Thor In Animation - A Retrospective
Part One -
As with a lot of the old school Marvel characters, The Mighty Thor first appeared in animation in the 1966 Marvel Superheroes show, and like 3/5, has yet to receive his own animated show since. Never one of Marvelís big guns in any form of media, The God Of Thunder now seems poised to be Marvelís next big thing, with a rumoured appearance of some kind in Iron Man, along his own upcoming feature film and animated series, and of course, a place in Marvelís crown jewel Ė itís upcoming Avengers movie.
Thorís original venture into animation can only be described as limited. With little to no budget in place, the producers simply opted to add animation to the original comic panels, insert music, voices and SFXs and be done with it. It all depends on the viewers taste as to how well this works Ė if youíre a fan of Jack Kirby artwork and enjoy seeing Stan Leeís stories brought to life, I imagine youíll greatly enjoy these shows. It might be a little too cheap and cheesy for the rest of you. Personally Iíve always been give and take Ė I admit to struggling to fully watch The Incredible Hulk segment when Liberation released the DVD a few months back, as it was a little off putting to see consistently changing models and characterisation in the same show, only episodes apart. A lot of that steams from me not really appreciating the older Hulk stories, I prefer my Hulk stories as a mild mannered scientist on the run from the military while seeking a cure for his gamma related illness, which wasnít really to be found in 60ís show, as he maintained his secret identity throughoutÖ although, no one but Rick Jones was aware Banner was The Hulk in the 1980ís cartoon and thatís still the very best version of the character in my personal opinion.
Having said that, I recently sat down and watched the entire 60ís Iron Man cartoon, and despite a bit of odd continuity, really, really enjoyed it. Then again, I was on an Iron Man high at the time and am a fan of the character Ė I freely admit Iím not a massive Thor mark, and donít really claim to be very knowledgeable of the character Ė Iím not even sure what the characters origins are and I donít think Iíll ever be able to correctly pronounce his hammerís name. In short, dear readers, donít expect a massively long Hulk/Iron Man/Spider-Man romance style retrospective here.
Aside from his own 60ís show, Thor would also appear in both The Hulk and Captain America segments, as they guest starred The Avengers. If memory serves, it was actually the original Avengers in the Hulk show, and the revamped and the later incarnation, led by Cap in his show. He spent a lot of the episode in petty debate with The Hulk, who didnít appear to be too found of Goldilocks but there wasnít much more to it than that.
Dr. Donald Blake, Thorís human alter ego would make an appearance in the 1981 Spider-Man show, and Thor himself would make a quick, brief cameo on a television set as part of The Avengers, Peter Parkerís favourite TV show. I hope there was nothing revolutionary or important about either of these appearances, because I really donít remember either of them. (I swear, I should just get Jon T to write this pre-90ís stuff, most of the time I really donít know what I am speaking about!)
Thor would make a full fledged guest appearance in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, the show thatís as probably as close to Marvel Team Up as weíre ever going to get. Thereís plenty to be found about the show at MAA and www.spider-friends.com but for the ill educated amongst us, the show is based upon the adventures of Spider-Man and his college room mates, Iceman from The X-Men and newly created character, Angelica Jones, Firestar. Together as The Spider-Friends they thought the various villains of the Marvel universe and, as mentioned above, cameos and team ups from other Marvel characters were plentiful.
The Vengeance of Loki sees The Spider-Friends travel to The North Pole under assignment from The Government (oh yeah, Iceman is actually a secret agent) where they meet up with Thor, who is trying to stop his brother Loki from stealing some diamond which will grant him great power when itís reunited with some other diamond he already has. Spider-Man and Firestar donít really do a great deal in the episode beyond getting captured and Thor is banished to The Desert Of Despair while Loki disguises himself as Thor and causes Chaos in New York.
Itís not one of my favourite episodes, but itís enjoyable enough. Thorís design is a little off Ė the blue pants donít quite work for me but the rest of it of it does. I usually love the models in this show, as more often than not theyíre based on the artwork of the legendary John Romita. Sr.
Since there were no appearances for him, or any other guest stars in The Incredible Hulk cartoon of the era, the next time we would see Thor on the television would be as part of television movie with him in a starring role. With Bill Bixbyís Incredible Hulk series ending, the show eventually came back with three television movies. One of them featured Daredevil and another Thor as backdoor pilots for television shows Ė neither of them was really that good and neither got the show commissioned. Thereís not a lot to this movie or Thor/Blake himself but I thought it was worth mentioning all the same. There Ė Iíve mentioned it.