The Mighty Thor #432 is, as the cover informs us, the 350th appearance of Thor, one of the greatest comic book characters ever made. EVER.
It's sort of a strange milestone, because it's not technically the 350th appearance of the character in print, it's the 350th comic book published by Marvel starring Thor. They're not counting the Thunder God's appearances in The Avengers or What If? or Godzilla or even in Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe, so it's probably more like the 1,213th appearance of Thor. But really, who wants to tally all those comics up? Not I.
As you might imagine, an "anniversary" issue like this one has a certain musky nostalgic odor, a quality present in all the comics of the DeFalco/Frenz/Milgrom run on The Mighty Thor. These guys tried - and usually succeeded - to capture the pomp and majesty and epic scope of those early Thor issues they clearly loved. This particular creative team didn't just drink from the creative wellspring of the first Lee/Kirby Thor comics, they chugged it greedily from a beer bong. One could fault them for not taking the character in new directions, but I prefer to be gracious and think of this era of the comic as Thor Done Right. But then, I am old. Old and bald.
To be fair, writer Tom DeFalco, a Marvel Bullpen veteran, did have a slightly different take on the Thor paradigm. Instead of using Thor's traditional human alter-ego Dr. Donald Blake, DeFalco introduced Erik Masterson as the new human host of Asgardian godliness. In this issue, Masterson's scrappy little son Kevin is held hostage by Thor's evil half-brother Loki, the Norse god of mischief (I named one of my dogs Loki, BTW), which really pisses Thor off. The two mortal, er, immortal enemies face off in a New York skyscraper in a final duel that only one god is walking or flying away from. At least until Marvel brought Loki back, that is.
The big brother vs brother fight that takes up the entire issue is suitably operatic and grandiose. Loki and Thor are evenly matched, and both are experts at Shakespearian trash-talking. Loki relies on cunning, magic, and a total lack of scruples, while Thor relies on his ability to hit things really hard, including Loki's face (see greatest panel ever, right).
But Thor's no idiot, regardless of what people say. In the sequence below he exploits his bro's greed and power lust by tossing him mjolnir, his enchanted mallet. Of course, only the truly worthy can wield mjolnir, a fact that Loki forgets. He catches the hammer - and promptly plunges through thirty-odd stories of skyscraper.
Thrown into the mix is Code: Blue, the NYPD's special anti-supervillain SWAT team who were regular supporting characters in the DeFalco/Frenz era. I loved these guys and have always been disappointed that they never caught on and became permanent fixtures of the Marvel Universe. Led by the stoic Lt. Marcus Stone, Code: Blue was a team of bad-ass misfits with names like Fireworks, Mad Dog, and Rigger. Maybe they were a little corny, but I'd pit Code: Blue against Hardcase and the Harriers any day of the week.
Here's the team leaping into action. Now either their SWAT van has a custom siren or they are all yelling "YA-HOO!!" as they bail out the back - I can't tell which. And look out, Lt. Stone! You're about to step on that very small woman and her very small car!
Anyway, the happy-go-lucky cops remove young Kevin Masterson from harm's way so Thor can kick the shit out of his rival without stressing about the lil' youngster getting hit by a stray blast of Asgardian voodoo. The Code: Blue guys also attempt to arrest Loki, which doesn't go so well. I'm not sure what kind of procedures NYPD has for detaining evil Norse gods, but I imagine flexi-cuffs and a paddy wagon wouldn't be adequate.
Thor finally gets to cut loose, verbally and physically: