Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thor #199 and me

Godspeed, Flying Monkey Joe.

My good friend Flying Monkey Joe (that's his code name -- d'ya hear that, ya hayseeds?) is going to DragonCon in Atlanta this weekend. He has his own reasons for going into that great weekend dungeon of geekdom, but he also goes with a quest for me: To seek the Odin-son.
Specifically, to find an original Thor comic, issue #199.

That was my comic book when I was a kid.

My parents were not backward, and they provided plenty of books for my sister and me to read, but somehow comic books got classified as candy or toys instead of literature. I almost never got to read comic books unless I was visiting a friend and got into his stash.

I did manage to claim ownership of at least one comic book, though, and that was Thor #199. If I had any other comic books of my own, I don't remember them, because they fade to oblivion in my memory in the light of Thor's might.

I still remember panels and images from the story. Pluto, in his form-fitting armor, wielding a double-bladed battle ax, his edicts called the ravings of "the mind of a god gone mad." Thor, looming above the battlefield, his red cape billowing about his shoulders as he answers Pluto's challenge: "The God of Thunder dares."

I never knew the context of the story, because I had read none of the other issues as the complex plot unfolded, but it didn't matter. He was a hero who sparked my imagination. A god with the voice of rumbling thunder who stood up against Madness.

I commissioned my grandmother to make me a red flannel cape, and I found a little tack hammer in the junk drawer to serve as mighty Mjolnir. One side of my godly weapon was magnetized to hold tacks, so you wouldn't smash your fingers hammering the tiny brads.

More recently, I've been following the newly relaunched Thor comic, buying each new issue at Double Header sports cards in Gardendale. I also bought Thor Vol. 1, the graphic-novel size compilation of the first several issues of the refurbished story, which captures some of
the brooding power of the old Thor that I remember.

The Thor who forged me in the fires of geekdom still lives.

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