Tuesday, July 12, 2005

THOR #499 Marvel Comics, 1996 (PART TWO)

...and we're back.

If you haven't read Part One of my evisceration of Thor #499, I encourage you to do so. You see, this comic is SO BAD that it requires not one, but two posts.

All right, we've established earlier that there is some kind of disconnect between artist and writer, perhaps due to a language barrier, perhaps for other reasons. Regardless, whatever the reason for the disconnect, it has fucked up this comic book real bad. But we can't just blame the artist; the writer and editor have to share the load as well. Let's continue.

Here's a page (below) where a de-powered Thor takes on Asgard's Olympic wrestling team, a bunch of dwarves on 'roids. These muscley little knee-biters surge forward, crying, "For the gold!" Thor throws his enchanted hammer mjolnir at the dwarves but - doy!- it completely slips his mind that it's no longer magic. The dwarves grab the hammer and escape. Thor, you utter dumbass. This is one of those lazy writer's crutches where the main character does something stupid and out of character in order to advance the plot.

As Thor is buried under a confusing mass of flesh-tone body parts, he thinks to himself in the green caption box: "Arrrrgh. I forgot mjolnir is no longer enchanted! It will no longer return to me!" Setting aside the fact that he's a complete tool for throwing his weapon away, the caption box thing confuses me. If it's supposed to represent inner dialogue, why does Thor think "arrrgh"? Isn't that like a scream or a cry or some other verbal utterance? People don't think "arrrgh" or "aiieee!" I don't know, maybe it's Think Like A Pirate Day in Asgard.

The stupidity continues. As Thor, Drunk Odin, Officer Kim Gaunt, Annie, and Sylvia travel across this Wagnerian version of Asgard, looking for Thor's missing hammer and the allegedly kidnapped Sylvia, they meet... a hooded man!

Thor is a master of the patently obvious. And I'm going to start greeting people that way: "Halloo, My Good Friend! 'Twas I who ordered the large Meat Lover's Combo!"

The hooded man turns out to be Loki, Thor's mortal enemy and half-brother! Thor is skeptical, but here in Topsy-Turvy World, Loki is actually a good guy and Thor and Odin are slavering maniacs. I half expected to see Goateed Spock show up, but no. Loki delivers a few lines of exposition before he gets shot with an arrow by an evil Balder the Brave, flying on a winged steed.

Thor beats up Balder and decides to tame his fiery steed. There follows an extended sequence in which Thor wastes precious time riding the flying horse, which is part Pegasus, part unicorn, part My Little Pony. Here's a panel (below) where the flying pony strafes our characters while Thor hangs on. The girls scatter, including Sylvia, who you may recall has been kidnapped by dwarves, yet still appears in the art. Nobody notices her, even when she has lines of dialogue. Maybe she's pulling a Patrick Swayze and she's actually dead.

Click to enlarge, if you must:

As Annie and Phantom Sylvia dive for cover, notice that the bound Balder the Brave talks shit from the sidelines. "Thee shall ne'er tame my fiery steed, mud-thing!" Not only is that darn rude, but I think it's grammatically incorrect. I may not be up on my Olde English, but I'm pretty sure it's "Thou shall ne'er tame my fiery steed..." I could be wrong about that, but regardless of how you say it, I'm pretty sure it's impossible IF YOUR MOUTH IS GAGGED! Yes, the communication between writer and artist(s) breaks down even further as Balder utters dialogue despite having his mouth gagged.

Heavy sigh.

Moving away from the overt stupidity of the book, let's look at the one area where the editor did show some interest -- DeNudifying Mike Deodato's art. In Thor #499 there are no nipples, no belly buttons, and very few thongs. As I mentioned previously, Marvel took great pains covering up Mike Deodato's thong-wearing women. They either colored their asses, like on the cover, or they doodled a little and created more modest undergarments out of the thongs. If only they were consistent about it...

Let's take a look at Officer Kim Gaunt as an example. She starts off the comic with orange hair and a daring "Rio style" barbarian bikini, but soon she has dark red hair and grey men's underwear. Kim is next seen sporting what can only be described as a diaper, then appears with bright orange hair and a thong again. Check it out:

I like it when the beat goes da na da na
Baby make your booty go da na da na
Girl I know you wanna show da na da na
That thong th-thong thong thong

Well, there you have it. Rampant De-Nudifying, staggering lapses in logic and continuity, stupid dialogue, bad art, characters who shouldn't be there yet they are... it all adds up to one big stinky pile of sequential excrement.

Thor #499. It's so bad - so cosmically awful - that it deserves its own special "Asgardian The Pain Award!"


Matt said...

2nd person singular of shall is "shalt"!

Anonymous said...

Letterer Jon Babcock trained under Tom Orzechowski. Go ahead and compare their letterforms -- you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference in places.

I wonder if years of reading computer lettering have just worn me down, but Babcock's lettering on this book looks a little sloppy -- the spacing just isn't right. Words are often spaced out too much, balloons are drawn too close and too far from the words, often in the same balloon. Or is it those little imperfections that make hand lettering such a preferred form? I don't know.

It could be that the book was running late and poor Jon had to letter the whole thing by hand overnight.

You're right, though -- that is one awful comic.

Greg said...

I wonder if Marvel has ever explained why Silvia continues to show up. Do they "rescue" her from the dwarves later on and just ignore the fact that she's been with them all the time? Or do they just forget that she was supposed to be rescued? These burning questions need to be answered!

I like the special Asgardian PAIN logo. This book is so bad, it's gets the PAIN twice!

Harvey Jerkwater said...

"I wonder if Marvel has ever explained why Silvia continues to show up."

Somebody get Roy Thomas on the phone! He lives for this kind of thing!

Anonymous said...

Good god that's a bad comic! Gotta say, though, I really dig the Asgardian The Pain Award!

DougBot said...

Loki's the good guy and Thor and Odin are the bad guys in this world?

"Mister Hastur, thou shalt hand me thine agonizer, please."

Please tell me Deodato drew them clean-shaven.

Anonymous said...

By Toothgnasher's Smelly Turd, that's one bad comic. Really makes you wonder why Marvel even published it, Deodato's hot name or not. Think of all the hours spent by Bobbie Chase, Marvel's Decency Police, and some in-house artist, going over each panel in a furious race to erase all the quasi-porn before printing time. And then when they're done with that, they're still left with a disjointed dung-heap of a comic. Why go to all the trouble? Oh, wait...this was mid-90's Marvel. Wizard was probably telling everyone this comic would be worth a lifetime of free hookers someday.

Is it just me or is this comic even worse because it's Thor? He's such a silly character anyway without screwing everything else up. Under normal circumstances, a writer has to overcome the Comic-Book Norse dialogue, the heavy, old-Edda-from-long-ago exposition style, and a very unhuman main character, while the artist has to make some blond pretty-boy with a short little hammer and (usually) a girly winged helmet look like an awesome god. Even by reasonable comic standards, THOR should be a bad comic in the first place. Which is why it really takes the exceptional skill of a Kirby or Simonson to make it great. But if you're workhorse-but-not-stellar Bill Loebs and the nameless conglomerate of Deodato Studios, maybe you shouldn't compound things with boob guards, phantom Sylvias, and Drunk Odin. Or maybe everyone was drunk.

David Campbell said...

Word up on that.

thekelvingreen said...

To be fair, Thor has always been a bit of a dimwit, so I'm not sure him tossing Mjolnir away is really that much out of character for him. He's never really been the brightest bun in the bread basket.

But by Odin's beard this is awful stuff isn't it? Crikey. Can we have a good one next?

Anonymous said...

Did the dragon on the cover ever appear in the issue (except hidden by the word ballon)? If it didn't you really should get your money back!

Johnny Canuck said...

Turns out that they DO go and rescue Sylvia in issue #500, so she's okay.
I'll grant you that this comic is easily bad enough for two posts, but try not to get too caught up in the whole 'decompression' fad.
Next you'll be doing a seven post 'continuing-mini-series-crossover' about Rom the Spaceknight #16.
Or something.

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks.

Not that anybody was interested, but I was, so I went out looking for that horrible issue of Wolverine I was referring to last post. It's actually two issues; 177 and 178. Read them if you dare. :)

Anonymous said...

So not only is the artist drawing a character who's been kidnapped, but the writer is giving her dialogue?

Messner-Loebs must've been drunk one evening and thought, "let's see how much senseless stuff I can put in before anyone at Marvel notices".

On the other hand, this comic should be admired by those who think comics adhere too slavishly to continutity. This creative team doesn't bother to maintain a continuity from page to page!

David Campbell said...

Now I have a mission - find Wolverine #177 & #178 and Rom #16. I will find them. I will.

N said...

I must have that PAIN sign as a bumper sticker.

I must.

thekelvingreen said...

So when the gang rescue Sylvia in #500 is Sylvia with them? I mean the Sylvia who didn't get kidnapped, as opposed to the Sylvia that did and is the one being rescued. Um.

Anonymous said...

I smells me some merchandising opportunities!

First, the official "Dave's Log Box" t-shirt. Commenmorative "No Profanity Week" edition has a giant "WOOO!" on the back.

Next, the "The Pain" bumper stickers (two styles, no less!)

Gott in Himmel, man! Figure out a way to market your avatars ("Dave, in Repose" and "Dave, Passing a Kidney Stone the Size of a Midget"), and dude, you might have an enterprise on your hands!

David Campbell said...

SW wins.

Anonymous said...

You're in for a treat, Dave: Paul O'Brien declared Wolverine vol. 1 #177-178- by the "acclaimed" creative team of Matt Nixon and Dan Fraga- the worst Wolverine books of that year.

Anonymous said...

You're in for a treat, Dave: Paul O'Brien declared Wolverine vol. 1 #177-178- by the "acclaimed" creative team of Matt Nixon and Dan Fraga- the worst Wolverine books of that year.

I would concur with that assessment. It was quite bad. I actually bought them on account of their being so bad.

Anonymous said...

Well, clearly the whole Sylvia situation is an example of Hypertime at work. The kidnapped Sylvia is from the mainline, unfreaky-skied, thongs-aplenty Marvel Universe. The Phantom Sylvia is from the Wagnerian timeline of gold-crazed trolls and "helloo"s, which I unilaterally declare, as the equally unilaterally declared dictator of such things, as Universe OO (pronounced "Ew"). But as "Back to the Future" taught us, encountering one's alternate time-self causes disturbances in the Force, so Phantom Sylvia simply ambles about in some interdimensional space of extracosmic time, unable to interact with the world around her until she encounters Whoopi (with two "oo"s, I note) Goldberg (a berg I'm sure those trolls have long sought). This causes Hypertime to hyperventillate around Phantom Sylvia, which is directly responsible for questionable absense of both the giant dragon and Thor's shirt. It is unclear, however, whether the girls' ever-changing garments are caused by Hypertime, or instead a dastardly scheme by Loki and the Venom symbiote to get some hoochie.

Hey, if DC ain't gonna use the concept, I'm taking that ball and running with it.

Anonymous said...


I read your entry, and my frontal lobe fused.

Does it come in a variant cover?

David Campbell said...

I think they're doing a fund raiser for Bill Messner-Loebs at Comic Con this year, which is great. This issue aside, Bill has written some excellent books (and really, the blame for this issue falls squarely in the editor's lap, IMHO) and I'd like to see him working again. I'd buy anything he wrote and I'll happily donate to the fund.

I had no idea he had one arm, though...

Greg said...

Of course, according to Marvel, Thor #500 never existed. When Fantastic Four changed its numbering back to the original, Marvel came out with a press release saying that it was the first Marvel comic to make it to 500 issues. So if you own Thor #500, it's your imagination.

Anonymous said...

So if you own Thor #500, it's your imagination.

Their press release was likley correct. Thor didn't start at issue 1; they renamed Journey Into Mystery to Thor after more than a hundred issues.

Greg said...

Yeah, I know - but the magazine was continuously published for 500 issues, so it seems disingenuous for them to claim it, especially since they interrupted publication of all their flagship magazines anyway in the 90s. Thye just wanted FF to be the "first" because it was their first superhero mag of the Silver Age. Lame, really, but yes, technically correct.

David Campbell said...

Man, I wish Thor #500 never existed. It's only slightly better than #499.

Solario said...

To add insult to injury, "Hallo" is spelt incorrectly, if they were trying to get a danish thing going for the language.

And Dave, how can anything be better than this? It had scantly cladded women, scantly cladded men AND a drunken Odin?

Anonymous said...

During these issues the penciler was Mike Deadato(I'm sure I spelled that wrong) who at the time drew three books for Marvel monthly (or at least two). The credit boxes for those issues read "Art by Deadato Studios" so I always took it as an indication that he had a whole mess of slave labor and college students cover shit up over his thumbnails. I think his art is a little crappy even today, but the staff of people should explain why this issue is so bad in particular.

Anonymous said...

dave campbell said...
Yes, the communication between writer and artist(s) breaks down even further as Balder utters dialogue despite having his mouth gagged.

If they were still giving out No-Prizes, I'd say that clearly the alternate universe Balder possesses the Norse power of Super-Ventriloquism. But on second thought, I'm not making any damn excuses for these clowns.

Felicity Walker said...

Augie, there’s never an excuse for bad lettering! And hand-lettering should be less likely to suffer from weird spacing problems because, when you’re doing it by hand, you can tweak each little nuance in a way that’s more intuitive than when you’re doing it on a computer.

Anonymous said...

I stopped reading Marvel comics about 20 years ago, for many, many reasons; but I didn't realize they could descend to this level. You should send this review in to Marvel - not that they care. Someone might get a chuckle out of it though.
Does Marvel even have a comments page anymore? Probably not; they stopped caring about input from the readers a long, long time ago.....

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