Thor #169: "The Awesome Answer!"

Thor #169
"The Awesome Answer!"
October, 1969

Written And Illustrated By:
STAN                JACK
(The Man) and   (King)
LEE                    KIRBY

Inking:                    Lettering:

Deep out in space, the Devourer of Planets and the Son of Odin have
reached a temporary truce -- as Galactus begins to speak of his very
origins --

It has been a long search, one which could have stretched into eternity.
Thor was brought here, for the planet-eater has grown weary of the chase,
and of battle.  The God of Thunder had heard about a vessel which had
crash landed untold ages ago.  Where did it come from -- and what does it
have to do with -- Galactus?  The vessel had served its purpose -- and
the result stands in front of the Asgardian.  Even in the state of death,
life was soon to follow.  There had been one witness to the crash -- the
one known to mortals as -- The Watcher.

The crew had died of radiation poisoning, but there is still a survivor
to be found.  The one who lives had been closest to the explosion.  This
survivor, reasons Thor, must have been the Devourer.  The giant mentions
only that this was him before he came to be.

Not even one as knowledgeable as the Watcher could have known what he had
come across.  How could he have been aware of the one who could destroy
an entire planet?  As he shields himself from the flying debris, the God
of Thunder sees how the memory has angered Galactus.  Thor believes that
he is powerful enough to challenge him.

Weary of taunts, and heeding only the hunger which rages inside him, even
the Devourer of Planets can show mercy to the Son of Odin.  His is a
heavy heart -- and the weariness rests squarely upon his massive
shoulders.  Thor would hear more about the survivor -- and what happened
to him.  Along with the hunger -- are the memories.

They are the memories of a world -- a life -- lost forever.  These belong
to the now-dead world called -- Taa.

The planet was far more advanced than any other, that words alone fail to
do it justice.  Its people traveled and lived inside the thought-spheres.
Taa, an ever-changing ancient wonder for those who beheld it.

Not even such a paradise could endure -- forever.  The traveler returns
from his journey and shares his world's fate with its people.  It is a
dark time, for the planet of Taa is -- doomed!  He has traveled to the
outskirts of the cosmos -- but the trip was -- in vain.  There is no cure
for the plague which is creeping upon them.

The final preparations must be made, so that those of Taa may die in a
fitting manner.  The plague arrived on the planet, with the greatest
minds in all the galaxy failing to find a cure.  The visi-screen shows
those on other worlds being struck down.  Each moment brings the plague
closer -- closer to Taa.  All they can do is wait-- and observe.

Perhaps not all will die.  Perhaps in some way, that which was Taa will
survive, and survive it shall.  Only in such a destiny, may a way be
found.  In the public square, the people have fallen to the plague, and
the heart of Taa knows fear.

Even with all of their skills, there is no cure.  Without an antidote,
there must be one being who may be immune, and who can continue -- so
that Taa lives on.  No survivors were to be found.  In space, starships
crashed into one another, with no crew left at the controls.  Even the
thought-spheres did not spare their owners from the plague.  Where
billions had once lived -- only a few were now left.  The end of an age
was nigh.

There were enough to assemble a crew, so that they may die in the air.
They would go where none have gone before.  Their sun would provide their
funeral pyre.  A friend wishes the traveler luck, before he expires, and
Taa is no more.  The vessel makes its final flight -- its final gesture
-- into the very heart of the sun in their universe.

As their ship hurtled towards its final destination, the crew knew that
their deaths would not be due to the plague.  Their wishes and prayers
had come true -- as the radiation burst through the heart of their
vessel.  Each of them fell -- to die -- all-- but one.  This one felt new
forces-- churning from within him.  During all of this, the ship flew on
-- with no hand at the controls -- as it continues on through space.

It was at this point that the Watcher saw the vessel make a crash
landing.  The God of Thunder believes that this was where Galactus was
born, but the story has not ended just yet.  The Watcher had a strange
and awesome power of his own.  He came to see what would happen, and was
bound by an oath not to interfere in the affairs of others.  The Watcher
would study what had been--and what would be.

He saw an arm --carrying the glow of raw cosmic energy--  He saw the
power increase in intensity -- until it broke free--.  Until it was
contained within a massive fireball-- of its own creation.  In the
presence of such power -- power which could destroy a world, the Watcher
continued to observe.  The power fed upon itself -- even as he continued
to watch.  The hunger would soon come -- with only a planet enough to
feed it.

With his own power, the Watcher could destroy it -- before it becomes a
threat.  Only his pledge of noninterference prevents him from doing so.
Now it is he who is seen as a danger, and the decision to strike must be
taken now.  Even so, he must not.  He cannot.  If it is his destiny to
exist -- so that galaxies will die -- so be it.  With its departure, the
Watcher knows that he may come to regret the decision made today.  In
space, the newborn being places the others inside of a cylinder, and
sends them out into the endless void.

Now alone within his vessel, the last survivor of Taa begins his labors
-- using his power to create energy-regulating raiment.  The ship would
soon become an incubator -- where he could rest -- and plan -- until he
reached maturity.  The incubator continued its centuries-long orbit --
until the moment when he would emerge -- to meet the world as --
Galactus.  The Son of Odin wonders what will happen to the future.  As
long as the planet-eater continues to exist, then all will be in danger.

The giant warns him to stay his uru hammer, for there is no need for
battle.  He is weary from the loneliness which has come upon him for
ages.  Thor begins to whirl enchanted Mjolnir, now knowing that Galactus
meant no harm to living beings, but many have been the planet which have
fallen.  As the Thunder God wonders what to do, All-Father Odin appears
in a vision, and tells his son that he has done well.  With the mission
over -- the time of penance is done.  Having learned what he needed to
know, Odin sends Thor back to Midgard.

On Earth, the Thermal Man continues its rampage through the heart of a
city.  Without the Odinson, Hogun, Balder, Fandral, and Volstagg remain
to defend mankind.  Not even warriors such as these are able to withstand
an assault from the creature's thermal blast.

Standing in triumph, it surveys its surroundings with cold eyes.  The
creation designed to bring the United States to its knees -- continues on
its way.  The citizens see the unliving giant continuing towards them,
but they are unaware that there is another who is now arriving -- as the
rooftops beckon -- for Thor has arrived on Earth once again.

On the cover of Thor #169, the monster and the man-god meet.

The awesome answer does not disappoint, and with the likes of Lee, Kirby,
Klein, and Simek, how could it?

The Watcher who discovered the downed ship was not Uatu, but one of his

As was the case in many Silver Age Marvel stories, radiation played a
part in the origin of another character.

The paradise of Taa, where its people rode in thought-spheres and
pneumatic tubes.  It must have been like living in a giant pinball

The traveler/survivor of Taa was originally named Galen.

As was the case of the Watchers, those of Taa spent their time watching,
and studying their surroundings.

Upon their death, the thought-spheres fell to the ground, and cracked

The giant sun of Taa looked more powerful than that of the planet

The motto of the Watchers: "We came... We saw... We watched."

The Thermal Man is a giant blue robot with three fingers on each hand.
Its blazing red eyes fire thermal blasts capable of taking down an army
of charging Asgardian warriors.

In order to take down such a monstrous menace, you need the right tool,
and Thor has got his enchanted hammer to nail this latest threat.

In "The Hammer Strikes" letters page, Bud Plant of San Jose, Calif.

"Dear Stan and Jack,

A vast improvement over the last half-dozen issues, was Thor #164, "Lest
Mankind Fall!"  Thor is a Norse god, and is at his best among foes more
closely related to him, such as Pluto and Loki, rather than Galactus and
such science-fictional protagonists.  Leave them to the FF, and let Thor
fight in a world of his own.  Balder is, or should be, Thor's major
supporting character, and bringing him into the story would liven things
up quite a bit.  Pluto is an excellent foe, and deserves a rematch since
Zeus decided to interfere in the battle.  Possibly in a few issues, we
may see Thor and Balder in the Underworld, battling for their lives
against the evil hordes of Pluto.

Speaking of battle scenes, this issue's were great.  Kirby surpassed
himself in his large panels of the fight between the mutates and the
Inhumans (and gods).  The more people fighting, the better he does them,
but let's not over-do the full-page spreads.  These are great for fight
scenes, but the one of Balder was unnecessary.  All in all, this issue
was another fine job from Marvel.  I hope "the being within" proves as
mysterious a foe as he appears to be.  'Nuff said!"

The editor replies:

"By now, Bud, you doubtless know that "the being within" was none other
than the awesome entity called Him... who, we're sure, filled your bill
as a truly mysterious and far-out foe for our Thunder God.

And don't worry about being deprived of seeing more of the Norse gods in
action, especially dashing Balder.  As you've probably noticed in recent
issues, it seems that half the Scandinavian pantheon is here on Earth,
battling amok-running menaces... in more of those full-page battle scenes
that turn you on.

Just stick around, pal... we've got myths we haven't even used yet!"

Steve Chung
"The Awesome Review!"