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Thor #198: Review

Apr 1972
Gerry Conway, John Buscema

Story Name:

--And Odin Dies!

Review & Comments

5 stars

Thor #198 Review by (June 16, 2015)
As I’ve felt for the past several issues, I love the balance here. There is plenty of action, but not all of it is “mindless” action. Instead, we continue to get great character moments for Thor’s supporting players. There’s a string of great panels focusing on Volstagg early in the issue, in which he cannot afford to hide his fear by boasting and must instead complete his mission. There is genuine concern for Odin from his elderly companions, but also a reverence for his strength and selfless sacrifice for the good of his son and kingdom. There is a beautifully drawn funeral procession, with a heartfelt discussion of loss between Hogun and Thor. In addition to all of that, there is some good long-form story telling here. The importance of Hela and her absence had been foreshadowed exceptionally well in the past several issues, but was not done so in an obvious way upon first reading. Also, the side-quest with Sif continues its slow burn, but it is building to become the main story soon. Overall, very well done. The complexity and competency of the storytelling in these issues has made me realize how thin many modern comics have become, which just makes me treasure these issues even more.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thor #198 Synopsis by Seahammer
 Picking up directly from the previous issue, Mangog holds the motionless Odin in his grasp, threatening to kill him immediately if Thor attacks.  Hogun, however, provides a distraction by attack Mangog from behind, allowing Thor to fly up and rescue Odin from Mangog’s clutches.  While Hogun and Fandral continue to distract Mangog, Thor lands with Odin some distance away.  There, he finds Volstagg—who had been hiding in the rubble—and gives him the grave task of carrying the hard-won waters of the Twilight Well to Odin’s Vizier.  Volstagg carries out his mission.  The Vizier claims that there may still be hope of stopping Mangog, and mixes the waters of the Twilight Well with those of Odin’s own Cosmic Well.

            Meanwhile, Thor has returned to battle with Mangog.  He continues to grow in strength as Thor fights him, revealing that his power is fed by Thor’s hatred of him.  As Mangog continues to rage, the three remaining elder gods that Odin recruited several issues ago—Rongor, Whitemane, and Bulwar—find and revive Odin’s weakened body.  Despite his weakened state and his companions’ warnings to rest, Odin immediately takes up arms to defend Asgard.  Odin reaches Mangog and strikes him just in time, as he prepares to strike his final blow against a fallen Thor!  To hold him off, Odin and his three elder warriors attack Mangog full force.

            At the same moment on far-off Blackworld, Silas Grant, Sif, and Hildegarde continue to explore the mysterious world in Grant’s steamboat.  They are bewildered to see that where they had previously visited a medieval village, they now find an early-20th century city, complete with cars and skyscrapers.   As the people of the city frantically run for cover, Sif sees the Rigellian colonizer Tana Nile.  Tana Nile calls the Asgardians into the protection of her “force bubble,” as she hopelessly battles against the mysterious “Him.”

            Back in Asgard, the Vizier has succeeded in combining the magical waters.  When he does, the very firmament of Asgard trembles, and the land begins to hurtle through space back to its original dimension (Odin had moved it several issues ago).  The waters from the well, having erupted into a geyser, wash over Odin and restore him to his full power.  As Odin goes to destroy Mangog once and for all, the monster has reached the Odinsword.  Mangog raises the Odinsword against the Allfather, but Odin quickly unleashes a powerful spell.  The spell, which returns the Odinsword to its sheath and dooms Mangog, also drains Odin’s power once again.  Seeing Odin collapse, Thor attacks Mangog with his full fury.  Now, instead of growing stronger, Mangog shrinks with Thor’s every blow against him.  Soon, he is no larger than an insect.  Eventually, as Thor holds him in the palm of his hand, Mangog destroys himself by using up the rest of his power and vanishing into nothing. 

            Thor soon realizes, however, that it is a pyrrhic victory: in casting so powerful a spell against Mangog, Odin has died.  The Asgardians hold a somber funeral procession for Odin, during which Thor realizes that something is missing.  Hela, the Goddess of Death, has not come to claim Odin’s soul.  Thor realizes that this must be because Asgard is still journeying through space and time, but is not yet back in its proper dimension.  Thor uses Mjolnir and his godly power to freeze time in a bubble around Odin’s body so that Hela will never be able to claim him.  Ominously, Thor declares that if his strength is not enough to maintain the “time-freeze,” then Odin, and perhaps Thor himself, will be taken by Hela.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

John Buscema
Vince Colletta
John Buscema (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


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