WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Generations: Unworthy Thor & Mighty Thor #1, by Jason Aaron and Mahmud A. Asrar, on sale now from Marvel.
When it comes to mythological romances, Zeus is truly king of the gods, with a list of conquests and relationships so long that it defies counting. Odin, by contrast, is a virtual homebody, with a relative handful of wives that includes Frigg and Jord, the mother of Thor. But Marvel’s Generations: Unworthy Thor & Mighty Thor #1 reveals a fiery affair from the distant past that still kindles a flame in the All-Father’s heart millennia later.
Those expecting the appearance by the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC teased early this month by Marvel Comics Executive Editor Tom Brevoort had to wait until the end of the latest Generations one-shot, a quirky tale by Jason Aaron and Mahmud A. Asrar that pits two Thors (Jane Foster and a young Odinson) against Apocalypse on the shores of the Nile, sometime during the Viking Age. This is a barely adult Odinson who struggles to lift the enchanted Mjolnir from its pedestal, bristles under the watchful eye of his father, and experiences hammer-envy when he encounters another Thor — “A woman Thor? Do not be ridiculous.” — who wields the weapon he so desires.
It’s a fun study in contrasts, with a time-traveling Jane having the upper hand on the impetuous Odinson, who’s yet to prove himself capable of much more than hard fighting, hard drinking and a touch of pettiness (he leaves Egypt with a noteworthy trophy from their battle). But just as the young Thor finds it difficult to be the son of Odin, the All-Father grapples with being the father of the strong-willed thunder god. In a coda to the story, a curmudgeonly Odin stands in the seeming solitude of space, where laments the difficulties of parenthood to an initially unseen companion that reveals itself to be the Phoenix, immortal manifestation of the prime universal force of life.
That Odin and the Phoenix Force know each other isn’t a surprise, as both were revealed in June as part of a prehistoric team of heroes who assemble in the pages of Marvel Legacy #1. However, the nature of their relationship is a bit more remarkable. The fiery Phoenix, one of the most powerful forces in the cosmos, chastises Odin for summoning “her” to complain about his son, saying, “Don’t you have wives for such things?” The All-Father replies, “Aye. I have a few. But none like you.”
With that, the stern ruler of Asgard softens, even becoming wistful as he remembers — or misremembers, if you believe Phoenix’s retort — their time spent together. “How can I forget?” Odin says, even as the Phoenix Force issues a dire warning not to call her again. “What it was to make love to fire? To hold the storm in my fist?”
The first part of that statement is fairly self-explanatory, supported by the image of a younger Odin in an embrace with Phoenix. But while the second part may sound a little naughty in this context, it’s actually a reference to Mjolnir, depicted in the god’s grip in teaser images for Marvel Legacy #1. Odin’s longing for a bygone era, “the one time in millennia when I was truly alive,” smacks more than a bit of a midlife crisis, if a god can experience such a thing (“midlife,” not a crisis). He’s the guy pushing 50 and trying to figure out how he ended up where he is, with a dead-end job and problem children, and wishing life could go back to like it was in high school. You know, when the team won the big game, and he was going out with the head cheerleader.
It’s probably not the setup for Marvel Legacy #1, and the introduction of the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC, that anyone expected, but it somehow works, at least within the story of this one-shot. To continue the midlife crisis metaphor, this is the former star quarterback grappling with the specter of his son coming of age, and breaking his touchdown record. Just as Thor desires to wield Mjolnir, Odin longs for nothing more than to return to a simpler, more exciting time, when he swung the mighty weapon himself — oh, and made love to fire, of course.
Alas, now his (literal) old flame won’t even return his call.
Marvel Legacy #1, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic, goes on sale Sept. 27.
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