Thor In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

Thor would make his first of few animated appearances in the second season of the Fantastic Four cartoon Ė he appeared twice in this show and both appearances were first class. He aided the FF in battling Galactus in both episodes Ė he originally called for their help when battling Ego, The Living Planet in To Battle The Living Planet. Thereís no mention of Donald Blake here and there isnít any need for him, but what we do see of Thor is really, really good stuff. His design is faithful to his comic book costume and pops on screen thanks to the lively colouring that this show used (which looks exceptional when the animation is at itís best). I really like the visuals behind this show, itís bright and dynamic and really helps with the tone of the cartoon.

The casting in this season was usually stellar too Ė they recast some of the villains from the first season and the new additions were all fine, but John Rhys Davies as Thor is utterly outstanding. Coupled with his great, Norse like dialogue and this was a guest star worth remembering. It was nice seeing his interaction with Reed and him having absolutely no interest in pitting his strength against Ben despite the big orange lug acting annoyed that Thor is genuinely stronger than him. Iíve always liked this characterisation on Benís part Ė since all he really has is his strength now, itís quite human that he would threatened when someone stronger than him comes along. It added a nice bit of development to them both, especially Ben showing his appreciation when Thor saves him from the pits of Ego.

The episode ends with one of the true highlights of the show, as Reed realises heís essentially doomed the planet by lifting the embargo he and Galactus previously agreed to in the downright terrible original Galactus episode from season one and thereís an feeling of dread as the viewers know that Galactus is bound to return and feed upon our planet.

So naturally when he comes back (or is forced back rather) and must feed upon our planet to survive, Thor is none too impressed with the giant and returns to help the FF and Galactus learns itís none too wise to piss off a God of Thunder. This next sentence may sound strange but Thorís appearance here wasnít really epic, but still memorable all the same. Iím not sure how interested I wouldíve been in a full on Thor animated series back in the 1990ís glory days but I think they pretty much got everything right with what I saw here in this show.

So when it was this version that returned in The Incredible Hulkís Mortal Bounds, I was really, really happy to see him again. This episode fleshes out the character a little more with the introduction of Dr Donald Blake, Thorís alter ego. The episode sees a gamma virus spreading throughout Detroit and Dr Blake summons Betty Ross to help study and fight the illness, until she reveals that Banner is the only one capable of curing the disease and advises Blake to find the Hulk and Banner will follow. An interesting note, it seems the world at large assumed that Banner died in the gamma reactor explosion that turned him into The Hulk. Blake then turns into Thor with the intention of dragging The Hulk back to Detroit unaware that Hulk and Banner are actually the same person. As UPN was new and too stupid to greatly get in the creative teamís way, we didnít have to put up with the inane censorship that hindered the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons on FOX, which basically meant Hulk and Thor could pound the crap out of each other, which meant the fight scenes could actually add something to the episodes, rather than get in the way as they tended to do in Spider-Man especially.

The episode itself is a highly enjoyable and would be Thorís last guest starring appearance of the 1990ís. He appeared in the title cards of The Avengers: United They Stand and was mentioned a few times during the showís run if one recalls (without ever explaining where he is, naturally). He was slated to appear in season two, before Marvelís bankruptcy ended the show. I seem to remember seeing pictures of a toy showcasing his design, but that might be a case of my memory playing tricks on me (I believe I have badly damaged my brain cell due to the majesty of alcohol).