loki's involving winged bazookas, he knows what to do.

The next day, the papers are abuzz with news that Thor is going to defeat Loki by the end of the week. Loki hears this news and immediately wonders how this could be. He's certain Thor couldn't return... or COULD he? Loki returns to Central Park to make sure Mjolnir is still trapped only to discover that while his magical forcefield is still in effect, Thor is standing right next to it holding his hammer. Having to see for himself, Loki lifts to forcefield to find that Mjolnir was still trapped within. The Thor that stands before him is merely a mannequin. Before the force field can be reapplied, Dr. Blake makes a grab for his hammer.

He quickly changes into Thor but the battle is far from won. Loki alters his form to that of a pigeon and hides himself in a flock of the creatures. Thor causes Loki to reveal himself by throwing peanuts into the birds' midst. All of them flock around the food except for the one pigeon that doesn't know any better. Loki flies off as quickly as he can. Thor isn't ready to let him go. He steals a tennis net and is able to ensnare Loki inside it.

Thor parades the captured god of mischief to a crowd of mocking humans and Loki's humiliation is nearly complete. Only the task of returning Loki to Asgard remains and Thor accomplishes that by placing him back in the net and escorting him there personally. Odin is pleased at Thor's victory but is unsure what to do with his adopted son. Loki is becoming more and more dangerous.

Journey Into Mystery #91Journey Into Mystery #91
Writers: Stan Lee & Larry Liever
Artist: Joe Sinnott

Odin is up in Asgard looking at Thor's stuff. One thing in particular: Thor's Belt of Strength. It would increase the thunder god's powers if worn but, so far, hasn't been needed. I wonder if today's the day...

Back on earth, Thor returns from one adventure to find another one beginning. There's a bank that's lifted off the ground and it's freaking out the people inside and outside the structure. Thor is able to start bringing the building back down only to have it suddenly teleported away. To add to the confusion, the people from inside the bank reappear moments later but no one has any memory of anything that happened after being teleported. Thor changes back to Dr. Donald Blake and asks quick medical questions that would have seemed odd coming from Thor... except asking everyone "Do you all have headaches or head injuries?" doesn't really seem like it needed a physical change.

So, this wasn't some incident where everyone received a bash to the head and got T.V. amnesia. This was supernatural. You'd never guess with the levitating and teleporting building. Blake changes back to Thor and flies off to a mountain top in order to place a direct call to his daddy in Asgard. He asks if Loki's escaped again from Asgard's inadequate prison system but the All-Father tells him that, surprise, this time Loki is stuck in Asgard. No, really. He's still up here relaxing and making the Asgard equivalent of license plates. Well, he's relaxing at least.

Meanwhile, more levitating and teleporting crimes are happening around the city. In Asgard, Loki is laughing his tail off. It turns out that he actually IS in Asgard but that doesn't mean he isn't responsible. It just means he's responsible by proxy. To find out what the deal is, we'll have to do a flashback.

A few days ago, Dr. Blake and his nurse/ romantic interest, Jane Foster, were heading back from a house call to find someone had set up a carnival and that there was a mind reader performing. Sandu the Great. He's your typical mind reading type with a jeweled turban and crazy eyes. He's reading people's minds and giving them their social security numbers and other identity theft information. He even embarrasses the good doctor by telling him he's in love with someone with the initials J.F. Jane is all excited to learn this but the Doc plays it off as a mistake.

Loki, who's always stalking his brother, sees this evil looking mind reader and sees only opportunity.

The key to being evil is being as foreign as possible.

Loki seems to have picked an ideal candidate because, as soon as Sandu notices he has a lot more power, he telepathically pick pockets the richest man in the crowd. Carnies. You just can't trust them. After that, things just escalate. The bank heist, for example went off just as we saw except, once teleported away, the bank security tried shooting Sandu only for the mental wonder to stop the forward momentum of the bullets and then do his best movie Magneto impersonation and telekinetically point the gun at the guard. Still, there's a comics code in place. Instead of shooting that thing, he merely teleports everyone back to their starting points and simultaneously erases their memories of everything that happened after their original teleport. Sandu's not ready to reveal himself just yet.

Things continue to get bigger and more daring from there. Buildings disappear. Trains go missing. Paintings and other valuables vanish. Thor keeps looking for the missing buildings but, after they've been looted, Sandu teleports them to the moon. It's a good dumping ground.

It's about time Sandu revealed himself to the world and he does this with the characteristic style of a carnie. He steals a palace from... probably India... and teleports it back to the United States. He then announces that his next crime will happen in New York City and levitates himself to that city. Now, the United States isn't going to just let this happen and so they send in jet fighters to shoot Sandu out of the sky. Sandu simply reverses their fire and the planes shoot themselves out of the sky (with the two pilots ejecting before getting killed, of course).

In Asgard, Loki is enjoying this entire bit of mischief. He knows it's only a matter of time before Sandu faces his brother and is pretty confident that that will end in Thor's defeat.

Sandu's announced crime in New York City is to levitate the United Nations building and demand that they make him ruler of the world. Now, it might be interesting to know that the UN doesn't actually have that power and that Sandu might want to read up on his national politics. Still there are some representatives inside that are willing to play along if it'll get Sandu to drop them back to earth instead of sending them to orbit.

Fortunately, Thor arrives and challenges the mental villain to a battle. Sandu sets down the United Nations building and we get right to the fight. Much like Loki predicted, Sandu is able to use his mental powers to overcome Thor. Thor falls from the sky unconscious and, upon landing, Sandu wraps him in chains and buries him beneath a building. Yep, Thor just got owned. Possibly even pwned.

It's not over just yet, though. Thor is still able to call up daddy and get that Belt of Strength that was pointed out in the beginning of the comic. Odin has his Valkyries deliver it to Thor and the thunder god is able to break his chains off and use Mjolnir to tunnel his way out of his premature burial.

It's time for a rematch with Sandu and, this time, Thor's wearing his Belt of Strength. Loki decides to give his vassal a little help and mentally tells him Thor's weakness. Get him away from his hammer! Sandu does this by taunting Thor to throw it and then teleporting out of the way at the last moment. The hammer misses and, just to up the ante a bit, Sandu teleport himself and Mjolnir to another dimension. Thor isn't able to get his hammer back and, in sixty seconds, will revert to his mortal guise of Dr. Don Blake.

It looks like a second victory for Sandu until the carnie over plays his hand. He's so confident that his powers will allow him to wield Mjolnir that he focuses them all on doing just that. Loki tries to mentally tell him to stop; that it's impossible for Sandu to lift the hammer but it's too late. Sandu's brain snaps from the stress and all his mental powers leave him.

That snaps everything back into place, including returning Sandu and the hammer to the right dimension so that Thor can grab it before his minute time limit has expired. Without his mental powers to back him up, Sandu is just a regular dude and the police are able to wrap this up and put a bow on it. As I said, everything goes back to it's state before Sandu had super mental powers so the bank is back on earth and the money is returned to where it belongs. Everything is back to normal.

Thor returns his Belt of Strength to Odin. Loki rants about the defeat of his evil vassal. All is right in the world of Asgard and Earth.

The Avengers #1The Avengers #1
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

One of Loki's shining moments is when he inadvertently lead to the forming of the Avengers team. Let's watch as that plays out!

No one can tell you that Loki doesn't hate Thor. He hates him so much. It's Thor's fault that none of Loki's schemes ever succeed and that the god of mischief always ends up exiled somewhere in Asgard. That doesn't stop him from magicking his consciousness to Midgard to mess with his brother, though. He watches him in his human guise of Don Blake and realizes that it doesn't pay to take him out in his human form. He needs to defeat him as Thor. Loki just needs to learn how he can accomplish that task.

Letting his consiousness scan the world, he comes across the Hulk and is intrigued. He sets up a challenge for the green goliath. The god of mischief creates the illusion of dynamite on a railroad bridge believing that Hulk will try to remove the TNT. The Hulk does just that but, instead of removing the non-existant dynamite, he ends up destroying the bridge just as a train is heading down the tracks. Realizing his mistake, Hulk gathers up the tracks and holds them in place long enough for the train to clear the bridge. He isn't going to escape the blame, though. Being seen on the scene, Hulk is accused of trying to kill everyone on the train. Sometimes, you can't win for losing in the Marvel Universe.

The papers get the story around that Hulk is causing a rampage and the Hulk's old sidekick, Rick Jones, honestly doesn't know whether the Hulk is innocent or guilty. All he knows is, either way, they'll need help. He and his Teen Brigade put a call out to the Fantastic Four. This doesn't fit Loki's plans so he scrambles the radio signals so that the FF won't receive the message but they'll be put onto a frequency that he knows Don Blake will hear.

Blake gets the message as planned and immediately transforms into Thor. As fate would have it, Blake's not the only one listening to that particular radio signal. Ant-Man and the Wasp also got the message and head off for the American southwest aboard their trusty ants. Tony Stark was listening in as well and so Iron Man suits up and flies to a fateful meeting.

In the end, the FF receive the message as well but they're hard at work on another case. Reed's certain that there are other heroes headed in to help the Teen Brigade but, if they don't arrive, he tells the TB to get in contact with him. The Teen Brigade is dismayed that the FF won't be coming in to help them out with the Hulk but they get a visit by some other heroes who are just itching to help out.

Watch what you say on the Internet, kids.  It could come back and bite you.

Loki's not happy that Thor didn't arrive alone. He tries to separate Thor from the others by creating a mental image of Hulk that only the thunder god can see. Thor leaves the other heroes to chase after the Hulk on his own.

Thor catches up to the image of Hulk only to discover it's only an illusion. The Asgardian is pretty certain he knows who's behind this little mischief play.... Loki. Thor heads to Asgard to confront his step-brother.

Meanwhile, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Wasp are left to finding out what's happened with the Hulk.

So, where's Hulk? He's playing a mechanical man in a traveling circus. The Carnies found him and, believing he was a robot, set him to work juggling circus animals and lifting heavy cages. It's Ant-Man's ant friends that locate the disguised Hulk and get a hold of Ant-Man and his new friends. While the heroes make their way to the circus, Ant-Man directs his ants to dig underneath the Hulk and force him into an underground trap. Hulk is captured for only a moment before he busts out and is free once more.

Ant-Man tries to talk to the Hulk but, since there's precious little that could get him to go back to full size at this point, he uses a microphone to project his voice. This is a man with a gimmick and he's not giving it up for anything. Hulks not really the guy to listen to reason from tiny projected voices, though. It's fight time. The crowd can't get enough of this stuff. Ants fighting a super powerful robot? Awesome times!

Hulk's had enough of this stuff. The kid gloves and the clown makeup are off. It's time to get serious. He uses a bellows to blow super air at the Wasp, stunning her until he can catch her in his hand. Before he can squish the hero, Iron Man is on the scene and Wasp is free once more.

Iron Man leads their fight into the center of the tent where Ant-Man's ants have set a carefully laid trap. They catch Hulk up in nylon nets which temporarily stop the green goliath but do nothing to end the fight. Hulk simply jumps away taking the tent with him. Once he's well away, Hulk is able to free himself from the netting and discards the rest of the tent. Iron Man follows the Hulk but is unable to put him down for the count.

In Asgard, Thor has gained permission from his dad, Odin, to visit his step-brother, Loki. Thor makes a trip to the Isle of Silence, Loki's current prison. Loki's set numerous traps around the isle but Thor proves their better. He finally makes it to the Isle of Silence and confronts Loki. Thor is pretty certain that Loki is truly responsible for the Hulk incident back on earth but is unable to subdue his brother before the Silent Ones (Trolls and enemies to the gods-- what, you thought that the Isle of Silence was just a name?) grasp at his legs, holding him fast. The troll tries taking Thor into his underworld of mines but Thor calls down lightning to stun the light sensitive creature. The battle is, again, between Thor and Loki.

Loki's got quite a few tricks up his sleeves, mostly illusions so that Thor doesn't know which Loki is real, but Thor is able to see through the trick and nab the real deal. He vows to bring the captured Loki to earth to explain this entire event to his new friends.

Iron Man chases Hulk around the countryside and they eventually end up in an auto factory. The battle is probably partly responsible for the auto industry collapse of today since they do quite a number on the factory and even take out one of the walls in their fight. Hulk is a slippery character and he's tired of being chased around. He's about ready to put this fight back to Iron Man when Thor shows up with Loki in tow.

Thor explains that it was Loki's mischief that caused the train to nearly crash and for Hulk to be blamed. That explained, they start thinking of ways to punish the god of mischief but Loki's not waiting around for a decision. He turns himself radioactive. Even in his armored suit, Iron Man isn't protected against radiation. Hulk and Shellhead are given ten seconds to get out of the area so that Loki can continue his battle with Thor.

But that's not what actually happens. Ant-Man sends his ants to work on capturing Loki. The god of mischief falls through a trap door and falls right into a lead lined tank. The ants quickly shut the door, trapping Loki inside. Knowing that Loki can only remain radioactive for a certain amount of time, Thor plans to wait a few minutes before opening the tank and taking his step-bro back to Odin.

The villain is handled but we're not done yet. Ant-Man proposes that the team remain together to tackle larger threats. Iron Man and Thor think it's a good idea and they are quickly joined by a Hulk that is sick of being hunted. Now they just need a name which is provided by Wasp. The Avengers are officially formed.

The Avengers #3The Avengers #3
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this issue, the Avengers search out their missing member, the Hulk, by peeking in on every other super hero in the Marvel Universe- but have no luck. Rick Jones has an easier time of finding the Hulk but, instead of reporting this to the authorities, he helps the green behemoth into a secret chamber where he temporarily changes him back to Bruce Banner. Banner only stays baseline human for a short while before returning to his Hulk form and going off on another rampage. This forces Rick to call in the Avengers who respond as fast as they can. After a fight and chase scene, Hulk eludes capture and escapes for a swim into the Atlantic Ocean where he nearly drowns, is rescued by a passing ship, recovers, goes overboard again, and is eventually discovered by Namor the Sub-Mariner. The two fight it out (Marvel Custom) before teaming up to fight the Avengers. The fight goes back and forth before Hulk reverts to his human form and escapes. At this point, the Avengers have a clear advantage. Namor makes one last power play before rushing off, angry at Hulk's seeming betrayal.

It was only the third issue of the Avengers and already they were down a member. The Hulk felt the rest of the team didn't trust him after they so quickly turned on him in the last issue and he left for parts unknown. The Avengers decide that they really DON'T trust the Hulk and make plans to locate him before he can do anything stupid.

To accomplish this task, Iron Man decides to use one of Tony Stark's newest invention. It's basically a peeping tom device because Tony Stark is kind of a pervert. It projects the user's image anywhere they want to go and, through the magic of comics, even allows communication.

Tony spends the next few pages visiting a literal 'who's who' of the Marvel U. First up is a trip to the Baxter Building and the Fantastic Four. No one here seems even close to interested in helping the Avengers locate the Hulk. Ben's almost out the door for a date with Alicia Masters, Sue's leaving for a fashion show and Reed is way too interested in examining Johnny's power set. They're no help at all.

Next up is Spider-Man. Spidey is capturing a gang of criminals and isn't too happy that someone is flying over him and watching him do his thing. When Iron Man tells Peter that the Avengers are searching for the Hulk, Spidey just acts frustrated for the interruption into his busy life. Looks like Iron Man is off to find some other super heroes to pester.

Which leads him right to the X-Men who, as usual, are training in the Danger Room and are as surprised as everyone else for this interruption. Iron Man actually fought against and then with Angel over in his own book, Tales of Suspence #49, and Warren invited Shellhead to the X-Men's Mansion if he ever needed help. Xavier tells Iron Man that they'll contact the Avengers if they hear anything about the Hulk but, for now, they've got some training to do. Interestingly enough, Iron Man is one of the first outsiders to learn of Professor X's existance. It might be because of his help reigning in Angel in ToS #49 that Xavier allows him this priviledge. In that issue, Prof X gives Tony a telepathic message of his gratitude even though he respects Iron Man's secret ID.

Anyway, that idea wasted a couple pages so it wasn't a total loss. Iron Man even got to test an invention and found it to work pretty well. Imagine all the wacky situations he'll get into with that device off panel!

Before the Avengers completely give up on finding Hulk, they remember that Rick Jones is the one that got them in contact with the Hulk in the first place. They decide to contact him via ham radio and let the teenager do the searching for a while. Rick gets the message and believes that the Hulk would only end up in one place: right where he is, in the American Southwest! It's where the Hulk usually ends up.

Sure enough, that's exactly where the Hulk is. Rick doesn't do much searching at all before he's come across some of the Hulk's misadventures. The green guy has already managed to freak out a passing driver to such a degree that the man drove his car right into a lake before running off. Hulk doesn't understand what was up with the guy but does spend the time necessary getting the vehicle out of the water.

Rick leads the green goliath away to one of Bruce Banner's secret labs, sets him up in front of a gamma ray gun, and fires. The blast changes the Hulk back into Bruce Banner but the scientist is so worn out by the transformation that he goes right to sleep. Rick tucks Banner in and then waits outside the armored door, regretting the day that Banner saved his life and became the Hulk.

Bruce doesn't sleep long at all. He changes back into the Hulk and smashes right out of the lab. They're gonna need stronger doors.

While Hulk is off causing... very little mischief, actually, Rick realizes he probably should have called the Avengers in sooner and goes off to do just that. At this point in the Avengers' careers, there's very little structure to the team and no Quinjets. Each Avenger gets the message separately and travels to the Southwest in their own fashion. Iron Man and Thor fly there by their own individual means while Giant-Man and the Wasp hitch a ride on a jet. That's right. Hank and Jan hobo their way across country.

Since Iron Man got the message first, he's the first to arrive. He's also heavily outclassed. After taking a sucker punch, Iron Man decides that distance weapons will do and uses his repulsor beam to fire boulders in Hulk's direction. Hulk dodges and in the process grabs a cactus to use as a weapon. He wrings the plant out, spraying needles all over the place. Iron Man is able to get a rock shield up in time (even though you'd think that armor would be enough defense against cactus needles) but Hank and Janet aren't so lucky. They arrive on the battlefield just in time to dodge cactus needles at ant size.

Escaping that, Hank and the Wasp travel down the nearest ant hill to force the ants to do their dirty work. They work swiftly to block up an underground stream which causes the ground around the Hulk to rupture and burst with water geysers. Hulk jumps away from the ground and is met in the air by Iron Man.

Tony uses his repulsor beams to keep Hulk in the air, spinning the Green Goliath around as Thor joins the battle. Eventually, Hulk is able to reach a rock formation and halt his helpless spinning. Deciding that he's not really up for fighting any more, Hulk makes his departure, traveling through some abandoned mines until he comes upon a speeding train.

It looks like he's found his way out but the Avengers are after him a lot quicker than he anticipated. Hulk ends up throwing the caboose at Thor and Iron Man (don't worry kids, he checked to make sure it was empty first!) but Thor's hammer makes short work of it. Hulk fights with the two Avengers until Giant Man joins the battle. Taking a hold of a few bags of flour, Hulk evades Hank's enormous hands and heads up to the front of the train where he drops the bags. The result is a huge smokescreen that hides the upcoming tunnel. Hank is clotheslined by the top of the tunnel and drops off the train. It looks like the Avengers don't get to catch Hulk this time.

They're actually in the midst of Hulk's smokescreen.  Don't tell them!

Hulk isn't done escaping just yet, though. He hides inside a gravel truck and waits for the vehicle to dump its payload into a nearby stream. Hulk doesn't come up for air but instead swims downstream, into the Mississippi, and eventually right into the Gulf of Mexico. After that, he just keeps on going, coming up for air every so often to keep from drowning.

This might be a good way to pass the time but even Hulk isn't capable for swimming forever. A passing ship sees his exausted form floating at the top of the water and pulls him aboard without a second's pause. Once they get him out of the water, the crew panics at their catch. This is, after all, the frickin' Hulk. The captain calms them down. This might be the Hulk but the big guy is so close to death that he's not a threat. They pull him on to the deck and then make a call in to the authorities for a quick pick up.

You might be saying to yourself: "Sure, Super. That's great. The Avengers fight the Hulk. I'm liking that but that's not why I'm reading this column. I'm here for some Namor action and I don't see any of that." Well, you, just wait until the end of this sentence. Namor has been watching the Hulk as a potential ally and is happy to see that the Green Goliath has ended up in his ocean. He knows that the Hulk will recover from his exhaustion much quicker than the sea captain suspects and that he won't remain on the ship to get captured. Namor rushes out to prepare a welcome for his future ally.

Hulk does end up getting back to his Hulkish self quicker that the captain or crew could imagine. Instead of causing a rampage on the ship that rescued him, he sees a nearby island and decides it would make a good temporary home until he gets bored of it and jumps overboard. When he reaches the island, he finds that it's already occupied by the Sub-Mariner.

Hulk isn't all that happy to see Namor. Hulk just wants to be left alone and especially wants to be away from those dirty humans that pester him. Namor doesn't like being called human and, well, a fight ensues. I know! Surprising. These two are both super powerful but, once the fight reaches the water, Namor has the upper hand and easily bests his opponent. Bringing the green guy up to the surface, the two agree to work together against humanity.

Now, you'd think that they would team up to take on the Fantastic Four. That's who Namor really has it in for, after all, and it seems like he's the one making the plans here. In a surprise move that no-one but the reader (who knows they're reading an Avengers book) sees coming, the duo decides to attack Earth's Mightiest Heroes. They choose Gibraltar as the perfect place to make their stand.

Super-villain team-ups never work out right in the Marvel Universe. Namor's already had a bad experience while teaming up with Dr. Doom. Maybe because of that experience or simply because he doesn't think much of the Hulk, Namor plans on turning against ol' green skin as soon as he's gotten a good use out of him. As far as the Hulk goes, he plans the same.

Back at the Avengers Mansion, the Avengers pick up some radio transmissions sent by Namor and Hulk challenging them to a fight. Thor delivers a speech all about how they're going to have an ending this time and not let the Hulk slip right through their fingers again. Wasp likes what she's hearing and starts flirting only to be interupted by Hank Pym who doesn't like it when his sidekick has eyes for anyone but him.

Instead of crossing the ocean by their own means, this time the Avengers take one of Tony Stark's super subs. It gets them there more quickly and we don't have to feel bad for Giant-Man and the Wasp hoboing onto a jet again. Heck, we can't waste the panel time now. We're only four pages to the end and we haven't gotten started with the big throw down.

No need to describe this battle in expert detail. Suffice to say, Namor and Hulk working as a team basically means Namor says "you are inferior to me in every way you dundering clod!" in every other panel. This doesn't build too much trust on the Hulk's part but the big guy is angrier at the Avengers so, for now, they continue to work together towards a common goal.

Iron Man has a bad time during the fight. He's immobilized by an emery dust pellet gun and is defended by Thor while Giant-Man uses a compression pump to pump out all that dust and get him mobile again. Later in the battle, Namor damages his chest device and, since that's what's keeping him alive, he has to take time to fix it or perish.

Wasp also has a hard time of it. She's disoriented when one of Hulk's fists smashes the rockwall and sends shockwaves through the cave. Those shockwaves release rocks from the sides of the wall which, at her size, could prove deadly. Wasp ends up flying to the ground only to risk getting trampled on by her own teammates. She survives this by finding a tiny hole in the ground to hide in until they pass her by. At this point, she's had enough of almost getting kills and sits out the rest of the fight on Giant-Man's shoulder.

Thor and Giant-Man actually do ok. Thor fights both Namor and Hulk at the same time and stays on his feet. This is probably because Hulk is more interested in parting him with his hammer which is mystically impossible to do. He actually distracts both foes by sending Mjolnir away. Namor and Hulk both try to reach the weapon and, in their rush, Giant-Man is able to get his oversized hands on Namor.

Which is the turning point in the fight. While Thor and Giant-Man both take on Namor, Hulk finds himself changing back into... Bob Banner! Don't know why he chose this moment to call himself Bob. In fact, Marvel didn't know why either and corrected the mistake for the Essential reprint. The point is, the Hulk is human again and that means he's useless in this battle. He rushes off before anyone can get a good look at his face.

That leaves Namor alone against Giant-Man and Thor. Now, he's the Avenging Son so there's going to be no clear victor here. The Sub-Mariner is able to slip out of Giant-Man's hold but runs right into a refreshed Iron Man. Stark holds the villain in a repulsor field and tries to talk his adversary into surrendering but Namor has no intention of doing that little thing. He's able to smash through the wall behind him releasing a flow of water that bathes him in power. With that, Namor is able to break free from that repulsor field but his taste for combat is done.

Angry that he was abandoned by the Hulk, Namor renews his vow to destroy the surface world and flies off. The Avengers, seeing how valiant a foe Namor was, break off pursuit and leave. They got a good fight out of the trip and that's good enough for them, I guess. After all, they let both Hulk and Namor slip through their fingers. It's probably best that they don't analyze this one too closely and just quickly put it in the win category.

The Avengers #4The Avengers #4
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this star-studded issue, Namor escapes the Avengers and heads off to find his lost people. Instead, he finds eskimos worshiping a figure frozen in ice, he throws out their false god and taunts them until he feels really bad about it. The Avengers, returning from Gibraltar, find that frozen idol but he's already thawed out pretty well. Pulling him inside their craft, they realize that it's the legendary Captain America. Steve wakes up, fights everyone, and then explains how he got frozen in a block of ice. The Avengers land in New York and are turned to stone during a press conference. Cap emerges from the sub finding his new friends gone and some wierd stone statues on the pier. He wanders the city until a police officer directs him to a hotel where he meets up with Rick Jones. The two figure out what happened to the Avengers and go out looking for the man responsible. Finding him, the duo take out the man and his gang before learning that the man isn't a man at all. He's an alien who was coerced into turning the Avengers into statues by the Sub-Mariner. Cap gets him to unstone the Avengers and they work on freeing the alien's craft from it's watery prison. Namor finds some of his missing soldiers and attacks the Avengers. After a fun little battle, the alien's craft takes off and frightens the Atlanteans into full retreat. The Avengers then ask Cap if he would like to join them. He might have said yes.

In the last issue, Namor and the Hulk fought the Avengers and got beaten. Namor raced off into the ocean in anger at the supposed betrayal of the Hulk. After sulking for a bit and trying to find his lost people, Namor swims up north. What he finds will have consequences for the future of the Marvel Universe. On an ice flow, Eskimos are worshiping a figure frozen in ice.

Since Namor does have his moments of being a complete jerk, he decides to bully these people a bit, throwing their Ice God far into the ocean. After frightening everyone off, he realizes that princes don't usually go around terrorizing primitives and sulks a bit more.

We leave Namor right now and focus on that chunk of frozen ice containing the frozen man. It floats away from the northern ice flows, hitting warmer waters where it starts melting. By a strange coincidence, the Avengers are out in their sub on their return trip from battling Hulk and Namor. When they see the frozen figure drifting in the ocean currents, they open a hatch and have Giant-Man bring him inside.

Under the torn remains of clothing, they are able to make out the red, white, and blue costume of Captain America.

Janet is really showing leadership potential.

Cap does a quick thawing as the Avengers look at his stuff. Steve Rogers doesn't wake up happy. Before the Avengers can calm him down, he's fighting mad, holding his own against all three Avengers men. Once he realizes his anger is misplaced, he grows downright melancholy.

The Avengers aren't completely convinced this is the REAL Captain America and they test his fighting abilities further to find out the truth. After Cap proves he's pretty much an awesome force to be reckoned with, it's time for him to share the story of how he was frozen in a block of ice.

This is the story most of us know pretty well. Steve and Bucky raced on a motorcycle to stop an explosive-filled drone plane. They were able to grab onto the thing at the last moment and ride it into the sky. Unfortunately, the thing was about to explode. Steve was able to get free before it goes up but his partner wasn't so lucky. Cap dropped into the ocean and sunk like a rock, filled with sadness at the loss of his partner.

Steve believes that from there he was quick-frozen and saved from death by the super-soldier serum running through his veins. Since, to him, Bucky just died, he's not taking the news well. When the Avengers land in New York, they decide to let Cap stay aboard the ship while they deal with the press waiting outside.

The press is probably here to find out about their battle with Hulk and Namor. It WAS quite a fight but didn't end decisively. They hope to impress people with the return of Captain America but they're turned into stone statues before they can spill the good news. The press thinks this is some sort of trick and disperse to find some real news.

Cap eventually gets bored of waiting aboard the sub and exits the craft. He sees the Avenger statues but doesn't think anything more than the reporters did. He walks the streets of New York and people react to him in a number of different ways. Cap continues walking until he finds the United Nations. He's not certain what the building is for but it has a pretty array of flags. Eventually, he attracts the attention of a police officer who recognizes him from when he was a kid. The police officer leads him to the nearest hotel where Steve faces the evils of television head on.

Worn out from all the time he spent trapped in ice, Rogers takes a little nap. He wakes up to see Bucky coming into his room. Steve is overjoyed until he learns that it's only Rick Jones, the Avengers' number 1 sidekick. Apparently, Rick is the spitting image of Bucky Barnes. Rick isn't here just for a house call. He tracked Cap here from the pier and he wants to know what happened to the Avengers. Rick uses the threat of Hulk but that's unnecessary. Steve would love to help the kid track down Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Steve apologizes for freaking out on Jones and calling him Bucky but the resemblance is remarkable. You can't get first impressions back, however. Rick thinks Steve is off his rocker. Steve decides to prove Rick wrong by taking control of the situation because no madman has ever been a commanding presence before. Still, Cap has a good idea. There were photos taken at the pier and, even though Cap shouldn't know that, they head off to give them a look over. Blowing up a specific photo, they see a man in the crowd who is holding one wicked looking sci-fi gun.

Rick has his Teen Brigade search the city and they eventually find the right dude. There are a LOT of guys running around New York City in sunglasses and black hair. This could have taken some time. Cap smashes in to deal with the man who stoned the Avengers but, instead, finds himself facing the man's gang of ne'er-do-wells. Cap destroys their guns with his mighty shield and then gets into close combat to beat them down. When he faces their leader, Captain America dodges the stone ray gun until he gets close enough to unmask the criminal.

It turns out this guy is an asparagus alien. We'll call him 'Sparey', because why not? As his gang clears out, Sparey recounts his tragic tale. The alien's ship crashlanded on earth thousands of years ago. The ship sunk deep into the ocean where it lay out of reach. In his time, he got mistaken for a gorgon because he had to use his stone ray on everyone who tried to kill him. Namor told Sparey that he would free the alien's craft if only Sparey would stonify the Avengers. It's a deeply tragic tale.

Cap tells Sparey that the Avengers could help him out just as easily as Namor and he wouldn't have to turn people into statues for the help. The alien decides to take a chance and unfreezes the Avengers, hoping for the best.

Below the ocean, Namor sulks some more. He's learned that the Avengers aren't stone and it's all Captain America's fault. He learns the lesson that you can't trust nobody for nothin.' The Sub-Mariner swims out to fight the Avengers. On his way to certain battle, Namor finds some of his own warriors swimming around. He calls out to them and finds more people that he can trust for something.

The Avengers are the best good guys ever. They no sooner get unstoned than they help Sparey free his spacecraft from the ocean bottom. After setting up an undersea camera, Thor uses his hammer to raise the ancient spaceship from the depths. Once it's free of the ocean floor, the ship floats around easily. Sparey sets to work repairing his ship as the Avengers find themselves distracted.

BY NAMOR AND HIS ATLANTEAN HORDE! They attack the Avengers as the team is taking a break from helping aliens. Namor fights Iron Man as his warriors face the rest of the team. With a little help from Wasp, Shellhead escapes permanent injury. The Atlanteans, however, find that fighting someone like Thor isn't an easy task.

Haha... timely.

From here, the battle moves around the small island with small victories placed here and there on both sides. Thor and Namor fight it out leaving the rest of the Avengers to the Atlanteans. Captain America mostly stays out of the fight. He reasons that it's better to watch a battle like this than participate. Only when he finds the life of Rick Jones in peril does Steve Rogers enter the fray.

It's not the most graceful of battles. Cap enters strong but is torn off of his Atlantean foe by the much more powerful Sub-Mariner. Rogers is spared this reunion by a sudden rumbling that shakes the small island. Believing this to be sure signs of an earthquake, Namor and his warriors escape back into the ocean. Namor is pretty certain that the Avengers will be destroyed in the earthquake but isn't sure if that's what he wants. Nevertheless, he and his fellow Atlanteans swim away to fight another day.

The remaining Avengers find that they aren't facing a dangerous earthquake at all. They're only witnessing their friend, Sparey, leaving the planet in his repaired spaceship. The Avengers watch as the craft flies out of sight.

All that's left is the crying. I mean, the job offer. Cap was so brave to watch the Avengers fight, only interfering when "the boy" was in danger, that he just has to be offered membership into their lofty ranks. Captain America accepts their invitation and becomes the very first non-founding Avenger to join the team.

This is all well and good for the Avengers but Rick isn't so sure it's a good idea. I mean, Captain America's got his own issues that need dealing with and he's obviously not over the supposed death of Bucky Barnes. There's also the matter of the Incredible Hulk to deal with. How's the green goliath going to take his slot on the team being filled by another? Is he even going to care?

Nah. He's not.

Journey Into Mystery #119Journey Into Mystery #119
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• The Asgardian Airship is about to take off to stop Ragnarok!

• We are introduced to some crew members chosen by Loki: Hogun, Fandral, Kroda, and Magrat.

• Also joining the crew and causing a small riot is Volstagg the Enormous. V is portrayed as a formerly mighty warrior who may have gained a few hundred pounds since his last adventure.

• Volstagg is craned onto the airship as orders are given to prepare for sail.

• Odin meets with his advisors to discuss the doom that is Ragnarok.

August 1965! The same month that saw the first appearance of the Swordsman also saw the introduction of the Warriors Three! The most interesting thing about this is that the Warriors Three weren't brought right into current continuity, but first appeared in the back up in Journey Into Mystery called "Tales of Asgard." These adventures depicted Thor and the Asgardians in stories taking place in the distant past. It's where we got the origin story for Loki and now the forming of the Warriors Three.

We'll be skipping the main story in these books because they have little to do with the debut of Hogun, Fandral, and Volstagg. It's all Tales of Asgard, baby.

A little back story to our back stories: Odin has discovered that Ragnarok is upon the Asgardians when he finds that the Oversword has a crack in it. The drawing of the sword is supposed to signal the end of the universe so a crack is kind of a big deal. To find out why this is happening, Odin sends his two sons on a mission to discover who their enemy is and halt Ragnarok. The mission has been mapped out and a ship has been made ready to voyage all over the place until the threat is found and eliminated.

We catch up with our brave Asgardians before they leave on their celebrated adventure. Thor and Loki will be sharing command duties so the ship is bound to feature both the most heroic and most villainous people in Asgard. For Thor's part, he's got Balder the Brave and an assorted number of random Asgardians backing him.

Loki's recruits are a different sort all together. Thor and Balder watch as Hogun the Grim announces himself and joins the crew. Hogun is described as mysterious and quiet. He certainly doesn't look like a good guy. Next to board are Fandral the Dashing, Kroda the Duelist, and Magrat the Schemer. Since they are all recruits of Loki's Thor and Balder don't really think much of them and make plans to not invite them to their tea parties.

Disrupting the quiet, a fight breaks out on the docks. Thor races in to put a stop to it and finds Volstagg the Enormous to be the cause.

Asgardians have wierd birthday parties.

The thunder god puts an end to the fighting with a blow of his hammer and tells the crew to stop their infighting and focus on the task at hand. They have to discover why the Oversword is cracking. Volstagg topples to the ground and agrees to stop fighting. He does tell Thor that he would have ended things himself if given another few moments. He is, afterall, a veteran of more battles than he can rightly count and believes himself to be incredibly brave. Thor agrees that the man's past service is a credit but the years have not been kind to the man. He's not half the man he used to be.

He's more like four times the man he used to be. The guy loves food.

Volstagg claims it's all muscle as he is craned onto the deck of the Airship. Thor thinks the reason Volstagg want on this voyage is to escape his wife and fifteen children.

In Odin's palace, the Lord of Asgard calls his most trusted advisors to show them something even more startling. On the wall of the palace are written the words "RAGNAROK IS COMING." Everyone hopes that Thor and Loki are successful in halting these strange warnings.

Journey Into Mystery #120Journey Into Mystery #120
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• Odin sees Thor, Loki, and their crew off to sail the air in search of unknown danger.

• The ship takes off as the crew says last good-byes to the people on the dock.

• Magrat and Kroda attempt to kill Thor but are stopped by Hogun.

• The airship finally hits some actual ocean and truly starts on his journey.

• Odin confers with the Master of Prophesy to find out if his decision was a good one.

The Tales of Asgard adventures get going very slowly and are probably better in collected form than reading in five page increments. This part of the story finally sees the Asgardians in their airship leaving Asgard for adventure on the high seas.

To bid them good luck on their journey into... mystery... Odin himself has come to the docks in full battle armor. This mission is of the utmost importance and is even co-commanded by his two sons so seeing him all decked out for the occasion is pretty natural. After a short speech of encouragement, the crew gets underway. Thor calls for the boat to launch and it leaves the docks to float upon the very air.

This is all pretty damn cool because, hey! Airship! It'll eventually hit some water after leaving Asgard but right now it's flying. On the air. And it's a ship! Final Fantasy, eat your heart out.

Just go over the side, man.

Before it gets too far away from Asgard, the crew continues to wave at the people on shore and say good-bye. None is so vocal as Volstagg who stands on the very edge of the airship and announces his farewells to all the pretty ladies he sees. Then he sees his scowling wife and drops right onto the crew behind him. V tries his best to hide but his antics probably just get him all the more noticed. The rest of the crew sees his wife and understand why he's on the boat. Volstagg loves her a great deal but right now all he's got is terror in his heart.

None of this gets him in the good favor of Loki. The god of mischief sees Volstagg cowering from his wife and gives him a good swift kick in the rump. There's work to be done on this ship and he'll see it done with the proper respect due to him as a Prince of Asgard. Thor pulls his half-brother aside and tells him to calm down but Loki calls this a foul betrayal on Thor's part. It's showing no confidence in his leadership skills!

While the two brothers argue, Magrat the Schemer and Kroda the Duelist work their thoughts over a little mutiny. They figure if they can kill Thor now, they'll be rewarded by Loki. Before they can put their plan into motion, a sword shoots by them. It has a skull on the handle. The sword is just a friendly warning from Hogun the Grim that mutiny wouldn't be in their best interests. Kroda and Magrat miss their attempt to kill the thunder god and are also more than a little freaked out by Hogun's actions. I mean, he was supposed to be one of THEM, wasn't he?

Eventually, the ship slowly settles into the seas below them and becomes more of a traditional sailing vessel. It's too bad because the airship thing was awesome.

Back in Asgard, Odin meets with the Master of Prophesy to find out if what he's doing is right. The Master of Prophesy not only tells him that it's right, he tells Odin that it was the only possible action. This is kind of funny considering how roundabout this little adventure turns out to be. In the end, the ship has several minor adventures before eventually being called back to Asgard to learn that the real threat of Ragnarok comes straight from Loki. But that's a tale for another day entirely. For now... we continue to learn about the Warriors Three.

Journey Into Mystery #121Journey Into Mystery #121
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• The Asgardian ship heads straight for the Pillars of Utgard.

• The crew tries to get Thor to turn back but the god of thunder is set on his course of action.

• Eventually, the ship is so damaged that it couldn't turn around if it wanted to.

• Thor orders his men to the oars and they try their best to row out of the maelstrom.

• Balder climbs onto the ship's figurehead dragging a horn.

The Asgardians have no sooner entered the open sea than their course leads them right into the dreaded Pillars of Utgard. The legends around these rocks are terrifying even to the warriors of Asgard. The whole thing is supposedly a dragon living under the waves who draws ships to their doom. It seems that the ship would either have to sail near the Pillars are turn around. Since this was a mission from Odin and Thor is in command, turning around was never even an option. The ship sails on to impending peril.

The Asgardian warriors have mixed feelings about this. Some of them are Loki's men which means they're probably cowards. There are some who would follow Thor wherever he leads. Then there are those whose allegiances have yet to be tested. There's already talk of mutiny spreading through the crew and lines will eventually be drawn very clearly. Right now, everyone is still obeying Thor's commands even though Loki's followers wish their boss was calling the shots so they could call it a day and go home.

For Loki's part, he complains openly to his brother and demands that Thor turn over command to him so they can give up on this doomed action. This is something Thor won't do even when the tiller breaks and the ship plunges out of control towards the Pillars of Utgard.

The storm grows even stronger as the Asgardian ship enters a whirlpool at the base of the pillars. They might as well be pulled right into the Utgard Dragon's mouth. Thor still hasn't given up. He orders his men to man the oars. Surely the Asgardians have the strength to row their way out of this maelstrom.

This image was not Turnerized.  Sorry.

The men are rallied for the moment and set upon their task.

One ally of Thor has plans all his own, however. Balder the Brave doesn't man an oar station. Instead, he grabs a horn and drags himself onto the gigantic figurehead of the ship. His plan will become apparent... soon.

Journey Into Mystery #122Journey Into Mystery #122
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• It's.... MUTINY!

• Fandral the Dashing, Hogun the Grim, and Volstagg the Enormous help to defend Thor from Loki's mutiny.

• While the crew is fighting amongst themselves, Balder starts blowing his horn, saving the day.

This is the last part in our Tales of Asgard retelling because it solidifies what side all three of the Warriors Three will fight on in the future. Even though two of them were supposedly brought on board this ship through Loki's recommendation, they all prove worthy supporters of Thor. Volstagg's loyalty seems never in doubt even though his battle prowess certainly IS. Hogun was probably the biggest surprise because the dude just looks like he'd be a bad guy. Fandral has yet to pick his side but we all know where that will take him.

The situation couldn't be more desperate. With the tiller destroyed, the only hope Thor sees to escape this whirlpool is to have his men row their way out. It's not guaranteed any success and in a moment, that rate will go straight down to zero. That's because Loki in his infinite wisdom has decided that NOW would be the perfect time to take complete control of the ship away from his brother.

It's the plans of a much less calculating god of mischief. I mean, Loki is in as big of trouble as the rest of the crew and letting Thor and company attempt to save his life would have probably been a smarter move. Today, however, smart is thrown out of the window. His supporters gather around him and demand that control of the ship be turned exclusively over to Loki.

Since Loki would have them turn around, Thor will have none of this. He refuses to relinquish command of the ship and the battle begins.

No one expects the totally telegraphed mutiny of Loki!

Thor doesn't fight alone. Many of these warriors would gladly die in his service. It's sort of the Asgardian way. Soon, the deck of the ship is filled with fighting.

Fandral's decision is made but the only real sign that he's fighting on Thor's side is in the caption box. If that wasn't there, you'd just think he was fighting and not know for who. Anyway, The Dashing one is quick with his sword and dances around the deck, defeating enemies all over the place.

Hogun has also made his side public and brutally takes down Loki's supporters as they come at him. We already knew Hogun was a supporter of Thor so this doesn't startle us now. His reasoning is mostly because he can't stand mutiny. It just pisses him off.

Volstagg is also fighting alongside Thor but his battle tactics are more about roaring in the background than actually fighting anyone. In fact, V takes down more mutineers when a club topples him over than he did while blustering behind Thor.

The fact that the Asgardians are all fighting each other instead of trying to save the ship (and themselves) is the real problem to this whole mutiny. Waves start crashing down on the ship and doom seems entirely likely. Volstagg freaks out when the water splashes all around him but his weight keeps him firmly planted on the deck.

Luckily, Thor had the foresight to bring Balder along. The Asgardian has made it to the masthead and has strapped himself firmly in place. Balder blows his giant horn, putting all his hopes into the instrument. The ship continues toward the Pillars without signs of stopping.

Since I'm not going to go into the next part of this adventure, I'll just tell you what happens. Balder's horn blowing skills are so awesome that when the Utgard Dragon's head emerges from the water, the sound of the horn shatters the rocky creature. This saves the ship and allows them to continue on their journey until Odin calls them back home.

As far as the Warriors Three go, they remained staunch companions of Thor's, accompanying him on many adventures and eventually making appearances in the main feature (starting with the second Thor Annual in1966) as well. Unlike so many other Asgardians, the Warriors Three weren't based on any other myths. They were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and not adapted from legends. In time, Volstagg would actually fight with some degree of skill. The three would fight separately but something would always bring them back to the others' sides. They're definitely a much better trio than as solo acts, even though Volstagg is always fun to hang around.

A clear sign that things have gotten as bad as they can get? A skinny Volstagg. It's happened twice that I can think of. It'll happen again. Beware!

Journey Into Mystery Annual #1Journey Into Mystery Annual #1
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: Jack Kirby

In this story:

• Loki & Thor journey into Jotunheim where they find a group of Storm Giants trying to break into Olympus.

• Thor tries to stop them but ends up falling through the portal.

• After strolling through Olympus for a while, Thor tries crossing a bridge only to find Hercules crossing from the other end.

• Neither is willing to budge for the other and the two end up tearing the area apart in the ensuing battle.

• After enough mayhem has occured, Zeus shows up to stop the two and declares them both winners in stubborness.

• Thor returns to Jotunheim and Zeus closes the portal to Olympus.

• Thor doesn't tell anyone (especially Loki) what just happened, feigning ignorance.

Hercules! It seems that people had wanted to see what would happen if Thor faced off against the mythical Greek demi-god and the response was this story from the first Journey Into Mystery Annual from 1965! Instead of placing it in the modern day Marvel Universe, Stan and Jack fashioned this adventure as an untold tale from Thor's past, making it more like the Tales of Asgard back-up stories that were appearing in Jorney Into Mystery at the time.

Of course, you know me. I couldn't go too far into this before I mentioned that the Greek name for "Hercules" was actually "Herakles." Pretty much every other god of Olympus goes by their Greek name but Herc obviously picked up his more popular Roman one. OK. It's out of my system and I can move on.

Our story begins in Jotunheim, the home of the Frost Giants. A slightly younger Thor and Loki have ridden into the area in search of honor, glory, and loads of nagging. The last part comes from Loki who acts like he was dragged into this excursion. It's probable he came along to ensure his half-brother's death. Since this is a tale from the past, we know that's unlikely.

The two Asgardian Princes find two Storm Giants trying to break through a covered entrance to Olympus. Thor tells us that the Storm Giants were originally from Olympus before they got kicked out and these two look to return to their ancient home to exact some delicious vengeance. That's not something the god of thunder will stand for. He attacks the duo while his half-brother races for cover.

Thor does a pretty good job of fending off the Storm Giants but smashes through the portal to Olympus in the process. The hapless thunder god falls right into the entrance and through the magical passageway to Olympus. The journey breaks rules in time and space and there's no telling how long Thor falls before he ends up in an an known room, lit by torches.

The way out of this room is a maze that Thor walks through off-panel. Finally, Thor observes Olympus for the first time. It's a hell of a lot different than Asgard.

Olympus is like a swingin' seventies party.  All the time.

Ah, Greece.

Anyway, Thor hangs out for a while before deciding to seek a way back home. He sees a muscle bound man on the other side of a bridge and strides across to see if the man might give him a clue as to how to return from whence he came.

This is Hercules.

Let's see... two gods with way too much testosterone both crossing a bridge at the same time from opposite ends. This is a recipe for awesome disaster. Herc demands that this stranger step aside and let him pass. Thor forgets all about asking the brute how he can return home and refuses to move. Let the fight begin!

The bridge itself is the first casualty in this combat exercise. This doesn't halt the fight. In fact, it just escalates from this point. Obviously, this is about more than who can cross a bridge first.

The back and forth in this fight between two princes (you can thank me for not breaking into the Spin Doctors song) is like a two person war and both is surprised at the strength and stamina of the other. Thor's hammer is a great advantage that Hercules counters as best he can with his Golden Mace. Mjolnir has a lot more tricks but none of them puts Herc down for the count.

Eventually, the two puts their weapons away and try killing the other the way God intended. Bare-fisted brawl! The fight loses none of its intensity. During the slug fest, Thor gets Hercules' respect. Instead of slaying his foe, he picks up the Pole of Heroes and twists it around the thunder god. Apparently, this Pole can only be bent by the Lion of Olympus.

While it takes much more effort, Thor is able to rally his strength and not only bend the Pole of Heroes but shatter it completely. The two start punching each other again. Hercules keeps trying new strategies. The Prince of Power keeps striking the god of thunder in the same spot, hoping that Thor will crumple over with pain. While Thor does end up dropping to the ground, it's not the end of the battle. Thor uses the terrain to his advantage and pulls the grass itself out from under his powerful opponent.

The Asgardian Prince lunges at the Olympian and receives a face full of exploding rock powder. This temporarily blinds Thor but, again, doesn't stop the fight. The thunder god battles on.

Finally, the fight ends the only way that it could have ended: it's a tie. Zeus finally gets annoyed at all the devastation happening to the Olympian contryside and arrives to separate the two. He tells them both that they are done fighting. Oh, sure, he also lays on the charm and says that it was a grear fight and that both of them were awesome but you can tell that he's pretty damn annoyed.

Still, this is a neighboring prince so it's not like he can just atomize Thor without risking war with Odin. The fact that both Thor and Hercules are bowing to him in reverence probably calms him down quite a bit. Zeus even seems to take a liking to the visiting prince and tells him to get up. Maybe they even share a high five just off-panel.

Both Hercules and Thor shake hands and declare their friendship to each other. They've probably forgotten what they were even fighting over. Hell, Hercules is probably drunk.

It's all over except for the wrap up. Thor is eager to return to Jotunheim and Zeus is more than happy to teleport the thunder god away from Olympus. Thor disappears and then reappears, rising out of the portal in Jotunheim that he fell in to begin his first Olympian adventure. He finds Loki waiting for him.

The thunder god claims that he is already forgetting what just happened to him but he does remember his brother deserting him in the battle with the Storm Giants. Loki puts on a smug expression and claims he was just going for help. In Jotunheim. Who knows who he was looking for.

Suddenly, the rock comes alive and forms up around the open portal to Olympus, burying it once more. Loki doesn't suspect that this is the power of Zeus at work and Thor decides that it's for the best to keep his ambitious half-brother in the dark. His memories of his time in Olympus have NOT faded. He just claimed it to be so that he wouldn't have to explain himself to Loki. Olympus would be better served if the god of mischief remained unaware of how to reach it. The two Asgardian princes ride off.

It didn't take long for Hercules to return, this time in the modern age. In Journey Into Mystery #124, Zeus pretty much kicks Hercules out of Olympus for fighting too much. The Prince of Power is sent to long abandoned earth and starts messing with Thor's world right away. The two's friendship eventually shines through but that wouldn't mean that they wouldn't end up fighting again and again over the years.

Herc even ended up joining the Avengers team, pretty much taking Thor's place on the roster if only for a time. He'd come back to the team many times. Hercules last served on Hank Pym's Mighty Avengers team until he was believed lost at the conclusion of the Battle for New Olympus storyline. He turned up alive, boosted with all manner of godly powers, for a stint in the Chaos War.  Now, he's depowered and headlining in his own solo book, Herc.

The Silver Surfer #4The Silver Surfer #4
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciler: John Buscema

In this issue, Loki seeks out a champion to take on his brother, Thor, and finds that the Silver Surfer could probably do some damage. Loki rushes off to test his future champion and also gives fair warning to the Warriors Three about how he's going to destroy Thor. While the Warriors Three go to tattle on the trickster god, Loki fights it out with Surfer before somehow convincing him to take up the asgardian's cause. The Surfer heads to Asgard to challenge Thor but ends up eating with him instead. Loki uses some treachery to start up the battle and it's Thor versus Norrin Rad for a few pages until the Surfer realizes that he's being tricked into a fight. When Loki sees that the two aren't going to battle it out anymore and that he might be found to blame, he sends Norrin back to earth where the Silver Surfer bawls the night away.

Loki has often found himself thwarted by Thor. Time and time again, his plans come to a rude end when they are found out by his brother. Loki just needs to find a champion that can be tricked into doing his dirty work for him. To that end, the trickster god sends his astral form to earth so that he can search out someone capable of beating Thor.

There are a few powerful warriors in the Marvel U at the time. There's the Hulk but Loki reject him because there's a distinct lack of skill to the green behemoth's attacks. We've got the Thing whose is placed out of the running for being human. Hercules would be a fun battle but Loki doesn't wish to involve the son of Zeus for fear of Zeus's wrath. It seems like a futile seach until Loki encounters Norrin Rad. The Silver Surfer is pretty powerful. A brief look into his history reveals someone that could be tricked into fighting Thor to the death.

Loki returns to his god form and rides out to meet his new champion. On the way, he bumps into the Warriors Three (Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogunn). He lets them know that he's got new plans to get rid of the god of thunder and then races off to enact them. The Warriors waste no time in warning Thor (who says thee nay). Thor prepares his armies for whatever threat Loki might spring on him. This is all part of Loki's plan. Turns out Loki hung out after rushing off just to see this part. He wants Thor to look like a warlord so that it will be that much easier to trick the Silver Surfer into fighting him.

On earth, the Silver Surfer lives in total peace with nature and nature lives in peace with him. He believes no animal will attack another unless they need something to eat. I'm betting these animals are in actuality heavily sedated. But that's a side note. What gets interesting is when Loki shows up and challenges Norrin Rad to a fight.

Surfer isn't really a fighter. He's a lover. His love happens to be on a planet that he can't visit but that doesn't make it less true. Goading Norrin into duking it out with Loki isn't an easy task. Loki ends up carrying the battle into a city and, only when the populace is put in danger, does the Surfer fight his heart out. His strength proven, Loki lets the Silver Surfer in on a little secret: this battle was a test to prove his mettle. Now, only the Surfer can save the people of Asgard from the warlord, Thor.

The Silver Surfer is easily fooled. With the additional bonus given that Loki can free him his earthly prison, Norrin is ready to fight anyone. Loki leads the Surfer to the gates of Asgard before leaving him. The Silver Surfer can't enter Asgard with Loki because that would ruin the whole plan. When Heimdall notices the silver naked man surfing in, he confronts Norrin and then allows him to pass on to meet Thor.

Loki and one of his minions are pleased with this state of affairs. So far, the plan is working perfectly. The plan isn't up yet, though. Loki has to make sure that the power of the Surfer is used correctly. The Power Cosmic is an incredible strength that the Surfer hasn't fully realized yet.

In Thor's meeting hall, there are meals being served. It's just like the Surfer to show up for some free grub.

No one can say that the Odinson isn't "down with it."

Surfer isn't one to let his feelings be kept from everyone. He immediately gets down to business and accuses the god of thunder of all manner of evil. Since Thor has lots of loyal peeps, this nearly causes a fight in his hall. Thor calms everyone down and, instead of a fight, Silver Surfer sits down and dines with the gods of Asgard. While they eat, they get a show. It's gladiatorial combat time! That'll prove that you aren't a warlord, Thor!

When there is finally a champion on the floor, Thor awards him a pretty awesome sword. Loki affects the warrior's mind and causes him to throw the sword at Norrin "for Thor." Silver Surfer's mind has already been filled with troubling thoughts by Loki so this little bit of treachery is the straw that breaks camel backs. Surfer and Thor are finally able to do what we've all been waiting for: fight it out.

Surfer first needs to clear the room for it be full of Asgardians a plenty. The scatter pretty easily to Norrin's powers. Thor tries to plead with the Surfer to end this madness but Loki's enchanting the air so that his words never reach their target.

The Mighty Thor #344The Mighty Thor #344
Writer: Walter Simonson
Artist: Walter Simonson

In this issue, Odin's wolf, Geri enters Nornkeep to retrieve Balder. Odin tells his wife that he's about to do something he doesn't want to do. When Balder returns to Asgard, Odin sends him off to enlist the aid of Loki. Lorelei massages Thor to sleep. Balder makes his way to the Castle of Loki. Surtur finishes tempering his sword. Balder finds Loki entertaining Malekith and in no mood to listen. Malekith orders his demons to kill Balder. Balder breaks his vow never to kill again. When Balder approaches Loki again, Loki tosses away Balder's message without reading it. He's already chosen his side and it is with Malekith. Balder angrily decapitatees the god of mischief. As he races off in agony for failing horribly on his diplomatic mission, Loki's body retrieves his head and puts it back on.

Balder has seen better days. MUCH better days. In the past, Balder had been killed and sent to Hel. While there, he witnessed the many he had killed. Once returned to the land of the living, he became a ghost of what he once was. His hair is white. His body is fat. He broods a lot more.

His current state of mind led him away from Asgard and into the wilds. Eventually, he accepted the invitation of Karnilla, the Queen of the Norns, and joined her in her fortress, Nornkeep. He hasn't found peace here but it's preferable to living in Asgard.

To Nornkeep comes one of Odin's wolves, Geri. Nothing stops an animal of Odin. The gate opens without any help from a living soul. When the guards realize who is entering their domain, the slink back in fear. No-one dares touch an animal protected by Odin.

Well, Karnilla might. She has a spell on her lips to deter this giant wolf. Balder tells her not to waste her time. The wolf is here to summon him back to Asgard. He doesn't want to return but he's too faithful to Odin to turn down his decrees.

In Asgard, Odin sits on his throne and look at one of his injured crows. Something DID dare to attack a creature under his protection and that is disturbing news indeed. His wife enters the room and Odin feels the need to confess. No, he hasn't been unfaithful. That's Zeus. Odin bears a terrible burden and wishes to tell Frigga what so deeply troubles him. He has sent for Balder and believes that the Asgardian will never forgive him for the path Odin will set Balder on.

Odin tells Frigga that he sent his crows out on a special mission to scout out a newly discovered galaxy. Only one returned, Muninn, and that one was horribly wounded. Still, Muninn was able to bring Odin word of what he had found. It is what causes Odin to act.

When Balder returns, Odin gives him his mission. He has to deliver a letter to Loki, the god who killed him in the first place. Odin understands Balder's hesitance but knows that Balder is an Asgardian who tells the truth. Even Loki would see the prevalent danger if it was delivered by Balder. Odin hands the Asgardian his letter, telling Balder to read it, but to tell no-one else. Balder leaves, but on the condition that he won't have to use violence. He doesn't have the taste for it after his experiences in Hel.

Oh! This is a Thor book. Maybe Thor should show up eventually...

Recently, Thor has been freed of his connection to Donald Blake. Losing Mjolnir will no longer turn Thor into a lame physician. With the help of SHIELD, Thor has assumed the secret identity of Sigurd Jarlson. He conceals his identity behind a pair of glasses. It's a terrible disguise.

So, naturally, the sister of the Enchantress, Lorelei, doesn't fall for it at all. She's on earth using her own secret ID but seems to be doing a better job that Thor. Her plan is to make Thor drink a glass of Golden Mead that will steal away his heart forever. Unfortunately, she's taking her sweet time with it and playing with her prey. She gives the god a back rub that conks him straight out of it before he can even think about drinking mead. Lorelei is frustrated that her plan has been thwarted by her own incredible back-rubbing skills. No matter, she leaves a note telling him that they have a date scheduled for Saturday and takes off. More games will follow.

Back in Asgard, Balder rides his horse, Silverhoof, through the dangerous territory between the golden city and Loki's castle. Each threat he faces is part of nature so he finds no qualms in tearing his way through a stretch of vines blocking his path or batting rocks away from him and his horse. If these were people, he might find it more troublesome. Eventually, his journey leads him to the twisted path heading up to the Castle of Loki.

Waiting for him is a pack of demons. They capture him and bring him to their master.

Somewhere completely different, a sword is being created. This is one of those world-ending swords. Its forger is Surtur himself. The actual sword has already been formed. It just needs to be tempered in the brimstone lakes that blossom around the fire giant. Surtur lowers the sword with a thundering "DOOM!" sound effect. That done, he raises it into the air. Fire dances off the blade. Yep. It's about done.

Balder has been brought into the court of Loki by the demons. Inside, he learns that these things aren't servants of Loki's but are, instead, creatures of the Dark Elf, Malekith. It seems everyone wants Loki to join their side this day. Malekith blusters and boasts in front of the Asgardian. Part of this is an attempt to win Loki over. Part of it is much deeper. The death of Balder, after all, begins Ragnarok.

To that end, he orders his demons to kill the overweight god. Balder might not be willing to fight but that doesn't mean he's willing to roll over and die. He breaks out of the demons' hold and starts dodging around the room to avoid the attacking horde. All the time, he pleads with Loki to stop the demons' attack. Eventually, the demons surround poor Balder.

Loki doesn't attempt to stop them. He just remarks that Balder has become such a shadow of his former self. If this is how Odin's ambassador acts... well, it looks like Odin's message will never reach Loki, hmmm? Malekith and Loki leave the room to talk over their new arrangement.

Balder tries one last time to stop the demons from attacking him without resorting to violence but his entreaty is denied. Balder might not have been willing to go on the offensive if he didn't believe his mission was of the utmost importance. Regardless, he punches an attacking demon in the face and picks up the demon's fallen sword.

In New York City, Sigurd Jarlson has already woken up from his relaxing nap and reported to a construction zone on the Hudson River. Nick Fury's connections got Thor a job here working for Fury's cousin, Jerry. Thor does a poor job hiding the fact that he has super-powers. He's already shown some incredible feats of strength and speed. It doesn't take Jerry long to realize that Nick Fury put a super-hero on his payroll. The only question now is which one. Jerry snaps his fingers when he realizes the answer.

Sigurd is obviously Spider-Man.

At Loki's castle, Balder has already punched a demon and taken it's sword. He still hasn't killed. It's a step he'd rather not take but the demons are giving him little choice. They start tossing spears at him.

At least he's found something that makes him happy.

Balder is very upset that he's been forced to kill again and he blames his attackers. For this affront, they will all die. And they do. It's a lot of death.

Loki and Malekith's meeting is interrupted by a fighting mad Asgardian. Balder is here to deliver a message and he damn well is going to hand it over. He strikes out at Malekith but only hits the dark elf's clothes before the villain magically departs. That leaves only Loki and Balder.

Balder hands Odin's letter over to the god of mischief only to watch as Loki casually tosses it away. He's already decided to join Malekith. He'd done it before Balder had even arrived but wanted to watch as Balder was forced to return to violence to complete his mission. Enraged to the point of madness, Balder curses Loki for causing his actions this day and for killing him in the past. If one thing should be accomplished from this mission, it will be the killing of Loki.

The god of mischief tells Balder that there's no way he would ever do such a thing and turns his back on the angry Asgardian. Balder checks that mate, beheading the adopted son of Odin.

In Nornkeep, Karnilla has been trying to learn the fate of her beloved but isn't able to work her magic to see through to the Castle of Loki. Her answer will come soon enough. Alarms sound all over the fortress as Balder rides his horse away from Loki's castle. A quick glance at his face reveals his shame and his anguish. He knows he failed in his mission and killed Loki while acting as Odin's ambassador. All this and he also broke his vow of pacifism.

Silverhoof carries him past Nornkeep and into the wastes beyond. He now seeks to return to death and end his torment.

Back in the Castle of Loki, the mischief god isn't as dead as you might expect. His body starts walking around, patting the floor until he locates his head. Picking it up, he laughs at the folly of Balder. After all, Loki has learned to be very, very hard to kill. Egging the humorless Balder on might have caused some minor pain but it was absolutely worth it. Mischief managed.

The Mighty Thor #377The Mighty Thor #377
Writer: Walt Simonson

Penciler: Sal Buscema

In this issue, the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim start losing doors to Midgard because Thor is forging Asgardian steel. They decide drastic measures must be taken: it's Grendel time! Let's move to the recent past to see just what would make Thor work a forge again. Thor is injured after a battle with the Absorbing Man and because of a curse that makes his bones brittle and unhealable, he needs to figure out a solution. He heads to Damascus Steel in Pittsburgh and rents out the facility for a week. He and the steelworkers work to forge Asgardian Steel, using the magic of Thor's hammer. In Asgard, people start passing out. Grendel attacks Thor before he's finished at the forge. Thor ends up breaking a hand. Loki helps to re-embigulize the Frost Giants of Jotunheim using the chilling power of Iceman. Back in Asgard, Fandral, Hogun, and Sif start to pass out. In Pittsburgh, Grendel and the Dark Elves overcome the weakened Thor and prepare to end the god of thunder permanentlike. Loki looks on and decides to teleport Thor away for his own purposes. While Thor goes unconscious, Loki is attacked by Frost Giants.

Svartalfheim! Home of the Dark Elves! Something major is going down. The doors connecting Svartalfeim to Midgard are being violently destroyed. The Dark Elf Wormwood leads his people to the Mirror of Finvarra where they look in on Midgard and see Thor working in a steel foundry in Pittsburgh. Iron is damaging to the Dark Elves but Thor is going this one better. He's making Asgardian Steel. This magical metal is causing the doors to earth to explode and even the Mirror of Finvarra can't hold up to viewing this scene and shatters. If Thor finishes this forging, Svartalfheim may be closed off from Midgard FOREVER.

Drastic steps needs be taken. Wormwood summons the most ferocious of all Dark Elves: Grendel.

We're not going right to Pittsburgh. Instead, we'll move back a couple days to the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City where Thor is recovering from wounds received in his battle with the Absorbing Man. This isn't really "recovery" though because there will be no recovery for the god of thunder. Hela has cursed him with brittle, unhealing bones and denied him death. Thor knows that the hospital is in danger the longer he remains and has himself taped up. It's time to solve the problems of the brittle bones.

To that end, Thor travels to Damascus Steel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is where, MANY years ago, Thor repaired his hammer. For what Thor has in mind, he needs the full run of the facilities for the next week. This is an expensive endeavor but the Asgardians have TONS of money. The Asgardian cuts the boss a check and gets what he needs. He'll have to work quickly because every moment is causing him pain.

Thor goes right to work with the facility workers, forging some super-steel using the power of his enchanted mallet. This is how you forge Asgardian Steel. Since the main crux of the forging is too godly to be visited by mortals, Thor orders everyone away so he can finish the process.

The Rainbow Bridge to Asgard is shattered. Heimdall is pretty much out of a job. For now, he's brought the Enchantress up to the remains to allow her to cool off. Soon, she's cooled off TOO much and she collapses, nearly falling off the edge of the bridge.

Thor has finished the forging and fashioned the metal into it's form. Now, all he has to do is inscribe the metal with the special runes to make it do what he needs it to.

That'll have to wait for later. The Dark Elves attack! Thor barely rises to the defense when he's pushed back. The Dark Elves are accompanied by Grendel.

...and he's not very pretty for an elf.

Since Thor has those brittle bones, his battle with Grendel soon shatters his hand. Thor needs to end this quickly and sends a vat of molten iron come crashing down on the Dark Elves.

Balder shrunk down the Frost Giants of Jotunheim in his very own limited series. They aren't very happy about their short stature and are now awaiting the help of Loki to give them back their height. They don't plan on rewarding Loki for his efforts. Instead, they will betray the betrayer.

Loki's plan involves a slight crossover with X-Factor. Not the whole team. He just needs Bobby Drake: Iceman. Silently teleporting the mutant out of the X-Factor Compound, Loki sets Iceman up on a special containment disc and then super-charges his cold powers so much that they hurt Drake.

Outside, the Giants are hit by this cold through one of Loki's machines and begin growing.

In Asgard, more people are passing out. Hogun and Fandral wrestle while Sif and two mortal kids watch. After the match, Fandral starts to feel faint. That could be chalked up to him losing the match but then Sif starts feeling weak herself.

In Pittsburgh, Thor is losing. He's injured and in severe pain but isn't going out without one major fight. He tears out of the grasp of the Dark Elves but is too late to save his leg. Before breaking their grip, Grendel smashes his poor leg with that war club. Thor recalls his hammer and Mjolnir returns to it's master, hitting Grendel on the return trip. The thunder god capitalizes on his short advantage, stabbing Grendel through with an iron pole. With that, the last of his strength is exhausted. Thor is about to be run through with lots of spears.

In Jotunheim, Loki watches all of this and is impressed by Hela's curse. It's surprisingly subtle. He knows that because of the curse, Thor won't actually die this day. Loki decides to teleport Thor away before the Dark Elves try their best and make Thor beg him for release (or something-- the twisted plans of Loki). The Dark Elves scream impotently as their foe is encapsulated in an orb and disappears.

Thor's journey to Jotunheim causes the god of thunder to lose consciousness. Loki muses that this will be his last good night's sleep and allows his brother to keep on dreaming.

The giants have gotten tall enough and Loki shuts off the beam giving them their increased height. This doesn't please the Frost Giants at all. They start pounding on the doors of Loki's fortress, demanding to be hit by more growing ice. Loki is furious about this and suits up in armor to teach the Frost Giants a lesson.

Once the door is burst open, he thinks better of that lesson. The Frost Giants are a lot taller than he expected.

The Mighty Thor #378The Mighty Thor #378
Writer: Walt Simonson
Penciler: Sal Buscema

In this issue, Loki runs afoul of Frost Giants and leaves the mighty Thor to their tender mercies while he works on his own plan. The temptation of more cold beckons them more than revenge against Odin's favored son and they continue on to Iceman, discarding Thor for later. Loki takes on all comers but is left defeated. Thor wakes up to see Loki's fall and is shown that even the god of mischief is capable of valor. In Asgard, Balder and his court falls prey to whatever is making everyone pass out. Heimdall joins him with the fallen form of the Enchantress before the watcher god falls as well. Thor knocks a wall on the Frost Giants, causing them to scatter. He rescues his step-brother and Bobby Drake. Using Loki's teleporter, Thor grabs his armor from Pittsburgh and finishes etching the runes on it. Hogun, Sif, and Fandral are still walking but feel the effects of whatever is paralyzing the Asgardians. They gather at Volstagg's home where everyone passes out, leaving the two mortal children the only ones around still awake. Thor faces the Frost Giants in his new armor and bests them in combat. The Giants retreat and make plans to summon Jormungand!

The Frost Giants of Jotunheim have been driven mad for their desire for more and more cold. Last issue, that cold was able to help them regain their lost height. When Loki turned it off, he started a riot of Frost Giants smashing into his very dwelling place. Loki intended to stand tall and teach these giants a lesson but in their current berserker states, Loki know he doesn't stand much of a chance. He retreats further into his fortress.

Loki walks by the still unconscious form of his step-brother, Thor. Hey... there's an idea. The god of mischief uses his magicks to teleport the thunder god out into the hallway. He announces to the Frost Giants that Thor is a gift for them to do whatever they would like with. After all, Thor was planning on killing them all, right? Loki loves to make things up on the fly.

Loki continues on to his inner chambers where he still has the mutant, Iceman, strung up. Loki has turned off the machine that spread Bobby Drake's ice around but that hasn't stopped Iceman from chilling down the chamber in an attempt to free himself. While this isn't going to work as planned, the cold will do a lot to lure the Frost Giants to this location. Loki demands that the mutant stop all this but Iceman doesn't feel like listening to his captor. He just pours it on even more.

Outside, the Giants are trying to figure out what to do with their Thor doll when Iceman's cold starts to reach them. Thor looks like he'll keep for later. That delicious cold must be reached ASAP. They drop Thor in the hallway and continue forward.

The chamber gets colder and colder as the move nearer to their prize. Standing in their way is Loki who has decided he has run as far as he is willing. The god of mischief fires a burst of flame at the Frost Giants and melts a few unlucky enough to get too near the fire. The Giants work on smashing the very walls of this room and the falling rubble knocks Loki from his stance. The Frost Giants rush forward to capture their foe.

Meanwhile, a VERY injured Thor awakes from a fitful nap and nearly screams aloud for all the pain. We're dealing with a thunder god who is still under the effect of Hela's curse. His body is breaking and there's nothing that can heal it. His hand is shattered, his leg broken, and his ribs in pieces. Thor has no illusions that his step brother brought him here for ill-purpose. Still, he looks on as Loki defiantly meets what could be his end and is moved to assist the god of lies.

In Asgard, Balder sits on the big seat, ruling the city and it's inhabitants to a brighter tomorrow or something. That future will happen AFTER a good nap. Even here in these hallowed halls, the weakening sleep is spreading. Balder's aide, Ularic, is overcome by it. Heimdall shows up with the Enchantress, who has already been claimed by the overpowering sleep. Soon, it causes both Heimdall and Balder to fall to their knees. This isn't how Asgardians should meet their fate. This isn't a fight at all.

Back in Jotunheim, the Frost Giants are busy looming of Loki in a threatening manner when the very walls topple in on them. One Giant is caught in the collapse. The others flee. The walls falling down was all for Thor's purpose. He collects his brother and walks into the inner chamber to find Bobby Drake.

Iceman has used up much of his cold but is still emanating icy temperatures even in his human form. Thor recognizes Drake's costume. It's very similar to the one Angel wore during the Mutant Massacre when Thor defended him in the Morlock Tunnels. Iceman asks if Thor is making a habit of rescuing members of X-Factor but Thor has some bad news on that score. The god of thunder can hardly stand. Walking into the room is about as much defending as he's capable this day.

Or is it? He looks around and sees the teleportation device that caught up both himself and Iceman. It's a design Thor is familiar with. Thor lays his unconscious brother down and decides to use that teleporter to grab some specific items from Midgard.

At Damascus Steel in Pittsburgh, the workers are all staring at the armor created by Thor last issue. The process wasn't completed but it still looks like a nice set of armor. Since Thor has paid for the use of the facilities until the end of the week and everyone is pretty intimidated by the god of thunder, no one has moved anything. It's all right where Thor left it which is perfect. Thor uses the teleportation device to grab each piece of armor and bring it to him.

As it reforms in the room, Thor completes the runes of Odin on the metal. He stands within the forming globe and the armor begins encasing him.

Hogun, Fandral, and Sif are still heading back to Volstagg's home in Asgard. One of V's daughters is with them but she's starting to grow as weak as most Asgardians are this day. The two mortal twins help her walk the rest of the distance. Sif collapses and has to be carried by Hogun.

There is no salvation to be found in Volstagg's house. Everyone inside has already been overcome by sleep. Hogun and Fandral pass out leaving only the two moral kids conscious.

The Frost Giants of Jotunheim have overcome their fear and have returned to find the cold they long for. They smash into Loki's inner chamber and find that the cold is coming from a mortal. Before they can claim their prize, they are faced with the champion of all mortals in his new fancy zoot suit.

Thor is not open to your suggestions.

Now, here's the deal with that new armored look: It's not just armor. It doesn't just protect Thor's brittle bones, it also allows him to use the limbs that are already broken. It has been bonded to him through the magic runes. This suit makes him every bit the god he was before Sif's curse. It doesn't answer whether or not Thor still feels the pain inside the suit but, for now, he's riding on the high that comes from victory over the Frost Giants.

Because they can't stand against him. Once they realize that Thor can't be broken as easily as he has in the past few issues, they lose all thought of winning this fight and move straight into retreat.

And, sure, it's a victory for the god of thunder but it's a victory through artificial means. It wasn't his muscles that struck the Giants. It wasn't his hide that took their blows. No, he's just a guy in a suit. He's Iron Man. Still, in his heart, he knows that soon it won't be the armor that is tested but his very will.

The Frost Giants pause once they are away from Loki's fortress. They are ashamed of their loss. It won't stand. In Thor's new armor, no Frost Giant can stop him. So they decide to give the thunder god something else to fight. Loki's spawn, the Midgard Serpent.

Thor will soon face the awesome might of Jormangand.

Avengers West Coast #55Avengers West Coast #55
Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne

In pulse-pounding conclusion to Act of Vengeance, Magneto has a heart-to-heart talk with his daughter at sixty-two miles above the earth. The Avengers gather and talk about how Loki is behind everything. The Wizard escapes his cell and returns to the Super-Villain Secret Base. The Evil Circle bicker among themselves, and Loki finally reveals himself. Abraham Lincoln stops John Wilkes Booth from assassinating him before Immortus erases this timeline. Wonder Man finds a house missing from the Avengers Compound and flies out with USAgent to retrieve Scarlet Witch. The house explodes before Simon can reach it. Thor teleports the Avengers to Loki's secret base and we get our fight on! The Legion of Evil escapes to fight another day. Thor traps Loki within the earth. Hank and Jan return to the compound only to have Jan get attacked by an evil Wanda Maximoff!

Wanda's house is still floating up on the edge of the atmosphere. Inside, Magneto stands beside the unresponsive form of his daughter, the Scarlet Witch. These two have never been what you'd call close. Magnus had pretty much forced Wanda and her brother, Pietro, into joining his Brotherhood out of obligation after Magneto saved Wanda's life from an unruly mob. His angry attitude back then didn't endear the Scarlet Witch. In fact, it wasn't until recently that they even realized that they were family.

Magneto doesn't know what it'll take to break his daughter out of her current state. Ripping a house from it's foundation certainly didn't do anything. He rests a hand on her shoulder and tries some good old-fashioned talking.

Inside the Avengers' headquarters below Avengers Park, the assembled heroes finally have a name for the one really responsible for these Act of Vengeance. Loki! This name was provided by Thor and it has the ring of truth to it despite Dr. Doom and Wizard being implicated as masterminds prior to this revelation. Since they have the Wizard captured on the premises, Hawkeye thinks it a good idea to talk this Loki thing over with him.

Wizard has other plans. While the Avengers removed any visible threats from the Wizard's person, they completely missed the machinery hidden under the Wiz's fake thumb. This device is able to create a portal directly to the Super-Villain Secret Base. He walks in just as the other super-villains are discussing the self destructive Doombot. None of these guys knows if Doom was ever part of their little Evil Inner Circle. It could have been a Doombot all along.

Moving on to new business, the Wizard yells at Mandarin for abandoning him to the Avengers before telling them all about how he teleported to safety. At this, Loki, still in lackey mode, completely loses his cool and starts shouting at the Wizard. He can't believe the man would be so stupid as to teleport out of a prison cell and come straight here. That's the sort of thing that can be tracked and Thor could teleport everyone here quite soon.

When Wizard responds that a lowly minion shouldn't be talking to him like this, Loki grows tired of this façade and decides the time for revealing himself is long past. He throws the Wizard across the room and magicks up some more Loki-like clothes. As the rest of the group stares in astonishment, Kingpin chooses to quietly leave.

Back in 1965, President Abraham Lincoln attended the play, Our American Cousin, at Ford's Theater with his wife. During the performance, Lincoln heard the sound of a .44 caliber deringer being pulled back and went into quick action, knocking the gun away so that the shot went into the ceiling and quickly dispatching the would be assassin. With the threat ended, Lincoln looks at one of his Generals and asks if he has any words of wisdom to impart about the whole scenario.

The General does. He wishes this timeline could be left because he has great respect for the President. Unfortunately, it needs to be cut like all the others. The General, who turns out to be Immortus, still hasn't found what he's looking for and is getting impatient. He turns his attention back to what passes for the present and looks in on Wanda Maximoff only to find that she's no longer on the monitor. Something electromagnetic must have caused his instruments to be unable to keep track of her.

Immortus looks on as Wonder Man returns to Avengers Compound to find Wanda no longer on the premises. He questions Agatha Harkness and is agitated to learn that the witch wasn't able to prevent this. USAgent appears to tell Simon that the house is still floating at the edge of the atmosphere and the two board a Quinjet to see if Wanda remains up there with it.

Simon Williams exits the Quinjet to investigate the house only to have the building detonate before him.

Back at the Super-Villain Secret Base, Loki has caught the remaining super-villains in containment fields and is busy chewing them all out for their massively over-sized egos and general incompetence. The Avengers could show up any moment because of the Wizard.

On cue, Thor opens up a portal and the Avengers there.

Blame Game!

The Avengers being their attack. Loki pulls the walls away from the building to reveal their battle ground: The Isle of Silence. It was here that Loki had been exiled when he unwittingly formed the Avengers and it is here that Loki holds power over the elements.

These elements turn against our heroes. While Loki is focusing his attention elsewhere, the super-villains he had previously contained find themselves free to act. Deciding against helping Loki take down the Avengers, they flee through the still active dimensional doorways to fight another day. The Avengers aren't able to pursue because they find themselves fighting for their lives at the moment.

This battle turns out to be more about Thor versus Loki than anything else. While the Avengers busy themselves in their battle against the elements, Thor smashes the ground under Loki's feet and watches as the god of mischief fall below. This isn't quite a prison just yet, but when Thor grabs the ground and forces it back together, it's a suitable jail cell for the time being. Thor explains that this whole event was about Loki trying to turn back time on his one big screw up. He brought the Avengers together and believed he could tear them apart.

This proved false. The Avengers survived despite Loki's best efforts.

In the aftermath of the Acts of Vengeance, the West Coasters return to their own coast. Iron Man splits off from Hank and Jan's Quinjet to get some rest in his own home. Jan and Hank talk about their latest adventure before landing. Wasp leaves to change into a new uniform before visiting Wanda.

Things get wierd from here. Wanda's house is back on the ground and in one piece. The Wasp enters without thinking anything wrong. What she finds within, however, changes her mind. The USAgent is inside and looks like he's been beaten down pretty bad. He tells her that Simon died in an explosion in outer space. Jan shoots up to normal size before Walker can warn her against that.

She is now visible to her former friend and teammate, the Scarlet Witch. Looks like Wanda got a makeover. She's also looking pretty evil. Someone's taking after daddy.

And... done! I hope you enjoyed the Acts of Vengeance. Now that that's done, we can move on to bigger and better things, right?

Avengers #400Avengers #400
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Mike Weiringo

In this issue, Jarvis is visited by a time traveler from the future who tells him THIS IS THE DAY THE AVENGERS DIE! The Avengers run around New York fighting old menace after old menace while that time traveler gets Jarvis to remember old battles. New York slowly changes into a twisted version of itself as the Avengers fight on, realizing that their enemies are made up of the dark matter that is overtaking the city. Quicksilver, Hawkeye, and Black Widow are taken out of the fight by the Squadron Sinister and Crystal transports them to the hospital. The rest of the Avengers begins to be separated and overpowered by villains while, around the city and the world, former Avengers try to fight the expanding darkness. Jarvis figures out that this time traveler is, in fact, Loki pumping him for information and taunts the god of lies into revealing himself. The Avengers assemble at the Mansion to confront Loki and end up facing off against adamantium covered statues of the original Avengers. Wanda uses her hex power on the statues and the Avengers push the adamantuim results back into Loki, quick drying him into a statue of himself to be dealt with by Thor. The Avengers pat themselves on the back before being interrupted by X-Man.

Oh, man. The nineties. Look at the creators on this book. Mark Waid. Mike Wieringo. These guys are awesome and yet they are also responsible for Avengers #400. Now, I don't know how much you can even blame those creators for this thing. After all, Mark Waid was taking over writing duties after Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh left the title post Crossing. It's not like they had a lot to work with. They weren't responsible for Teen Tony. They weren't responsible for bug-girl Wasp. They certainly didn't have a lot to work with and they didn't have the time to build up to an awesome event of their own because in two issues, the title would be restarting with a brand new number one under the helm of Rob Liefeld. The next two issues would be Onslaught tie-in issues leading to that changeover.

This meant that this very special anniversary issue had to be a one-off story with no altering of the current status quo. That must have been frustrating for Mark Waid who also lost the Captain America title to the changeover. So, with those constraints in place, the four hundredth anniversary issue became a throwaway story about the Avengers refacing all their old foes. It was a celebration of their villains. Naturally, Loki had to be involved.

Our issue starts out innocently enough. Edwin Jarvis, tired of all his butlering duties, is out in Avengers Park sweeping up the path in front of that big statue dedicated to the Avenger Founders. Suddenly, a man appears nearby in a temporal explosion and Jarvis rushes in to offer what aid he can. It turns out that this man is a time traveler named Tyfon and he's here to save the Avengers!

Tyfon runs out of Avengers Park with Jarvis trailing behind him. They both head to Avengers Mansion. Tyfon is intent on warning the Avengers of an impending threat but the Avengers are already all out dealing with super villains.

For example, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Crystal, and the Vision or fighting it out with some of the original Masters of Evil (Black Knight, the Melter, and Radioactive Man). Once they've defeated these foes, they enjoy the adulation of the crowd and are kind of amused by it. After all, two of these people are mutants, feared and hated for a genetic trait. Crystal is an Inhuman. Vision is a synthezoid. None of them strictly human, all of them loved.

They move in to take their unconscious enemies into custody only to watch as the Masters' bodies change into some sort of dark matter. As they look on, they notice that the city itself is being altered by this same dark matter stuff.

In another part of town, Iron Man, Captain America, and Hawkeye are facing off against the Living Laser and get the same result. This time, LL shatters into dark matter after being kicked by Hawkeye. Things are getting eerie for earth's mightiest heroes.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Tyfon is explaining the story to Jarvis. This very day, the Avengers will face a threat from their greatest villain of all and will fall before him/her/it. The world will be covered in shadow matter that will be fought against even in Tyfon's day. The big problem with all of this is that no-one in the future knows what villain they actually faced this day. It's up to Jarvis to figure it out.

Tyfon hands the butler a futuristic device that will help extract Jarvis' memories. Jarvis has to remember every villain the Avengers faced until they figure out who is responsible for the DAY THE AVENGERS DIED. The early history of the Avengers is well recorded so Jarvis needs to start not at the beginning but later on in Avengers history. While Jarvis is remembering, Tyfon is watching the Avengers throughout the city.

Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp, and the Black Widow, for example, are watching a miniature version of the Kree-Skrull War playing out on the streets of New York. While they attack that threat, Giant-Man is confronted by a combination of Kang the Conqueror, Rama-Tut, Scarlet Centurion, and Immortus. At the time, they were all considered to be the same dude during different times. The combination time traveler hits Hamk pym with a chronal punch that makes Hank's life pass before his and the rest of the Avengers' eyes. We see Hank shift from Giant-Man to Yellow-Jacket, to Goliath, to Ant-Man and then back to Giant-Man. Thor shatters the Kang/Rama/Scarlet Centurion/Immortus being with his hammer and it reverts to dark matter just like the Kree and Skrulls.

The Avengers have all rallied together at this point. It's just in time because they're facing off against the Squadron Sinister next! These guys were Marvel versions of DC's main heroes (only EVIL!) so you've gotta have the whole team together for this fight. It's also where the Avengers suffer their first injuries because we all know that Mark Waid is a DC man. :P Hawkeye and Black Widow are downed by Hyperion. Quicksilver is sucker punched by the Whizzer. The rest of the Avengers take up defensive postures while Crystal takes the injured to a hospital. They're down four Avengers in so few minutes.

They never beat the Squadron Sinister. Those enemies are reformed by the shadow matter and replaced by lava men. This might be seen as a downgrade but it's a LOT of lava men. The Avengers are now seriously outnumbered and the chaos continues.

Back at Avengers Mansion, Jarvis is being taxed to remember a lot of past battles in a short amount of time. When he tries to start things at the beginning and go through them chronologically, Tyfon gets agitated and says he's already studied the beginning. Jarvis needs to move on before the Avengers and the world are destroyed. On his wrist monitor, a dark matter version of Ultron has entered the battle and is attacking Iron Man.

Things are moving swiftly now. The Avengers are finding themselves separated on the battlefield. Big name villains like Ultron, Grim Reaper (in a stylish hood and cape), and Count Nefarius are now being created by that shadow matter. These are backed up by some of the lesser known villains. The results are a separated team where no one is backing anyone else up.

All over the world, former Avengers are fighting off the spread of shadow matter or at least fearing for the future. We get cameo shots of Spider-Man (Ben Reilly), three of the Fantastic Four (Reed, Sue, and Ben-- Johnny hasn't been an Avenger), Black Panther, Namor, and She-Hulk. This shows us that not only New York is being attacked. This threat is world wide and our heroes are losing.

Back in the Mansion, Jarvis is watching his friends and teammates fall. Everytime he tries to go back to the beginning, Tyfon gets progressively angrier. Soon, Jarvis has figured this whole thing out. He starts talking about how weak the Avengers' first villain was and how the Avengers were embarrassed that their formation was tied in to the machinations of such an easy threat. This is enough to enrage Loki into revealing himself.

Yeah, Tyfon wasn't from the future at all. That was Loki doing that mischief that he does so... well? Well, he seems to enjoy himself at least.

The device helping Jarvis pour through his memories changes back into whatever beast it actually is before slipping off Jarvis' arm. Loki has all the information he needed anyway. With a backhand, he sends the Avengers' butler sliding across the floor. Jarvis isn't a threat anyway.

Or... IS he? Jarvis hasn't stopped fighting. Pulling out his Avengers ID Card, he hits it close to center and activates a priority alert signal telling the Avengers to return to the Mansion. The Avengers still standing get that signal and don't even think twice. They abandon whatever foe they're facing off against and head straight home.

This is NOT the benchmark.

What they find there is, of course, the true threat. It's a giant-sized Loki with a shadow matter dimensional doorway in his chest. Loki explains that very soon, this world will be overrun with shadow matter. Once that's done, Loki will rule the universe from earth. Or something. The point is it's a big threat and the Avengers might have to do some Assembling to stop it.

Loki isn't done fighting himself. As usual, he fights through proxy. This time, he brings that founding member statue display alive and sets the Statue Avengers against the current line-up. Just like those dark matter villains, the statue Avengers have their individual powers. They also have a trump to that: the statues are coated in adamantium. This might seem like a waste of good adamantium since you could probably cover 200 Wolverine skeletons with the adamantium used here but... well, it makes them a bigger threat that they just can't shatter into pieces.

The true threat, of course, isn't those Statue Avengers. It's Loki and that shadow dimension portal growing in his chest. They need to get through the statues quickly so they're going to have to chance Wanda using her hex powers. Unfortunately, the result is just changing the adamantium from statues of Avengers into a blob of metal that still tries to attack the real Avengers. Amused, Loki tries to get the adamantium to cover the Avengers so he'll have his very own statues for posterity.

The Avengers fight back, blasting the adamantium blob with an assortment of their available powers until the mass is forced back onto Loki. It covers not only the god of lies but that shadow dimensional portal on his chest. That means the threat is ended and they have a statue of Loki to boot! It's win/win.

Thor tells everyone that he'll deal with his adamantium covered brother in due time. Crystal calls in and tells the Avengers that their injured are doing fine. They'll be ready for duty by tomorrow at the latest. Cap tells the team just how great they did and the congratulate Jarvis on figuring out the threat and summoning them home to deal with it. This was one of their toughest battles ever and they one by fighting it together.

While everyone is patting themselves on the back, there's a knock at the door. Jan goes to answer it and we find that X-Man, sparking with energy, is paying the Avengers team a visit. It seems good ol' Charlie Xavier has gone quite mad and that the Avengers need to deal with the X-Men Founder before the whole world is forfeit.

Ah... just another day in the life of the Avengers. :)

Secret Invasion: Thor #1Secret Invasion: Thor #1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Doug Braithwaite

Hell, this is a lot of comics. Woo.

OK, so Thor. Opening pages show what happens when a humanoid becomes a meteor. Fortunately, this particular humanoid is one of those nigh indestructible kinds. Let's find out where it lands.

But maybe later. Right now we're watching Doctor Don Blake examine a pregnant lady. She was a little freaked out because of near-baby time freak out stuff, so Blake was called over to check things out. It's just about then that that human meteor lands. Yep. PRETTY close.

Blake knows that it's hit Asgard. He knows the deal and he knows he's needed but he's also a doctor with one of those patient things and has to take one emergency at a time. Her water just broke and now there's the small personal emergency and the big spanning emergency vying for importance.

Still, as soon as Blake can he bolts to become that wacky god of thunder, Thor. He gets to Asgard to see everyone milling about confused. He and Balder approach the crater to figure out who's attacking only to realize that no one's attacking. That humanoid meteor was actually an old friend.

Beta Ray Bill.

He's seen better days.

The back story is that the Skrulls messed him up and sent him to Asgard as a warning. That warning was: "Leave or else." Probably drop another psuedo god on the city. Anyway, Thor rallies the troops because it's not like they're actually gonna leave. These are ASGARDIANS! It's like a city of Herculeses. They love that combat. Having rallied his men, Thor has to take care of the nearby human towns since Asgard is currently near Broxton, Oklahoma.

He sends rain and the loyal citizens of Broxton deal with it like it was a tornado warning and duck and cover.

Was this song even current during Secret Invasion?  I can't remember.

While Thor is doing his thunder god stuff, his brother turned sister, Loki, is messing with the Asgardians just like he/she/it always messes with the Asgardians. She turns them against Beta Ray Bill. What if he's a Skrull? Seriously, it's a good question.

Asgardians are easily riled up and soon the lynch mob is in full swing, only being turned back by Balder, the only sane Asgardian. Oh, and Thor some of the time. In fact, look! There's Thor coming back to quell his subjects and stop them from being crazy. Being ruler is a full time job... Thor does it part time. It's surprising Asgard is still standing.

Anyway, to prove that Bill is who he says he is, Thor throws him his hammer. You've got to be worthy of it to hold the thing and Beta Ray is totally worthy. So worthy he gets his whole horse face thing going on and powers up. Now without that hammer, Thor powers DOWN.

And he stays there. Remember that minor baby emergency? Remember that part-time ruler thing? He's also the only doctor in the area and there's a baby to deliver. So the ruler of Asgard leaves its defense to a guy who already lost the fight once and goes to deliver a baby.

Now, as far as priorities go, Thor is the worst war-time ruler ever. You think Mr Bush was bad? This guy just leaves. Yes, babies are important, but c'mon. No wonder Loki has such an easy time manipulating events. The ruler is just vacant.

OK, enough ranting about Thor's crappy leadership skills. Let's read...

Secret Invasion: Thor #2Secret Invasion: Thor #2
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Doug Braithwaite

And we begin the Invasion of Asgard! Skrulls are attacking but they aren't your ordinary garden variety Skrulls. These are Godkillers. They pretty much look like New Super Skrulls, but don't tell them that. They're at different pay grades and it would cause in-fighting.

Beta Ray Bill and Balder lead that Asgardians and Thor is busy delivering babies.

I know! Priorities!

To be honest, the Dr. Blake scenes are sort of frustrating. He's handling a pregnant lady while his people are at war. I don't know, is it honorable? Is it right? Well, it's his decision, so here he is with Marie, the pregnant lady, while she goes through contractions. The people of Broxton are in a Tornado shelter so there's a bit of an audience around them whether any of them likes it.

Some of the residents have realized that Asgard is on fire and the volunteer Fire Department is headed over to help them out. Blake protests but it's hard for him not to admire the quality of the volunteers.

In Asgard, the Invasion continues. Neither side is giving ground easily. The Fire Department arrives, but they are unable to get over the walls to reach the fires in Asgard.

Just when the Asgardians seem to be winning, the Skrulls release a New Super Skrull on them. This one has the powers of Thundra, Titania, Volcana, and Battleaxe. She's wielding Stormbringer, too. It's not a good day to be Beta Ray Bill.

The Volunteer Fire Department finally figures out they're trying to put out fires in the middle of a warzone and not doing much good at that. They head back to see if they can do anything in Broxton. On top of that, the storm clouds are just sitting on top of them doing nothing. They get back to report this to the townspeople just as Dr. Blake delivers that baby.

While this is happening, Bill fights.

Disco party!

Or dances. It's kinda the same thing, I guess.

So, the baby, Faith, is born. Now it's time for Blake to book back to Asgard. Book, Blake! Book! Fine, talk to your nurse first but then get back to the fight!

Because back at the fight, Beta Ray Bill is NOT winning. The New Super Skrull has thrown him round and round and he finds it harder to get up again. Just then, the New Super Skrull is distracted. Apparently, she's attracted to the birth of innocent new babies and wants to get into some of that action. Tossing Bill aside, she heads on down to Broxton to figure out how to kill new life. The Asgardians give chase.

On the ground, Beta Ray Bill makes a reach for the fallen Mjolnir. It's ok, Bill. It's Thor's turn up to bat.

Secret Invasion: Thor #3Secret Invasion: Thor #3
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Doug Braithwaite

The Battle of Asgard was all but won until one last god-like New Super Skrull began her attack. She was able to get the better of Beta Ray Bill before noticing the town of Broxton. Feeling this was a better target than Asgard, she made her way there. Beta Ray Bill did his best to stop her but he didn't last long on his own. Meanwhile, Doctor Donald Blake was returning to Asgard after delivering a baby in Broxton. When Bill falls, Blake is there to pick up the fallen hammer.

It's a standstill from there while we wait for Blake to make his move towards Mjolnir or for the New Super Skrull to try and crush him. The situation is broken up by Volstagg as he gives Don Blake the time he needs to grab the hammer. Beta Ray Bill finds this hilarious for some reason. I'm thinking shock.

The New Super Skrull is beating Volstagg to a pulp, but his sacrifice wasn't in vain because Thor has entered the fray. Big time battle.

It is not an easy battle by any means. The New Super Skrull is anything but a pushover and her power is incredible. Thor's got some moves and you won't see him fall over but he's not gaining ground. Hogunn and Fandral join in the battle and even THEN the New Super Skrull isn't beaten. Fandral and Thor drive a blade deep into the creature and it merely slows her down a bit.

She throws her weapon at Broxton which means that Thor will have to stop it. That leaves Hogunn and Fandral left to fight the Skrull. Thor stops her attack on Broxton but there is major property damage. Volstagg rises to help his comrades but this Skrull is NOT going down.


Thor returns and hands Stormbringer (which the New Super Skrull had launched at Broxton) to Beta Ray Bill. The warrior brothers fight the Skrull while leading her underneath Asgard (which is floating above the ground slightly). When they finally get underneath the city, Thor drops it on her... and them.

For a long moment, the fate of Thor and Beta Ray Bill is unknown to the Asgardians. That moment passes...

It's not exactly the world and it's taking two people.  Unimpressed. the two lift Asgard back up and appear unscathed. Thankfully, that was enough to defeat the New Super Skrull, though, because if that DIDN'T do it, well, we'd probably need some nukes.

The Asqardians head to Broxton to help clean up the mess made by the Skrulls and plans are made. Thor is still needed, possibly in New York during the final battle. Beta Ray Bill heads into outer space to settle his scores and get some questions answered in the stars.

The two say their goodbyes and get started on their individual missions.

Secret Invasion #6Secret Invasion #6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu

When last we saw Marvel Boy, he was ticked that the Skrulls ruined his behavioral experiment in the Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? One-Shot. At this point in his story, he's gotten a hold of a SHIELD flyer and nearly gets hit by a crashing Skrull ship in a Mall parking lot.

Who was knocking those Skrull ships out of the sky last issue? Yeah, it was Captain Marvel (the Skrull one). It looks like he rode this one down and is NOT doing very well. He collapses and tries to inspire Marvel Boy to defend this planet. Then, there's his death and him turning back into a Skrull. How will Marvel Boy take it? We may find out in the final issue as these things tend to hopscotch.

The Skrulls are delivering their message of peace, love, and rock & roll to the humans while explaining that they aren't attacking everyone. They're only attacking the people that could potentially get in the way of a successful invasion and subjugation of all mankind. Is that so wrong? Is it?

While this bit of spin is playing, we get a view of the titles that Marvel would like you to spend your money on. There's Secret Invasion: X-Men dealing with the very important invasion of San Francisco. Next is Secret Invasion: Inhumans where the Skrulls attack the moon and the Kree-made Inhumans. Over in Black Panther we see the stupidest invasion ever with their full three New Super Skrulls... all quite physically deformed. All these titles are currently on the stand: Buy Now! Filling up the rest of the page is a Savage Land image where Shanna the She-Devil and Zabbu seem to have things well in had (and I think the Savage Land needs to make an appearance in every issue contractually) and Sabra doing not as well in Israel. There is no Secret Invasion: Israel comic, though. Sorry.

Skrull HQ on earth has been set up at Camp Hammond (former training ground for the Avengers Initiative). Here, a Skrull Hank Pym dressed in his best suit is directing the Skrulls in their invasion. There's some nervous Skrulls to deal with. They haven't actually WON an invasion against earth and getting this far must be nerve wrecking. To help them spiritually, Spider-Woman/ Veranke shows up to tell them it's all going ok. Just because Hercules killed their gods and Richards is running around free and they are losing on all points just means everything is going according to plan... what!?

OK, Skrulls fight their invasion a lot differently than I would. They do have whatever they did to Wasp, though. That is apparently a final fail-safe.

On the other end we have our Avengers teams with Reed Richards and Agent Brand heading back to New York. Tony goes through an "It's all my fault" phase that Spidey and Cage know will lead into a "The damn Skrulls are going to fall and I will make sure of it personally" phase. These people know Super-heroes. Still, feelings are positive. They've survived so far. What could possibly stand against a combined Avengers force?

Oh, they've pretty much taken New York. Ugh.

Meanwhile, on the ground in New York, we have idiots. Soon the have their own mini-series:


They actually think that the Skrulls are there for their benefit. There's one in every movie. There are more in this comic. The police try to stop them from getting killed by their own ignorance, but these are a special breed of moron. When confronted by New Super Skrulls, they just stand there waiting to be killed.

Luckily, they have the Secret Warriors, Young Avengers, and the Initiative to save them from themselves. They aren't grateful, but Fury isn't really the type who needs adoration. He just needs them to stop being so... stupid. Before they get the lecture on survival tactics, they get the rallying cry of Thor.

It's lightning.

Thor's summoning and the Skrulls are responding. Veranke's a little shaken, but she's read that Book of Worlds and this is all according to it, right? Right?

Thor also meets Captain America for the first time. The Bucky one.

Yay!  Meeting for the first time is fun!

First time meeting are always cool. It's also cool to have Cap, Thor, and Iron Man in the same room... er... park. So, we've got the Avengers, Cap, and Thor ready for the fight. Then the Skrulls show up. Then the Secret Warriors, Young Avengers, Initiative, and Thunderbolts get ready to dance.

Now it's just down to some talking before the battle.

"You surrender."

"No U."

This is also the time that the Hood and his gang of super-criminals joins the side of righteousness.

Reed also vouches for everyone on their side though we haven't seen him fire that gun. We know that the Skrulls only got this far by using his big brain. Veranke does her "we're only doing this to save you" spiel saying that her god loves them all.

Fury says the cool line, "Yeah? Well, MY god has a hammer!"

Tony shouts out the battle cry and it's on.

Two issues to go... this probably isn't the final battle unless the next one is just splash pages. They wouldn't do that to us, right?


Secret Invasion #7Secret Invasion #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu

This is it, people. This it the big, knock down, drag out, slobber knocker of a final showdown between the Skrulls and the people of Earth.

And it's in the Savage Land.

JUST KIDDING! It's a joke! Haha. Anyway, it's all going down in Central Park in New York City. Since it's a one big super-powered rumble, you'll see a virtual who's who of Marvel's finest. The big groups are both sets of Avengers, the Thunderbolts, the Young Avengers, the Secret Howling Commandos (Secret Warriors), any member of the Initiative left standing and who's not hanging out with the Skrull Kill Krew, and the Hood's Syndicate. Also, Skrulls. Lots and lots of Skrulls of the New Super Skrull variety.

You'll also see a lot of splash pages. I'd make a joke about how it's an easy way to fill up space but, damn, these are some incredible, complex, pages. If you look around you'll not only see some favorites, you'll also see some familiar architecture such as Stark Tower. You'll also see Skrull ships. It's some great work.

Alright, enough praise for Leinil Yu. Let's get down to some summarizing.

There are Skrulls to be killed and everyone's pitching in. The humans are making the queen the main objective while the Skrulls are gunning for Mr. Fantastic. We get a nice scene with the Avengers trinity (Busiek, write THAT book!) and another with Fury and Osborn. We then get the reunion between Criti Noll, Yellowjacket, and Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp. Before Criti Noll can relive Hank Pym's worst years of marriage, Stature (the Young Avenger in the Initiative) gives him a nice beat down by growing much larger than him.

Moments, later, Yellowjacket is shot in the eye by Bullseye with the Bazooka. You think that he might actually fire on Spider-Man but they'll be time for Spider-swatting later. Maybe. Eh, kill some Skrulls, Bullseye.

Unfortunately, Tony's reunion with Thor and Cap (granted, it's Bucky Cap so less of a reunion than just a great visual) is cut short because he's being held together by bailing wire and duct tape. He needs a new suit (presumably) and leaves the combat site to go get it (or to fix his current gear more effectively).

It's about this time that the Skrulls remember that they're friggin' shapechangers and give Reed a reunion with Sue. And Sue. And Sue. Also: Sue. And there's another one.


OK, it's not brilliant strategy. At all. But it's a fun panel to play with.

Nick's Secret Warriors get to the rescue as Logan makes for the Queen. And, yes, that WAS Howard the Duck in the background. Good catch. Wolverine's fight with Veranke is pretty much a draw. She blows the flesh off his right arm, he stabs her shoulder, she blows up part of his face. It's point/ counterpoint.

Spidey muses that at least the Watcher hasn't shown up right before the Watcher shows up. Ah, timing. Or it's a Skrull who's made to LOOK like a Watcher. He certainly towers over the scene, though. You'll also see Stature beating down the Skrull Galactus we first saw (and I complained about) in Secret Invasion: Frontline #4. We'll just assume that this Skrull doesn't actually have the powers of Galactus because he's not eating the planet and Stature is kicking his @$.

Tony is having some trouble leaving the battleground and isn't able to contact SHIELD or Jarvis. He takes care of a pursuing Skrull while making his way through the carnage.

Back at Avengers Tower, Jarvis and Jessica Jones watch the battle on CNN as they both ignore a crying Danielle Cage. We can only assume that the Skrulls have multiple Jarvis's, or Jarvi, doing their dirty work throughout the Marvel Earth. Jessica decides that she needs to get involved in this fight and leaves her daughter in the caring hands of an enemy Skrull. She flies off just as Tony is getting back.

Now, just in case the tide wasn't already in the humans favor, Marvel Boy enters the area to kick Skrull bottom and chew bubble gum. He can do both at the same time plus calculate the average rainfall in the Amazon River Basin. He's that cool... I mean, if calculating while chewing bubble gum is cool.

In an issue full of great reunions, we get Cage and Jessica back together to kill aliens as a family.

Hawkeye is taken out of the battle by some flaming attack and Vision 2.0 takes her off to get some healing. Clint Barton picks up her dropped bow and arrows and we get another reunion of a sort.


Oh yeah, it's old home week in Secret Invasion #7. Being the best archer in the world, he makes a lot of great shots including one right through Queen Veranke's head. Logan may be wondering why he hadn't tried sticking his claws there since they were still fighting it out.

This causes Criti Noll to activate the Skrull failsafe: Janet Van Dyne. As we have seen a number of times in Mighty Avengers and once more here just in case you haven't been paying attention: Criti Noll as Hank Pym gave Wasp a new growth formula that let her jump to giant size straight from wasp size. It also seems like it'll send Jan into some type of critical mass situation with disasterous effects for our heroes next issue.

While we watch Jan build up power, we get to see Jarvis-Skrull switch to Skrull form while holding little Danielle Cage and gloating. Turns out Danielle ISN'T a Skrull at all. She's just a REALLY creepy baby. I stand by that.

And still, the Watcher watches.

Secret Invasion #8Secret Invasion #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Leinil Francis Yu

This issue is basically all aftermath except that we left last issue on a cliffhanger of sorts. Ronin (Clint Barton) had just put an arrow through the Skrull Queen, Veranke's, head and, in retaliation, Criti Noll (the Skrull Yellowjacket) activated the crazy voodoo they had planted in Janet Van Dyne. With that, Jan started being all glowy and explody.

This issue starts as we learn that Wasp has become a chemical bomb that will kill everyone (potentially the whole planet). Jan's in agony and she's taking everyone in the area on the same trip. All this is happening while the Watcher watches. He's creepy sometimes.

Also, most of the beginning to this issue is talked over by two distinct voices. One is basically reporting what went on during this whole scene while the other asks questions and some additional color. I'll break the secret code early so you aren't torn apart with curiousity. The voice in the green boxes is Norman Osborn. The voice in the lavender boxes is the President... most likely Bush since the Marvel U uses the real guys.

First, we watch the heroes deal with Jan. Unfortunately, "deal with" is about all you're gonna get. Thor is the one doing the dealing and, even after multiple readings, I can't definitively tell you what Thor does. My best guess is that he teleports her away. He swings his hammer which is a definite sign. Killing Jan probably wouldn't end the chemical bomb's threat. Finally: no body is seen. The voice with the green boxes (Norman Osborn) declares her "dead" and it's likely but doesn't seem to happen on panel. Odds are good that Thor ported her away to an area where she could die without killing anyone else.

Or, y'know, he ported her somewhere where she just didn't kill anyone and will eventually return. It's nice and open ended enough to allow the possibility.

But for now, a founding Avenger has died. It's time for some friggin' payback. Looks like Veranke took an arrow to the head and lived to tell the tale. Her jaw is hanging in an unnatural way, but she's still walking around.

For about a half minute at least. Revenge time. Every human in the area makes a rush for her but they all miss that tasty revenge when Norman Osborn shoots her in the head.

And yet it set up the best era of Marvel in a long time.

Veranke is dead and someone just got some NICE publicity.

Tony Stark gets back to the battle wearing his Classic Armor. I'd personally rather see him in the Modular Armor, New Classic Armor, or Silver Centurion, but everyone loves that classic look so there ya go. Soak it in.

He and the flyers head into space to take on the Skrull Warships in orbit while Ares destroys the one in New York. The human forces make short work of the Skrull ships and Iron Man is able to locate a very special ship during the conflict. Even the classic armor is able to take over the systems on this ship. Tony takes control and flies it back down to Central Park.

In Central Park, the battle has been won. The Skrulls have surrendered or been killed and they're all curious about what gift Tony's just brought them.

It's the gift of lost friends! Every human that was replaced by a Skrull was kept alive on this ship. SHIELD agents, Hydra agents, and others start walking out. If you look very carefully, you'll see a guy that looks like Elvis in there. Well, Elvis probably never had hair as crazy as this guy but that's who he looks like to me.

You're probably wondering why the Skrulls kept these people alive. There's a very well crafted reason for that: they needed them around to resupply the genetic process the Skrulls used to imitate their powers.

Hank and Spider-Woman get the most attention when they come off the Skrull ship. Hank is greeted as a friend while Spider-Woman is not trusted one bit. Well, Ms. Marvel trusts her and is happy to learn that her friend is alive and well. The rest look at her like she's Hitler.

The Hood and his Syndicate run off now before someone decides they belong in jail.

When Jarvis shows up, Tony finally figures out why his Extremis abilities were so compromised and Jessica Jones freaks the hell out. Understandably. She left her baby with a Skrull Jarvis. By the time she flies to Stark Tower, Skrull Jarvis and her child have escaped. Cage catches up and learns the whole sad turn of events. They're back together, but their baby's pulled a Baby May Parker.

Countess Valentina Allegra DeFontaine and Dum Dum Dugan see what they believe is a friendly face in Nick Fury but it doesn't look like the feeling is mutual. Nick and his Secret Howling Commandos teleport out as Dum Dum and the Countess look on.

A surprise on the ship is Mockingbird. Considering she died LONG before the Invasion was planned, it'll be a wonder how they explain her inclusion on the ship. That explanataion will be for another time, though. Today, we just need to watch her and Clint Barton reunite and hope this doesn't end as badly as it did a few issues ago.

There's another reunion happening. Reed and Sue are together again. Sue is the first to realize that the Baxter Building isn't looking like home anymore. The two race off to find the rest of their family. At the Baxter Building, they discover their other two teammates arguing over a Negative Zone control panel as their two kids draw pictures.

Sue greets her kids and Reed works on returning the Baxter Building to normal. The top floors don't really come back in great shape but that just means that Reed can rebuild it... make it stronger...

In Central Park, Tony and Thor are reliving the good times.

Thor celebrates Christmas?

Oh, that crazy Tony. Thor is still pissed off about that whole incident and will NOT work with him on anywhere near a permanent basis. Looks like Captain America (James Barnes) has a similar frame of mind.

The final scene at Central Park involves the Young Avengers. Hulkling is the son of a Skrull (Princess Annelle) and a Kree (Captain Mar-Vell). He has little knowledge of the Skrulls outside of that one time they attacked the Young Avengers in order to bring Hulkling home as their new Emperor and their encounters with Xavin from the Runaways (Teddy's surrogate mother was also a Skrull but I digress). Based on that little experience, he totally knows that this was the act of millions of extremist Skrulls and has no relation to the Skrull Empire as a whole (The Skrull Empire is also pretty evil, but at least they aren't extremist/terrorists). When the Young Avengers wonder aloud why the Skrulls would go through all the effort to possess the Earth, a captured Skrull brings it on home for them. The remnants of the Skrull Empire have been shattered. The Empire was gone and this was their last chance for a home. Hulkling may have to step up and lead his people sometime in the near future.

And now we can start hyping that future.

First things first: fire Tony Stark. While Tony did everything he could to prevent this invasion from happening, it's pretty obvious that he wasn't able to do so. He is the official fallguy for the Secret Invasion and he is absolutely out of favor with the US Government. His company lost a lot of contracts in this deal, too, as Starktech is not going to be a part of any plan moving forward.

Next on the list: Put Norman Osborn in charge. Not only did he get the kill shot for the Skrull Queen, he was also able to secure Washington D.C. from Skrull Invasion in Thunderbolts (they had a LOT easier time than the X-Men did fighting for San Francisco, by the way). He's the man of the hour and all thoughts that he was once a raving lunatic running around in a green and purple costume (that was, like, last week) are quickly forgotten.

He's not in charge of SHIELD, though. That division has proved unviable and is disbanded in its current form. He's basically given blanket authority to protect the US and the planet from those who would attack it inside and out. It's like Osborn is now some minor deity and I'm certain he'll ACTUALLY do what everyone thought Tony Stark was going to do. Go totally evil. Stark never did because he was essentially a hero. Osborn's not. Should be interesting.

In fact, you'll notice that Stark hasn't pulled himself back together yet. It looks like he's still suffering from the viral attack unleashed on him and his tech by the Skrulls. Maria Hill notices Tony staring off in the distance while she's talking to him and it becomes apparent that he's drifting. Or drunk. Good gravy, Marvel, don't give me another "Tony falls off the wagon" story.

Our issue closes as Norman Osborn waltzes around Avengers Tower (because once you upstage someone and get their job you ALSO get their stuff). He checks his watch and makes his way to a special meeting. In attendance: Namor, Emma Frost, Dr. Doom, Loki, and the Hood. The Dark Illuminati calls it's first meeting. Looks like the bad guys are in charge here.

The Mighty Avengers #20The Mighty Avengers #20
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Lee Weeks, Jim Cheung, & Carlo Pagulayan

Mighty Avengers has taken a side seat on Secret Invasion tie-ins, so this issue is sort of like making up for that deficiency. But first, let's rewrite a little history...

Remember back in Avengers #4 when the Avengers rescued a frozen Captain America and within three panels he was up and running about with the strength to tackle Giant Man, Iron Man and Thor in his rage and remorse? Well, it turns out a lot happened in those intervening panels that... well, they don't exactly fit well into given continuity, okay?

In the "new" continuity, it looks like Cap didn't revive on the Avenger's submarine, aided by the super soldier serum flowing through his veins and eventually leading to the Avengers being turned to stone after leaving the sub by that Asparagus Alien. Now, it looks like they brought him to an unknown medical-type area where Hank Pym is examining a still unconscious Cap. Don't ask me about the Asparagus Alien. Just know that his planet is eventually destroyed by Dark Phoenix whether his first appearance really happened or not. Heck, maybe this is still the submarine and everyone else is JUST off panel. Sometimes I hate retcons...

Anyway, this new scene, besides just interfering with Marvel continuity, is set up to show the love that once existed between Janet van Dyne and Hank Pym. It's also set up to show that Pym's situation is much like Cap's now: he's been displaced in time. Not by fifty years, but a lot's happened in the intervening time and one of those things is that his former lover is dead. The scene ends with Jan promising to wait for Hank if he were ever frozen. Hank promises the same.

We next show up at the planning for Janet's funeral. Hank, Ms. Marvel, and Wonder Man are meeting with Mr. Funeral Guy to plan the details but it's obvious that Janet's death and his lack of knowledge on how it went down has put Hank in a daze. He's still the first to mention the lack of a body... and we all know what that probably means. We're still kept in the moment enough that her eventual resurrection isn't outright mentioned (like Martian Manhunter's funeral was handled in Final Crisis... damn you DC!! Thanks for taking any emotional connection out of J'onn's death). Back to scene: this is all too much for Hank to take. Y'know, even on his best days, he wasn't all that emotionally stable. He and Ms. Marvel take their leave.

On their way to their limo, Hank is innundated by the damn, dirty paparazzi. Along with Spider-Woman, Hank was the face of the Skrulls to the public so he's a hot topic for pretty much every news outlet. Carol Danvers shouts at them all and they get in the limo for some relative peace.

Hank demands that Carol stop treating him with kid gloves and give him the low-down on what's happened in his absence. Carol tells him about House of M and the Decimation of mutant-kind. That's followed by a recounting of the Super-Human Civil War and the formation of the Mighty Avengers team (where Wasp was a member). Captain America's death is retold. Carol goes over the event in World War Hulk. Finally, Hank learns all about the Secret Invasion, his doppleganger's place in it, and the death of Janet Van Dyne.

Hank recalls Jan's declaration of waiting if he were frozen in time. He recalls his last failure at reestablishing his relationship with her before he was abducted. Overcome with emotion, he breaks down and cries.

The day of the funeral soon comes. The audience is filled with mourners. Some, we all recognize. There's the Mighty Avengers team, Fantastic Four members, someone that looks like Charles Xavier and Maria Hill. When it comes time for anyone to stand up and say a few words, Hank Pym rises from his seat and Carol worries about what is to come.

Hank's not really up on chatting through any pleasant memories or inspiring moments he shared with Janet. He's all about placing blame. On Mr. Tony Stark, third row. He blames him for Cap's death. He blames him for Janet's death. Tony sits there and takes it. Finally, when Hank has lost the drive to continue, Thor shows up behind him.

Thor has already played the blame game with Tony (see SI #8!) and speaks words congratulatory to Janet's character. Upon finishing, he flies away with Hank Pym, leaving Tony to sit in silence, blaming himself.

This isn't a contest!

The funeral after party is one of even more fun and excitement. Clint Barton, Carol Danvers, and Bobbi Morse leave the church as Clint makes a comment about Hank's antics and Carol defends him. Clint's got other targets, though. It looks like Norman Osborn is hanging out with Hillary Clinton (Bill's right behind her... and if you're looking closely, you'll see President Elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in a preceding panel). Clint is about to cause a scene just like Hank did but at least he's outside the church with less eyes pointing at him. He accuses Mr. Osborn of being the Green Goblin (yeah, it's publicly known). Osborn asks who the hell he is. Instead of looking confused and trying to remember his current codename (it's Ronan!), he gives his real name and the fact that he's an Avenger. Osborn tells Clint that he's here out of respect for the fallen and tells him to register in the next day or deal with the consequences. Clint doesn't take it well and uses some profanity on his leaving. Carol tries to assert some control and drags Clint away.

Norman and his new evil assistant, Ms. Hand (Hand? Elektra?) watches Tony Stark leave as Maria Hill glares back at the two. Ms. Hand makes a snarky remark that'll probably apply equally to Osborn in a year or so ("How the mighty have fallen"... which considering the title of this comic may have a double meaning) and we end scene.

Finally, we cut to Avengers Tower. Nice view of New York, by the way. Norman Osborn stands alone in front of a large picture of old Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye) as he takes in the view. Everything's going his way... for now.

Siege #1Siege #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

In this issue, Loki and Norman Osborn's plan to create an incident that will lead to an Asgardian invasion gets underway as the two use Volstagg and the U-Foes in a successful attempt to recreate a Stamford-like incident by demolishing Soldier Field during a Bears game. Norman actually sees this play out with Loki's help and, while he says mission is a go, it doesn't mean he's completely happy with how he's got to go about this. While this incident should make it easier to engage the Asgardians, Norman doesn't receive the usual support from his people, starting with Victoria Hand who, while following his orders, seems reluctant to do so. Still, Norman is able to convince Ares of the rightness of this cause and the rest of the Avengers get full pardons after this mission is completed. While Ares rallies the Initiative troops, President Obama finds that he's unable to get Norman on the line to halt this attack. Loki plays both sides by giving his half-brother, Balder, a heads up about the imminent attack. Sentry delivers the first shot by taking out Heimdal and cutting off access to the Eternal Realm. More shots come as the Dark Avengers, HAMMER, and the Initiative begin their first wave of attacks. In Broxton, Dr. Donald Blake is attending his comatose patient, Tony Stark, as the battle rages a couple miles out of town. Blake orders Maria Hill to quietly remove Tony from the town, and then rushes out of town so that Thor can join the battle. Before Thor can make any impact on the fight, he's cut off by the Sentry and then down by the combined forces of Iron Patriot, Dark Ms. Marvel, and the U-Foes. Back in New York, Steve Rogers watches this all on television and is not pleased.

Consider: Volstagg the Voluminous. He's a big guy and he's riding a horse. He's also an Asgardian. In current issues of Thor, Volstagg and his Warriors Three comrades have left the other Asgardians to join Thor and Sif in Broxton. Volstagg is running the local restaurant and everything. I'm going to guess that all changes in the next issue of Thor or happens just off panel. The point is, Volstagg is no longer in Broxton or hanging out with the rest of the Warriors Three. He's currently in Chicago seeking adventure in the style of Thor.

Loki explains all of this to Norman because Volstagg is going to be their unwitting agent of change when he is used to cause a cataclysmic event which will pave the way for Norman's invasion of Asgard. With all of Volstagg's might and valor, he is not as connected to the mortal world as Thor and doesn't understand their ways at all. The Asgardian ends up stopping a highway chase on the streets of Chicago by slashing the villain's getaway truck with his sword. The vehicle careens to a stop, and Volstagg approaches the truck, plucking one of the criminals from his seat. The police don't know what to make of this scene. It looks like Volstagg is HELPING but, with all the explosions, it's hard to be clear.

So far, this is no Stamford. It's going to need some explosive villains to get that effect going and Loki knows exactly who to call. They can't be Thunderbolts or Avengers. This seems like a job for someone in the Hood's Syndicate. Enter: The U-Foes.

Starting to put the pieces together, are we? The U-Foes got an extra bonus from Norman Osborn. Night Thrasher tracked down exactly what that was for and here we see North Carolina's Initiative team WAY out of their jurisdiction in Illinois. They attack Volstagg and the battle across quickly gets redirected to Soldier Field where a Bears game is already in progress. I'm just going to assume they're playing the Vikings because, well, they've gotta be playing someone and the Vikes are way too appropriate. You know the only reason this scene didn't take place in Minneapolis is that the Metrodome would make these scenes just a little more difficult to play out. It also would be a little harder to draw the explosions to come.

Volstagg hits the field hard and his image is quickly put up on the jumbo monitor. On top of that monitor, Vector and X-Ray land and fire they're assorted energy blasts at the Asgardian. Volstagg blocks the attack but the energies run wild and spread through the entire stadium, exploding and killing pretty much everyone present.

In the center of the blast, Volstagg stands, bewildered. This is not something you'd find Thor doing.

Now, this is an NFL game and it would be filmed live for a lot of sports enthusiasts to see. That film would be transferred over to the other news networks rather quickly. This is an event just packaged to lead into dire concequences for the Asgardians. After Loki explains all of this to Norman, he asks if Norman is willing to go through with this. Keep in mind, Loki is giving Norman a front row seat to exactly how this is going to go down. Osborn is literally right there to witness the chaos. Or simulated chaos. He's not too comfortable being this close to this travesty and demands to be returned to his office. Once there, he gives his seal of approval. Loki wishes the Director of National Security well on this entire endeavor and fades from sight.

On the big screen, we see Volstagg in a look of stunned bewilderment so Loki was pretty much showing Norman the events as they happened. Volstagg is left to fend for himself while the U-Foes quietly make their escape. It's assumed that the U-Foes weren't even seen during the fighting and, therefore, aren't going to be blamed for anything.

Norman is still a bit stunned by what he just saw but he's pulled out of this trance by his Deputy Director, Victoria Hand. She asks him what he wants her to do and Norman gives her orders to contact the President and inform the man that things are well in-hand and that steps are in place to eliminate the true source of this problem. Hand believes that Norman should do that himself but Osborn is done trying to get things like "permission." It's time to just do and damn the consequences.

Osborn wants the Avengers assembled and the Initiative teams put on full alert. It's time to invade Asgard. Victoria reminds the Director that there are rules for this sort of thing and that Osborn is following none of them. Norman responds with a question as to Hand's loyalty. Hand replies that she's completely loyal but that it's her job to keep the Director informed on his responsibilities. The former Green Goblin is pleased to hear he can count on her. He leaves the room, telling his Deputy Director to trust him. It's all going to play out just fine.

Sure it is.

The first one that needs convincing to go to war against Asgard is Ares. The greek god of war is not about to battle the Asgardians. In fact, if Norman tries to do such a thing, Ares will actively work to stop him in as respectful way as is possible. This is actually a pretty cool scene because I always thought that Ares would eventually see Norman for who he was instead of the war hero he pretends to be. At this point, Ares should only be begrudgingly working with the Iron Patriot but here he is actually being respectful to his commander. Color me impressed. Norman, of course, isn't about to go to war with the god of war. He tells Ares that Asgard shouldn't be on earth. He even allows Ares to draw his own conclusions on who is running Asgard. Norman tells Ares that Thor's brother is running the place and lets his number-one soldier fill in the blank. When Ares tells Ozzy that this isn't a battle for humans, Norman replies that it wouldn't be if Asgard wasn't on earth. This silences the war god. Still, Ares tells Norman that, if this is all a lie, Osborn's life is forfeit. Man, I wouldn't want to be Norman by issue four.

OK. Norman's got Hand and Ares in line but how's that going to work with the rest of his Avengers? I mean, these guys aren't exactly looking to die here and fighting Asgard is definitely going to lead to some casualties. Heck, even Hawkeye is afraid. And admitting it. Clearly, Norman is going to have to give them more motivation. He tells them that, if they do this, they are free to go and do whatever they want to do. They are no longer prisoners. That's pretty good motivation for Hawkeye, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel but it doesn't explain why Daken goes along with it. I'm betting we see his motivation over in his very own comic.

At this point, there would actually be a couple pages of talking heads detailing the battle-plan, but instead of including those pages inside the comic, the details are left in dialogue-form at the end. It's actually some pretty good dialogue where the Dark Avengers plan their strategy and get motivated for the fight. Key point to this battle is that the Sentry will perform a bullet-strike straight up to take out Heimdall (the Asgardian's eternal guardian) and remove access to the Eternal Realm. It also explains that the Dark Avengers are merely part of the first wave, and that Norman's shadowy servant last scene in the Siege: The Cabal One-Shot will play clean-up. This needs to be a Dark Avengers fight. They need to be seen as the spearhead. It's some really good stuff even if one page is missing due to a printing error. The whole thing is available online at Marvel's website.

After that's done, we move on to the Initiative. At this point, the Initiative is stacked with lots of villains, but it's not JUST made up of bad guys. There have got to be quite a few heroes in that mix as well because it's quite a crowd. They're all in the HAMMER Helicarrier docking bay getting a rousing speech from Ares. Prominent in the front row are the U-Foes. Oh, sure, they might not have been SPOTTED when they were fighting Volstagg but it's still odd that they aren't sitting this one out. They're just asking to get associated with the Soldier Field Incident by being so high-profile.

The world is a different place than it was during the Superhuman Civil War. We've got a new president and everything.

I bet he'd get a full appearance NOW.

President Obama isn't as quick to rush into a war with gods. He's even more upset to recieve a call from Victoria Hand saying that the war is already taking place and he's been left out of the decision-making process. In Siege: The Cabal, Obama already turned down Norman's request to attack Asgard. That was to be the final word in the matter. He demands to speak to Osborn but Victoria Hand is not allowing that to happen. The President of the United States throws the phone down in frustration. Norman Osborn is out of control.

The current ruler of Asgard is, indeed, Thor's brother– but that doesn't mean it's Loki. It's actually Balder. Early in the morning in Asgard, Loki wakes his half-brother (again, Balder) to tell him the bad news. Asgard is about to be attacked. Balder dismisses whatever woman he's sleeping with, dresses quickly, and hurries from his chamber with Loki at his heels. Loki continues to explain exactly what's going on. After Volstagg's incident in Chicago, the mortals are poised to strike against Asgard. Loki tried to talk Norman down but to no avail. Balder isn't a fool. He knows that Loki is playing games but the trick is getting the god of mischief to agree to... well... anything. Loki claims that this isn't about them. It's about Asgard and he would never betray Asgard. Except for all those times he betrayed Asgard but let's not look at them.

The point is, Loki isn't lying about the attack. Even though it seems to be a foolhardy move on the mortal's part, they seriously are going to try and take Asgard. Before Balder has even cleared the hallway, the first strike has taken place.

The Sentry did his bullet maneuver. He struck Heimdal, cut off access to the Realm Eternal, and then blasted straight through Asgard all the way to the other side, exiting with no sign of strain. That's some serious power.

The rest of the first phase in the Siege of Asgard is on it's way and it's pretty awesome to behold. You might remember two years back with the Mighty Avengers and SHIELD laid siege to Latveria. That was pretty impressive. This, this is something else. It's more manpower, certainly, as it includes not just the Dark Avengers and HAMMER, but also every available member of the Initiative.

Now, you might be saying to yourself: this is still crazy. This isn't Latveria. This is frickin' Asgard! How is any mortal army going to cope with the raw power of the basic Asgardian? Well, things have changed. I'm not going to say it's easy but, since relocating Asgard to Midgard, the Asgardians have become more vulnerable to mortal injury. Check out Thor's own comic for proof of this. What was once a minor skirmish has lead to death. The rules have definitely changed.

Sentry's next strike takes Balder out of the battle just as Ares hits the ground. This might be why Ares doesn't immediately see who is the real ruler of Asgard. In his path are the other two members of the Warriors Three, Fandral and Hogun, as well as other assorted Asgardians. They try to reason with the war god but Ares is set in his path. Hogun remarks that Ares is mad... just like his daddy. Not the correct move to make. Ares has some daddy issues.

You want to see some awesome paths intersecting? It turns out that Tony Stark is in Broxton right now. I know! Pretty cool stuff. After deleting his mind, his body was put in the care of his doctor, Donald Blake. In Invincible Iron Man, Blake has been joined by both Captain Americas, Jim Rhodes, Maria Hill, and Pepper Potts. They were able to reboot Stark's mind from a backup copy. In his own title, he's got a ways to go to being fully recovered and that isn't countered here. Tony is still weak and isn't even awake with all the explosions happening in the background.

OK. First thing: Tony's rocking the goatee look here and I'm hoping he'll keep that in his own title. Just having the mustache makes him look like a seventies porn star. Dude needs to keep the goatee. Seriously. Second thing: the only people still attending Tony are Dr. Donald Blake and Maria Hill. The Captains have returned to New York. I'm betting Pepper left after all was said and done because she's still kind of upset that Tony gets to survive everything while other people just die. Rhodey's also left, but that's probably more so that they don't draw too much attention to the area from Norman who probably still bears a grudge after the last few issues of War Machine.

That's enough about Tony. I'm just happy to see him making an appearance in the first issue of the mega event to end all mega events. Now, we're going to focus on Dr. Donald Blake. The reason this guy is hanging out in Broxton is that he's actually Thor. OK, it's not that cut-and-dry. The point is he shares a body with Thor. They're two separate minds that are connected by a physical body. Thor just gets to muscle it up a lot. They have an odd relationship as far as alter-egos go. The reason Thor isn't in Asgard when it's attacked isn't just because of his alter-ego. Thor is banished from the premises for killing his grandfather in Thor #600. This is why Balder is on the throne. Still, it's not like Thor is going to ignore an attack on Asgard just because he's banished.

Blake tells Maria Hill to quietly remove Stark from the area and not to come back even if Tony wakes up. More over, she's to knock Stark out if he tries to force her to come back. Blake then grabs his magic walking stick and heads down to the streets. With HAMMER jets flying over the town, Blake strikes his stick to the ground and arises as Thor, god of thunder. It's on.

You could see that lightning strike for miles so it's easily visible from Asgard. Norman already has a plan laid out for this and he calmly waits for it to be enacted. Thor flies straight and true towards Iron Patriot. This concerns Ms. Marvel more than Norman. Right before Thor is about to lay hands on the Director of National Security, he's struck by the Sentry and thrown quite far from the walls of Asgard. Sentry moves in for another strike but Thor recovers too quickly and swats the Golden Guardian of Good away with his hammer.

The battle's not done, though. Iron Patriot and Ms. Marvel have already landed nearby and have been joined by Diamondback, Sunstreak, and the U-Foes. Really. The U-Foes again. Oh well. Everyone with a blasting sort of power opens fire. The resultant explosion lights up the sky again. It's enough to stagger the thunder god. Thor tries to regain his footing with a curse on his lips but Iron Patriot's there to knock him right back down again. Everyone else in the area moves in and starts the dogpiling.

This is a much more public battle than most in the Marvel Universe. If there's one thing that Norman Osborn is good at, it's using the media. In this case, he might have bitten off a little more than he could chew, but he's still got friendly news outfits pumping out his message. Because of this, there are news cameras EVERYWHERE. I'm surprised that none of the helicopters have been downed during the attack.

Thor's defeat is sent out live to the networks. Everyone watching witnesses it happen live on the air. On of those people is Steve Rogers.

Because he's old.

I bet this is a man that's going to do something about this... even if he's also a man who wears his costume while watching television.

Siege #2Siege #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

In this issue, Ares fights it out with Balder and learns that he's been totally tricked into fighting this battle. Thor recieves a quick rescue via a bazooka wielding Maria Hill and a random townie. Captain America rallies the troops to go to war with Norman Osborn. Ares attacks Norman and ends up in a losing fight with the Sentry. Cap's troops leave their Brooklyn hideout and fly off to join the battle after Steve gets his shield back from James Barnes, and gets a very special suitcase from Edwin Jarvis. Dark Wolverine leads a group of HAMMER soldiers into Broxton to track down Thor and ends up on the recieving end of a lightning bolt. Osborn is about to send the Sentry in to take down the god of thunder but gets distracted by a very familiar shield coming right for him.

It's a quick issue but action packed.

Last issue, Ares was convinced to go into battle against Asgard on the false notion that the place was currently being ruled by Loki. It's not. It's actually being ruled by Balder, who recently found out that he was another son of Odin. Ares is about to learn the truth and it's going to hit him hard. In a fight with the actual king of Asgard, Ares is shouting out how foolish the Asgardians are for following Loki. What are they thinking, anyway?

Balder tries to reason with the Greek god of war but it's not until a wounded Heimdall returns to the battle that everyone's favorite Dark Avenger starts listening to reason. Heimdall was taken out in the original attack on Asgard by the Sentry in order to prevent Asgard from having foreknowledge of the attack and being prepared for it. As it is, the Asgardians are scrambling to mount a defense. Sentry was also used to beat back Balder early on in the battle but the real king of Asgard is much less damaged than Heimdall. Asgard's sentinel has lost the use of one of his eyes and is resting a lot of his weight on his sword.

One of the supposed truths of Heimdall's existance is that he cannot lie so, when he tells Ares that Balder is the real king of Asgard, the Avenger knows that he's been played. He looks over the destruction that he helped plan and has only one thought. He told Norman that he'd take off his head if Osborn lied to him. Looks like it's time to do that.

Thor is down. Last issue saw him fall to the combined forces of the Initiative. Mainly the U-Foes, Dark Ms. Marvel, and Iron Patriot. Now, Osborn is able to waste time properly arresting the god of thunder for some sort of treason charges. This is really the last moment in the series where Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, has complete control over the tide of battle so let's let him enjoy it for a moment.

He's pretty smug, after all. Ozzy's got his camera people recording this and giving everything a pro-Osborn slant. Still, the reporters on site probably know all the good that Thor has done in his lengthy time around the Marvel Universe. They're also paid to make this dramatic, so you get that through their narration. Meanwhile, Norman is issue orders about how he wants Thor to be detained and all that fun stuff when his moment in the sun takes a dramatic turn for the worse.

His armor announces "Incoming" but he doesn't have time to react.

The Iron Patriot gets blasted by a rocket. On camera. Maria Hill has entered the battle.

The reporters identify the former Director of SHIELD pretty quickly so the viewing audience at home knows that this is a highly trained combatant. Still, it's hard to escape the sting that America's Top Cop, wearing state of the art armor, was just blindsided by a rocket coming from a tiny woman in the back of an ancient pick-up truck. Anyone who's read Invincible Iron Man during the past year has probably gained an affection for Maria Hill that they wouldn't have had if they'd just read, say, Civil War. Having her here for the big throw down to end all throw downs is very well-deserved.

OK. Some things that weren't shown between this issue and the last. Dr. Don Blake ordered Maria Hill to get Tony Stark out of his office and into a secure area immediately. She must have done that and then decided that losing Thor wasn't something she was willing to do. She somehow convinced the owner of this very old pick-up truck to drive her into a war zone and help her rescue the god of thunder. The people of Broxton are good people but they're also either crazy or stupid. Or both! OK, they might also be loyal since they've lived peacefully alongside the Asgardians for a while now.

Iron Patriot wasn't the only one caught in the first rocket's explosion. The U-Foes and Ms. Marvel were also sent reeling. A second rocket keeps them off their feet for a few more seconds and also clears the area so that her driving companion, Jason, can attempt to rescue Thor. Since Jason doesn't even know which one Thor is, I'm gonna assume he hasn't lived here long or didn't pay attention when the new neighbors moved in. You can also erase "loyal" off the reasons why this dude is helping Maria.

Ms. Hill is done with the bazooka and switches to the machine gun. This weapon is less effective on her opponents but she's mostly keeping them distracted so that Jason can remove Thor from the battle. Unfortunately, she's being surrounded and she might not even know it. Luckily, Thor's not as unconscious as we were led to believe.

Thor is also afraid of the dreaded static cling.  Look at him freak.

A swing of his hammer knocks Ms. Marvel and X-Ray off their feet. Since those were the only Initiative members still standing after the rocket's red glare, it allows Thor to collapse again and for our heroes to escape in that old pick-up truck without any further complications.

While this is happening, Steve Rogers is rallying his troops. Lately, Steve has stayed away from dressing in his Red, White, and Blue number in favor of an all-black spy suit. Not today. Today, Steve puts on the Captain America suit so that this thing can be done properly. Before we get to all those super heroes that are going to take part in Cap's counter attack, we have to listen to Steve Rogers' speech about truth, justice, and the American Way. It's actually not that bad of a soundbite. Good for getting everyone prepped for the battle ahead. Steve DOES mention that the people assembled today may have fought on different sides during that pesky Civil War thing. That doesn't matter. Today, we take down Norman Osborn. On that, everyone can agree.

OK! The troops! We've got our usual offenders. The New Avengers (Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Ronin, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, and Captain "James Buchanan Barnes" America)are a given. The Young Avengers (Patriot, Hawkeye, Stature, Vision, Wiccan, Speed, and Hulkling) are more of a surprise but a good one. Finally, we get the Secret Warriors (Nick Fury, Quake, Phobos, Hellfire, Slingshot, Stonewall, and Eden Fesi). There are a few people you might have been expecting to see that are conspicously absent, such as Stature and Vision's Mighty Avengers teammates. Rest assured, we WILL learn their fate. You'll just need to wait a week or two.

Back in Asgard, Norman has recovered from his fumble against Maria Hill and is pretty pissed off on how that went down. Flying with him above the city, Ms. Marvel offers to go after the former Director of SHIELD but Osborn has other plans. He's sending in his Wolverine to sniff Thor and his companions out. Suddenly, the Iron Patriot receives yet another surprise attack.

Ozzy's armor announces "Incoming" but he doesn't have time to react.

Ares is on him. This is impressive because we're led to believe that Iron Patriot and Ms. Marvel are flying pretty high. The god of war grabs onto Norman's head gear and forces a crash landing. Once on the ground, Ozzy gets chewed out for his deception. Norman explains that it's something he had to do and something he'd expect Ares to do in his place but, apparently, the god of war draws the line at deceiving others into fighting other gods. Ares charges at Norman but he'll never be able to fulfill his promise to take off Osborn's head.

Norman, somewhat regretful, calls in the Sentry. It's time for Ares to die.

Now, Ares is pretty damn powerful. He's the greek god of war. He's a master fighter and doesn't worry about a thing like honor getting in the way of his combat style. Still, he's the second most powerful Dark Avenger and this battle will prove that. That doesn't mean Ares goes down easily. He doesn't. He fights to the bitter end.

This also isn't a battle that Ares expected to fight. He thought that he and the Sentry were friends. At least comrades. They had served together as Avengers longer than the rest of the team and were the only two to stay when Norman Osborn came to power. Ares quickly learns that the Sentry doesn't care. Sentry almost looks like he's in a trance but, if you've been following along with Dark Avengers, you pretty much know that this is the Void running the show. It'll become more apparent as the battle goes on but you've gotta look closely.

It's not just Sentry's glowing evil eyes that give him away. During the fight, Ares drives his axe into the Sentry's side. When it's pulled out, no blood comes from the wound. Only tentacles and raw power. It only lasts for two panels and by the second one the tenacles are already rapidly going back inside but they ARE there. Take a look.

After that moment, Sentry ends up knocking Ares into a building, supposedly losing track of the god of war. Coming down to investigate, he is ambushed by Ares... or Ares at least ATTEMPTS an ambush. Before he can actually complete his attack, the Sentry is all over him. For a split moment, you believe that Bob is going to use Ares' own axe to behead the greek god. Instead, Sentry drops the axe, grabs a hold of the war god with both hands and makes a wish, splitting Ares in two.

It seems that the entire war has stopped to witness this one battle. We get tons of reactions from everyone and even people like Hawkeye (Bullseye) look shocked. Keen observers will note that this is exactly how Sentry killed Carnage in New Avengers #3. Well, he flew the villain up into the atmosphere before tearing Carnage apart but it's the "tearing apart" bit that is repeated here.

Back in Brooklyn, Cap's resistance team has stopped watching the news and is unaware of Ares' side switching or death. They're actually boarding one of Nick Fury's stolen vehicles, a SHIELD Military Helitransport, and getting ready to kick Norman's butt in. Before they take off, Steve Rogers gets a few gifts from a few friends.

James "Bucky" Barnes has been Captain America for a while now. He's inherited the shield and everything. Steve has refused to take up the mantle again and that means that Bucky's been using the shield even after Cap Reborn. That ends now, at least until Siege ends. Bucky gives the shield back to Steve so that he can end this thing right and grabs a gun instead. Oh, that Bucky Cap. He loves his weapons.

It's time for a Mighty Avenger to join the fight and make a difference. Edwin Jarvis has shown up but he's not here to fight the big battles. He's the butler. He's here to buttle. Actually, he's here to give Steve Rogers a suitcase. It's not actually for Steve so much as it's for Tony Stark. Someone's going to need an armored suit, after all. It's going to have to be that damn classic armor. Not a whole lot of options at the moment.

One Warrior will not be attending this battle. Phobos. He's the son of Ares and Nick Fury doesn't want him to be involved. Alex isn't too happy with this and tries using his god powers on Fury. They don't work. Nick Fury isn't afraid of nothin'. Who knows if the knowledge of Ares' fate would change things?

Our band of heroes hits the skies but the immediate question is: how long's it going to take to fly halfway across the country, anyway? The answer is: not too long. This Helitransport has access to a wormhole or something. It'll get them there in minutes. As they reach super speeds, Spidey is even able to make an Independence Day joke. Awesome.

In Broxton, Oklahoma, Dark Wolverine and a team of HAMMER Agents are busy tracking Thor. Daken has his nose working overtime but isn't having much luck. The locals aren't helping matters, either. They actually aren't helping at all. They sort of like the Asgardians, after all. When Norman hears that they aren't getting local help, he tells Victoria Hand to have martial law declared on the town.

While Ozzy is having that conversation, Daken picks up Thor's trail. He rushes ahead of his HAMMER team which leaves him all alone when Thor drops a lightning bolt on top of the Dark Avenger.

Thor is still injured but he's not out of the fight by half. He shouts his defiance into the air. This is one god of thunder who isn't going to stop.

So Norman Osborn decides to finish things. He sends the Sentry off to take Thor and the city of Broxton out.

One last time this issue, Norman loses control of the situation. This time, Taskmaster tries to give him a warning before the inevitable happens.

Stormin' Norman's armor announces "Incoming" but he doesn't have time to react.

Sloooooooooooooooooooooooow Moooooooooootion.

That shield really does seem like it's taking forever to hit its target. Maybe Norman did have time to react. ;)

This issue has some follow up text that records a conversation between Nick Fury and the Secret Warriors. He explains that the Secret Warriors aren't going to be noticed on the battlefield because everyone else is going to be all about the grudge match and no one has a grudge with the Warriors. Basic battle strategy is discussed and Hellfire makes an ass out of himself. It's mostly business as usual for the Secretest of Warriors.

You can't wait for the next issue either, can you?

Thor #607Thor #607
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Billy Tan & Rich Elson

In this Siegin' issue, the Asgardians discuss the Chicago Incident involving Volstagg ten hours before the onset of Siege. Knut prophecies the fall of Asgard and the death of a god of war. Loki takes Knut to his bed and kills him. Heimdall finds that his bed chambers have been moved well below Asgard so that his warnings won't reach the the Asgardians in time. Kelda tells her dead boyfriend's parent about his death. Heimdall finally breaks his way to the surface too late to warn anyone of Norman Osborn's Siege of Asgard. The god of battle, Tyr, breaks into Knut's chambers and finds Knut dead. Volstagg is in the local Broxton jail after turning himself in but he's anxious to learn what's going on in Asgard. When the police officers see Thor fall on national television, they decide that word has to go out that Volstagg didn't mean to do what he did. They let V use the internet to get his story out to the people. That gets the press buzzing and support for Osborn's police action to weaken. Ragnarok rolls into town, finds Volstagg, and starts dealing out some justice.

So the Siege is already half way done and we haven't really had the Asgardian side weigh in that deeply. That's about to change. This Thor comic is going to show us the Siege from an Asgardian perspective.

You may remember that Volstagg sort of kicked off this whole Siege thing by unwittingly killing a stadium full of people in Chicago. Yes, he was a patsy. We know that. Norman Osborn knows that. The rest of the world doesn't know that. Some just suspect it. Since the tragic Chicago Incident, Volstagg has been travelling cross-country with Ben Urich and Will Stern in an attempt to return to Broxton, Oklahoma and turn himself into police custody. We got to see part of that in Siege: Embedded #'s 1 & 2 but this issue shows that Volstagg completed that task off-panel. He's in police custody right now.

Volstagg is a member of the Warriors Three. You've seen the other two, Fandral and Hogun, all over the place in other Siege tie-in issues. What you might not know is that Fandral and Hogun don't live in Asgard anymore. They have chosen to join Thor in exile. Since it's a choice, both are able to come and go from Asgard as they please. They've visited Volstagg in his cell and are now reporting everything back to the king of Asgard, Balder.

Asgard is probably the only place in the Marvel Universe that doesn't have a television set so the only way news travels is by word of mouth. This is why, the night before the Siege, Balder is learning about the Soldier Field tragedy for the first time. The god of battle, Tyr, is the first to mention anything about Volstagg being set up. Tyr doesn't think that highly of Volstagg in the first place and hearing that he's held responsible for hundreds of deaths is a ridiculous notion to him. Of course, HAMMER is suspect and the two members of the Warriors Three present explain that Volstagg avoided HAMMER and turned himself over to the Broxton Police specifically because of his lack of trust in Norman Osborn.

Balder is happy to hear Volstagg's decision to turn himself in to the local authorities. He makes plans to send what aid Asgard can muster to cool tempers in Chicago. Balder understands how something like this could burn out of control and wants to help out and calm down the mortals before something crazy like a Siege happens.

This meeting is happening during one of those great kingly feasts that happens all the time in Asgard. Don't ask where the food comes from. I imagine with the treasures available in Asgard they could probably afford some nice, kingly meals. Balder asks Fandral and Hogun to remain in Asgard for the night and enjoy a nice meal before returning to Thor.

The seer, Knut, interrupts his king to reveal a nice little prophesy about the destruction of Asgard. He basically reveals that Asgard is going to fall tomorrow. Knut apparently has lots of false visions but he's pretty certain this one is accurate. He has even learned that he'll die before the sun rises. Tyr tells Knut to sit down and stop disturbing everyone's delicious meal. Heimdall, Asgard's eternally vigilant watchman, lets everyone know that he sees no threat coming for Asgard. He would know. He can see all those threats as long as he's looking at them. Don't mention that Loki once snuck past him by taking the form of a snake. It just pisses him off.

Knut keeps on telling people the future. Tomorrow, Heimdall will fail at his duty. He tells Tyr that the god of war will die. DIE! This is obviously referring to the GREEK god, Ares, but his job is close enough that it COULD apply to Tyr, the Asgardian god of battle. Since Knut is just going to keep on shouting about these prophesies and no-one's going to believe him, Loki takes the old man by the shoulder and leads him from the chamber, telling everyone that he's going to put this poor, drunk, old man to bed before he prophesies himself into wetting himself.

The last person you ever want leading you to your bed chambers in Asgard is Loki. Sure, he's currently in favor with Balder even after betraying everyone to Dr. Doom in the last storyline but he's still the god of mischief and lies. If he's leading you away from everyone else... he's probably going to kill you. They get to Knut's chamber with the old guy babbling the whole way. Once there, Loki reminds Knut that it's the next day right now. Midnight. He pulls a knife and makes sure Knut's prophesy about not lasting the night comes true.

Heimdall should have seen the HAMMER invasion coming from miles away. It's sort of his job, after all. In Siege #1, we learned that Ares' plan for dealing with Heimdall was to have Sentry blast through his watch station, preventing him from sounding the alarm as well as cutting of Asgard from the Heavenly Realms. Still, Heimdall would have seen the approaching HAMMER ships long before Sentry came in to take him out of the game. Loki has seen to this flaw in Ares' plan.

Heimdall wakes up to the etherial voice of Loki and finds that his entire bed chamber has been relocated. Loki tells Heimy that it proved impossible to just move the ever-vigilant god. He had to take a good chunk of the room with him. Heimdall is surrounded by fiery wards and is told that he is deep within Asgard itself. This doesn't prevent him from seeing the approaching HAMMER Strike Force. It just keeps him from doing anything about it.

It doesn't stop him from trying, though. Heimdall shouts a cry of warning that'll never be heard and runs straight into the first fiery ward.

It's early in the morning before the Siege can properly begin and everything is still pretty peaceful. That leaves Kelda free to leave the great city and walk into town on a personal errand. Back story: When the Asgardians relocated to Latveria, Kelda was accompanied by her mortal lover, Bill. Bill ended up dying while learning of Dr. Doom's plot to disect the Asgardians and study how to become immortal. Kelda took this poorly and ended up at death's door herself. Only Loki's timely arrival saved her. Now, she's got to go to Bill's parents and tell them that their son is dead. She meets Bill's dad outside his house and prepares to tell them some bad news.

Inside Asgard, Heimdall continues to fight his way up through the depths of the city. This is straight through rock, pavement, and more city-type materials. It's not easy and he's lost a great deal of time climbing. Still, he's sees the Sentry approaching at great speed and knows there isn't much time left. Shouting curses and warnings in equal measure, Heimdall finally breaks into the city proper and belows out his warning.

It comes too late. The Sentry has made his attack and burst all the way through the city. The Siege has begun and Asgard is not ready.

The god of battles suddenly finds a good reason to believe Knut. Tyr breaks into the seer's chambers hoping to learn more and somehow turn the vision into a solid win for Asgard. Of course, he finds Knut dead and learns that it wasn't just the attack that's coming true. That means that the part about the death of a war god could also become a reality. Tyr grabs his blade in his good hand (his left one is just a stub covered in a gilded metal wrap) and rushes off to battle. He'll fight against this prophesy to his dying breath.

HAMMER's attack on Asgard is followed up more closely in Siege proper. Now, let's turn our attention back to Broxton where Volstagg finds himself in jail.

I don't think this mystery was ever solved.

Yes, he's there willingly. If V wanted to, he could easily tear those bars apart. Even now, his apprehension for what is happening in his home is enough to cause him to absent-mindedly bend the bars. The television is located so that the people in the cells can enjoy whatever show is on so Volstagg is able to watch along with the police officers. When they see that Thor has fallen to Osborn and his forces, the police officers make a fateful decision.

Unlike a lot of people in the United States, the people of Broxton have accepted the Asgardians as their next door neighbors. They've opened their town to these viking gods and don't seem to mind them being around one bit. Because of that, they take the fall of Thor a little more personally than, say, someone in New Jersey. They know they can't do anything themselves but they also know they're keeping one gigantic god out of the action. They release Volstagg, telling the Asgardian to turn himself back in when the fighting is over. And brush his teeth between meals.

Volstagg almost makes it out the door before he realizes that one sword isn't going to make a whole lot of difference. If only he could tell the world his side of the story. That's where the internet comes in.

Volstagg gets on the police computer and the police set it up to record. Volstagg tells the camera what happened in Chicago. He describes the foes he faced even if he doesn't know them by their U-Foes monikers. He describes raising his sword to defend himself from their attack and finding that the blast had destroyed the entire stadium. Volstagg tells to internet that his blade shouldn't have been able to do that kind of thing. Even if it could, HE couldn't do such a thing. At this point, he breaks down because he DOES blame himself. The police officer who freed him finishes up, telling the camera that the Asgardians have lived among them for a while now and that they're good people. What's happening to them is wrong.

HAMMER is not without it's resources on the World Wide Web. They quickly erase this video but not before it's gone viral. Copies are everywhere. By now, someone has taken out the original audio and replaced it with a biting commentary on the political landscape or on how a television series has ended. That's how the internet works, people.

It also works by getting a message out that would otherwise not have been carried. Osborn pretty much owns the press corps that are reporting about the Siege. This video sends a counter-message out that gathers a lot of support for the Asgardians and their situation. It also lets some people know where Volstagg is.

Like this Thor guy. No, not the one that was taken down by Osborn. He's probably been rescued with the help of Maria Hill by now and is holed up somewhere else in Broxton. No, this Thor is the one wearing the old-school Thor costume. He's known by the name Ragnarok and he is the unholy clone cyborg Thor made by Reed Richards and the Skrull Hank Pym. We saw him just last year in the pages of Avengers: The Initiative attacking Camp Hammond before Osborn moved the facilities.

Since most people who see a Thor walking down the street would never think that it wasn't the genuine article, Ragnarok walks past the police officers and straight on to Volstagg without much of a struggle. Rags has one of the worst attitudes you've ever seen in a clone cyborg. He's also walking with purpose. When Volstagg sees Ragnarok, he's overjoyed to find that Thor hasn't been defeated yet.

Ragnarok knocks him to the ground and V realizes this isn't the friend he thought it was. Ragnarok announces his real identity and then moves in for a killing hammer strike. This is some sort of justice on Rags' part.

Siege #3Siege #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

In this issue, the President gets constant updates on Norman Osborn's unapproved actions! Captain America and his team of Avengers arrive in Asgard and start kicking tailfeathers. Thor fights Sentry! The Hood and his Syndicate teleport into the fight. Speed gives Tony Stark his old outdated armored suit. The President orders the military to take HAMMER down. Iron Patriot and Cap arrest each other for treason. Iron Man deactivates Norman's armor. Osborn orders Sentry to destroy Asgard. Norman's armor shatters around him and he stands revealed with Green Goblin facepaint. Spidey decks him. The last threat stands revealed: the Void.

One of the cool things about this issue is that it's narrated from the boys in Washington. They're giving the greatest character of 2009, President Barack Obama, status updates on the Siege of Asgard. This whole thing is NOT AN APPROVED action on Norman's part. Osborn requested invading Asgard to the President but got turned down. That's what prompted the whole Soldier Field Incident but, even then, Norman's actions against Asgard were not sanctioned. The Iron Patriot is doing this all on his own and he's relying on the media to sell it as a good idea.

President Obama asked what they should do in this situation and his advisors tell him that they would normally call in Norman Osborn. They have some other options but those aren't laid on the table. They could always make a call to the Baxter Building, for example. Instead, the President mobilizes all available military forces. They are going to arrest Osborn and his men for treason. With all the available power among Osborn and HAMMER, the standard military would be hard pressed to do anything, but this is how it's got to be.

On the television screens, Obama's team just got some help. Steve Rogers and his own Avengers have arrived on the battlefield. His shield finally makes contact with Iron Patriot's faceplate. Man, that thing took FOREVER.

You'll know the lineup of Cap's Avengers if you read last issue. We've got the The New Avengers (Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Ronin, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, and Captain "James Buchanan Barnes" America), the Young Avengers (Patriot, Hawkeye, Stature, Vision, Wiccan, Speed, and Hulkling), and the Secret Warriors (Nick Fury, Quake, Phobos, Hellfire, Slingshot, Stonewall, and Eden Fesi). The Mighty Avengers will be showing up a little later to make their appearance in the pages of Thunderbolts but otherwise we have our resistance movement right here.

In Washington, the government boys are identifying Nick Fury fighting alongside Captain America. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Fury is still a fugitive from way before the Dark Reign. On the battlefield, Balder is very happy to see some help come Asgard's way.

In Broxton, Balder's brother, Thor, is marveling the arrival of Earth's Mightiest Heroes with Maria Hill. Hiss is more interesting in the arrival of someone else: The Sentry. To Broxton. Right before Asgard got it's reinforcements, Norman sent the Sentry to the small town to find and kill Thor. It looks like that's about to happen. The Sentry lands in the streets of Broxton and gets ready to kill another god. Thor puts up a better fight than Ares but you can see echoes of that battle playing out once more.

In Asgard, Taskmaster shouts over to Captain America about how he is excited to face the star-spangled hero again. Steve claims to barely remember the villain. When Bucky laughs about that, Steve reminds his partner that he's fought a lot of skull-heads over the years.

The battle seems to be going in the good guys' favor. In fact, Norman still hasn't gotten up off the ground after getting hit in the head with Cap's mighty shield. He shouts out to Loki for reinforcements and we suddenly get the Hood and his Syndicate teleported in. The New Avengers, Ronin and Mockingbird, groan. They've fought these guys a LOT. Even they are getting tired of it. In Washington, the evidence mounts against Norman even more than it already has. The Hood is a known gangster. The fact that he's siding with Norman lays a lot of cards on the table.

You might think Broxton is like three blocks square but it's large enough where Thor can be battling the Sentry in one part of town while Tony Stark can be recovering from World's Most Wanted and Stark Disassembled in a different section. Maria Hill has left the Thor/Sentry fight and gone down to where she hid Tony in order to enlist his aid. Stark still isn't anywhere near one hundred percent and is pretty much unconscious when she comes in.

Maria doesn't remain alone for long. Speed from the Young Avengers has been racing around Broxton looking for Tony and when he finally finds the Avenger, he also finds a lot of bullets being fired in his direction. Speed blocks them with a little help from that special briefcase he's carrying but nothing he says will stop Maria from firing a few more shots his way. Luckily, Tony rises from the table and orders Maria Hill to stop firing on one of the good guys. He knows what Speed has brought him. It's something to put him back in the game.

It should be noted that Tony doesn't seem to have that glowy repulsor chest thing in these images. It's a small continuity glitch but worth mentioning nonetheless.

The battle in Asgard is exploding all over the television screen. This is coverage you just can't stop watching and I imagine if something like this were to happen in real life, you'd have a lot of people calling in to work just so they could keep their eyes glued to the TV. The same is true for the boys in Washington. The best coverage for this whole fight is coming from network television.

The regular military is in position to due it's own damage. All they need is the go ahead. The original plan was to carpet bomb the entire area instead of going in to hand-to-hand combat with super humans. Now that Captain America and his Avengers are on the ground... things have changed. The President decides to see if Rogers can end this on the ground and orders his troops to take down HAMMER. The first target? The lead HAMMER Helicarrier. The regular military forces start it burning. Victoria Hand orders a full evacuation.

Thor is a much more powerful god than Ares. That means he's not dead just yet. His battle with the Sentry is aided with the help of his hammer, Mjolnir, which makes a better weapon than Ares' axe. There's also all the lightning. After the latest lighning strike, the Sentry starts coming out of his shell.

Doctor Crabman!!!

Yeah, he's not exactly human, is he?

Back in Asgard, Norman Osborn is still thinking he's going to be in charge when this is all over. He's out of his goard. Firing off both palm blasters, Ozzy shouts out about the imminent arrest of Steve Rogers. Catching both shots on his shield, Captain America shouts the same thing back at America's Top Cop. It's all just about over. Iron Patriot fires into the air, catching Ms. Marvel a glancing blow. He's still trying to arrest everyone.

Cap hits him close up with his shield. Norman tries raising his armor's shields but there's a corruption to his database. Everything is shutting down. Iron Man has hit the scene and since Norman's armor is based on Tony Stark's, Tony holds all the keys. He's taking them away.

Norman tries calling in aid from all corners as his armor shuts off. Victoria isn't answering. Bob? He is. Sentry has Thor on the ropes when Osborn calls out for aid. He doesn't ask the Sentry to help him personally. He tells Bob to bring it all down. Sentry leaves a bloodied Thor and smashes right through Asgard.

As the cameras keep rolling, Asgard collapses.

Thor lands in the city's rubble and drops to his knees. Asgard has fallen.

Elsewhere in the rubble, the Iron Patriot is startled by all the damage that has been done. Really, Norman has just lost it at this point and much that he says is nonsense and gibberish. When Captain America and his team of heroes catch up to the Director of HAMMER, Steve tells him that he's under arrest. Norman's suit finally collapses around him.

War paint.  Crazy war paint.

The whole world catches this glimpse of Norman. Heroes the world over knew that this is how it would go down. We get guest shots of Wolverine, Cyclops, Johnny Storm, Sue Richards, and Ben Grimm. Elsewhere in the ruins of Asgard, Karla Sofen and Bullseye see that it's time to make a hasty retreat. The gravy train is over.

Norman continues his gibberish. Do these heroes know that they've just done!? After letting him rant for just a bit longer than necessary, Spider-Man clocks the man in the face. He falls to the ground and continues his sobbing. He's the only one who could control him. Him. Thor asks Norman where Loki fits in all of this but Norman is off the deep end and sinking. He says Loki is dead. They're all dead. He was saving us from the real big bad all along.

Norman Osborn points to the sky. What they see is the Void with lots of glowy red crab legs. This is not the end.

The issue is followed up by a special report on the transmissions between Maria Hill and the White House. These were going on throughout Norman's Siege of Asgard. It's some fun reading that only has a few continuity gaffs with the actual story. Also interesting is that Maria Hill requested the White House call for more superhuman back-up in the form of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. That would have been cool to see.

Thor #608Thor #608
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Billy Tan & Rich Elson

In this issue, the Siege of Asgard continues. Heimdall sees that the Hood wields the Norn Stones and knows that it's all Loki's fault. He and Balder go to search for the god of mischief, leaving Tyr in charge. Tyr remembers the prophesy saying the god of war will die in this battle and chickens out, racing off to check on the infirmary. Ragnarok fights Volstagg in Broxton. Kelda tells Bill's parents of his death and then leaves to face some HAMMER troops. Tyr realizes that the god of war that died during the Siege was Ares and realizes what a coward he's been. He races back to the frontlines. Balder and Heimdall are having trouble finding Loki. Volstagg has left Broxton to fight Ragnarok at the base of Asgard. Tyr is downed by the Hood and his Norn Stones. As Asgard falls, Ragnarok is caught beneath the city.

Asgard is falling. No, not the city itself. Not yet. That happens later. Right now, Asgard's people are falling to the onslaught of HAMMER. This particular story happens after the Hood has brought in his reinforcements but before Sentry shatters the city. It's a short time frame for so much to happen within.

Balder can't believe they're losing ground to these mortals but Heimdall has the answer. The Hood is using the Norn Stones to power up the invaders. There's no doubt in Heimdall's mind that Loki is heavily involved in all of this. After all, Loki didn't exactly hide the fact that he trapped Heimdall deep beneath Asgard to prevent the watcher from sounding the alarm as the invasion forces approached. Balder and Heimdall leave the front to search out the trickster god, leaving the god of battles, Tyr, in charge.

Tyr is finding it hard to give orders. After all, last issue the seer, Knut, predicted the death of the god of war. Tyr believes that this means his own death. It's something that he's finding a hard time facing. To that end, he leaves the front himself to check on the house of healing. If anyone is chickening out of this battle, he'll find them. Or be them. Either way.

In Broxton, Volstagg fights the Thor clone, Ragnarok. Volstagg is preparing to deflect whatever attack Rags sends his way until he remembers what happened the last time he deflected an energy attack in a populated area (here's a hint: Soldier Field won't play host to many more football games in the Marvel Universe). He would hate to see more innocents suffer from his own folly. So, instead of deflecting Ragnarok's attack, Volstagg lets it connect and is hurled into the air. V lands on his feet and then turns to run out of town.

In yet another part of Broxton, Kelda is telling the parents of her dead lover, Bill Jr., just how he died. This is not a big comfort to them. They ask Kelda to leave. They know it wasn't her fault that their son is dead but that doesn't mean that they don't subconsciously blame her for having a hand in it. Kelda is ready to leave when the building is surrounded by HAMMER soldiers.

HAMMER wants the Asgardian to exit the building or they'll be forced to demolish the entire house. Kelda believes she has visited enough pain on these two mortals. She prepares to leave.

Tyr has entered the House of Healing and finds no able-bodied warriors here. He even finds the body of the god of war. Ares has fallen this day. Suddenly, Tyr understands the prophesy. It didn't refer to him. It referred to Ares. He curses his own cowardice and races off to re-enter the fight.

Balder and Heimdall haven't had much success locating Loki. Heimdall may be all seeing but there is a LOT to see today. I mean, you can just look up in the sky and see Sentry fighting Thor. Heimdall mentions that Thor really shouldn't be fighting in Asgard. The god of thunder is, after all, exiled. Balder responds that Thor is doing what he always does: what is right. If only Balder felt that he himself had that nature.

Safely outside of Broxton, Volstagg turns to face his attacker. The two fight directly underneath Asgard. While there are signs of battle even down here, it is mostly peaceful below the great city. Volstagg finds that, even though this is a clone, Ragnarok is certainly a mighty warrior to be reckoned with.

Tyr has rejoined the battle. He gives his men orders and then sees them acted out. The Asgardians make one final push forward before retreating back to their own lines. The Hood doesn't even notice that this was all choreographed.

They'll be the death of us now.

While his troops have been acting on his orders, Tyr has snuck up behind the Hood to lauch his own attack. The Hood is momentarily caught off guard but those Norn Stones are powerful things. Just like his battle against Night Thrasher and Tigra, Parker is able to use the power of the Stones to knock Tyr back with a powerful blast of energy.

Tyr falls and doesn't return to his feet. The Hood is impressed by his attack but now it's time to finish this.

Underneath Asgard, Volstagg is losing to Ragnarok. The Thor Clone is taking his sweet time killing the overweight Asgardian. Volstagg is knocked all over the place. At one point, he is able to look up and see the HAMMER Helicarrier being attacked by the American military. He wonders if this had anything to do with his internet video.

No matter. Volstagg turns and tells Ragnarok that no matter what happens, Asgard will live on. Rags disagrees and hits V with his hammer again.

Volstagg is sent flying out from under the great city. Ragnarok claims the fall of Asgard is at hand as he strides towards the Voluminous One.

The Sentry smashes through Asgard one more time. The city falls. Ragnarok was still underneath it.

Bloodied, Volstagg watches as his home topples to the ground below. It looks like he was wrong. Asgard has fallen.

Siege #4Siege #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Olivier Coipel

In this issue:

• Loki reacquires the Norn Stones and charges up our heroes for their battle with the Void.

• The Void senses that Loki is behind this massive power surge and attacks the god of mischief, tearing Loki apart.

• Norman makes his first escape attempt and is stopped by Steve Rogers.

• While Thor delivers a godly beat down, Iron Man takes control of the HAMMER Helicarrier and smashes it into the Void.

• Osborn makes his second escape attempt and is stopped by Volstagg.

• The Void has changed back to Bob Reynolds and begs for death.

• After Thor refuses, Bob switches back to the Void and demands death.

• Thor kills the Void and delivers his body into the sun.

• Steve drags Norman Osborn back in to join the rest of their Dark Reign prisoners. He tells Bucky that, once again, Steve is stepping down as Cap.

• President Obama appoints Steve Rogers to the position of America's Top Cop and also throws out the Superhuman Registration Act.

• Stark gets Avengers Tower back and Thor drops a piece of Asgardian junk on top of it.

• Steve Rogers begins to assemble his Avengers.

The big one. Are you ready? Good. We're going right now.

You may be slightly confused by Loki's motivations. This is probably because Brian Michael Bendis (the writer of Siege) and Kieron Gillen (the writer of Thor) have different interpretations on his motivations for starting the Siege. Gillen's reasons are spelled out most clearly in Siege: Loki. In that one-shot, Loki wants the city of Asgard completely wiped out and even after the city falls, he is happy with the results. Bendis doesn't entirely contradict that line of thinking but it's clear that his Loki is awestruck by the Void's power and believes that he's carried things too far. This was all for the good of Asgard, after all. Loki was just doing what he thought was right.

He just never expected the Void/Sentry to be this powerful.

The dialogue boxes show that Loki is begging the forgiveness of Odin. This is for no-one's benefit but our own so it's likely that these are Loki's true feelings on the issue... unless he's lying to himself which, y'know, could happen. Regardless, the god of mischief is looking for a way to turn this around and call out a win. To that end, he's going to need some champions to defeat the Void.

Remember those Norn Stones that the Hood has? Loki lead Parker Robbins and Madame Masque on a "quest" for the Stones so that the Hood would have a power source. The Norn Stones choose their owner and, for a time, that was Parker. Loki calls out to Odin for posession of the Stones once more. We already saw this scene play out in New Avengers #64. The Norn Stones leave the Hood. His Syndicate has lost their super charge.

Loki doesn't really get that creative with the Stones. He just powers up the good guys just like the Hood powered up the bad guys. The only visible difference is that the Avengers have a rainbow aura effect surrounding them.

This super charge couldn't have come at a better time. The Avengers and their allies had already lost the fight against the Void before Loki did his magic power up. While Loki was having a private talk with his adopted father, we get a look at the Avengers as they fall. Thor and Sif are writhing on the ground as the Void's black energy swarms around them. Captain America is still standing but that Void blackness is all around him. The same black spider lines are striking Ms. Marvel in the face and back. Iron Man is surrounded by the black energy and it looks like his defenses are nearly spent.

Cue Will Smith saying something like "I ain't heard no fat lady."

The good guys are back up on their feet and are hitting their second wind. With the super charge, these guys are feeling like a million bucks. With supreme confidence, they begin their counter attack on the Void.

Which is something to behold. The Void is a lot like the Sentry in that you can't beat him. Nick Fury warned his team of Secret Warriors about facing the Sentry and that boiled down to "don't do it or you'll die." With the super charge, our heroes can actually hurt this monster. Even Cap's shield seems to be doing damage which answers my question about Steve Roger's power boost. It's definitely beyond peak human strength right there.

On the ground, we get another scene right out of New Avengers #64. This time, it's the one where the Hood and Madame Masque vacate the battlefield. Griffon and one of the Blood Brothers are present but we don't get to see them get shot down this time. Just go over to New Avengers to see this scene played out in full.

Back at the main event, we're learning that even super charged super-heroes aren't capable of downing the Void. Oh, sure, they're hurting the monster. They just aren't dropping him to the mat. Thor even hits the Void with the largest bolt of lightning that has ever existed and the Void just keeps on coming. In fact, the big bad has just realized what's powering up our heroes. This all has the fainted aroma of mischief around it. Maybe it's time to eliminate that power up.

Thor and Iron Man are flying into the fight when they notice that Loki is in trouble. Our favorite trouble maker is the focus of the Void's attack. Black tendrils engulf Loki as he rages in defiance. A blast of the Norn Stones is scene but it's unclear if this is an attack on the Void or if this is still the Stones charging up the Avengers. Either way, it's not enough to save Thor's second favorite brother.

Before Loki is torn in two, he apologizes to the god of thunder. The final strike against Loki is like burning lightning. With the god of mischief dead, the Norn Stones stop doing their thing. Everyone's back to their normal power levels.

And you'll be wondering about Loki's fate, right? If you read Siege: Loki, you'll know that a certain deal was struck that keeps Loki from entering Hel. He's free of death but he just died. Makes you wonder where he'll end up, eh? Loki also gave Mephisto control over the Dísir (the Valkyries of Odin's dad, Bor, who were cursed to only eat the flesh of dead Asgardians not found in Asgard or Hel). Wouldn't it be interesting if Mephisto got a hold of Loki after death? Sure, it probably won't happen but it'd be a nice play for the Marvel devil.

Now, the most important part of this battle is staying alive. Without the extra burst of powers and abilities, very few people think this fight is winnable. Guys like Thor don't care. He just watched his brother get torn in half by a monster. Even though he's not Loki's biggest fan, stuff like that needs to be avenged.

While Thor's raining down lightning, Norman Osborn thinks this is a fine time to get out of rubble strewn town.

Europe is a mysterious and fascinating place to hide out until everyone forgets the terrible mess you made.

Which ain't happening on Captain America's watch. Norman runs right into Steve Rogers' patriotic shield. Ozzy's still got Goblin battle paint covering his face so we know his mind isn't exactly centered. Still, the Director of HAMMER kept the Sentry under control for quite a time. Steve demands to know how to get Robert Reynold back on a leash. Osborn has no good answer. In fact, he's sort of a doom sayer here. That's no good at all.

It looks like this win is going to be all about the Avengers doing what they do. Iron Man asks Thor to move the fight out of Asgard and into the fields around the city. His next move will need a lack of people around.

Tony Stark isn't in a current armor. He's wearing the damn Classic Armor that gets pulled out for these type of events even though it's been out of date for the last two and a half decades (our time). Still, Stark is a wizard when it comes to tech and is able to pull some tricks in this suit that would blow your mind. For example, last issue, he shut down the Iron Patriot armor. In this issue, he's taking control of the HAMMER Helicarrier.

The Helicarrier is already dying. Regular military aircraft delivered fatal blows while our heroes were down in Asgard defending territory. Because of that, it's mostly evacuated of personel by the time Iron Man gets his hands on it. He sends up a courtesy message up to Victoria Hand, telling her to finish up the desertion in the next ten seconds because this Helicarrier is going down. NOW.

Hand races to the exit, escaping just in time. The HAMMER Helicarrier, which we all knew was going to be destroyed anyway, plummets in a controlled course directly towards the Void.

This explosion puts Thor's lightning attacks to shame. I mean, this thing must have been made of bombs the way it goes up.

No matter where you are on this battlefield, you're basically forced into a protective stance while being bombarded by a lot of glowing. Osborn makes a second attempted escape while Captain America does his best to shield out all that brightness. Ozzy grabs a rock and brings it down hard on the head of America's favorite patriot.

This gives him a nice headstart on the Sentinel of Liberty but not on Volstagg. It looks like the giant Asgardian was just waiting for the chance to subdue the former Green Goblin. This isn't a death scene, though. Big V doesn't even take the scabbard off his sword when he whacks Osborn in the face with it. It's sort of poetic justice that Osborn and Loki used Volstagg as a scapegoat for this entire operation and it's Volstagg that finally takes Norman down.

So the big question: is the fight done? I mean, this IS the Void, after all.

The answer is: No, but it's close.

Iron Man and Thor meet at the edge of the blast area and do a little verbal high fiving before going in to see how this is going to end. They're joined by both Captain Americas, Ms. Marvel, and a few others that I can't clearly make out. When they get to the middle of the devastation, they find Bob Reynolds. He's naked with a few scratches here and there but, otherwise, took the damage pretty well.

It's hard to tell with Bob. He's crazy, afterall. When he asks if he did all this damage, you wonder if he really doesn't know how this went down. Iron Man confirms that he DID, in fact, go crazy and nearly killed everyone. It's a little iffy on the time frame here because Tony doesn't really remember most of his time after getting his Extremis suit. That means he probably remembers some of his time with the Sentry on the New Avengers but his whole time in Mighty Avengers and as Director of SHIELD is gone. Still, there's a lot of "older" history that these two probably share from all the ret-conning done with the Sentry. Let's just pretend these guys know each other.

Bob puts his head down and begs for the Avengers to kill him but we all know that these guys aren't going to do that now. Bob's defenseless, after all. No, Thor tells the Golden Guardian of Good that what is going to happen now is his arrest and, later, a trial. There will be payment for what happened here and it won't be as simple as death.

But no-one really understands what's going on yet. Bob isn't really begging for his own sake. He's begging for theirs. Soon he's reverted back to the Void and the battle nearly begins all over again. In fact, the Void's tentacles have already grabbed the Avengers in one strike. The only difference this time is that Bob wants to die. He's holding back and waiting for them to kill him but there probably isn't a lot of time before that thought is gone and the battle is lost.

Thor complies, delivering one last explosive lightning bolt down on the Void. All that is left is a crackling skeleton.

You might be thinking to yourself: "Hey, this has happened before. Didn't they kill the Sentry, like, fifty times in Dark Avengers only to watch him come back every time?" The difference this time is that the Sentry/Void/Bob WANTED to die. I think he had to want it to happen for it to actually work. So... he's currently dead and we're not likely to see him return for a while. Maybe a year or two. Give or take. You know how this works.

Thor gathers up the remains in his cape. While he's doing that, the Sentry's Watchtower that has been on top of Avengers Tower for most of the New Avengers run fades from existance. The god of thunder flies off into space with Bob Reynold's body and lets it drop into the sun. It's a fitting end for the Sentry since that was his favorite place to drop bad guys.

Back in Asgard, the heroes have been busy gathering up the less-than-good-guys. The U-Foes feature prominently in a line-up of ne'er-do-wells. This is also a nice scene since the U-Foes are the dudes that actually caused all those deaths at Soldier Field. Victoria Hand is also there but she is adamant that she was serving her country.

It looks like Captain America has been out gathering up Norman Osborn. Volstagg had him pretty conked out. When Steve drops him on the ground, the former Top Cop is still unconscious. Rogers makes a speech about making sure Norman faces justice and a trial and all that fun stuff but it's his declaration that he's not the Captain America we're looking for that sticks with us even more.

Yes, it looks like Steve isn't returning to the red, white, and blue uniform of Cap anytime soon. We all knew that but it needed to be said since he's been wearing it for the last four issues. Heck, he was wearing it when he was watching television back in Siege #1.

We all know what happens next. Steve Rogers has a meeting with the President of the United States of America.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

It looks like there's a new sherriff in town and he likes to wear patriotic colors. Things are going to be different under Steve. My thought was that he was going to reactivate SHIELD but we'll learn soon enough that his agenda is completely different from Nick Fury or Tony Stark.

Also tacked right on this ending is the end of the Superhuman Registration Act. It's been thrown out. Place your legal arguments on how that happens in a neat explanation, fold it up into thirds, and throw it in the garbage. It doesn't really matter. We're facing a new Heroic Age and we're not going to let actual politics get in our way.

It's time for the after party. All of our heroes meet on top of Avengers Tower for a good old party. It seems the good people of the United States government have given Avengers Tower back to Tony Stark. Again, don't ask me why. Maybe we aren't in a recession anymore and can afford to give ex-billionaires back their real estate for nothing. The point is: Hey kids, comics.

Tony gives a pretty nice speech even though his joke about stubborness is not well recieved. He's just happy to have everyone back together again after that Civil War mess. Heroes being heroes is a nice change from everyone hating on Iron Man, afterall. Tony's ready to sit down with everyone and figure out how they fit into this brand new day.

But that'll have to wait. The Asgardians have shown up to drink beer and drop off their junk. I mean, to say thanks and leave a token of their alliance with the world. They DO say thanks. After all, the battle might have been lost without the help of the Avengers and company. The sealing of their alliance is with the watchtower of Asgard. It is placed on top of Avengers Tower with a little help from Heimdall and the rainbow bridge. This is a nice gesture and all but it still feels (to me) like they're dropping off a broken down piece of their home. The fact that it no longer functions as a gateway for the rainbow bridge just brings that thought home.

But whatever. If Thor wants to drop a crumbling piece of Asgard on top of a skyscraper in New York, who's gonna stop him?

Thor also pledges his loyalty to the Avengers and promises to join them if they should but ask. He might even have winked when saying it. :)

Steve Rogers has arrived and is glad to see that Thor is willing to join his new team. Because there's going to be quite a few Avengers teams forming out of this event and Thor's going to be a part of it. So's everyone else. Avengers Assemble.

Thor #610Thor #610
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Doug Braithwaite

In this issue:

• We get a short image version of Siege #4.

• Balder and his trusted friends regret what they couldn't do during and prior to Siege.

• Thor's exile is lifted.

• Balder tries to get Thor to reclaim the throne but Thor declines.

• The Warriors Three help with relief efforts and accidentally unbury the body of Ragnarok.

• Kelda finds her fallen lover, Bill Jr., dining in the great hall of Valhalla.

• Thor takes a position as Balder's advisor and then takes off to deal with Ragnarok.

• Thor's cyborg clone is defeated.

Before we get to the actual issue, we're treated by some nicely rendered images by Doug Braithwaite showing the events as they happened in Siege #4. It's a quick, succinct retelling.

And it all lead to the ruins of Asgard. The Asgardians won the Siege with the help of their human allies but they still lost their home. Balder, Heimdall, and Tyr each blame themselves for letting this happen. Tyr has to live with the fact that he ran from the fight like a coward though this isn't something he'll share with his brothers in arms. Heimdall blames himself for not being vigilant enough to have seen the Siege before it tore their city apart. Balder takes most of the blame on his own shoulders. He is king. The fault is his. None of Heimdall's words of comfort will disuade him from this thought.

Thor flies into Asgard after receiving summons to meet Balder. This lets him know that his exile is over. Balder confirms that decree. After what he learned from Loki last issue, it's the least he can do. In fact, Balder wishes to offer Thor much more than that. He asks his brother to take a walk with him.

Kelda returns to Asgard after her own adventures in Broxton over the past three issues. She decides it's best to get right to the rebuilding and asks a Valkyrie to direct her. The Valkyrie has something more important to show her in the halls of Valhalla.

Thor and Balder have entered the ancient throneroom of Asgard. It is here where Balder tells Thor of Loki's treachery. Even though Thor was responsible for killing Bor, Loki admitted to sensing magic at work during their fight. He still never admitted to being behind it but no matter. At a time like this Balder decides it best to pardon Thor anyway. He's king and it's time to start doing what he knows is right instead of being shackled by what is proper.

Thor thanks his brother but soon learns that is not the end of it. Balder wants to step down and allow Thor to reign once more. Thor refuses to retake the throne.

Elsewhere in Asgard, the Warriors Three help clean things up. Volstagg is moving like a man possessed. His two friends tell him to calm down but big V refuses. He still holds himself responsible for all of this and needs to be actively involved in it's clean up. Sure, he captured Norman Osborn but Volstagg considers that more of a reward than an atonement. The three uncover another body in the rubble and are delighted to find that it's a live one. Before the newcomer can rise, Volstagg recognizes him and is not pleased.

Kelda is nearly dragged to the Halls of Valhalla by her Valkyrie companion. Inside are all the mortal warriors who have been slain in battles feast for eternity. Even with Asgard in ruins, there are still those inside enjoying the party. Among them is Bill Jr., Kelda's mortal lover.

Kelda tries to join her partner but a barrier holds her back. It seems their love is keeping them apart. Kelda accepts this. Somehow, she will make this work. It's just nice to see him even though he's dead.

In Asgard's throneroom, Balder is upset that he can't abdicate his throne to Thor.

It's a fixer upper.

Thor tells Balder that this isn't because of his rule. It's because Thor was exiled and Balder's chief advisor was the god of mischief. With Thor back to defend the realm and Loki gone, Balder's reign can lead Asgard back to greatness. Thor proposes himself act as Balder's advisor. This lifts Balder's spirits. The brothers clasp hands before the sound of thunder brings their attention back outside.

And there is Ragnarok working on killing Volstagg again. Rags has been a part of this book all through the Siege story arc so he shouldn't require any introduction at this point. Still, if this is your first time reading, Ragnarok is the cyborg clone of Thor created by Reed Richards and a Skrull Yellowjacket. He thinks he's the real Thor and even seeing the genuine article doesn't dissuade this belief.

Balder wants to lead the charge against this bastard of science and mythology but Thor convinces his king to allow him to take this guy personally. After all, we shouldn't be denied the battle between Ragnarok and Thor. This needed to happen.

Ragnarok even reminds Thor of the death of Goliath just so we remember just what a jerk he is. Thor proves his better after a couple pages of battle. One final hammer blow shatters the false god of thunder.

Meanwhile, King Balder has checked on the Warriors Three and found them all to be alive. With the destruction of Ragnarok, the attack against Asgard is finally over. It's time to rebuild. Thor tells Balder that Asgard never fell. The city, yes, that fell. But Asgard? Where two brothers of Asgard stand together, so does Asgard.

Thor #611Thor #611
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Rich Elson

In this story:

• The dead of Asgard are given a proper Viking funeral.

• Loki is given a smaller funeral attended only by the sons of Odin.

• The Dísir maintain order in Mephisto's realm but really want to eat some dead Asgardians.

• Their leader, Brün, gets Mephisto to order them into Hela's new Hel.

• Hela moves to protect her realm with a special sword. It doesn't work.

• The Asgardians question who should be king but Thor and Tyr don't want the job.

• Hela sends a message to Asgard using one of the dead Asgardians' bodies from the funeral pyre.

• One Asgardian learns what happens when they say "Dísir" out loud. You get sliced up.

• Learning that the Dísir are real, Thor and his comrades decide to go stop them from eating the dead.

This title may not have a Heroic Age banner but it's fallout from Siege so I figure it's good form to cover it.

Asgard is still in ruins but there are more important tasks to accomplish at the moment than rebuilding the city of the Norse gods. They need to bury their dead. More than a few Asgardians lost their lives to the Siege and with the conflict done, the dead are sent on their way in an honorable manner. The living stand in respectful silence as their king, Balder, leads the gathering. He tells them that these fallen Asgardians now reside in a Valhalla created by Hela. They're in Asgardian heaven. It is up to the living to remember them.

While the dead aren't loaded up into boats and sent out on the open sea in flames, they are put on individual funeral pyres that are lit by Thor's lightning. Once the fires are started, Balder, Thor, and Tyr head to a smaller ceremony. The rain begins to fall.

Loki's funeral. No one misses Loki. He caused all of this, after all. It looked like he was trying to stop it in the end but he died in the attempt. It was a good death but as Thor says, Loki "lived poorly." We all know how many times every character in the Marvel Universe has been resurrected. Thor's aware that Loki could potentially return to life. Heck, we all know exactly how that could happen since Loki set up fail-safes before his death. Thor hopes that his adopted brother will not return.

In Mephisto's Hell, more of Loki's mechanations are playing out. For the use of the Dísir for one hundred days, Mephisto gave Hela a portion of his Hell for one thousand years. This is good for Hela but bad for the displaced demons from that section of land. They've been kicked out to make room for the Asgardians but they aren't going quietly.

In response to this armed protest, Mephisto has sent the Dísir to maintain order. We know how this goes. The demons look like they'll be a threat but they aren't. The Dísir kill them without even trying. That's unfortunate because it gets them to notice how close they are to the dead Asgardians living it up in their false Hel. There's a tasty meal waiting just beyond them and they can't get to it.

It's not because it's in Hel. Yes, Bor denied them access to Hel but this isn't the genuine article. They could get in if only they weren't currently bound to Mephisto. What they need is permission to enter and feast. That... can be arranged.

Mephisto meets with the leader of the Dísir, Brün, and gets a report on how the rebellion was handily put down. The Marvel devil is in a celebratory mood and decides he'd like to party with a Dísir leader... in bed. Brün asks if this is an order. Mephisto would rather she was into it and wonders what it would take to get her in the mood. Funny you should ask that...

When given the proposition, he mentions that he gave Hela the real estate as her sovereign territory. Granted, he doesn't really care about anyone else's territory. He secretly grants B and her Dísir permission to grab a bite to eat.

Even though the current Valhalla resides inside Mephisto's Hell, Hela has done some nice work giving it that homey touch.

The ground is a little warm, though.

Suddenly, the sky opens up and the Dísir enter. The feast begins and there's nothing any of these dead Asgardians can do to stop it. Hela senses the Dísir from her own room in Las Vegas and tries her own hand at taking them down. She uses the same sword that Loki wielded against them in Siege: Loki. It's not as effective. They were expecting it this time. Hela is disarmed and her weapon taken.

Before the feast can continue, Hela tries Plan B. She gathers up all of the dead and seals them away in a fortress. All this is a delaying effort and the Dísir know it.

Back in Asgard, the question of Balder's rule is posed again. This time it's not Balder going on a self hate trip. It's his subjects. They want to know why Balder needs to rule over them. Sure, Thor turned down the kingship but look at Tyr. He's a son of Odin. He could rule.

Except he doesn't want to. Tyr is ashamed of his behavior during the Siege and doesn't feel worthy of the crown. That puts it right back on Balder who asserts his authority right before something starts happening with the funeral pyres.

One of the dead bodies has left it's pyre and starts talking to the group. It's possessed by Hela who is trying to recruit them to fight off the Dísir. This is an important thing to the Asgardians. They're dead are supposed to be enjoying the afterlife, not dying in it. It's hard for Hela to name the threat since she can't, y'know, NAME the threat. Saying "Dísir" risks bringing the cursed handmaidens of Bor down upon them.

It's also been forever since anyone has even heard of the Dísir. They've slipped into legend and myth for even the long lived Asgardians. Tyr tries to support Hela by recalling his own encounter with the Dísir when he was fighting for his life during the Siege but it's not enough to convince the rest of the Asgardians. The only thing that'll change their minds is if someone says the word "Dísir" out loud and is slashed to pieces.

And that's what happens.

The unfortunate Asgardians falls. An image of Brün is formed out of the Asgardian's blood. She calls down a warning to the living not to defend the dead. If they do, they'll meet a similar fate to the foolish Asgardian that dared say their name aloud.

Warnings like this don't go well with the heroic. The dead need safety. Thor leads the charge to battle.

Thor #612Thor #612
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Pencils: Doug Braithwaite

In this story:

• The Dísir surround Hela's Castle.

• Thor and Tyr go to Hel to defend the dead.

• The Dísir alter the course of their teleport spell and attack them.

• Hela sends reinforcements and helps them reach the Castle.

• Hela fills them in on the Dísir and the sword she got from Loki.

• Thor goes on a quest to retrieve the sword, leaving Tyr behind to defend Hela's castle.

• Mephisto tries to make a deal with Thor and fails.

The Dísir all have names and some of these might even matter. The lead Désir is Brün. She just got back from killing the poor Asgardian foolish enough to say "Dísir" out loud. Göndul is possibly her second-in-command and is responsible for destroying the enchantments protecting Hela's Castle. Kára is the Dísir tasked with bringing Hela's sword out of Hel and into the realm of Mephisto. Finally, Hlökk is the energetic one excited about the battle and delivering speeches to the rest of the Dísir. Brün enjoyed killing the stupid Asgardian but now all she's interested in is feasting on dead gods in this place that isn't really Hel.

In Asgard, the warning that the dead are in danger have gained some validity when that Asgardian called out the name "Dísir" and got sliced and diced for his trouble. Before that, helping Hela was lower on the to-do list. Now, it's priority. The dead have to be protected. Granted, seeing one of their comrades torn to pieces in front of them is a little... rattling. Thor assumes that the Dísir can only do stuff like that when their name is called.

Kelda shows up to give us a quick myth lesson on the Dísir. They're fallen Valkyries of the former High-Father, Bor, who got a taste for Asgardian flesh. When Bor caught them feasting, he cursed them to only be able to feast on the souls of dead Asgardians... BUT they could only do this if the souls weren't in Asgard or Hel. So the Dísir are pretty hungry. These are the legends but they've got to have some basis in fact or they wouldn't be coming true right now.

Hela tells the Asgardians that she can only teleport two of them back to Hel to battle the Dísir. Balder immediately volunteers, and then remembers that he's king and should remain in Asgard. It's left to Thor and Tyr to go face this menace to the dead. Tyr is chosen not only because of his god of battles status but because he has memories of fighting the Dísir before when he fell on the battlefield during Siege. The two enter the teleportation spell and get ready for a hard road ahead.

It begins immediately. The Dísir aren't stupid. They know that the warning they left the Asgardians will bring them here for certain. When they sense the spell, Göndul uses her own magic to divert Thor and Tyr OUTSIDE the castle. This wasn't expected by the Asgardians and they scramble to recover from the shock.

Thor goes in swinging. He finds that Mjolnir proves to be marginally effective but lacks the power to fell one of these Dísir. Actually, it barely even slows them down. Without any means to defeat his opponents, Thor finds himself on the defensive, hoping that Hela didn't just set him up for a trap.

Tyr finds the experience to be different. The Dísir recognize him and Göndul shows him the forms they wore in New Mutants #11 (the Siege tie-in issue).

Before our heroes are felled by the Dísir, Hela opens the door to her fortress and sends out an army of the dead. None of these warriors are alive. They just all bear a little bit of her soul. The Dísir are distracted. Thor and Tyr are able to enter the relative safety of Hela's Castle.

There goes Nightcrawler right now!

Explanations are made. Hela tells Thor and Tyr all about how Loki came to her with evidence pointing to the existence of the Dísir and even gave her a weapon that could kill them. This is the same sword she used ineffectively last issue and Loki used with skill in the Siege: Loki One-Shot. Hela doesn't tell them that she gained this Hel by making a deal with Loki so that his soul remained unattached to Hel.

They've got to choices. Hela can drop her barriers and use her magic to gather up the sword, which would be costly; or one of them could go out to Mephisto's Hell and retrieve it. Thor makes the decision to go out and get the sword.

Outside the Castle, Göndul continues her work to break through the magical defenses. She already knows it's all over. Thor has arrived. He's a hero and his name is on the front page of the comic. If anyone is going to bring them low, it's the god of thunder. Brün isn't so certain of that. The sword is out of reach. That's the most important thing. She believes it's being taken to a place where Thor can't follow.

That would be Mephisto's Hell, of course. Kára arrives with the weapon and tries to leave it as a gift for her temporary master. Mephisto doesn't accept. Doing so would make him too involved in this whole affair and that's something he's trying to avoid. When Kára asks if she can just leave it here, Mephisto says it'll be ok as long as he's well away from the whole matter. She also calls him "sire" which is apparently a turn-on.

In Hela's Castle, Tyr is unhappy and wishes to reverse roles with Thor. There's some back and forth but it's apparent that Tyr is still suffering from a good deal of doubt after his behavior during Siege. In that story, Tyr thought his death had been predicted and left the battlefield in fear. He returned after the prophesy was revealed to be about Ares and was nearly killed himself. Still, he doesn't think he's as capable as he should be.

Thor tells Tyr that he is confident in the god of battle's abilities and if anyone can properly lead this war, it's Tyr. Thor, on the other hand, is all about the quest.

Thor starts off and finds himself facing Mephisto. Oh, Mephisto isn't here to stop the thunder god. Instead, the Marvel devil wants to make this so much easier for Thor. All the Avenger has to do is agree NOT to interfere with one of his schemes and Mephisto will bring the sword to him. This is obviously not something that Thor is willing to do.

Mephisto opens the gates to his Hell. Looks like Thor is gonna have to do this the hard way.

Thor #613Thor #613
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Richard Elson

In this story:

• Before the Siege of Asgard, Loki forged a soul sword in hellfire. This is the sword he used to subjugate the Dísir.

• In the present, Thor travels through hell, smiting all in his way to get to this sword.

• Kelda watches her dead love in the hall of Valhalla and plans the death of Balder.

• Tyr of Battles plans the defenses of Castle Hela against the Dísir.

• Thor is halted in his tracks by the sight of his mother, Gaea, suffering in Hell.

• The Dísir refuse to fight Tyr so he unleashes his war soul powers.

• Thor realizes that Gaea isn't here suffering. She's just here because she exists in every place of earth. He moves on to his goal.

• The god of thunder reaches the sword but can't pull it from the earth because it isn't his.

• With only moments left, Thor calls the Dísir to him by shouting their name.

The Dísir are still laying siege to Castle Hela in good new Hel but it recalls another Siege that didn't happen that long ago. Remember the Siege of Asgard that ended the Dark Reign of Norman Osborn and began the Heroic Age? Loki had some crazy mechanations going on in that conflict and this just fills in a few of the blanks. In Hell before the Siege, Loki forged a sword, Eir-Gram, with hellfire. This weapon helped him gain control of the Dísir.

All of this he did with the help of Mephisto, one of the many lords of Hell. Besides screwing with Peter Parker's marriage, Mephisto just loves the mischief that Loki does so well. Plus, Loki has promised that the Dísir will serve him when all is said and done. Eir-Gram, however, has a different fate and it's just chock full of mayhem.

If you'll remember, the sword was passed to Hela who tried to use it to stop the advance of the Dísir but failed. The Dísir named Kára brought it to Mephisto's court and got permission to leave it there, casting some enchantments to prevent it's movements before she returned to the fight.

Which is why Thor is braving the land of Hell to retrieve the sword. It's the one weapon that can pose a threat to the twisted Valkyries of Bor. He'd fly the distance to his goal but the skies are unfriendly territory that won't yield to his commands. So... walking. The demons of Hell pose little threat to a warrior of Thor's calibre. One stands in his path and says he can't pass unless he answers an old Sphinx riddle. Thor just socks the demon and keeps on going.

All of this makes Mephisto anxious. He'd rather Thor were here already so that the game could be moving on. The fact that the god of thunder has to fight his way all the way here while Mephisto listens to his adventures through some spy demon is tedious. Get on with it!

In Asgard, things progress forward at a snail's pace. Kelda is transfixed at the entryway to the Hall of Valhalla. Inside, feasting, is her dead lover, Bob Jr. He sacrificed his life in the service of Asgard at the end of J. Michael Stracynzki's run and that gives him a place in Valhalla. Unfortunately, Kelda can't reach him. She is barred entry to love. It's tragic but she gets by with her day by sitting here watching him.

Kelda also has a foul plan up her sleeves. Blame for Bill's death has passed from Loki to the King of Asgard. Balder. She's collecting her tears and when the time is right, she'll kill Balder with them by tricking the king into drinking them down. It's one of her powers. Command of ice and lashing rain. She's used it effectively in the past so it's a well thought out plan. When Balder enters and asks her to attend a private meeting to discuss the fortification of Asgard, Kelda accepts. It'll give her a chance to murder the man who took her love away.

So yeah, Kelda's been saner.

Back at Castle Hela, the outer defenses are coming down. That means trouble for Tyr, god of battles and Hela, queen of the dead. They've put a plan together but it poses a threat to Hela. She's separating her soul into as many pieces as possible and sending them out in battle against the Dísir. They will prove a tasty defence against the cannibalistic Valkyrie. It's a delaying tactic, giving Thor time to return with Eir-Gram and save the day. Tyr himself will guard Hela's body. If the Dísir get that, they get all the dead souls of Hel.

The Dísir attack as one giant being. This stuns Tyr but he pulls himself together and starts leading his army.

Thor continues on his journey through hell, bashing anyone in his way because that's what he does. It's not 'til a demon tempts him with something personal that Thor slows down. It seems that one of Thor's parents are suffering agony in Hell. The god of thunder doesn't immediately believe this because he knows his father, Odin, is in a whole different afterlife fighting daily against Surtur to ward off another Ragnarok. He totally forgets that he has another parent.

The earth is dying right now.  Single tear.

Gaea, goddess of the earth, is part of the landscape. The demon tries to make deals with Thor that will release his mother from eternal torment in Hell.

Hela's legions of fractured soul soldiers fall more quickly than Tyr would like. All that's left is the twelfth wing and himself to defend Hela's body. The god of battles tries to engage the Dísir in battle but they won't engage him. They don't have to. He's got nothing that can hurt them and killing him would deny them a meal since they can't eat anything they kill. Right now, they'd rather mock him for being a scared god unworthy of the title, "god of war."

In Hell, Thor looks into the eyes of his mother and doesn't see any of the pain she must be going through. That makes him realize that this is just one aspect of the goddess of earth. Gaea is, in fact, represented all over the earth and that includes Hell. That means this is a pain Gaea was meant to bear and it doesn't really look like it hurts much in the grand scheme of things. It gives him motivation because... mommy's here.

The tempter demon is thwarted and sends word to Mephisto that the Asgardian is getting close.

In Castle Hela, the Dísir explain why they aren't going to kill Tyr. The god of battles gives his speech back. It's all to do with souls. Thor seeks the Eir-Gram which should focus a soul into a weapon. The Dísir devours fragments of Hela's soul. The god of war uses his soul as a weapon. Tyr takes off the metal cork on his left arm and a burst of energy flares underneath. This is Tyr's weaponized soul and it is enough to harm the Dísir if nothing else. That means there's still a little time left to buy.

The god of thunder finally reaches the court of Mephisto and is welcomed by the ruler of this portion of Hell. Mephisto tells Thor to take the sword and get out. This is easier said than done. Eir-Gram does it's best Excalibur impression and refuses to be lifted out of the ground. It looks like Kára's spell is holding up. This sword just isn't Thor's. Mephisto muses that this is a taste of the Asgardian's own medicine since Mjolnir kind of has the same "you can't lift it unless X" thing going on.

Hela shows up in spirit form to tell the god of thunder that time is running out by the moment. The Dísir are seconds away from the prize.

Tyr still fights bravely but the Dísir are beginning to recover from his attack. Thor needs to act fast but what can he do if he can't return to the fight with this Dísir killing sword?

He can shout out Dísir, for one thing. If you say their name out loud, it summons them to you and they kill you quickly. The Dísir really have no choice but to acknowledge the enchantments. They hear the call and get ready to kill the one saying their name.

Thor #614Thor #614
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Doug Braithwaite

In this story:

• Thor has called the Dísir and now waits for them to come tear him to shreds while still trying to get the Eir-Gram sword out of the ground.

• The Dísir don't send their entire number after Thor but they are obligated to send some because it's a deal of their curse.

• Thor asks his mom to release the sword and starts cutting up bad Valkyries.

• Hela's fortress is still about to fall so Thor has to act fast. He demands that one of the Dísir admit that they just broke their curse by invading Hel.

• Göndul wants to live so she admits to the crime. All of the Dísir pay for breaking their curse.

• Hel is saved. Hela congratulates her champions for saving the dead.

• Thor demands to talk to his brother Loki and learns that Loki made a deal to stay out of Hel.

• Eir-Gram calls out to Thor and he returns to Asgard just in time to save Balder from an assassination attempt by Kelda. Yes, Kelda.

• It turns out that Loki used a piece of Kelda's pure soul to fashion the Eir-Gram. Thus corrupted, Kelda did some things she's not going to be proud of.

• Mephisto claims the dead Dísir.

Man! I'll never have to type Dísir again after this article! I also won't have to type Göndul, Brün, Kára, or any other name with a crazy letter accent in it. It's like the end of an era and I can't wait. Let's get this thing done so I never have to make a "ü" again!

Let's review what Thor and friends are dealing with. The Dísir are former Valkyries from the time before Odin took the throne of Asgard. That means they are Odin's dad, Bor's, Valkyries. They had the same job but didn't do it very well. In fact, when they found dying or dead Aesir, they made them tasty snacks instead of part of their sacred duty. When Bor found out about their transgressions, a terrible curse was created. The Dísir would only be satisfied by eating the Aesir but they were banished from Asgard and Hel where those Aesir usually found themselves upon death. This meant they would be hungry forever unless someone decided to move Asgard to earth and mess up the natural order of things.

Oh yeah, that happened. Loki went looking for the Dísir and using a specially made sword called the Eir-Gram was able to force their loyalty. With the Dísir in his power, he was able to use them as a bartering chip with Mephisto to get Hela a new Hel to hold all the newly dead from the Siege of Asgard. Still, there was more mischief to be done and the Dísir were unleashed during the Siege and had their fill of any dead god that Danielle Moonstar (acting as Hela's Valkyrie) wasn't able to get out in time.

The dead still weren't safe. Part of the agreement for the new Hel was that Mephisto got control of the Dísir for one thousand days. While serving Mephisto, the Dísir found a way to get their fill of dead Aesir. They just needed Mephisto's permission to feast and the strong conviction that the Hel they were entering wasn't actually Hel and was just Hell. It was the mutual belief of the Dísir that they weren't breaking their curse that allowed them to bend it and invade Hela's new realm.

Since then, Hela has made her soul into a fortress to fend off the Dísir after failing to stop them with the Eir-Gram. She also sent off for Thor and Tyr to help in the defense of the dead. None of this actually helped, though. The Dísir are a force to behold and only the Eir-Gram could stand a chance in stopping them. Unfortunately, the sword was taken by the Dísir and brought to Mephisto's court where the Dísir named Kára planted it into the ground and placed spells on it that prevented it from being drawn by anyone other than it's owner. When Thor went for the sword, he found that he wasn't the owner. And so it remained stuck in the ground. With Hel falling, Thor acted out in desparation, shouting out the name "Dísir." Calling their name summons them and gives the caller a quick death. Now, Thor waits for the cursed Valkyries to show up and end his life.

All caught up? Good. Let's move forward, then.

Since this is Mephisto's court, Marvel's Satan is very interested in how this is all going to play out. He's not helping Thor because: why? He's also not really helping the Dísir. You've got to wonder what he'll gain from all this. To begin, it looked like he was just trying to get some Dísir nookie but he's got to know that Thor's going to pull this one out in the end. It's what he does.

The Dísir know this as well which is why they're pausing on that call of "Dísir." They're obligated to answer the call or violate their curse but they're also moments away from tearing Castle Hela down and getting a delicious meal. Facing Thor isn't guaranteed success. Maybe he hasn't drawn the Eir-Gram from the ground but he's still a hero. The alternative, though, is that Thor lives and gets revenge when the dead are eaten. He's the kind of guy that would find a way to kill these terrible Valkyries even if he couldn't get a hold of a magic sword.

So Brün decides to split the difference. Thor gets to die by the hands of only three Dísir: herself, Göndul, and Kára. The rest of the Dísir will stay here and take the castle under Hlökk's leadership. Tyr of Battles is left to fight off eight Dísir which changes the odds little. Castle Hela WILL fall.

Thor still has his hand on the Eir-Gram, hoping against hope that he'll find a way to free it from the ground and save the day. It's what he does, dammit! The three Dísir show up and start slicing through his armor but it looks like they're taking their bloody time with this one. Just a few issues ago, we saw one of the Asgardians call the name of the Dísir and get torn apart in seconds. Thor is a hardier breed so maybe it takes a little more to get the slice and dice on. However it works out, Thor is able to figure a way out of his predicament. Last issue, we got a reminder that Thor's mother is Gaea and that she hangs out all over the place, including the ground of Hell.

So Thor asks her to release the sword. All she has to do is pull back the earth from the magic weapon and it'll be in the thunder god's hands, owner or not. Mom does this and now the battle is on.

With the Eir-Gram in hand, Thor is more than a match for the Dísir and they all fall down to the baneful blade.

Man, I wonder if this image will even load.  This thing is gigantic.

This is hardly the end, though. It's just three of the Dísir and the rest are well out of his reach. It looks like Brün made the right decision in splitting her forces. Thor's got only one play to make but at least he's worked it out in his head. He just needs to get one of these Dísir to admit that they invaded the actual Hel and violated their curse. His only leverage is that he won't strike down the one who admits to her transgression. Brün and Kára are smart enough to know this won't save them. Violating their curse will make them just as dead as the Eir-Gram so there's no benefit.

Göndul, on the other hand, thinks the curse will be more forgiving. She is desperate to stay alive and admits that the Dísir invaded Hel. It does not save her or her sisters.

This happens just in the nick. Tyr is held down by the combined forces of the Dísir and just about to be run through when the curse takes full effect and destroys the evil Valkyries for entering Hel. The Dísir explode. Tyr is thrown clear of the mystical detonations. Hela opens her eyes from her trance. The day is won.

Mephisto doesn't seem overly concerned that the Dísir lost their lives to this gambit. He actually congratulates Thor for using his brain to win the day. Seriously, this was some swift thinking on his feet. Before Thor can take his leave of this hellish court, he's joined by Hela. She has some crazy notion that this was all Mephisto's idea which the lord of lies flatly denies and tells them to get out of his realm if they're going to continue with that kind of talk.

Thor and Hela return to an area right outside of Hel. Now that the battle is won, Thor and Tyr aren't allowed inside the realm of the dead. There needs to be a separation of the living and the dead. Hela thanks Tyr for fighting so valiantly for the dead. It's the kind of fight that the Vikings would have loved to read, full of hopelessness from the very start because the fight was for the already slain. Good stuff, really. It's uncertain if this battle has strengthened Tyr's failing confidence but at least it showed his resolve.

Before Thor leaves the realm of the dead, he tells Hela that he wishes to speak to Loki. He figures he deserves that after everything he's done this day. Hela's reluctant to let him into Hel but it really doesn't matter. Loki's not in Hel. You see, Loki's part in the deal that got Hela her Hel was that he would be free of the place. Thor realizes the implications of that. Loki died during the Siege when all the Dísir were swarming Asgard looking for a meal. He doesn't want to believe his brother got eaten but it's a very real possibility.

Hela thinks this is exactly what Loki wanted. He wanted an end to the pattern of his own mischief. To cease existing in any way... well, that's ultimate freedom, right? Thor still can't believe that this was the ultimate end of Loki's plan. He knows his brother. Loki couldn't help but have a plan. It was his way.

Then Thor notices something swinging in his hand and realizes that he's still holding Eir-Gram. The sword seems to be telling him something. This conversation on Loki's ultimate fate suddenly is not important. Thor quickly returns to Asgard.

Word has reached Balder's court that the dead are safe once again. It's time to celebrate! Kelda has been preparing a special drink for the occasion. If you read the last issue, you'll know that Kelda now blames Balder for the death of her mortal lover, Bill Jr. She's been collecting her tears in a jar. When Balder drinks the tears, Kelda will turn them into icy, spiked death in his stomach. It's not something you'd normally think Kelda prepared to do but there it is.

Before the plan can reach fruition, Thor bursts into the room and plunges Eir-Gram into Kelda's chest. Balder and Heimdall don't know what's going on so they try to restrain the thunder god. Thor starts explaining that the sword told him about Kelda's plan and we move right into a flashback.

There's a lot of wrapping up to do so I'm going to sum up as best I can. After J. Michael Straczynski left the book, Kieron Gillen continued the Doom storyline by having one of Doom's Asgardian Cyborg things kill Kelda. It wasn't permanent. Loki came on the scene and used his magics to keep Kelda from death. There was stuff that went on behind the scenes that no one witnessed except for Kelda and Loki.

If you're wondering who the Eir-Gram belongs to and who would have been able to pull it out of the ground of Hell, the answer is Kelda. The sword was fashioned using a shard of her pure soul. Loki took it while saving her life. He told her at the time that he was sorry that he had to do this because it would cause her to be not as pure as usual (and apparently capable of regicide) but it wasn't something that Loki could use his own soul for. Loki's soul was far from pure. After telling Kelda all of this, the mischief god erased her memory but it's now back thanks to being reconnected to that lost piece of her soul.

Kelda tells Balder, Heimdall and Thor about this, breaking down into tears at her actions. It was so unlike her but... it was still her. It's going to be hard to live with these actions. Fortunately, Balder is still alive but it was still an assassination attempt.

In Hell, Mephisto watches all of these events and is pleased. Even "dead," Loki's touch is felt in Asgard. Loki IS dead, though. So are the Dísir. They died in Hell and their master is also dead. It looks like that makes them more Mephisto's than ever. He looks at the ring that gives him command of the Dísir and sees that his power has definitely increased.

Well, I think I've taken up enough of your time this fine day/ evening.  If you've made it this far, you are either very brave or some sort of masochist.  Or maybe you enjoyed yourself.  It could go a lot of ways.

If you liked anything you read here, I hope you'll show up and read my mostly weekly column where I break down Marvel's events in far too meticulous detail with refurbished panels to get in an easy laugh.  It has been called the best damned article on the internet but what might be reliable sources.

Otherwise, I'll catch you around the internet.  Until then: Excelsior!

Written or Contributed by: SuperginraiX

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About the Author - SuperginraiX

SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.


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