A Comic Book Entry – Let’s Look at Thor: God of Thunder #21

Ah, Marvel subscriptions. The gift that keeps on giving even when you’ve cancelled the subscription. I’m not really trying to take Linkara‘s job, but these things are almost literally falling into my lap… Anyway, I already discussed the FF; this is the other comic that randomly showed up in my friend’s mailbox. The FF disappointed me due the major flaw in the cliffhanger/story hook. This comic is in an entirely different category. The FF comic actually wasn’t all that bad except for the flaw I mentioned. But this Thor comic? Oh, my, this is something else. This is a mess of fridge and chomper logic and lazy writing and contrivances. Where to begin?

1) In the future, Thor is the new Odin, the Earth is fundamentally a dead world, and Galactus has come to consume the burnt-out planet.

This is apparently the framing device or longer arc in which the rest of the story takes place. First, I would like to note that I am indeed confused. However, as a long-time (I won’t say how long) comic book fan, this is not off-putting to me. This is expected. I’m reading a random comic and I don’t expect this to explain everything. In theory, this should get me hooked to read the rest of the story. Of course, the reason I am confused is that this scenario doesn’t really jive with the established continuity. Thor, even with the Odin-power, should not be powerful enough for Galactus to take notice (hell, after being attacked by all the Asgardians a few years back, Galactus’s response was, “Huh. That kind of stings;” also he turned Hercules into an amoeba once). Also, a dead planet shouldn’t be particularly appealing to Galactus even if he is bitter about not consuming the Earth earlier. Also, recent FF’s indicate Galactus is going to help Franklin Richards start the next universe. Also also, I’m not sure why Thor, who is Asgardian, is the only living thing left on Earth. However, this is just the framing device. I expect gaps and certain logic problems because I don’t have the whole story. As for the rest of this…

2) Thor is an eco-terrorist because his new human girlfriend is a hardcore environmentalist.

Okay, I’ll buy that, but not for much. The Asgardians haven’t really been big on that sort of thing because of their magic and advanced technology, but Thor does have a history of doing stupid things, and as cliched as it is, doing stupid things for love.

3) He expresses his eco-terrorism not by protests or small-scale vandalism or breaking and entering, but by blowing up chemical and petrochemical factories, specifically Roxxon’s since they are the biggest manufacturer in the Marvel universe.

This goes back to “Thor does stupid things.” However, unless the writers are completely ignorant as to how petrochemical factories operate, this means Thor is killing a bunch of people. In fact, Thor could in theory kill thousands of people if he blows up a chemical plant in a populated area and a chemical cloud blows across a residential area. I’m not being alarmist here; I have a friend who grew up in Houston, Texas, and his school had fire drills, tornado drills, and chemical plant drills. He was taught, in school, what the sirens from the nearby chemical plant meant and what to do. One of them was a hydrofluoric acid alarm. A bit of Google-fu on “what hydrofluoric acid does to humans” will haunt your nightmares…

So, while Thor isn’t always the most careful of superheroes, he also isn’t a stone-cold killer. So here we have a case of lazy writing because a) the creative team couldn’t bother to look up anything about petrochemical manufacturing to understand the consequences (isn’t this what an editor is for?) or b) the creative team doesn’t know anything about Thor’s character. Thor’s compassionate enough and down-to-Earth enough to date a mortal, and yet is perfectly okay with killing a bunch of them? As bad as Roxxon is, most of the people who work for Roxxon are not supervillains; they’re mostly average people doing a job.

4) Thor blows up factories, probably kills bunches of people, and the Avengers and SHIELD are doing practically nothing. Oh, and Thor’s girlfriend? She’s a SHIELD agent!

No matter what Thor’s reasons, he’s essentially gone all vigilante and is destroying billions of dollars of property and killing hundreds of people with the potential of killing thousands or tens of thousands. Even if the creative team really doesn’t understand that people would be dying, that doesn’t mean Thor’s rampage is any less criminal. Move along, move along, no consistency to see here…

Okay, I exaggerate a bit. And his girlfriend, who apparently is encouraging him to take out Roxxon, is the one who is there to arrest him as Roxxon mercenaries fail to kill him (where is the sanctioned SHIELD team again?). Um, yeah, no. First of all, if she’s encouraging this behavior (smashing factories), she’s conspiring with him which makes her a guilty party. Second, if he took her remarks out of context and is striking out on his own to impress her (i.e., “Thor does stupid things”), then she needs to recuse herself of working with him at all. Neither military nor law enforcement are allowed to work on cases they are personally invested in (although most media, when this is acknowledged, handwaves it away for the sake of drama; this isn’t even handwaved).

5) Roxxon’s factories fly through the power of diesel engines.

Okay, technically this isn’t said explicitly.  However, these factories churn out clouds of noxious gases so I assume that the power source is some kind of internal combustion engine.  Because why the hell would a cleaner energy source have that much particulate waste?  So, for lack of any other information, I’m assuming these are diesel engines.

Wow. I do not have enough suspension of disbelief to begin to go along with this. I allow myself to believe the SHIELD helicarrier can fly because it’s got advanced repulsor engines or some other technobabble to power it. But diesel engines? DIESEL ENGINES? Airplanes don’t use diesel engines! And I’m supposed to believe an entire factory is somehow being propelled through the air by diesel engines???


Gentle readers, I assume you have passed by a factory sometime in your life. You understand that even a small factory is probably the size of a city block. And yet Marvel asks us to believe a city block (at least!) can be made to fly through the air using diesel engines. Larger factories can measure in the square miles. My Houstonian friend, the one mentioned above, grew up next to a chemical factory so large that it had its own power plant (not generator; power plant). But diesel engines are enough to power the whole factory and propel it through the air. Chomper logic at its finest.

Even if I try to stretch my disbelief to assume that these factories do have all-out power plants, that only makes this less believable.  Flight is all about a power-to-weight ratio.  There is no conventional engine technology or conventional power source that can possibly overcome the enormous weight of these things (I should add these factories also appear to float the very rock they were built on too).  ARGH!

6) The evil CEO of Roxxon (who is a minotaur) conspires to punish Thor by moving all of Roxxon’s flying factories to Broxton, Kansas (where Asgard is currently located) and polluting the air. And he does so.

I should point out the least disconcerting part of the above statement is that the CEO of Roxxon is an actual minotaur who has a human disguise. This, I think, tells the uninitiated everything they need to know about comic books.

So the creative team has never heard of the Environmental Protection Agency? Weird, since I’m pretty sure that’s been around since the ’70s. The air in Broxton turns dirtier than Bejing (topical!) and there are absolutely no consequences. Yes, yes, I under that political influence interferes in the administration of the law (although I doubt a diesel-powered flying factory [which is not possible] would be permitted to be built in the first place for so many reasons not the least of which is pollution); however, some things clearly do not stand. A bit of Google-fu on recent environmental disasters would show pollution of the magnitude these factories represent would not be tolerated in the US. Also, it seems this whole thing is somehow tied in with the burnt-out Earth of the future. If this plot is some kind of heavy-handed environmental message (pollution is bad), then it’s even weirder there’s no mention of the various governmental agencies and citizen groups (Google-fu the Keystone Pipeline [double topical!]) who would be trying to stop this kind of rampant pollution and, I can’t emphasize this enough, law-breaking (why yes, it is indeed illegal to pollute).

Also, the creative team clearly doesn’t hold stock in any major corporation. I should point out in the story that another suit asks the CEO why he would move trillions of dollars of assets (i.e., the flying factories) to Broxton knowing there is a very good chance Thor will just blow them up, restraining order against Thor notwithstanding. The CEO replies that he doesn’t care. CEOs lose their jobs when they make decisions that cost the company a great loss of assets. I’m pretty sure losing one or more of these ridiculous flying factories would be cause to call a shareholders meeting to vote this guy out. Hell, moving everything to Broxton in the first place should be reason enough to vote him out. It turns out that there’s more to running an industry than having a physical building to produce goods. Other matters to consider include supplies, shipping, labor force, etc. There’s no infrastructure in Broxton to support the industry which means the costs to manufacture and ship goods (both in and out) is going to be astronomical. Believe me, this CEO is not making his quarterly profit goal.

Again, fridge logic (and to people with more financial/environmental experience than I, possibly even chomper logic).

7) Thor tries to settle with Roxxon, showing that Asgard has more treasure than Scrooge McDuck’s moneybin. Roxxon refuses to settle, of course, and then they sue Thor, and Thor doesn’t pursue any other legal options.

Truly, money is an underrated superpower. Thor could hand the lawyers gold bars and aside from the settlement offer, doesn’t think to hire his own lawyers? And it’s not as though he doesn’t know some very good lawyers like Matt Murdock or Jennifer Walters. Hell, Murdock would love to work a case that actually results in a paycheck, even if corporate law isn’t exactly his area of expertise.  And Jen actually is an expert in corporate law.   Based on my limited knowledge of the law, I can think of several ways a good lawyer could deflect, delay, and possibly get the suit dismissed. And the best part is that as long as the suit continued, it would be a drain on Roxxon’s finances, which again looks really bad for the CEO. But alas no, learning how corporations work on a basic level might involve all of twenty minutes of research on the part of the writer or editor. Instead, just ignore that. The result is just more fridge logic and contrivance.

At least it was free. This wouldn’t be worth my money and it wasn’t really worth my time except as something to riff on because it was so bad. While money can be made in making fun of bad media, I’m pretty sure that is not actually Marvel’s business plan. I’m glad I didn’t spend $4 on this mess, and I think that’s the most damning statement I can make about it.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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