Marvel Madness

That Time Thor Humiliated Ego the Living Planet

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When leaving the theater last week after checking out Thor: Ragnarok there was a burning desire in my insane head. I needed to go find some truly crazy Thor stories to talk about here on Marvel Madness. Which isn’t exactly a challenge, because Thor comics are almost across the board insane. Due to the subject matter of Ragnarok I was tempted to dive into the world of Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, but in general those stories weren’t exactly crazy. They were badass, but they generally didn’t have that certain flavor that Marvel Madness stories need to have. But you know what run did have that flavor? The original Lee/Kirby run, that’s which one. I know most people usually think of Fantastic Four as the pinnacle of Lee and Kirbys work together, but I certainly have been quite fond of their work on Thor Kirby clearly had a whole lot of insane ideas when he was working on Thor, a lot of which would spill over to his Fourth World work at DC. It also remains a rather important series in the early years of Marvel, basically creating the cosmic side of the comics. Which brings us to the reason that I’m bringing forth today’s story. Because not only do I have a fun Thor story, but I also found one featuring a breakout star of an MCU movie from earlier this year. Ego the Living Planet. Hell, I just needed to toss in the Vulture or something and I’d have Yahtzee!

The storyline begins after Thor and his good buddy Hercules find their way back to Mount Olympus after some fun adventures of their own. Hercules is very appreciative that Thor helped him regain his position with his family, and Thor does his best to split from the awkward familial scheming that begins the second they land in Olympus. He has enough of that crap to deal with in his own mythical homeland. Plus, its been too long since he’s seen the love of his life, Jane Foster. So, after dispensing with some pleasantries, Thor sends himself off Olympus to find Jane. There’s just one major problem. Jane isn’t in New York. She’s currently on a bus, heading aimlessly out of town because of a strange command from her mysterious new roommate, Tana Nile. And who is Tana Nile? Well…

 

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Yeah, Tana Nile is actually an alien. Twist! She’s from a planet in the Rigel solar system, presumably a close personal friend of Kang and Kodos, and they’re some of the mightiest warriors in the galaxy. Tana Nile has wanted to be a conqueror her whole life, and because apparently absolutely no one cares about the Earth, she was able to get clearance to come destroy it, basically just to pad her resume so that she can be in charge of more important invasions in the future. So she puts in a call to her supervisors, letting them know that she’s in position and ready to start the invasion. But, they aren’t exactly supportive. They tell her that they’re going to be sending some inspectors to make sure that she’s a) conquered Earth, and b) that even matters. She tries to deflect, telling them that it’s not necessary to send anyone, since it might cause a fight. But after reminding her that Rigellians are invincible, save from attack from a mysterious being in a “Black Galaxy,” they tell her they’ll be sending the inspectors, regardless of her complaints.

Meanwhile, Thor has arrived in Asgard before heading to New York to engage in a maddening task which Thor did a whole lot in this era of the comic. Begging his father to be cool with him dating a girl. Odin has been rather obstinate in his refusal of letting Thor be married to Jane Foster, so every chance he has he pops in to yell at his dad. This time Thor walks in on Odin playing a very high-stakes game of chess, and just starts talking about his lovelife with him. But, in a move that shocks both Thor and the reader, Odin just randomly decides that he’s cool with it now. He tells Thor that he has his blessing, and that he can marry Jane Foster. So, exuberant, Thor runs straight out of Odin’s castle, jogs across the Rainbow Bridge, and jettisons himself down to Earth, just completely excited that he gets to be with the woman he loves. In fact, he’s so excited that he just barges right into her apartment, and into the path of an energy blast.

 

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Whoops! Yeah, it turns out that Tana and one of the inspectors have been hanging out inside of Jane’s apartment, talking about their plan for domination, when Thor just comes sailing into the window. They blast him, and he falls down to the street, much to their bafflement. And that’s made worse when Thor quickly regains his composure, and comes smashing back into the apartment, assuming that these weird looking beings are hurting Jane in some way. Tana and the other Rigellian then blast Thor with a second weapon, some sort of mental weapon which keeps him from moving towards them any further. Which means one thing. Time for some monologues!

Tana explains to Thor who she is, and that she had been masquerading as Jane’s weird new rooommate while plotting her invasion. She tells Thor that she’s here to take over the planet by strolling into a United Nations meeting and informing them that she’s in charge now. But, she does having something to back her up. Because the Rigellians have developed a weapon which will lock around a planet and move it’s orbit. So, if the humans dare to fight against her she will be able to move Earth either closer to the sun or farther from it, causing untold amounts of destruction to the planet. Which is a solid plan, I suppose. There’s only one problem. Thor isn’t going to allow it. He begins fighting back, and is somehow able to break the control of their mental weapon, gaining some of his composure. Which causes the Rigellians to panic. No being should be able to accomplish this feat, so they understandably freak out, and blast him with some third ray gun, which encases him in some sort of suspended animation. The Rigellian inspector are shocked at Thor’s strength, and plan to bring him back to Rigel so they can study him and perhaps weaponize him against the Black Galaxy. So they leave, and give Tana the go ahead to conquer Earth.

 

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The Rigellians then cart Thor’s frozen body out of the apartment complex, past some befuddled neighbors, and stick him in their spaceship. They blast off of Earth and begin their long trek to Rigel while they loudly talk about how they’re probably going to launch Thor into the Black Galaxy so he can fight their dreaded enemy to the death. Which is not cool with Thor. He’s apparently been listening the whole time, and once he hears that the ship is set on it’s path to Rigel he breaks out of his cage and begins beating the Rigellians up. He wants to get to Rigel so that he can destroy the Planet Lock that they’re threatening Earth with. The Rigellians do put up a bit of a fight, since they can apparently control their density, similar to the Vision, giving them superhuman strength and resilience. But Thor is the goddamn God of Thunder, so he’s able to take them out, knocking the two inspectors unconscious while continuing his journey to Rigel.

Thor eventually does reach Rigel though, and his little ship slowly approaches a massive space-station where the Rigellian military command are. They attempt to communicate with Thor’s pilots, not knowing that they’ve been knocked out, and instead of playing it cool Thor just immediately starts trash talking them until they send a whole battalion onto Thor’s ship to fight him. The Rigellians do laugh at Thor initially, especially because he’s just throwing a hammer at them, but when they find that both Thor and Mjolnir appear to be invincible, they get a little worried. So, because this is a comic book created by Jack Kirby, the Rigellians unleash a bulky robot who claims to be invulnerable.

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The Indestructible then boards Thor’s ship, and immediately starts tussling with him. But, as usual, Thor wins out. The robot tries to take Thor’s hammer from him, but that’s not exactly a winning strategy, so they resort to just beating the hell out of each other. The robot does seem incredibly strong, and it does have a very powerful laser which seems to be able to hurt Thor. So, thinking fast, Thor grabs the robot’s arm, and is able to twist it around so that it’s laser just kills itself. God of Thunder!

The other Rigellians are pretty terrified that Thor was able to destroy their Indestructible robot so quickly, and word quickly begins spreading. Thor has his hostage Rigellians steer him toward the part of Rigel that has the Planet Lock control, while dodging some strange energy beams that are randomly firing out of the Black Galaxy. Thor then makes his way to the Planet Lock, and just hops down into and starts smashing it. Thor doesn’t really know what the Planet Lock is exactly, so he’s just kind of wrecking everything he comes in contact with, hoping that it’ll be beneficial to his cause.

But, before he makes it to the actual Planet Lock he’s suddenly approached by a member of the Rigellian high command who has a proposition for Thor. He says that ever since Thor has arrived near Rigel and started wrecking everything, they’ve been running tests on him, and they think that he’s strong enough to defeat their great nemesis in the Black Galaxy. So, if Thor would be willing to fly into the Black Galaxy and defeat the being who is causing the Rigellians so much problems they’ll free Earth from the Planet Lock, and promise never to invade them again. Thor mulls this over, and decides that this is a solid proposition. The Rigelians then turn off the Planet Lock, call Tana back to punish her for being so brash, and the Rigellians give Thor a spaceship and a sentient robot who serves basically as a walking camera, and they fly off into the Black Galaxy. And, immediately, things are weird. There’s no stars in the galaxy, but there are seemingly alive tendrils of bio-luminescent mass. The Recorder starts to analyze everything, and tells Thor that it appears that the whole galaxy is alive. Which would be big news, except for the fact that they run into something even weirder. The being that controls the Black Galaxy, and that’s been attacking the Rigellians.

 

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Wow! That’s upsetting! Kirby was really trying some new stuff in this era of the series, and it created an incredibly strange looking design for Ego. Which makes sense, being as he’s a giant sentient head. And it’s not just us who are confounded, because Thor and Recorder are at a loss for words. They’ve neither seen anything like this, but they know that if they’re to fulfill Thor’s promise and save the world, they’re going to have to land on Ego. So they park on his head, and see that everything on the planet seems to be alive. Recorder’s sensors begins processing everything, and it’s unlike anything it’s ever encountered.

And, to make things even more weird, Ego causes a large mound to rise up in front of Thor and Recorder, giving Ego a smaller face to gawk at them with. Ego begins speaking with them, telling how amazing and powerful he is, before realizing that the whole “Living Planet” thing is a little unsettling. So, Ego uses his abilities to read Thor’s mind, changing the bizarre surroundings to a more Earthlike location, and he even creates a human-sized version of himself to talk to Thor. Which of course takes the form of a man in a golden suit of armor riding a horse. Ego says that he wants to give Thor and Recorder a tour, and they begin galloping all around his world, showing off. They eventually end up in a castle that Ego has created from Thor’s memory, and begins talking to them seriously.

 

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Ego tells Thor, and Recorder I guess, that he assumes he’s the most powerful being in the universe, and has been testing his powers by messing with the Rigellians for eons. But, now he’s grown bored with this, and has a plan to escape the Black Galaxy, and possibly take over the entire universe. But, since he’s only ever dealt with Rigellians, he wants to make sure that he doesn’t just have a bad understanding of his own powers. Which is where Thor comes in. He wants to fight Thor, in a human form, preferably to Thor’s death. Thor isn’t exactly cool with this plan, but before he can lodge a complaint Ego begins bombarding him with energy, driving the God of Thunder to his feet.

Luckily, Recorder calls bullshit. Part of Ego’s thing was that he wanted to try and use less of his powers, and attack Thor in a form that he could possibly defend himself against. Ego apologizes for this oversight, and uses his abilities to scan Thor, and create new life on the planet which is perfectly designed to conquer Thor. Which takes the form of a weird purple amphibian in a Speedo. Sure, let’s go with that.

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Thor then steels himself for battle against the Anti-Body, but while Recorder is busy monologuing about the massive importance of the battle that’s about to occur, the Anti-Body suddenly vanished. Ego’s cheating again. Recorder scans their surroundings, and finds that Ego has begun mass-producing the Anti-Bodies, creating an army of soldiers with which to conquer the galaxy. He’s not much for keeping promises I guess. This was all just a scheme that Ego hatched, getting an incredibly powerful being to come visit him so he could base an army off that being. And Thor was his sucker. So, with this accomplished, there’s no longer any use for Thor, and Ego begins attacking Thor and Recorder with all his might.

Thor and Recorder flee from the castle as it begins falling down around them, and desperately try to figure out a way to survive on Ego’s surface. But, thanks to an idea from Recorder, they come up with a plan. If Ego is alive, they can get down inside of it, and hurt Ego from the inside. And, as luck would have it, there’s an opening near them that takes them deep into Ego’s innards. They do get attacked by an army of Anti-Bodies, but Thor is surprisingly able to fend them off, letting Thor and Recorder travel deeper and deeper into Ego. However, Ego finally finds them, and begins bombarding them with a storm of boulders. But Thor isn’t going to stand for this. He’s the God of the Storm. So he begins summoning all of his powers, and right as the boulders are about to pummel them both to death, he’s able to take control of Ego’s own storm, and uses the boulder to blast a hole in Ego, freeing them. And Ego is not pleased. In fact, he’s panicking. Ego is terrified that a tiny little creature was able to hurt him, and he decides that that means he’s not ready to leave the Black Galaxy. He tells Thor and Recorder that he needs more time to heal and train, and lets them leave, ashamed that he’s been bested. Thor then picks up Recorder’s body, and flies them back to Rigel so that he can head back to Earth, which is now safe.

 

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When reading Fantastic Four it can be a little ridiculous seeing how many important Marvel character premiered in their pages. Characters like Black Panther, the Silver Surfer, and the Inhumans are massively important to the Marvel universe, and they started as weird experiments in Fantastic Four. And, oddly enough, I feel like Thor is also a very comparable series in this way. Thor really was the Marvel comic that did the most to establish the more cosmic side of Marvel, and it’s kind of crazy how many massively powerful space beings first showed up in his adventures. I’ve always been a huge fan of the idea of Ego the Living Planet, because it remains one of the weirdest Marvel characters of all time. So, seeing Ego’s first appearance in a crazy story where Thor ends up being strong enough to challenge him is a lot of fun. Plus, I kind of didn’t realize that so much of Ego’s powers in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were straight from this issue, with Ego creating smaller versions of himself to communicate with people while explaining that it’s his destiny to take over the world. There’s not a whole lot to this issue, but seeing Thor engage a sentient Planet in a contest of strength, and winning, is a whole lot of fun.

 

Thor 131-133 was written by Stan Lee, penciled by Jack Kirby, inked by Vince Colletta, and lettered by Sam Rosen and Art Simek, 1966.

 

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