Saturday, July 28, 2012

X-Club: "Science Hooooo!"

The X-Club is a group of scientists within the X-Men. While quickly becoming valued members of the team - the X-Club became a minor cult-hit. With Doctor Nemesis leading the charge, with his quick wit and boundless arrogance, the group became popular enough to warrant one-shot issues and a 5-issue mini-series. Before getting into that, here's what lead to the group's formation:

Driven mad by the growing scope of her reality-altering powers, the Avenger known as the Scarlet Witch changed the whole world, a world in which mutants where dominant species, and Magneto, the Scarlet Witch's father, ruled over the changed world; this became known as the "House of M". When the false reality she had constructed began to be challenged, it fell apart -- and in a fit of spite against her father Magneto, who for all his life has dedicated himself to raising up the mutant race, the Scarlet Witch said "No More Mutants"

When reality was restored to the way it was, the effect of the Scarlet Witch's words became clear. Although imprecise in effecting all mutants, for nearly 98% of the mutant race, the X-Gene was erased - leaving roughly 198 mutants left on the planet. (The X-Men, naturally, made up the bulk of those numbers. Marvel still needed a series.) Banding together what was left of the the species Homo Superior, X-Men leader Cyclops lead the remainder of the mutant race - eventually leading to the formation of the island nation of Utopia, where mutants could remain safe.

Dr. Hank McCoy, aka the Beast, did all he could to try and develop a cure for restoring the mutant race. He allied himself with anyone he could find, and eventually brought together and formed the X-Club, to try and save the nearly extinct race.

I dropped off of reading X-Men for quite a while. While Utopia was a very interesting idea - it regrettably segregated the X-Men books. Cyclops, also, was becoming increasingly militant - no longer seeking for man and mutant to co-exist, but to defend what remained of the mutant race at any cost. Wolverine and half the X-Men eventually broke ties with Cyclops and Utopia, re-establishing a school to teach young mutants; Wolverine wanting the kids to be able to be kids, and not soldiers in Cyclops' cause.

I recently picked up a book, called "Age of X". I had heard very good things about the series - and with it being a self-contained tale, it seemed like an easy enough story to enjoy - even though I had been away from the title for so long. Written by Joe Casey - an X-Men's story of an alternate world didn't seem like new territory - yet Casey brought a wealth of creativity and nuance to the story, of a world where the X-Men never existed, and the mutant race was of the verge of extinction. It was a warped mirror of the X-Men's current situation.

Age of X really recaptured my interest in the series, and suddenly reading the after-math of "Age of X", in the pages of X-Men Legacy (a title on Cyclops' side, after the split) - suddenly Cyclops' militant X-Men didn't seem quite as messed up as I previously believed.

Beast, though, who has always served as the scientific advisor to the group, had left the team. He steadfastly disagreed with the direction Cyclops was taking, and left even before the Cyclops/Wolverine split.

Doctor Nemesis

What does all of this have to do with the X-Club? Well, with Beast gone - suddenly the group he had brought together where taking his place in stories, as science advisors to Cyclops.

At first I didn't know who this man in white, with a surgical mask, even was; he was interesting, though - and quickly became a pleasure to see appearing in the series. The character's name is Doctor Nemesis - an unused comic character. He operated as a vigilante during WWII, and later hunted down Nazis.

He is one of the first "modern day" mutants, has extended longevity, as well as a "self-evolved intellect". In battle he wields hypodermic guns, with bullets full of cancer, and other horrible diseases.

He loves all things science-related, and while his rallying cry for the team, "Science Hoooo!", describes the kind of wacky enthusiasm he maintains, I doubt factual science was ever used in the comics, beyond being used as spring-board to justify the plausibility of whatever insane ideas the writers come up with.

Besides Doctor Nemesis, there are three other member of X-Club.

Dr. Kavita Rao

Introduced during Joss Whedon's tenure writing Astonishing X-Men, Rao's presence of the team initially seemed like a form of penance -- as she originally was working to create a cure for mutancy. The X-Men revealed the dark secrets behind this so-called "Cure". So her working to restore the mutant X-Gene seems quite ironic. Since she's a normal human, it's her scientific acumen that makes her an asset to the X-Club.

Madison Jeffries

I was first introduced to this character in his Age of X-persona, where he wielded the cool ability to talk to and command machines to do his bidding. I later found that his powers, also, include being able to psionically rearrange metals, plastics, or glass, into weapons or any kind of technology he wants.

He originally was a member of Alpha Flight, being able to merge his consciousness with a robot body, called "Box". His real skills, though, are in creating and developing technology.


Another character taken from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men -- from his second story arc, Whedon introduced a new villain called Danger. She, in effect, was the X-Men's Danger room. Made with Shi'ar holographic technology, the X-Men's danger room was able to create any environment or scenario to train Xavier's students. She's basically a holodeck, like from Star Trek the Next Generation. She became self-aware (which holodecks often do). This new spark of consciousness, in effect a new species, was seemingly ignored by Xavier when he first recognized it's presence. So for years the Danger Room continued to be used by the X-Men -- until it was finally able to manifest itself into a robotic body, and seek revenge on those who enslaved her. She is able to morph into any form, create any environment - even outside the confines of her old existence as a holodeck. Most worrisome for the X-Men was that, having trained them, she knew all of the X-Men's weaknesses. Her eventual confrontation with Xavier didn't end well, and Cyclops and the X-Men had a falling out, after discovering how Xavier had ignored the existence of a new species, in favor of being able to train his X-Men.

In the pages of X-Men: Legacy, Joe Casey was busy sending Xavier on a world-wind trip around his own history, confronting and dealing with all his past sins and mistakes; Danger being one of his biggest. Really, it was actually a kind of writer damage-control - to try and humanize Xavier, and mitigate and explain his actions. Seeking out Rogue, who Danger knew would eventually be on Xavier's trip down memory lane - an accident occurred; Danger was damaged, and went into a chaotic state, transforming the Australian landscape they where on, into every key point in Rogue's life. When Xavier, joined by Gambit, arrived - they found various holographic scenarios playing all at once - an entire recreation of San Francisco, the Xavier institute, and many other places. Fighting their way to the center of the crisis, Xavier was able to locate Danger.

Danger, being severely damaged, was dying -- and Xavier found, in the center of the holographic maze, a recreation of how Danger views herself. Inside the confines of the old Danger Room, she views herself as immensely powerful (hence her size), but chained and unable to be free. Xavier is able to initiate a number of subroutines, that begin a repair process of Danger's programming. Along the way Xavier is able to explain how, when he first sensed the existence of the Danger Room gaining consciousness, he didn't entirely ignore it. He tried figuring out what had happened, consulting with Shi'ar engineers. They thought the idea of a sentient holodeck was laughable (really?! It happened all the the time on the Enterprise!). Xavier thought of trying to remove and free the newfound consciousness, but fiddling and dismantling alien technology is risky, especially when his attempts could erase whatever new life this was. How would he know what programs to remove, and not compromise the new life form? So Xavier, for years, worked on the problem - and only very soon before her own self-liberation, Xavier had installed programming to free and unbound the Danger room. Xavier, to his shame, had hesitated to begin the process. So now, to save Danger's life, Xavier is able to initiate the unused programming to repair and restore Danger's consciousness.

Being a machine, Danger seemed quite amiable to joining the X-Men after this. On Utopia, Danger found a new calling in her quest to understand humanity better - she is asked if she would be able to use her simulation-abilities to both cage, but also rehabilitate, the criminals Cyclops imprisons.

Danger was probably the most interesting of these X-Club characters to back-track and read more about.

While I've never read the X-Club mini-series, a TPB is available (here) - the group still appears in Uncanny X-Men. Danger, especially, is a main character on Cyclops' team, in addition to serving as Warden of the X-Men's private prison. Uncanny X-Men writer Kieron Gillen (former writer for Law & Order: SVU), has made good use of the character. The title is due to under-go a large change, as part of Marvel's revamp of their comic line -- so I don't know wether the X-Club will survive. (A cure to revive the mutant race is one of the expected possibilities for the end of Avengers vs X-Men, leading into the revamp. So the X-Club's main mission might be solved.)

All in all, I though the X-Club was simply an interesting group -- and since some of my friends are actual scientists, or studying in those fields, I thought this would be an interesting series to high-light.  I doubt labs or collages would ever broach subjects like ridable electric mutant hammer-sharks...

...or malfunctioning holodecks...

...or luring psychic predators with kitty cats...

...or head-attaching starfish, telepathically broadcasting your inner monologue to the world...

...or escaping from over-lapping dimensions, and Quantum Theory, by positing the theory that all contradictory outcomes are all True, until a single outcome is measured by an observer. Deliberately observing the desired outcome makes it reality-- its Schrodinger's cat, but where the "the cat opens up it's own damn box"

While all of that is clearly science fiction at its most wacky, the enthusiasm and cleaver concepts brought by Doctor Nemesis and company seemed interesting enough that I wanted to share what I had found out about the group.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thor Retrospective Part 12: Tanarus

When I began this retrospective, of the Thor stories I've read over the years, I didn't imagine it would balloon to 12-full posts. There where simply a lot of aspects to many stories that I wanted to examine and share my thoughts on. I hope some of you have enjoyed it , as I finish this retrospective - pretty much catching up to Thor comics of today.

As I pointed out before, I at first didn't appreciate that Fraction was killing off Thor during Fear Itself -- but that decision made more sense once I realized the death was being derived and inspired by the original Norse Mythology. "Nine paces fares the son of Odin." Fjorgyn (Thor's Mom) was replaced with Odin's name, in the Marvel Universe version of the poem. Now, Marvel immediately had plans to resurrect Thor after Fear Itself - which really flies in contradiction to EVERYTHING J Michael Straczynski has established when he revived the Thor franchise. The gods where no longer suppose to be caught in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Loki, of course, was the first to break that rule - but was justified with the revelation that Loki specifically got his name stricken from the Book of Death, allowing him to be reincarnated as Young Loki. Ultimately I'm ok with these character returning from the dead, on occasion - and even the status quo JMS put in place wouldn't last forever. However, it was a particularly irksome to see a reversal of another writer's work so soon.

Issue #7, of Mighty Thor, served as an origin tale for the Serpent, and how Odin usurped his brother's throne as Lord of Asgard. The introduction of Cul, as the Serpent and forgotten brother to Odin, was not bothersome to me in the least. It was a retcon of the previously established continuity - but it wasn't anything hard to interject into what had already been established.

That is, however, until the first line, spoken by a young Cul, was said "Bor is dead." Cul and Odin stood over their father's deceased body, which immediately contradicts and retcons JMS' storyline, which clearly showed Bor dying, being turned to snow, by a time traveling Loki. Again, different writers, with different goals, come in all the time - either building on, or supplanting previously established continuity. Yet Straczynski's run was only a few years before this!! I was actually quite upset, as for fans - this type of flagrant continuity-retconing, and so soon, makes it feel like there is a lack of respect for stories we enjoyed beforehand.

Nonetheless, let's continue; Bor is dead, and now the mantle of All-Father falls to Cul - as he is the oldest of Bor's sons. It is soon that the young Odin recognizes the danger of Cul being ruler - as he derives power from fear and chaos. Going to Yggdrasil, the World Tree, Odin gives voice to his protests, seeking answers - both knowledge and wisdom - to be able to stop his elder brother. To achieve this, Odin gives a sacrifice - cutting out his right eye - which the tree accepts, and reaches out with its branches and drags Odin into the tree. When Odin emerges from the tree, he came out with the knowledge he needed; specifically a prophecy, telling about the death of Thor - a son Odin didn't even have, but one day would.

Several years later, when both the sons of Bor are older, Odin wages a war against Cul on the surface of Aesheim - which is Earth, before the dawn of history - and where the gods live. Knowing his elder brother derives power from the fear of others, there is one way to defeat him - horrible, monstrous, and cruel though it may be: kill everyone on the planet. With his other siblings, Vili and Vi, by his side - Odin begins the charge on what remains of Cul's forces.

Inside his fortress, Cul speaks to his warriors - the Worthy. I don't know if this is a mistake by Pascal Ferry, or if Fraction wrote it this way - but each of the Worthy are depicted as negative-copies of the heroes and villains that where possessed during Fear Itself. This was either a mistake, or an attempt to show them as shades to what they will become; it's yet another confounding wrench thrown into the works.

Odin's plan of  murdering nearly everyone on the planet - which weakens Cul - makes the evil All-Father prepare for the future. Realizing he may be defeated, Cul sends his Worthy away - to call on the powers of their hammers at a later time; as the game he and Odin play goes on for a very, very long time.

Odin finally arrives, facing the All-Father Cul. Now calling himself the Serpent, Cul warns Odin that his infection envelops the entire planet, that his power runs deep in the souls of his people; does Odin really think he can kill them all? Answering in the affirmative, Odin attacks. Because they are bound by blood, Odin cannot kill Cul - so instead Odin casts the serpent deep into the ocean, buried down below - sealed away forever.

Odin remains true to his word - Cul's infection of fear is obliterated, as every person on the planet are killed. After this sorry necessity, as Odin saw it, the ground was razed and salted. The planet was renamed Midgard - as the Gods would never live there again. Odin knows he has done a horrible thing, and determines to rule wisely and justly in this elder brother's place. Odin became the All-Father -- Asgard was rose under his rule -- and Odin eventually had a son, Thor.

For those who don't know, back in the day Marvel had a thing going on called a "No Prize" - for fans who wrote in, and offered explanations for continuity errors. Marvel literally sent people letters, dubbed No Prizes. (And yes, people wrote back, asking where was their prize?) Anyway, to earn myself a No Prize, here's my explanation for the vastly different continuities between JMS' Thor and Fraction's Thor. It pretty much revolves around Bor, and when he died. Clearly, in Fraction's story, Bor died right away - precluding the time traveling Loki from turning Bor to snow, and then reviving him in the present day - and arranged things to the point where Thor would be forced to kill Bor. Yet, J. Micahael Straczynski's version precludes the events of Fear Itself, as Odin directly became the next All-Father after Bor was turned to snow. How do we reconcile these two continuities? It suddenly dawned on me - an elegant and simple solution: Odin erased all knowledge of Cul ever existing, when he sealed him away. I contend that by doing this Odin created two continuities; the real one, where he usurped Cul's rule, and replaced with the events from JMS. Cul suddenly doesn't exist, and events proceeded differently. When Cul was broken free of his prison, the continuity forged by Odin remains - but the secret real history between Odin and Cul remains underneath. So - what do you think of that explanation? Essentially, in erasing all knowledge of Cul, Odin created two time-lines; simple, right? Do you think I earned a "No Prize"?

In a special issue, Fear Itself 7.2, we are given an epilogue to Thor's death. A funeral is prepared, taking place in the rubble of ruined Asgard, with the Asgardians and the Avengers all attending. Odin, before he takes his planned self-imposed exile, prepares his son's body. Visitors arrive to greet Odin - a trio of women in armor; they have been away for a long while. These three, collectively, are the All-Mother. This is a new twist and alteration by Fraction - but one that doesn't necessarily fly in the face of what has come before. The three include the Compassionate Gaea, "The Mother". She is the one who gave birth to Thor. Imperial Freyja, the Queen, is Odin's wife. (YESYESYES - Odin is a dirty old man! Mythological gods of all cultures are notorious for having sex with different partners.) Youthful Idunn, the Maiden, rounds out the trio - as she is in charge of the golden apples which give the gods their eternal youth.

Odin is deeply grieved, and is comforted by the All-Mother - who Odin tells of his plans to make amends. He will abdicate the throne, and the All-Mother will rule in his stead. Odin departs with Cul's body, to the Asgardian War World, to watch over and be his brother's keeper.

Everyone is grieved by the loss. Loki, particularly, is grieved. I found out, in the Journey into Mystery TPB "Fear Itself Fallout" - Loki played his part in defeating the serpent as well - be managing to give Cul a weakness, written into Cul's own history (gods don't have histories, they have stories), enabling Thor to do as he must, and kill the Serpent. Loki, in effect, helped kill Thor -- or more accurately, allowed him to die like he was suppose to. He tells Sif he is sorry, and Sif replies that there is no reason to say he is sorry. (The characterization, between young Loki in Mighty Thor, and Loki in Journey into Mystery, is quite striking - as here he is portrayed as child-like and innocent, while in the other title he is thoughtful and mischievous. Not completely incompatible, but its still annoying, that the writers of both books can't coordinate a little better.

The funeral pyre for Thor is lit, casting his body ablaze. Something strange begins to happen, though - and in a flash everything changes! Out of the pyre the Mighty Tanarus emerges, rejoicing in their victory over the Serpent! The All-Mother, knowing their son so well, hide their shame, remarking that their son is an ass. A jubilant party is had, with everyone rejoicing!

All except young Loki. What exactly is going on?! It is never explained in the story, but Tanarus is based on another god of Thunder, the Celtic god Tanarus. I doubt there is any similarity beyond that, and there doesn't have to be. For - do we not all know who Tanarus is? It's always been Tanarus! Founding the Avengers, serving as Midgard's protector; it has always been Tanarus.

The next arc shows a grand reconstruction of the ruined Asgard. Tony Stark is lending his knowledge and technology, to stand side-by-side with the ancient castle grounds, which are sorely in need of repair. The allegiance of the various races, still living in the ruins of Asgard, is also in need of repair. The All-Mothers tenure on the throne is something everyone will need to get use to - with all the races having a voice in this new community. A congress of the worlds will be established, with representatives from each of the realms to act on behalf of their race. Not everyone is happy with these changes, as Heimdall senses there is a plot to assassinate the All-Mother.

Loki, meanwhile, is trying to convince people that something is very wrong. He goes before Tanarus and Sif, telling Tanarus the he is not his brother! Tanarus agrees; though they are of the same blood, Tanarus asserts that they where raised together. Tanarus has always been Loki's brother. Who else would he be? Loki doesn't know - but he knows well enough that its not Tanarus.

Loki goes to Kelda, who is preparing a spell in the desert, in her continuing attempt to reunite with her love Bill William. Loki accidently crosses into the spell's circle, and is jolted and cast back. It, however, jogged something in Loki's memory!

Loki next goes to Dr. Don Blake - who shares a doctor's office with Jane Foster. Blake doesn't know what Loki is talking about either - but Loki knows there is some connection with Blake and his brother. On impulse Loki grabs Blake's walking stick - feeling that there is something to this item.

Tanarus, meanwhile, is enjoying himself - serving as an Avenger, slaying monsters - being a hero! Suddenly the veil all falls away, when a spell transports Tanarus to a secret location. He is brought before the ruler of the Trolls, King Geirrodur. Alongside Geirrodur is the Norn Queen. Geirrodur wishes to reinforce Tanarus' mission - as he has been enjoying his powers and status of god-hood a little too much. Dissolving the glamor surrounding him, the illusion of Tanarus fades away, revealing Ulik.

When they first announced that Tanarus would take Thor's place in the series, on top of killing Thor, I though it was another crass and manipulative move by Marvel, similar the Hunan Torch and Ultimate Spider-Man's death. Once I found out that Tanarus was really Ulik - suddenly this story arc became quite engaging! The knowledge that Tanarus, indeed, wasn't going to be replacing Thor for long was comforting - but it also seems like a very mythic story to tell, as when he looses the glamor, Ulik is ashamed and saddened - wanting his beauty and powers restored. I don't think Ulik ever before had a problem with his own looks (he is a Troll, after all) - but enjoying and reveling in a station far above what Trolls are ever allowed makes a lot of sense.

Ulik's spell is restored - but he is told that their plans to assassinate the All-Mother need to move forward.  Tanarus is returned to Asgard - but soon finds himself under suspicion from Heimdall. The All-Seeing Heimdall has finally realized that he cannot see Tanarus - that there is some concealment going on here. Tanarus assaults Heimdall, and manages to elude any further questions.

While the Norm Queen was speaking to Geirrodur - something was revealed, far out in the desert, where Kelda is returning to the weird sister's cave, and sees the fat old woman conversing through a spell, and discussing their plans.

Before this, though, Loki seeks the help of the Silver Surfer in finding out what secrets the cane he stole hold. The Surfer senses there is something to this cane, and proceeds to tap it on the ground. It a massive flash of light and smoke, where once a walking stick lay, a hammer stands in its place. The Silver Surfer reads the inscription, and still don't know who this "Thor" is suppose to be. The Surfer tries to lift the hammer, but cannot.

Loki tries to tell the Surfer about his brother, but Norrin Radd still does not recall this person. Hopping onto the Surfer's board, Loki suggests that maybe the weird sisters could help them further.

Kelda, who has now stumbled upon the Norn Queen's scheme, is horrified to see that she was lied to. Kelda is horrified the that this woman betrayed her! The Norn Queen apparently needed three sorceresses to make the spell for Tanarus work. The fat old crone strikes out violently - killing Kelda. The other old woman, who apparently was an innocent, walks in on this, and is likewise attacked. Loki and the Silver Surfer, though, arrive in time to save her. Bursting out of the fleshy form she concealed herself in, the Norn Queen emerges from the body of the fat old woman. She uses her magics to teleport her away - as the plan she had helped with will soon begin.

Tony Stark meets with the All-Mother, and is proud to reveal the full scope of what he has done to help reconstruct Asgard. Now home to so many other races - a new name is chosen. Asgardia! The land again floats above the ground, and has technology and magics built into the entire place - all with the luminescent Yggdrasil in the center.

Congratulations for a job well done is interrupted - as Heimdall has caught back up with Tanarus, fighting him and being able to break the spell which concealed Ulik. Their fighting is only a prelude to the vast army of Trolls descending on Asgardia.

A lot of stuff is happening all at once, huh? Thats why I chose not to bring this up until now; what has Thor been up to, while being dead? Thor found himself trapped on a vessel with other deities who have died. The legendary devourer of gods, Demogorge, awaits them - as the boat they are on,out in space, is headed right into the monster's maw. Thor had to struggle to remember who he was, as no one on board could clearly recall their old lives. Thor, though, wasn't about to go quietly into the night. Freeing himself and the other deities with him - Thor leads a charge into the bowls of Demogorge, determined to act like the gods they are - and fight valiantly to live! Reaching the heart of the monster, Thor strikes its heart and utterly destroys the creature!

The battle of Asgardia has begun! The Warriors Three, Sif, the Silver Surfer and everyone else wade into the battle against the army of trolls. The Norn Queen joins the fray as well. Heimdall continues his struggle against Ulik. For characters who, for years, have always been yelling "For Asgard!", as a rallying cry - the change to "For Asgardia!" is pretty immediate.

Arriving from the heavens, Thor returns to the land of the living - being the maker of his own return to life. Yes, it's sort of a lame and quick way to return him to life; supposedly Fraction was exploring the nature of the cycle of death and rebirth for heros. Whatever - Thor's back - everyone is happy! More importantly, everyone now remembers Thor - and the fraud Tanarus really was. With Thor's help, and the All-Mother jumping into the fray as well,  the tide of the battle is turned. Ulik makes one last effort to attack the All-Mother, but struck down by Thor, who smashes his hammer into Ulik's head like nothing else! The battle is won and the Troll invasion is thwarted. Geirrodur and the Norn Queen are captured, and Ulik is dead - his skull is all that remains - which is used as a befitting place to imprison Geirrodur and the Norn Queen.

The story ends with Loki telling a group of children the exciting tale of the events that day. After hearing everything, a young girl remarks how unfair it was for Kelda - to have died like that, even though all she wanted was to find her lost love. Loki responds, asking if she knows of Valhalla? You see, everything turned out for the best - as Kelda found herself receiving the eternal reward, right alongside with Bill - also honored among the ranks of Valhalla. (I have to question, though, why she got into Valhalla? She didn't exactly die in glorious battle - she was murdered. I suppose, though, her struggle to reunite with Bill was a battle, or sorts. Or something like that.)

This story was good, despite its flaws. Pascal Ferry dropped off of doing art mid-way, which was disappointing. The new artist seemed to do an adequate job of filling their place, though. I was disappointed to see Ulik killed like that. I dislike even more how permissive Thor has been to killing his foes, under Fraction's tenure. That's the thing about Matt Fraction's writing - its all good, sometimes excellent - but he misses the marks on certain aspects that weaken the entire structure. Over all his run on the series has been good, and Thor has enjoyed a lot of success in this new series. Things, though, are going to change soon - as Marvel's response to DC's the New 52, dubbed "Marvel NOW", will see the Avengers and all associated titles undergo changes and revamps. (But not reboots! They are quite explicit about that, differing from what DC did.) Right now Fraction seems to be finishing up his run, having a nice fun story involving the origin of Nightmares - with Thor and others trapped in a dream-scape. The Enchantress makes a big return to the series, this time dealing with Don Blake - who apparently isn't pleased about no longer being a god. I don't know why Blake became separated from Thor when he died - or why they where not restored. (Without Blake, that tad-bit more violent Thor is explained, without his human half to influence him.) There is a really, really weird twist to it all - as the Enchantress helps Blake in becoming a god again - by chopping off his head (he''s still talking) and creating a new beast from plant-like goop expelling from Blake's discarded body. Supposedly, whatever this creature is, is suppose to be a god -- just like Blake asked for. (Yeah, if he used a monkey's paw and wished for it.) I believe, though, the Enchantress is using Blake's lapse in judgement to create and return her old love, the Executioner, to life again. (Thats just my theory. The plant-god-body... whatever sort of looks like the Executioner - plus Amora is making out with the goop-god-plant... whatever. The Enchantress has deeply missed the Executioner for many years now since his death. Still - even if my theory is correct, this sub-plot is both strange and disgusting!)

After that, a cross-over between Mighty Thor and Journey into Mystery will happen - with some war against Surtur, which I think will put both series on a course for cancelation, and preparation to return with new #1 issues. I'm not sure wether Loki is going to be restored to adulthood or not. Journey into Mystery has been one of Marvel's best titles - but having Thor's ultimate enemy be his enemy again might be a priority, with a sequel to the movie Thor arriving soon.

I hope I did a good enough job, recounting the Thor stories I've read. He's really been a fantastic character to follow. I only hope, whatever Marvel does with him as part of "Marvel Now" works out ok. Fingers crossed.