Monday, April 03, 2006

Thor: Smack Talker

Even when I'm braggin' I'm bein' sincere
- “I’m Bad,” LL Cool J

Thor is the consummate smack-talker of the Marvel Universe.*

Nobody talks a line of shit like Thor. He rarely fails to tell an opponent how powerful he is, or what a big mistake said opponent has made crossing his path, or how bad of a beat-down he’s about to deliver, or brag about the various features of his enchanted mallet Mjolnir. Plus, he's got a natural flair for drama. I'll bet he had to attend Oration class as a young golding at Asgard Prep.

Thor uses the laws of nature unique to comic books to full effect. He goes on at great length about how cool he is between punches. Seriously, the guy could work a Shakespearean sonnet into the time it takes for lightning to strike. This is something all heroes can do, of course, but Thor takes it to another level.

But you know, braggadaccio works for Thor – he comes from an ancient culture where it was acceptable to engage in a little self-promotion.

For some reason, the fact that he’s one of the most powerful beings ever to walk the Earth yet still talks shit does not make Thor a dick. He just gets away with it, pure and simple. Nobody wants to hear Superman brag about how cool he is – he would just come across as a bully – but for Thor, it works.


Thor really uses cultural relativism to his advantage. Yes, he might go on and on about how great he is, but give him a break, he’s a Viking – that’s the way of his people. Don’t judge, man. What do you have against Vikings anyway? Way to be insensitive to other cultures, dick.

You know another area where Thor gets a free pass just because he comes from a traditional culture? That hammer of his, mjolnir. He’s up there with The Frickin’ Hulk in terms of strength, and yet he still carries a huge stone hammer around.

Again, if this were Superman we were talking about, packing a weapon would seem unsporting and cruel. It would be like, “Why does Superman carry that machete around? It’s not enough that he can shoot heat-beams from his eyes, he has to fly around beheading people with a fucking machete, too? Not cool!

But hey, Thor’s a Norseman, it wouldn’t be PC to call him on his hammer. I think mjolnir is the Norse word for “overkill.”

Anyway, getting off-topic. Back to Thor and his shit-talking.
Thor’s got that Olde English style of speech that makes practically anything he says sound cool. But when you break it down, Thor just sounds like professional wrestler Hulk Hogan as written by William Sakespeare. Let's indulge in some cheap humor and compare the two:

Hulk Hogan says: "You're going down, brother!"

Thor says: "I bid thee fall!"

Hulk Hogan says: "Hercules Hernandez, you may have the power of the cosmos. But what are you going to do, brother, when I wrap these 23-inch pythons around you? What are you going to do?!"

Thor says: "Thanos! Thy time draws nigh! Though you possess the Power Cosmic, Thor, as ever, shall reign supreme! Face me, villain!"

Hulk Hogan says: "I've been training, I've been eating my vitamins, I've been saying my prayers. Let me tell you something, Mean Gene - I wanna hurt somebody in Jacksonville this Saturday night real bad!"

Thor says: "The power of Asgard itself is the power of Thor! Behold, Recorder, as the Thunderer invades yon Land of the Dead - and woe betide those who seek to stop me!"

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
One of the little perks that comes with being an Asgardian god is that you get to swear by your own name, or by that of your immediate family. Thor is always saying, "Odin's beard!" or something to that effect.

I think it would be cool to take your own name in vain, or to swear by your various body parts or character traits. When the printer at work jams I could bust out with, "By the balding pate of Dave!" or "Dave's blood! This accursed printer shalt vex me no longer - so sayeth David Campbell, son of Gary!!!"

I am totally going to do that.

Perhaps my favorite example of Asgardian trash-talking is in Thor vol 2. #25, a jumbo-size smackdown with Thanos and Mangog by writer Dan Jurgens and John Romita, Jr. Those guys understood Thor, and Jurgens penned some fantastically florid dialogue.

At the climax of this storyline, Thor repeatedly gets his ass handed to him by the supercharged cosmic villain Thanos, the Marvel answer to DC's Darkseid. (Or is it the other way around?) Fortunately, Thor powers up with a magic shield, belt, and gauntlet that enable him to take on the invincible Thanos.

Here are the final atomic-strength blows and the climactic bit of smack-talking:

The best part is that after Thor drops Thanos, he stands over his fallen foe and delivers this kick-ass line (clicketh to enlarge):

F*#% YEAH!!!**

That is quality.

In closing, if you're looking to read about a hero who talks shit and can back it up, look no farther than The Mighty Thor. Verily, he doth reign supreme.

I'm the pinnacle that means I reign supreme
And I'm notorious I'll crush you like a jelly bean
- “I’m Bad,” LL Cool J

*Hercules is a close second, but as a B-list character he doesn’t have as extensive a history of shit-talking as Thor does. His body of work just can’t compare to the God of Thunder’s.
**I have decided to change the spelling of "F*#% Yeah!" That damn ampersand was screwing my formating up; Blogger kept thinking I was typing an email address.


Anonymous said...

Verily, Garyson, your words are fulsome and true! Thor doth rule, dude!

I've taken a panel in Avengers #39 (volume 2? 3?) as one of the best summations of how cool Thor is:

Jarvis asks young newbie Avenger Silverclaw how she's finding college in the US of A. She replies, "Ah, I have this one professor--VERY intimidating. But whenever he growls, I just think of Thor...NO ONE is as intimidating as Thor!"

I do miss old Golidlocks. (But then, I miss all the heroes Marvel built over four decades and have now Ultimatized into twisted parodies.)

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to remember...I think it was midway through the Busiek Avengers...the bad guy is standing around gloating about doing something naughty, and from off panel, "I say thee nay!" The bad guy lets that roll around in his head for a second ("I say thee nay?"), and slowly the ugly truth dawns on him...Thor is IN DA HOUSE.

It all pales next to "Ultron, we would have words with thee," though.

Anonymous said...

Boy, and Thanos had his magic Pimp Cup and everything!

Verifiction: ooept. Swedisn for "oops."

Mike Podgor said...

murrkon5 said...
I do miss old Golidlocks. (But then, I miss all the heroes Marvel built over four decades and have now Ultimatized into twisted parodies.)

I agree. Most of the Ultimate versions of the heroes and villains are pretty stupid. They made Galactus a fleet of giant metal bugs or something. However, the Ultimate universe isn't first time they've tried to make Thor "hip". Remember Thunderstrike?

running42k said...

Awesome post even without the reference to Hercules Hernandez. That puts in out of the park.

Anonymous said...

I can't quite remember, but I thought the Mike Oeming Thor was good; but I'm still said Thor has kind of been put out to pasture. This is the Bendis Era, where things are gritty and street and dialog heavy; where everyone's lost their secret identity and even your most beloved of heroes is going to act like a tool at some point. Plus, I really don't think Bendis could write Thor.
Looking forward to the comeback though, and remember: after Heroes Reborn, Thor was like the last guy to come back. Three months late and reeking of ale, as I recall.
(And Dave: if you haven't read the old Bob Layton Hercules, now's about time!)

Anonymous said...

Verily, if anyone wants to see Dave Campbell write the Son of Asgard, say thee HEY!


dwinn said...

I say thee Airwolf!

Anonymous said...

He's so cool he talks in his own font!

Anonymous said...

Somewhere deep in my own long box, I have an old (early 1980s, I think) copy of a Hercules limited series. All I remember is the following scene (this is from memory, sorry if I get the details a bit off):

Hercules is riding on a train, and chowing down in the dining car. He bellows at the waitress:
"Wench! Bring forth more meat! Is there not an entire ox in yonder livery?"

And the waitress says: "Uh... I'll have to go check."

There was a reason I posted this, I'm sure, but I just can't remember right now.

Word verification: nktlkrc: the sound of Wolverine's claws clinking impotently against the enchanted uru hammer Mjolnir, moments before having his adamantium ass handed to him on an enchanted uru platter

Anonymous said...

Yon Odinson doth keep it real and in effect full and true betides. Thus ever rolleth he. Canst thou dig it?

Bill Reed said...

Thor is totally awesome. Another great moment in Thor #25 is when he's gotten eight piles of shit kicked out of him, but he gets up anyway. "Mangog." Turn the page. Double-page splash. "Have at thee!" Whammo.

Jurgens did a few good stories, then it all went to hell.

Anonymous said...

One of the perks of being a god? Well,you get better writers...

Anonymous said...

The Thor/Hulk Hogan comparison is a good one. I remember this old promo Hogan cut in which he spoke of lifting up and body-slamming this huge fat guy so hard that the resultant earthquake would literally sink the continents, and all the loyal Hulkamaniacs would flounder in the oceans in fear and despair until the Hulkster appeared so they could cling to the 24-inch pythons and, uh, they would all swim to the promised land and dwell forever in peace and tranquility (at least until the next big fat guy came along to threaten Hulkamania's reign). I dunno, he went pretty far out with it, but it's totally the same thing as you'd see in a good Thor comic :)

Marc Burkhardt said...

One of my favorite Thor moments was in the odious Heroes Reborn era, when the Walt Simonson Thor showed up to take care of the Liefeld model.

Hearing that his anatomically incorrect doppelganger was rampaging, the true Thunder God calmly left Avengers HQ with this declaration:

"Hold my seat."

Not very Shakespearean, but you just knew Image Thor was going to be beaten down.

P.S. The "Minoriteam" cartoon on Adult Swim had a pretty funny parody of Thor, who prefaced each hammer blow with a 10-minute soliloquy.

Anonymous said...

Dood, in those panels where Thor is beating on Thanos, isn't Thanos supposed to be purple? DID THOR HIT THANOS SO HARD HE TURNED HIM WHITE?!?!?!

Too much awesomeness contained in that post, sandwiched by a couple of lines from I'm Bad. Forget Oreos, eat Dave Campell Cookies.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be cool to take your own name in vain, or to swear by your various body parts or character traits.

Closest I've come is the unofficial store motto here at Metro Entertainment, 'FEEL THE 'TAINMENT!'

Boss doesn't seem to want to put it on a T-Shirt as much as the employees do.

Anonymous said...

"Dave's blood! This accursed printer shalt vex me no longer - so sayeth David Campbell, son of Gary!!!"

That, sir, is hilarity!

Word verification is pfpjauyr which is the name brand of nails Thor prefers to use with his hammer Mjolnir.

Anonymous said...

In the panel wherein Thor's schooling the Wrecker, there's some sort of Smudge near the O in "Odin", making it look a bit like it says "pdin". Which led me to wonder if it was supposed to be like "pwnin'", which actually makes it more impressive--even leet-speak can't undercut Thor's majesty.

But now it looks like it could also be an abbreviation of "puddin'", which I don't think gives the line the same heft.

Anonymous said...

Thor has always kicked ass....

Anyone who could spin a hammer and fling to fly; that's badass...

The DC Thor... well his best lines where in the Sandman Comic: "I have a hammer. When I rub it, it gets larger."


Anonymous said...

Just so you know, you were right about Thanos being the johnny-come-lately. He first appeared in 1973, and Darkseid first reared his ugly head in 1970.

Comic geek squad member #327

Chris Sims said...

And now, time for my patented hyperbole: The Walt Simonson run of Thor is the single greatest thing to ever be seen by man. Why? Because there is an issue where Thor hits the Midgard Serpent so hard that he breaks every single bone in his own body.

No frigg'n wonder he brags.

Incidentally? "Mjolnir" is literally translated as "that which smashes."

Chris Arndt said...

I say to thee mortal comics fans that I am like a god unto thee. I show thee proof!

More importantly, Dave.... Jurgens, as far as my mighty memory flies, wrote Thor from beginning of Volume 2 until nearly the very end of the Lord of Asgard storyline.

Roger Stern almost certainly did not plot/script the Thunder God's issues prior to issue thirty and certainly the words in issue 25 be that of Jurgens.

Yes. Thor rocks. Fortunately we can rest easy in the knowledge that just as there was a Thor before the one we know and love there is an old tradition set in place in the seventies that there yet may be another Thor.

Anonymous said...

My favorite Hulk Hogan quotes:

"God created the heavens, He created the earth, He created all the Hulkamaniacs; then He created a set of 24-inch pythons, brother."

"The big man on the cross gave his life so Hulkamania could live forever."

I'd give my eyeteeth to watch Hogan hit Thor with a big leg drop. Maybe in a ring surrounded by lumberjacks ...

James Plumb said...

I spent last summer walking around Devon crying out "By My Groin, it is cold!"

People tended to avoid me.

David Campbell said...

Crap! Thanks Arndt, for the correction. Verily, 'tis Dan Jurgens!

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Namor is another great smack-talker, though his tends to be a little more irritating.

When Thor yells "I SAY THEE NAY!" as he Bringeth Yon Pain, it's kickass. When Namor bellows "IMPERIOUS REX!" as he administers a marine mauling, he sounds like an ass.

Thor smack-talks like a guy who's so certain he's going to kick your ass that he gets lippy because it's fun. Namor smack-talks like a guy who's trying to convince himself he's going to win the fight.

Villains do all the best smack-talking, though.

Chris Arndt said...

I quoth Chuck Dixon: "before Reed Richards showed up, they also did most of the talking in comics. Superhero dialogue didn't get much more interesting than Barry Allen apologizing for being late again. But villains would fill endless word balloons with their detailed plans of conquest, their paranoid ramblings, their twisted motivations and their threats.

Comic book bad boys have to excel at threats. I know, I have to put words in some high profile miscreants' mouths every month and a good threat is worth its weight in gold. Where most of us have to struggle to squeak out an "Oh yeah?" when we get pissed off these guys have to rattle off strings of hair raising promises of bodily injury or worse. All while ordering minions about."

Chris Arndt said...

so my Chuck quote raises the question: Kobra or Thor... which truly is the better smack-talker?

Edward Liu said...

In the first Geoff Johns Avengers arc, I remember being pretty impressed when Thor finally showed up and dropped a great badass line. Pretty sure it was a full-page Thor splash after a page flip where he said the Asgardian equivalent of, "Who ordered the Ass Kicking by a Norse God Special for delivery?"

Unfortunately, I also can't remember any of the details, since that and the double-page "Avengers Assemble!" splash were the only 2 really memorable bits in the whole arc (OK, that and Falcon telling Warbird/Ms. Marvel, "Next to Cap, we're ALL sidekicks" and the utterly gratuitious scene of Warbird and She-Hulk in their PJs). Does anybody remember the scene I'm talking about?

The THOR one, not the one about female Avengers in sleepwear.

Anonymous said...

I was with you until I read your point on Superman with a machete.

Now I want to see Superman with a machete Vs. Batman with a kryptonite lightsaber. Maybe an elseworlds cage match.

Winner gets a go at Thor for the belt!!!

Mike Nielsen

missbhavens said...

Oh, yes, I'll be borrowing some Thorspeak for my staff meeting at work tonight!

"...and Ye will quake in thy corrective orthopedics as I unleash my wrath! Blood will pound in your ears when I give you directives! Verily I say unto thee: go and stock the bedside tables and bring the patient in room 3 her medications!! By the strength given unto me by my father and his father before him! Go! Go! Else I smite you with my ultrasound rays sayeth Bekah Daughter of Richard!"

Need more practice with that.

Anonymous said...

missbhavens -

Though your speech wasn't directed at me, I'm ready to empty bedpans post haste.

And I don't even work in health care.....

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Wilson Fisk once talk about ten miles of smack to an X-Men task force of Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, and Wolverine? Don't get me wrong, I dig the Kingpin, but this wasn't "I'll ruin your credit ratings and get your lawyer disbarred" smack, this was, "I'll kick your asses" smack. Dude, even if that were all muscle, which is a damn lie, that wins some kind of bravado award. I'd love to see him snapping on Thor and have Thor just laugh and say "thou so crazy."

Anonymous said...

You know what you never see?

Captain America trash talking.

Seriously. He's all gentleman. He and Thor can beat up a whole warehouse of A.I.M. soldiers and he's always like "Good workout, son."

But wouldn't you like to see it...just once?

"I am the Living Legend of fucking World War Two. The Japs AND the Nazis couldn't kill me with all their armies combined. What you got... a gun? Please. My shield is fucking Indestructable. Bitch, I am the Super Soldier. You think you're badder than Hitler? "

But I digress. The real champion trash talker is Reed Richards.

DOOM: "Ha ha, Richards! At last I have my revenge!"

RICHARDS: "That's nice, Victor. By the way, this device I'm holding that I built out of tinfoil, some dried macaroni, and an iPod just gave your mother a sex change in the womb, so that in 5 seconds you will never have been born. Good day."

Anonymous said...

Tenzil -

Can a distinction be made between 'pontification' and 'trash talking' when it comes to Cap? I don't think he gets a pass here. I can see him thrashing the hordes of AIM while tutoring them on the virtues of freedom, liberty, and the Magna Carta for Pete's sake!

As the Sentinel of Liberty, isn't the trash talk implied?

Joe AIM - "Just once...once! I'd like Cap to give me my a$$hat without having to here about my patriotic obligation to vote! Oy!"

Anonymous said...

Now, before you all get all Noah Webster on me, I realize that 'pontification' may not be the best word to describe Cap's combat lecture skills (he's certainly qualified, unless he's written by Micah Wright). But it had a lot of letters, and looked nice in the posting preview. So there.

Jon said...

The THOR one, not the one about female Avengers in sleepwear.

The Avengers are fighting half of the In-Betweener and doing a fairly crappy job of it. 'Tweener starts his monologue only to be interrupted by an "aye, demon?" from off-panel, followed by a full-page shot of Thor saying, I swear to freaking God, "methinks thou dost protest too much."

Yeah, Thor was rocking it Big Willy Style.

Peter said...

By my flapping ears, I still spot a Stern reference in your post, Daveth!

Just had to reply because the word verification is "spaza". Nice to know even word-ver knows me for what I am ;)

I thought the first few years or Jurgens on Thor rather sucked (despite regular great moments--I still love #1's Cap-caption for instance: " Avenger, the King, has fallen..." Now that's a cliffhanger moment) and then things got interesting with Lord of Asgard/Midgard and then Marvel tired of it and booted him before he could properly wrap it, leaving things messy before Oeming killed everyone off.

If JMS gets to write Thor I'll cry. Well, I won't, but still, it's from bad to worse then. I say give it to Peter David, he's had some experience with powerhouse characters :)

Great post, but did that really need saying? Made my morning tho, thanks :D

Anonymous said...

And verily, Thor did deliver a hammer full of woe to the Ballzac.

Anonymous said...

Cap can smack talk. Anyone remember the oh-so-witty "Do you think this A stands for France" line that Millar points at to prove that he can write from a conservative point of view?

Chance said...

Non-Ultimate Cap smack talks all the time. "Try fighting the Wehrmacht, mister --- it gives you focus!" "I handled Hitler and Tojo, and I can handle you!" "You're just like every other terrorist and bully, throwing weight around without real idea of power and responsibility unlike America which is the world's superpower but benevolent hegemony burble drone, blah blah..."

Come to think of it, maybe he doesn't smack talk; maybe he just delivers irritatingly smug lectures.

I feckin' hate Captain Feckin' America.

Anonymous said...

"Should thou darest"? Surely he means "Shouldst thou dare." Methinks the Olde English is a put-on.

Anonymous said...

There were some great moments in Dan Jurgen´s Thor like the ones you showed. But there were also some really awful moments where you could see that they were some reused Superman stories. Like the one ( I think in issue number two ) where Thor is so lonely he goes into a bar and raises his beer with totally strangers. This would have been a powerful scene with Superman who a.) never drinks b.) if he drank never would do it in public and c.) would not drink with total strangers. But Thor ? Come on, the guy is a Asgardian which is like a viking on acid. They drink two barrels of med before getting up. He has probably med running through his veins.

Damn, when I get started about this I don´t stop. Anyway, as awful as Dan Jurgen´s Thor was at times it was not as awful as the combo of the streettalking Chippendale Thor from Messner Loebs and Deodato. Reading that I got really nostalgic for the old Thor who had gone against the Celestials. " I will never surrender or yield to despair ! "

Truer words were never spoken.

Juggernaut said...

What a great friggin' post. You've got me even more geeked up for Thor's return, when he singlehandedly puts and end to the "Civil War."

Anonymous said...

I've always thought of the (former) wrestler The Rock, when it comes to Thor talking smack. "Who be thou stranger? It doesn't matter what thy name is!"

"The Thunder God is going to layeth the smacketh down, on all thy candy asses!"

"Loki? Thou beest a roody-poo candy ass!"

Anonymous said...

the best thing I've read on the internet in 2 years.

Well done Dave, and by my troth I shall smite me some curry this day!

I still say Thor vs. Jormungand by Walt Simonsen (#380?) is the best comic ever written. Thor written and drawn by Simonsen is the best comic character full stop IMHO :)

Olav in Sidcup, England

Anonymous said...

Came across this by chance. Never read any of these comics (maybe a single Thor 30 years ago, and a few Super- and Spidermans) but love the posts ,the humour and intelligence behind them - and, apart from the occasional hurried typo, the English is much better and more careful than the stories by wannabe 'writers' (as a hammer is to Thor, so words ought to be to writers: you look after the damn things!)I proofread for a website. I'm a gonna put Thor in my next novel!
And next time I'm in UK, I'm going to buy a few comics!!
And smack ass!

Anonymous said...

I think you may have hit it on the head why Thor faltered....he stopped being a badass. The latest incarnation shows promise (his meeting with IM).
Thanks for a great post. I was cracking up thinking of you at the office printer....

Anonymous said...

Ultimates Captain America on being told to beg for his life by alien Nazi, herr Kleiser
"Do you think this letter on my head stands for France??!!" immediately followed by being split in two by Cap's shield.
Oh yeah. Cap KNOWS smack talk, bitch.

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Anonymous said...

My personal favorite, from the Simmonsen run:

"Now let my hammer burn with the fires of a thousand suns, energy enough to destroy even the demon of the flame. Have at you Surtur!"

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Unknown said...

There was an issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA where Cap was battling the Serpent Society, a conglomerate of snake-themed super-villains, including the likes of Anaconda, Puff Adder and such. Cap is facing down the team's leader, King Cobra, and as Serpent reenforcements are on the way, Cap is in a bad spot. Cap bluffs his way out by telling Cobra, "the rest of the Avengers are right outside. Among them is THOR. You remember the god of thunder, don't you? Well, these days he's got even less patience than he used to..." King Cobra takes a hard gulp and beats feet the hell outta there. You know a cat is bad ass when you can get hardened super crooks to run just by mentioning him!

Bill L said...

There was an extra sized issue where Thor was fighting the Celestials, and he picks up the giant Odinsword, after having his ass handed to him repeatedly, I just love this bit. "I'll not fall, Celestial, 'tho it be thy fondest wish!" (Hefts the sword over his head and starts walking toward the Celestial) "For Odin! For HONOR!! FOR AAAAAAS-GAAAARD!!!!!!!" Thor then throws the Odinsword through the Celestial's gut. Bad. Ass.

Anonymous said...

Actually Thanos' closet DC Analogue is Mongul.

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