Much like CAPTAIN AMERICA #183, which came out at the same time, THOR #233 was one of my early purchases which made me, for a long time thereafter, an avowed hater of Marvel Comics. And, unlike CAP #183, even today it’s not very good.
THOR is a series that, in my opinion, experienced a long creative nadir following the departure of artist/plotter Jack Kirby and then writer Stan Lee. It went from being a series packed with startling vistas, compelling concepts and sweeping epic scope to something more akin to a boring, tepid pseudo-barbarian comic. Maybe this shift in direction was partly due to the tremendous success of Conan in the early ‘70s. But in any case, the incredible played as the mundane on too regular an occasion.
This issue is no exception. Written with a pretentious tone by scribe Gerry Conway, the story concerned an attempt by Loki to gain his revenge on Thor by invading Earth with a legion of his troops while Odin has mysteriously vanished. Gerry tries to make this seem weighty and important–in fact, he tries too hard, and the result is long passages of text or dialogue that are difficult to get through and even more difficult to care about. Gerry’s written some excellent comics in his time, but THOR always seemed to fit badly with his approach.
The artwork by the always-at-least-competent John Buscema is similarly hampered by incompatible inking by Chic Stone. Stone’s bold, direct, simple linework was an ideal match for Jack Kirby’s stylized, impressionistic figures and compositions in the ’60s, but atop Buscema’s more lyrical illustrations, the effect is rather crude and unattractive.