Monday, July 23, 2007

In Search of the Gods (Marvel comics)
Thor #1 When: July 1998
Why: Dan Jurgens How: John Romita Jr

The story so far...
The heroes have returned from being trapped in a pocket universe, but their return has garnered mixed pleasures.
The Norse Gods are lost, leaving behind the tattered remains of Asgard, and Thor is alone with the remorse of being the only known survivor, until a man claiming to be the human form of Baldur reaches out.

Thor ultimately discovers the misguided ruse of the crazed individual, but this is not the last hope of an encounter with artifacts from the fallen Asgard. Another menace is lurking in the shadows, ready to strike at those that Thor would care about.

The invincible Destroyer armor, created by Odin himself, has returned with the spirit of a disgruntled soldier inside it. Intent on wreaking independent havoc on the world, the possessor of the Destroyer stands against Thor and the mighty Avengers with a single threat: To open the visor and destroy the planet.

Previous Form:
Thor (#19): Victories over Captain Marvel, Super-Skrull & Superman.
Iron Man (#3): Victories over power houses Hulk, She-Hulk & The Mandarin.
Captain America (#9): Victories over Wolverine, Baron Zemo, MODOK.
Avengers [#2]: Victories over She-Hulk, Atlantean Military & Sinister Twelve.
The Destroyer: The Destroyer armor has not yet been featured on the site.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Destroyer 6 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Iron Man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Captain America 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Destroyer 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Captain America 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Destroyer 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Destroyer 7 (Solar Power)

Okay! So, I'm back, another year older, and once again running behind on promised updates! Hey, I should probably shut up and get on with it!

So, the Destroyer armor! Another powerful Marvel villain debuts as a result of Ultimate Alliance Mondays and it spells bad news for Thor, who has just made a return to the Marvel universe in this issue -- as he has in the most recent new first issue of Thor! Ooo, tangentially topical!

Like Baron Mordo or Ultron, the Destroyer is a character I have a passing interest in, but have never encountered under circumstances that have led to any deeper connection. You can assume I've been slow to get to this update for similar reasons as those others, because it just isn't a character that pulls me in.

The Destroyer has his own special problem.
People like to say a character like Superman or The Sentry is too powerful to be interesting or truly effective, because for either to fulfill their potential is to be unstoppable. I tend to disagree in no small part due to the weaknesses sewn into their character, but it becomes a more compelling argument for an entity along the lines of The Destroyer.

The Destroyer's power is essentially that he's invincible.
The crux of "his" purpose and the threat of "his" existence is the fact that he has the potential to reduce the planet to smouldering rubble. Which doesn't make it impossible to build a future for the character, but in mainstream production line comics, chances are the various cooks are going to spoil the broth in their haste to get work done.

To go back to the usual point of this section, the Destroyer probably shouldn't lose. The armor alone is effectively unstoppable, and that's the whole point of it, and it lacks even the basic human weaknesses of an "unstoppable" character like the magically enhanced Juggernaut, Cain Marko.
As the Destroyer is animated by the essence of another, the obvious way to defeat it, as depicted in the game that has prompted this entry, is to attack the defenseless inhabitor. If the armor has been defeated in other ways in the comics, I haven't read enough Destroyer stories to know.

I don't doubt that Thor can beat the armor, because he has many times before, but for the purpose of this section I could not ethically declare anyone the likely victor, other than Destroyer.

The Math: Avengers (Total) Destroyer (Average)
The Pick: The Destroyer

What went down...
A quartet of Avengers are already on the scene protecting the innocent as chaos explodes on the outer skirts of Manhattan. Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye do their best to aid paramedics in pulling survivors from the wreckage of Destroyer's rampage.

Thor arrives on the scene, giving the Avengers the muscle necessary to launch an attack on the marching Destroyer. Assembled, Iron Man joins the thunder god in a tandem strike of repulsor rays and tossed Mjolnir, which the Destroyer silently deflects with his armored arms. They follow it immediately with a physical clash, flying the behemoth toward a dockside building.

Their attack proves unsuccessful, the two heroes on the receiving end of the Destroyer's destructive blast. As they hurtle across the rubble laden battlefield, Scarlet Witch steps up to attack the armor with a magical hex, prompting the armor to speak for the first time during the battle. His words are certain, a stern warning to the Witch to cease, or suffer the destructive force of the Destroyer's open visor, which will melt the planet.

Hawkeye is nimble enough to whisk Wanda clear of the Destroyer's energy blast, but only the mighty shield of Captain America is intervention enough to protect his fellow Avengers from the destructive clubbing blow of the armor.

Thor charges back onto the scene, directing the Asgardian armor away from his fellows with a thunderous left that knocks him back. The god of thunder continues his attack, clubbing with the power of his enchanted hammer!

The Destroyer strikes back with his own attack, delivering a one-two combo that knocks the wind out of Thor. Captain America recognises the tactic as Thor buying time to evacuate more survivors, but even the mighty thunder god can only withstand the punishment for so long.

As the military forms to the side of the battle, they watch Thor's efforts gratefully, withholding their arms as long as a hero remains in the field.

Thor, clearly unwilling to play the patsy, fights back at the armor designed by his father as a weapon against the all-mighty Celestials. Though he is truly powerful, his blows serve only to shake the armor.

With Thor at pointblank proximity the soldier inhabiting the weapon displays it's might, blasting the thunder god with a devestating stream of orange energies. The Destroyer's supply seems limitless, no matter the efforts of the heroes.

With the remaining civilians removed from the field, Captain America gives the order for another group attack. Hawkeye is the first, drawing a modified explosive arrow from his quiver, while Iron Man and the others charge into battle.

This time it's Iron Man who suffers the brunt of the Destroyer's blast, as he shakes off Hawkeye's arrow attack.

With the destruction again reaching to the innocent, Thor rises from the rubble with the intent of putting an end to the rampage. With Mjolnir in hand, Thor summons the power of the mightiest storm imaginable and unleashes it upon the cold, emotionless suit of enchanted armor with a command to fall!

Motionless, the soldier inhabiting the Destroyer armor coldly defies the thunder god, "I'm not moving. You are." With that, he unleashes a massive blast of energies that reduces the dockside building, atop which stands Thor, to rubble, spilling Thor into the air like a helpless child.

The Destroyer marches over the destruction to Thor's lifeless body.
Revelling in the power in his possession, the nameless soldier marches with the intent of putting an end to Thor's interference. He pounds down at the defenseless god so hard it causes tremors throughout the surrounding area.

With Thor defeated, no one stands to prevent the very thing they feared would happen. Clutching Thor's limp frame, the Destroyer asks Thor to say hello to those in Valhalla, and to the dread of the Avengers, he opens his visor.

Once the light subsides, the Avengers open their eyes to discover their world has survived, but as they climb across the rubble, Captain America has the misfortune of discovering the results first.

Lying smoking in a pool of his own godly blood -- Thor.

The hammer...
And that children is why you should never give The Destroyer armour to just anyone! It was made for defeating the Celestials! It's not a bloody toy!

Speaking of John Romita Jr, if I may diverge from the usual comics discussion/commentary to do a little traditional blogging, it would be much obliged. See, I could use the opportunity to vent...

It was my birthday Saturday, and as you might imagine, being the comics fan I am, I was looking forward to grabbing some of the latest titles thrilling and billing up the charts. World War Hulk was definitely at the top of my list, providing the convenient segue seen above -- just one problem.

Last weekend marked the end of the two week break for kids from school, and apparently I couldn't get my eagerly anticipated reads because children had bought them all. Children.

Oh, well, that's just fantastic! Apparently all the movies and toys and Mark Bagley pyjamas have finally paid off, and the damned kids decided my birthday would be a good time to buy up on all the comics. Fan-freaking-tastic.

So, to all of you out there who are advocating children and comics. To those of you who hand books out at Halloween, and recommend titles like Marvel Adventures: Avengers to parents of younger relatives and family friends. To you the people trying to perpetuate the medium's future: SCREW YOU!!!

It wasn't all bad, I soaked up the awe that was the 'pick of the week', Madman Atomic Comics #3, and have some battlicious gems that will no doubt be popping up on the site in the future. It just pains me to say one of those that won't will be the epic fights contained within the pages of World War Hulk...

To break kayfabe for a moment, it might be an opportune moment to mention I'm hard at work on some of the most enjoyable writing I've done in a while. While we continue to wait on the s-l-o-w print turnaround of The Kirby Martin Inquest #1 (contain your enthusiasm), I'm working on what will hopefully be one of the future NLT hits which will feature some of the early escapades of a character featured in a free online read previously, The Semite!

The story will mark the first conceited effort to produce something kid-friendly, but will still include structured story, character development, and just a lot of plain fun. I'm drawing on some of my childhood excitement for world mythology, and the product is turning out to be a lot of fun! There's maybe a hint of a Tintin meets Dragon Ball feel to these earlier stories, which brings us back around neatly to this issue of Thor!

If you had any doubt about Romita Jr's capacity for big action, just take a moment to imagine the context of the panels featured in today's update.
The story is pretty light here, with the first half being dedicated to developing plotlines and the character of the present-day Thor, while the second half is a Dragon Ball Z style stand-off of super powers. You even get some polite pauses, and familiar stalling tactics, and as a giant-sized issue, it's worth it.

I didn't get much further with the Heroes Return Thor, but in the absence of World War Hulk, this issue somehow feels like a fitting consolation.

The Fight: 5.5 The Issue: 5
NEXT WEEK: The Asgardian menace escalates as we face LOKI!

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