Thor: Wolves of the North


By Michael Carey, Alan Davis, Peter Milligan, Michael Perkins, Mico Suayan, Tom Grindberg & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5614-7

Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, The Mighty Thor debuted in Journey into Mystery #83 (August 1962), heralding a procession of spectacular adventures that came to encompass everything from crushing petty crime capers to saving universes from cosmic doom.

As the decades passed he also survived numerous reboots and re-imaginings to keep the wonders of fabled Asgard appealing to an increasingly jaded readership. An already exceedingly broad range of scenarios spawned even greater visual variety after the Thunderer’s introduction to the pantheon of cinematic Marvels and his ongoing triumphs as a bona fide burgeoning movie franchise.

This slim but surprisingly gripping chronicle compiles material from Thor: Wolves of the North (February 2011), Thor: the Truth of History (December 2008) and Thor Annual volume 3, #1(November 2009), concentrating on clashes with Asgard’s worst menaces and Earth’s other gods and monsters.

‘Wolves of the North’ by Michael Carey, Michael Perkins and colourist Dan Brown takes us to embattled Viking village Redhangir, where valiant warriors are under constant assault by hellish forces. When chief Thorvald is mortally wounded by the marauding ogres’ impossibly huge king, the mortal’s last acts are to make his daughter Einar his successor and order the warriors to never surrender…

This doesn’t go down well with the community’s priesthood who believe the best way to end the conflict is to sacrifice the bellicose young woman to Death Goddess Hela

A tense standoff between church and state is suddenly ended when Thor falls out of the sky in a blast of thunder. Severely depleted, he reveals that Asgard itself is under siege, with the Queen of the Dead sneaking the warrior-legions of her demon-king ally Skald into battle via the backdoor through Midgard. The creatures have but dallied at Redhangir for the sheer sport of bloodletting…

Moreover, although the Storm Lord has been despatched to close the invaders’ devious route, his journey has depleted him. To be effective on Earth he needs a mortal anchor. Selflessly, Einar Thorvaldsdottir offers herself, knowing full that what harms one now will injure both…

A refreshed and reinvigorated Thor starts a cataclysmic rout of the demons, but canny Hela knows all and has her mortal priests attempt to secretly sacrifice Einar, knowing her death means the Thunderer’s defeat and Asgard’s demise.

Of course the Cold Queen and her demon ally have no conception of Thor’s furious determination or a merely mortal chief’s unfailing resolve to save her people…

That grimly compelling fable leads directly into riotous, Kirby-inspired swashbuckling romp ‘The Truth of History’ by writer/penciller Alan Davis, inker Mark Farmer and colourist Rob Swager which opens rather quietly with two archaeologists debating the puzzling climate of ancient Egypt and odd, post-construction alterations to the monolithic Sphinx.

The answers to those great unknowns are then explained by plunging back nearly four thousand years to a time when Thor and a trusty band of Asgardians stopped sorceress Queen Nedra from using an unsanctioned portal to Midgard.

Although the Aesir were victorious, bumbling blowhard Volstagg subsequently fell through the activated gateway and was lost, compelling the Prince of Asgard and boon companions Fandral the Dashing and Hogun the Grim to follow…

The mystic journey lands them in Egypt where their pale skins mark them as demonic invaders whereas the immortal Northmen can only see signs of drought whilst slaves toil building pointless stone monuments and enfeebled peasants starve under the pitiless gaze of fat priests and bestial halflings.

In times long past the world’s scattered pantheons geographically divided up humanity, each abiding over and caring for their worshippers in their own way. Now, as the Asgardians see how the gods of Heliopolis minister to their adherents’ needs, they wonder at the wisdom of the pact…

Elsewhere Volstagg is having the time of his life, fed and feted by glamorous women and guzzling gallons of heady sweet wine. Eventually his questing comrades reach the city of Giza and are welcomed by priests under the stern gaze of a colossal stone griffin.

When the Asgardians throw the sumptuous feast they are offered to the starving peasants outside, they earn the enmity of arrogantly pompous pharaoh Neb-Maat and provoke a pitched battle with his unearthly retinue of beastmen.

Whilst that fight grows in intensity, far below their feet in the catacombs their soused and happy kinsman is being offered up as a sacrifice to an ancient horror, and when his screams reach Thor’s ears the Storm Lord rips the palace apart to reach him. He soon finds himself facing the awesome beast which inspired the griffin statue.

The resultant clash reshapes the fate of a nation and echoes down through history…

This stellar spectacle of blistering intoxicating old-fashioned entertainment is marvellously tinged with wry knowing humour to counterbalance the bombastic bravado and furious action and serves as a perfect palate-cleanser for the darker fare which follows: a chilling and poignant tale of modern vintage.

From Thor Annual volume 3, #1 comes ‘The Hand of Grog’ by Peter Milligan, Mico Suayan, Tom Grindberg, Stefano Gaudiano, Edgar Delgado & J. Roberts, set in the aftermath of the apocalyptic Siege of Asgard.

The story opens in Celestial Heliopolis where Egyptian Death God Seth is summoned by a prognosticator to hear some glad tidings. Despised Thor has suffered an emotional collapse after being tricked into slaying his own grandfather Bor.

The once formidable Thunderer is a broken being ready to accept his ending, but although eager to make it so, Seth is a cautious deity and instead dispatches his servant Grog the God-Slayer and a pack of bestial pawns to hunt down the ailing warrior…

On Earth Thor has vanished. The spirit-sickened hero has taken refuge inside Dr. Don Blake, a pale ghost hiding from his responsibilities. That all changes as soon as the horror squad arrives and begins attacking innocent mortals in an attempt to draw out their prey…

Despite believing himself deprived of his godly might, a stout defence of the weak and helpless resoundingly reinvigorates Thor, but once the danger has passed, he soon reverts to his despondent state…

However when Grog returns to finish off the human survivors in hospital, Blake seizes a slim chance to break his alter ego’s psychological chains. And if it doesn’t work, there won’t be anyone left alive to complain about his radical kill-or-cure remedy…

Frantic, furious and ferociously enthralling, Wolves of the North is a pure blast of mythic Fights ‘n’ Tights fun and frolics no action-loving fantasy fan could possibly resist.

© 2008, 2009, 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.