...there were the Norse Gods of Asgard! Mighty Thor, god of thunder! All-Powerful Odin, the All-Father! Mischievous Loki, god of evil! Or maybe just mischief. We're not quite sure. The Warriors Three: Larry, Moe, and Curly! (And occasionally Shemp.) Tammy, Norse goddess of the shopping mall! And, the rest! Here in the mighty halls of Asgard! (gard gard gard gard)
I don't think it's any secret that one of my favorite back-up features in comic books is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Tales of Asgard, the short but utterly bombastic back-features to their early stories in Thor #97-145. Some of the tales were reprinted in 1968 in a 68-page king-size comic:
...and reprinted again in 1984 to capitalize on the success of Walt Simonson's Thor (with a spankin'-new Simonson cover):
...but it wasn't until last year that Marvel reprinted all the Tales of Asgard back-ups in a six-issue, newly-recolored series (followed this year with a fancy-schamncy but lovely hardcover). If you're a purist you may balk at the modern colors applied to Stan and Jack's classic (I kinda liked it myself). But how to represent the vast panoply of Lee & Kirby's mythology on a mere six comic book covers? Well, first, call in Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, and Laura Martin to create the new covers. Here's two of 'em.
Well, those are impressive, but are they covers worthy of the Norse gods? Well, when you connect 'em all into a mega-mural, hoo boy, by Odin, are they ever! You betcha, ya!
Click once, then again, on the picture to Volstagg-size...but wait! Is your monitor worth of the Norse gods? Because this image is truly GOD-SIZED! (So don't click it over a dial-up modem unless you can wait until Ragnarok to see it all!)
I was wondering why the first few issues in the mural are out of order...from left to right, 3, 2, 1,....until it occured to me: of course your want to not only start the series with Thor on the cover, but also put him smack-dab in the middle of the mural as well, so ish #1 has got to be in the middle of the interlocking piece. Poor, Loki...he thought he was the star of this thing! Maybe it's his posture. Sit up, ya lazy galoot!
Anyway, everybody who's anybody in Asgard is in this mural, except maybe Frog Thor and Beta Ray Bill. (And as much as we love 'em, they didn't come around until much later. But maybe they're hanging around in the back behind Hela.) I've used the original Marvel solicitation art rather than the actual comic book covers to let you see the full grandeur of the piece. Wouldnb't you love to have this hanging on your wall? Well, you can, because Marvel's also And if you don't know your Balder from your Brimer, well, there's a handy numbered chart of who's who! (Thor's in there somewhere, believe it or not!)
Want a closer look? Clickety-click on over to Marvel.com and then click on the "ZOOM" button in the upper right hand corner of the image. Did you ID all the Norse gods? Did you forget Candy, Thor's high school crush at Asgard Science and Technical High, cheer captain for the Asgard Vikings and archrival to Sif? I bet you did.
Now, swing your hammer on over to DeviantArt and check out Olivier Coipel's pencils and Mark Morales's inks on the unfinished covers to issue one, two, four and five!
All hail Thor, mighty god of thunder! And so, we bid adieu to fair Asgard...or, in the words of Thor himself from his 1997 hit single "Ride of the Chariots": We go in for the kill / With our iron will / we are the planet riders / in the name of Valhalla!":