Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Old-School Civil War, Day Seven: Like the Battle of Brandy Station, But With Thor

Back when this whole mess started, Dr Strange ran down the locations of all six pieces of the Evil Eye, including one in a largely uninhabited cornfield and another on a secluded, volcanic island. Others were in urban areas - it'd take finesse to get those, considering half of his team were part-time villains.

Strange, knowing full well his status as a source of entertainment to higher beings - I still think the only way to tolerate the way the guy's written most of the time is to assume he knows I'm looking and is acting accordingly - figures he'll hit up the big empty field and he'll send arguably the single most dangerous living being he has handy into the middle of Los Angeles. I suspect because he also has the power to flip ahead a couple of pages and found out Thor would be there.
And who the Hell wants to fight that guy, really?

So the stage is set - Strange has four of the pieces of the Evil Eye chilling on a no-doubt incredibly powerful end table in his town house; the fifth piece is on the way, in the hands of Namor, who now has the Avengers in tow thanks to an uncharacteristic spurt of diplomacy on his part; Hulk's in downtown LA, getting mystical guidance as to where he should be looking for the damned dirty McGuffin.Hulk's been left more or less to his own devices for six or so issues, after leaping off towards LA way back in part one. This marks one of a very few times in early Defenders stories that Hulk didn't get bored and bugger off to parts unknown a couple pages in, presumably because the team was so freaking powerful that it was impossible to write - seriously, one of the big gun members is absent for the duration of almost every fight. Either Hulk's about to get rounded up on a submarine and he recalls that he's been on one before and "didn't like it" before bounding up out of the panel and into our hearts or the Silver Surfer loses faith in mankind again before flying out stage left and onto LiveJournal where he'd post his innermost thoughts as excruciating poetry or Namor'd flip out and swim away because nobody's the boss of a True Prince of Atlantis, baby.

Hulk wanders over to the spot that he's been mystically guided to and yells some insane stuff about how humans would need tools to dig there but HULK STRONG and DIG GOOD before ripping up a chunk of pavement and finding the final section of the Evil Eye not five inches underground. Unluckily for him, before he can grab it, he's overflown by a prettyboy with a hammer.
You know, narrator, I'd think Odin'd be the most powerful Asgardian god. But that's neither here nor there, as Thor goes from zero to pseudo-Shakespearian in the space of two whole panels and it all hits the fan.I will never understand why Marvel Norse gods talk like dorks at a Renn Faire. They aren't British, they aren't nerds; so how come they say things like "mayhap" and drop "thous" and "thees" like they're about to punch King Arthur? Is it because Stan Lee is insane? Probably? Okay.

Point is, I'd totally want to punch somebody who told me that they would have words with me. And I'm not even a freaking gamma-irradiated brute with limitless strength and a short fuse.

Hulk reacts to Thor in pretty much the only appropriate way - he punches him in the entire body. Thor beans Hulk with his mighty hammer while pointing out that, based on their last battle, he doth be superior. Which is the last thing Hulk wanted to hear.Come on, if faced with such pompous asshat-ery, wouldn't you punch the ground so hard it launched said asshat skyward, were you so able? God knows I would.

Thor responds in kind, eventually knocking Hulk to the ground, where the green monster gets hold of his cape. Hulk tugs so hard that the laws of physics absolutely collapse and the comic shifts locations to a world where Warner Brothers cartoons are taught in science classes, because Thor is set to spinning at such a speed that he drills himself into the ground.

Which makes perfect sense.

Hulk, ever confident, looks directly at me and announces out loud his only two character traits that really matter:1.0: Hulk beats everybody.
1.1: Anyone who says different is crazy.
2.0: Hulk is the strongest there is.

Hulk's revelry is short lived, as Thor launches himself free of his pavement prison, announcing that he is, in fact, stronger than Hulk. Which flies in the face of Hulk's belief that he is the strongest there is, putting him further into a fugue of hilarious green rage. So he picks up a car with which to wail on the god of thunder, but Thor blows the vehicle apart with his hammer. Hulk, furious that Thor copied him ("Hulk thought of throwing something first!"), decides that Thor won't get his hammer back. 'Course, nobody can hold that stupid thing unless He Be Worthy, and we descend into hijinx. Hulk is then deemed worthy by Odin himself, sick of his son prancing about like he dost owneth all of Midgard, and becomes a green-gened god of thunder so awesome Ronnie James Dio just airbrushed him on the side of a panel van.Hulk shalt smash yon puny mortal.

Okay, fine, maybe that didn't actually happen. But it would've been way cooler than what did.

Thor punches Hulk while the latter's down and the two exchange a couple of quick blows before locking into the traditional professional wrestling Test of Strength position. For a really long time.They keep this up until the assembled might of the Avengers and the Defenders show up about ten feet away and tell them that they've been beating the crap out of each other for nothing.

It seems Namor rolled into Strange's pad with the Avengers after his chat with Cap and the two teams worked out what was up. You know how many mistakes I'd blame on Loki had I any association with the Avengers? Something like all of them. The toilet seat's up? Curse thy vile trickery, god of mischief! Bounced a check? I'll get you for this, Loki!

There's a full-page shot of the two teams making smalltalk - Iron Man is totally school-marming a surprisingly contrite-looking Hawkeye; Cap and Vision chat while Silver Surfer looks at Scarlet Witch with a facial expression that seems to say "so she's hitting a robot? That's freaking weird as Hell"; Strange seems to be saying "sorry about that magic spell thing a couple issues ago. It's just... it's my shtick, you know?" to Mantis while she stares at his crotch while thinking "why is he wearing a skirt? And a sash?"; the narrator breathlessly assures us that this is "one of the most stirring sights in modern heroic fiction."

Hawkeye goes off on a tear about how the Avengers were being such dicks to him before this whole war started, so he was totally within his rights to assume that they were villains before being interrupted by the still-injured Swordsman.Seriously, how the Hell do you go any length of time failing to notice the absence of a seven-foot green behemoth in a reasonably sized drawing room? It's really no wonder Loki can trick these jackasses every couple of months.

Strange assembles both teams outside, where he uses the power of sunlight to create a teleportation spell, bringing them all to Los Angeles. You'll note he earlier made Hawkeye and Valkyrie ride a flying horse to Bolivia but he rolls out the teleportation red carpet when the Avengers show up. Dick.

Upon hearing the explanation that the two teams had been tricked into fighting each other over pieces of a magical device from a back issue of Fantastic Four by a blinded Norse god of mischief, Hulk speaks for all of us:"Hulk understands none of this." That sounds about right.

Strange gets the last piece of the Evil Eye off of Hulk, who reluctantly gives it up, repeating his usual vow of "Hulk not listen to stupid magician ever again" and sulking. Once all six pieces are placed on the ground, Asti The All-Seeing flies out of nowhere and eats them.

Yep. Dormammu'd been waiting for some idiot to lay out all six pieces in a straight line so his doofy-looking face-shaped bird-thing familiar could bust into our dimension and eat the damned things. This, obviously, causes all Hell to break loose. Everything starts turning all ridiculous and evil, random people turn into monsters, and Dormammu's big giant fire head appears in the sky over LA.Things, as they say, do not look good.

Next time: Monster people! Monster SHIELD agents! Quickie guest appearances by like half the Marvel universe! The Watcher, for God's sake!

(Oh, no scorecard this time - the fight was not only lame, but a draw. And that's like kissing your damn sister. Which is gross.)


Crowded House said...

That picture of Hulk as Thor? Classic. Just absolutely beautiful. I also love how the hammer is so puny that it could reasonably double as a mallet used for meat tenderizing. "Hulk will smash puny veal until tender and juicy!"

Ian said...

"bounding up out of the panel and into our hearts"


Hulkster said...


Well, better than the standard, "In one of your hours," I guess...