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May 10, 2014

Ye Olde School Café: Thor Annual #10, 1982

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Written by: Billy
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Hey everybody, welcome back to another great edition of Ye Olde School Café! This time around, I’ll be focusing in on Thor, god of thunder! He’s one of my all time favorite characters, and this issue will show an adventure in which not only Thor faced impossible odds, but an entire pantheon of gods! Back in 1982, Thor was in a bit of a flux, but that didn’t mean good stories weren’t still being pumped out by solid creators. Take Alan Zelenetz for example. He’s a guy that you rarely hear about, but he turned in some good Thor stories (and the Warriors Three), and this one is a prime example (co-authored by Mark Gruenwald). This annual not only gave us a good Thor story, but also a mini origin story for the Marvel Universe on a planetary scale! Written by Alan Zelenetz and Mark Gruenwald, illustrated by Bob Hall (and a host of inkers), colors by George Roussos, and letters by Rick Parker, I give you Thor Annual #10, from 1982!

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Our story begins with a history lesson from the early days of the Marvel Universe. Earth’s own life-force became a being of living mass, called Demiurge. This sentient force then gave birth (through casting out some of its own life-force) to the earliest of beings on the planet. These Elder gods, Ch’Thon, Gaea, Set, and others, would lay the groundwork for all that was to come. For one reason or another, the planet became populated by demonic creatures, and they fought amongst each other. There was one, though, Gaea, that wanted peace. She contacted the Demiurge itself, asking for help in calming her fellow Elders. She then made her way to the center of the Earth, and soon gave birth to Atum. This being of awesome power then went on a killing spree, ridding the Earth of most of the demonic gods that were wantonly killing each other and mankind.

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Later, as Atum kept consuming these demonic Elders, he began to change into a grotesque creature, resembling the demons he consumed. He became known as Demogorge the God-Eater. He attempted to slay Ch’Thon, but he escaped into another dimension. Believing his work was done, Demogorge flew up into the sky, and expunged the evil demonic energy into the skies. He then reverted back into Atum, and disappeared.

The newer pantheon of “gods” were then born. Odin, Zeus, and so on, rise to power. These “gods” were also born from the same energies as the previous Elders. In Asgard, the kingdom mourns the loss of one of their own (see Thor #306). Loki, who’s in the background plotting as usual, mentions how he wants to get out of his marriage to Sigyn. As the funeral proceeds, the woman who has died is sent off in a Viking funeral. As the ship burns, the Valkyries swoop in to guide her spirit to Valhalla. Odin then remarks to Thor that Hela was not in attendance, and he wishes to know why.

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In the realm of Hades, Hela argues with him over something he has planned. Not only are Hades and Hela here, but also Mephisto, Ereshkigal, Seth (of Heliopolis), and all of the other malevolent beings of the universe as well.  They all “vote” that they need to band together, and reaffirm to the people of Earth that they remember the power of these “gods of death.” They all join hands, and begin to conjure up the power to do so! As energies crackle and explode, something truly powerful emerges from the light. The death-gods stand in amazement and fear, as Demogorge shambles out of the explosion.

Demogorge announces that he’s here to destroy them and consume their life-energy. Seth, death-god of Egypt, is the first to foolishly attempt to stop him. Demogorge easily absorbs his energy blasts, and assimilates him right in front of the others. The others quickly surmise that they must combine their power if they are to survive. They all simultaneously blast Demogorge, but it doesn’t even phase him. He then grabs two more of their number, and “eats” them.

At this moment, one of Odin’s crows flies by, searching for Hela. It witnesses these events, and reports back to Odin. He then converses with the other leaders (Zeus, Osiris, etc.), and they agree that each race will send their greatest champion to engage Demogorge in an attempt to stop him from decimating all of their numbers. Thor then flies off to meet the others. He does, but the meeting is short in its good times. All but Hela have been “eaten” by Demogorge, and she barely escapes. She lives long enough to warn them, but is killed moments later, right in front of Thor.

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At this point, all of the warriors engage Demogorge in battle, but they soon find out that their fight is useless. One by one they all fall to this monstrosity, until only Thor is left standing. Thor realizes that he cannot defeat this monster from the outside, but then thinks maybe he can from the inside. So he thrusts himself into the mouth of Demogorge, and his physical form dies.

Once inside, Thor is anguished with pain, but perseveres. He fights off the tendrils that attempt to rip him apart. Demogorge then speaks to him, and Thor’s resistance moves him to question the situation. Demogorge now knows that the reason he can’t fully destroy the warriors is because it is not yet time for them to die and be gone from the Earthly realm. As all are returned to their rightful forms, Demogorge warns them that when the day comes that he will return, they will all be taken and destroyed. The “gods” look on as he returns to the sky, changes back into Atum, and vanishes in a flash of light.

Well, that’s our story! The visuals in this book were absolutely stunning. Any time you get a collection of characters like this in one book, it’s a real treat. Seeing the plotting of all the evil gods, then the opposing good gods gathered together, fighting this insurmountable foe, was just breathtaking. Kudos to Zelenetz (and Gruenwald) for this awesome story, too. What an awesome idea! If you don’t own this book, you need to, because it’s a fantastic look into the early days of the Marvel Universe pantheon of gods, plus there’s a cool two-page pin-up of a map of Asgard in the back! If I remember correctly, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente brought back Demogorge in their run of The Incredible Hercules (2008), so that proves how great of an idea this story was by the creators!

Billy Dunleavy
billy@comicattack.net

 

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