Episode 13: Would You Know More?

BEHOLD: Thor #379-382! With our hero at his weakest, Thor’s foes come calling! Thor and the Midgard Serpent battle in a clash out of legend! And with all lost, who shall stop Hela and save Asgard?

14 thoughts on “Episode 13: Would You Know More?”

  1. Well, according to press info Thor: Ragnarok will be the shortest MCU movie yet (100 minutes). I’m not sure how that can be. O.o

    Marvel really should figure out a followable numbering system. The first issue being #84 is not even the weirdest thing in the case of Thor. That no-prize goes to the 90s Journey into Mystery revival, which inherited the ongoing Thor numbering, and the second series of Thor after it, which gets numbered back into the original without counting in that JiM run (the issues literally have two numbers on them from #36/538). What does this mean? Journey into Mystery #503-513 (the Thor issues, later it turns into an anthology), and Thor vol 2 #1-11 are technically BOTH Thor vol 1 #503-513. Yeeeeeeep. That happened.

  2. Hi, and thank you both.

    Issue #380 is the one issue that has always stayed with me. Back in the 80s I was all about the X-titles, so I wasn’t actually reading Thor regularly, but somehow or other I got my hands on this comic, and it just blew me away. I even remember the promo in other comics, “Every page a splash page!”. The bit at the end, with the destroyed Jormangand falling, the remains of its head glowing brighter than the sun, so immense it never quite completely collapses by the time the comic ends … There aren’t enough words. I think it was actually made better by me not having read the next issue, so I never knew what happened to the goo-Thor.

    By the way, I think Jormangand is so big it can only exist outside of time, which is why time froze when it revealed its true form. So its corpse is likewise outside of time and not stinking up Midgard*.

    “Would you know more?” is proper myth, from Voluspa as recorded by Sturluson, the part of the Edda where Odin asks the seer about the future, and she tells him about Ragnarok. You can read it as her taunting Odin, repeatedly telling him some truly awful bit of Ragnarok, then saying, “would you know more, or what?”, knowing full well the next bit’s going to be even worse. Needless to say, Thor’s (real-world mythical) fight with Jormangand is part of Voluspa.

    *Earth

  3. Miles and Elisabeth, thank you so much for taking us on this journey. Thor #337 was literally the first comic I ever bought myself, and the Simonson Thor run has always had a special place in my heart. Following along with you week by week, I’ve even learned new things about a run I would have sworn I knew backwards and forwards, so thank you again for that 🙂

    I just have one question: is there any other Thor arc you’d consider doing a second season to cover?

    1. Miles keeps talking up the Jason Aaron run! Now that I have a little extra time, I’m going to look it up on Marvel Unlimited. However, Miles is headed back to Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men shortly!

      1. The first arc of Aaron’s Thor is very good, then it’s a case of diminishing returns. It’s still ongoing, and building its epic “War of Realms” arc since 30+ issues, which made me coin the phrase of “Aaron soon” to mean not “earlier than in 2-3 years”. I’m not saying it’s bad… it might read awesomely while doing and archive binge, but serial storytelling, when you have to wait a month for the next installment, I find it very boring.

  4. Thank you both for 13 excellent episodes. I’ll continue to listen to Miles on Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, and maybe Elizabeth will come back to comics podcasting at some point in the future.

    I really like that last page. For me, it’s about how Simonson is leaving Thor, but Thor himself will go on, and on, indefinitely, having further adventures. One of the things that this last section of Simonson’s Thor is about is that it’s about Thor as Kirby superhero proving able to incorporate the Thor of Norse myth without being trapped by it.

    People often observe that Greek myth and Norse myth have a lot in common (in comparison with e.g. Egyptian myth). But one famous difference is that the Greek gods are defined by their endlessness – they don’t die, and there are Greek myths whose point is, more-or-less, Zeus will always be there, unstoppable and dominant as the ruler of the universe. Whereas the Norse gods are doomed. (I’ve always wanted Marvel Thor and Marvel Hercules to have a conversation about this, especially because Hercules used to be mortal.)

    Which is to say, Greek gods are like superheroes (or, e.g., the Doctor). In this last section, we see Thor find a way out of his destined and so inescapable mythical end in confrontation with Jormungand by, well, drawing on Kirby, in the form of the Destroyer, one of Kirby’s most iconic designs. (Note how it was used as is with no modification in the film!)

  5. Well, if my grasp of time zones is correct, it’s a little before 11pm in Portland on 04.08.17 as I start to write so you may still be singing. I have fond memories of Portland from a year I spent living in Corvallis, but that was a long time ago, before Simonson started work on this series. I’d have written sooner, but I was off-line in a valley in County Antrim for the last week…
    I like how the cover of #379 calls back to Strange Tales #89 where Fin Fang Foom first appears, down to the thick outline of the word balloon. Simonson must work very hard to do what he does, but there’s so often something playful in his work. We never get an explanation of why Jormungand disguises himself as Fin Fang Foom, but given his character I like to think it involves spite. I’d love a story about why he’d have grudge against FFF. I can see why the banter between Thor and Jor brought old films to mind, but my first thought was of the riddling conversations people sometimes have in Celtic myth, as when Cuchulain and Emer meet. It’s also worth saying that Sal Buscema does some amazing work in this issue and to the end of the series. His work on Thor is surely a career high. Most artists would be a bit overshadowed following Simonson, but it’s great seeing Sal rise to the challenge and create some astonishing images, such as Jormungand shedding his skin and the final page of this issue. Oh and in the letter column a Jason Latour of Charlotte, NC declared ‘The beard is great!!’ Suddenly I’m imagining Marvel doing a beard variant month. Beards could be supplied for those unable to raise their own.
    Thor #380 is a legitimate masterpiece. Simonson places a limit on himself in how he tells the story and still satisfies the reader. I can report it worked as a single issue, having waited a month and then having a month to wait, it was a dramatic, stand out story. He does what I consider a companion piece in Orion #5 in which Darkseid and Orion fight, in which 9 words are spoken (spoilers), ‘The time for talking…is over.’ on page 3 and ‘It is finished!’ on the last page. That fight was prophesied too… maybe someone should pitch him a Nostradamus book?
    The cover of #381 with the Dethoryer is great and with the giants being trod under foot points to another of Simonson’s strengths – scale. Boldly he’s given us so many covers with tiny images of Thor on them, many, many tiny Thors to show us what he’s up against. I also love he gives a separate small drawing of the Dethoryer in the masthead box. It’s always a pleasure to see Joe Sinnott ink, but I almost wish he wasn’t here. I suppose it was to allow Sal more time to complete #382, but that lush brush is such a different approach.
    I have very little to say about #382, it’s a mostly great leave taking. I very much echo the disappointment with the end of Hela’s story. It’s frustrating when defeat and a new humility could have credibly brought compassion to her necessary role.
    Elisabeth, Miles, thank you. I’ve never been this active posting before. I’ve written my thoughts up on Jack Kirby’s treatment of Hela as an essay and submitted it for publication. Whether it’s accepted or not, I’m pleased to have done it. You inspired me.
    Finally, as I was listening to the podcast I picked up my comics. Among them was New Gods Special #1. In the back of that is a 6 page Young Orion story by Walter Simonson. Coincidence? Well, yes, but c’mon, Simonson does Kirby again with just a pinch of Moorcock…you’ve left me wanting more.

  6. I’ve finally got around to listening to the last episode and I want to thank Elisabeth, Miles and Kyle for an amazing run of podcasts. Walter Simonson has long been one of my favourite comic creators dating back to Marvel UK reprints of his StarWars run but truly galvanised by X-Factor and Thor. I mentioned a few episodes back that I first discovered this run through the Mutant Massacre crossover and over the years I have been able to collect the whole run through a combination of reprints and a surprising number of back issues.

    It’s become one of my totemic comic series that gets reread frequently and yet I feel like you guys have given me another perspective by making me do a closer reading of the book.

    I am a huge fan of peaking behind the scenes to see how the book was made and, as ever, there are a couple of details I want to draw your attention to.

    Firstly I have to let you know that the sound effects on 380 were definitely by John Workman. Simonson did all the sound effects on his earliest work. I’d refer you to a DC reprint book called the Art of Walter Simonson from the late 80s which reprints his earliest non-Manhunter stuff. It features Simonson commentary on each work with a lot of talk about font choices particularly on Captain Fear and Metal Men. It’s also about 200 pages of Simonson drawing loads of different genres so it’s pretty spectacular. I think this was where I first saw Simonson acknowledge that he did all his own sound effects until he started working with John Workman. Obviously Walter wrote and pencilled 380 so he will have written the sound effects and indicated the kind of font to use, but he is on record as saying that John will ring him with suggested changes and alterations and they will discuss them.

    My favourite anecdote about Thor 380 is that Simonson deliberately wanted it to feel like a myth so he wrote the narration in the style of poetry found in the Edda, but he had recently read something about indigenous American weavers. If they were making a cloth that told a story of the Gods they would deliberately add a mistake. This is because only the Gods are perfect and therefore imperfect humans cannot achieve such perfection. This is why the final page is not a splash. His all splash issue had to have an imperfect page (I disagree with Simonson here as every page of 380 is perfect especially the last page).

    Another interesting little detail is the art credits on 380. Walter is credited for layouts and Sal is credited with finishes. Normally the layout artist does very rough pencils only indicating storytelling and the finisher completes the art adding a lot, but anyone with a cursory understanding of comic art can see that the art is clearly mainly Simonson. Apparently Walter desperately wanted to draw 380 but this would mean Sal losing money as obviously he wouldn’t be getting paid to pencil that issue. Normally a penciller gets paid more per page than an inker but in a layout/finishes situation the page rate is pretty much equal so Walter did complete pencils but took the paycut of layouts so that Sal would earn more. How nice is Walter Simonson? So nice that he got underpaid for one of the greatest comics of the eighties just to help out a fellow artist.

    1. By the way if I type Walter into my tablet the predictive text suggests Simonson. I think this is down to Elisabeth, Miles and Kyle too! Thank you again.

    2. Just realised I forgot one of the things I meant to do which was to sing the praises of the colour art on Simonson’s Thor. In the episode you mention the work of Christie (aka Max) Scheele who coloured most of the run but it would be remiss to ignore George Roussos who coloured the early issues and was Marvel’s cover colourist at the time (and was one of the most prolific inkers of the 40s, 50s and 60s often under the chosen pseudonym of George Bell and the forced pseudonym Bob Kane). Obviously the art of Simonson and Buscema would encourage anyone to creative heights but they really produced phenomenal work considering the technical restraints of the time and that they were having to deal with pages full of dayglo-space-vikings and mythical beasts which were going to be printed on yellowing newsprint.

      I should probably also send props to the editors the late, great Mark Gruenwald and the very much alive Ralph Macchio; the assistant editors Mike Carlin and Bob Harras (whatever happened to them?); and most importantly to Jim Shooter who despite being at the point in his reign when he was most likely to interfere left Thor well enough alone. Possibly his best decision ever.

  7. Thank you for taking us on this grand adventure. Long time X-PtX-M follower who came along for the ride knowing nothing about Thor. And it was epic. You 2 play off each other so well, and Kyle is just the icing on the cake! Can’t wait for the next project.
    For Asgard!

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