January 5, 2010

Thane Of Bagarth #24 [1985]

Thane Of Bagarth was the back-up feature by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo in the late 1960s HERCULES series from Charlton.  Towards the end of their publishing life, Charlton had two issues reprinting the earliest stories, plus some other material.  In this issue, that included "The Hammer Of Thor" from OUT OF THIS WORLD #11 [1959], a 5-page story drawn by Steve Ditko.

The old mythic Norse hero Thor made any number of appearances in comics prior to the most famous one that Jack Kirby drew in 1962, including several by Jack Kirby.  In this short story, the legend of Thor is traced to a weak young man named Thor back in the days of the vikings.  In the forests where he retreats to be in peace Thor finds a cave where, for some reason, he gradually "grew strong in the rays of the cave's mysterious energy beams", and also found a metal hammer which had destructive potential when he threw it.  Later, Huns invade from the east, conquering all until they run into the now bearded Thor, who drives them away with his hammer.  Thor then retreated to the solitude of his forest and into legends passed down through the ages.

More like an outline of a story than an actual story, and some of the parts which might have made for the best visuals are just described in the captions, and no real explanation of the cave and the hammer.  A decent example of Ditko's work from the time, solid but a bit more sparse than some of this work either a few years earlier or later, made slightly more interesting by what was later done in comics with the same legends (and the probably coincidental finding of the hammer in a cave).

This issue also features a full page ad for Ditko's STATIC series which was starting up from Charlton that same month, using a large panel from the first story.

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