Monday, November 21, 2011

WGTB reviews The Mighty Thor: The Black Galaxy Saga

Now, I know it is somewhat odd to write a review of a story that has been out since late 1990, but this past weekend I picked up the relatively new (August 2011) trade paperback The Mighty Thor: The Black Galaxy Saga which collected issues 419-425 (July 1990 to October 1990) and thought I’d write a review. Enjoy!  

The Black Galaxy Saga tells the story of Thor and his friend Hercules’ involvement with the Black Galaxy, an organic space entity situated in the deeper regions of the Milky Way. Written by long-time Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Tom DeFalco with art by Ron Frenz, the story begins with Thor and Herc in New York City, both in the middle of serious personal problems: Hercules a crisis of confidence after a failure in the same Black Galaxy, and Thor/Eric Masterson in the midst of a custody battle.  When a continuous stream of villains and interlopers arrive on Earth to harass the two friends, it is eventually realised they are needed back in the Black Galaxy to deal with the cataclysmic events happening there. After a ride in the Avenger’s Quinjet, the two reach this organic place and encounter an old Thor/Avengers nemesis, The High Evolutionary and involve themselves in one of the great events of the Marvel Universe: the birth of a Celestial. In the second story starring the Asgardians, we witness strange events happening in the eternal realm which eventually ends with the return of Thor from the Black Galaxy and a plan to rid that realm of an ancient nemesis.   

Splash of The Mighty Thor #422, Early September 1990
From Marvel's The Mighty Thor #423, Late September 1990
While I’m not the biggest fan of early 90s comic book writing, this story by DeFalco and Frenz is quite enjoyable and does an good job at showcasing the limitless boundaries  of comics when dealing with archetypes, the origins of the universe and extra-terrestrial life. In this story, for example, we have a deluge of human and non-human superheroes, Norse, Roman and Celtic gods, clones, ancient and new aliens, space vampires, evolving humans and, of course, mere mortals like you and me.  Because of this, anyone who enjoys the depth good science-fiction can take a reader or the paradoxical relationship it can sometimes have with religion (like TV's Babylon 5 or writers Frank Herbert or Arthur C. Clarke) will really enjoy this story. 

Channeling The Empire Strikes Back? From Marvel's The Mighty Thor #422, Early September 1990
From Marvel's The Mighty Thor #424, Early October 1990

The splash in Marvel's The Mighty Thor #419, July 1990
Artistically the comics are good too. Ron Frenz pencils are not outside the typical of late 80s and early 90s comic art, but the story has great splash pages and panels that do a good job at portraying deep space and the majesty of Marvel Cosmic. Interestingly, in one part early in the story we meet a genetic duplicate of Thor, who looks nearly identical to Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory of Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers. I’m sure this was intentional and ‘Replicoid’ is almost certainly an homage to Kirby’s earlier work on both Journey Into Mystery/The Mighty Thor and The Eternals, themselves a creation of the Celestials. Below are some comparison images for you to judge.   

Captain Victory in Jack Kirby's Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #3, March 1983 by Pacific Comics

A Kirby homage in Marvel's The Mighty Thor #419, July 1990
The Black Galaxy Saga is a good story that works very well in trade paperback. I suspect back in 1990, it was probably more than a little confusing for those readers who missed a couple issues or jumped in late in the story. Of course, this was near the height of the early 90s comic boom, so that number might have been smaller than one would expect today. But in  2011, it is a good Thor story with a great mix of science-fiction and quasi-religious ‘what does it all mean?’ material and good old-fashioned comic book fun. So give it a read (if you didn't in 1990, of course) and thanks for reading what is today at least, a very appropriately named blog: Whatever Gods There Be!

1 comment:

  1. Mark,

    I find your blog lacking in the great left wing comic book heroes. Given your recent occupation of Finsbury Square and the 'occupy London' movement, I feel that a feature on these types of heroes is strongly needed. I have provided some of the Left wing heroes you should feature in upcoming posts:
    1) Green Arrow - in Justice League of America #75 (cover-dated November 1969) The Arrow broods about the sorry state of public parks after saving a boys dog who was playing on railway tracks. In addition GA’s advocacy for Marxist Communist mirrors Hood’s crusade.

    2) Robin Hood - the original marxist crusader - steal from the rich, give to the poor - come on 'nuff said.

    3) Superman - this may shock you but, in “The Incident,” a short story in Action Comics #900 Superman appeared in Tehran to non-violently support the protesters demonstrating against the Iranian regime, no doubt an analogue for the recent real-life protests in the Middle East. However, since Superman is viewed as an American icon in the DC Universe as well as our own, the Iranian government has construed his actions as the will of the American President, and indeed, an act of war.

    In sum - Mark I believe it is time that the left leaning comic book characters are given the opportunity to occupy whatever gods there be!

    - comrade