Tag Archives: superheroines

MANTIS 21: NECRODAMUS ATTACKS

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Avengers 128 bewitched, botheredAVENGERS Volume 1, Number 128 (October 1974)  Bewitched, Bothered … and Dead

I’m sure Marvel Comics gave special thanks to Quinn Martin for providing the title to this particular story. Yes, it’s a play on the usual “bewitched, bothered and bewildered.”  

ANYWAY, WE ARE IN THE HOME STRETCH OF THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA! MISS A CHAPTER FROM NOW TO THE END AND YOU’LL BE CONFUSED.

BEWITCHED, BOTHERED … AND DEAD

Synopsis: Nighttime on the rooftop of Avengers Mansion. The Avengers and Fantastic Four have just returned from the wedding of the former Avenger Quicksilver and the Inhuman woman named Crystal. The Avengers traveled in their Quin-Jet and the Fantastic Four – oddly enough – in their roofless Fantasticar.

Mantis xxxxThe two teams are hanging out chit-chatting before the FF will head home to the Baxter Building. As Midnight arrives a supernatural lightning storm strikes, threatening the lives of members from both teams with its repeated and tightly placed lightning bolts. Continue reading

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MANTIS 20: ULTRON VS THE AVENGERS, THE FANTASTIC FOUR AND THE INHUMANS

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Fantastic Four 150

FANTASTIC FOUR Volume 1, Number 150 (September 1974)  Ultron-7: He’ll Rule The World

Just like during the Avengers/ Defenders War this crossover story alternated between the Avengers’ comic book and in this case the Fantastic Four’s comic book. In fact it was the 150th Anniversary Issue for the F.F, an appropriate setting for the momentous events in this story.

NOTE: This was back when Ultron was still numbering his iterations, hence him going by “Ultron-7” here. For instance, Ultron-6 was the first time the android villain used adamantium for his body and Ultron-5 was when he created the Vision to use against his archenemies the Avengers.

Ironically, though today Marvel’s fictional metal adamantium is mostly associated with Wolverine’s claws and skeleton it was actually introduced as a new discovery in the pages of The Avengers in the 1960s. In fact it was introduced in the very story in which Ultron stole some of the indestructible metal to make himself even more dangerous.

After this current Ultron-7 story, when Ultron returned for the long-running Bride of Ultron storyline he was no longer  numbering his versions.   

Ultron 7 againULTRON-7: HE’LL RULE THE WORLD

Synopsis: We pick up where we left off in our previous installment, in Atillan aka The Great Refuge, hidden home of the Inhumans. It’s the night before the former Avenger Quicksilver and the Inhuman named Crystal are to be married.

Crystal has been kidnapped by the gigantic robot called Omega, but after a battle with the Inhumans plus the wedding guests – the Avengers and Fantastic Four – the enormous figure pulled off its mask to reveal that it was really Ultron-7. (Nicely, this was early enough in Marvel’s history that Ultron had previously never fought the Fantastic Four OR the Inhumans, just the Avengers.)

Ultron-7 taunts the assembled heroes plus the thousands of terrified citizens of Atillan about how they gathered for a wedding but instead of that joyous occasion have found only horror, defeat and death.

Mantis againHe revives the heroes he had put into comas last time around – MANTIS, Iron Man, Medusa, Quicksilver and the Swordsman. Meanwhile the Thing rushes forward to attack Ultron-7 but is easily defeated as the villain reminds him that the Omega body now has all of HIS (Ultron’s) powers, not the lesser powers it used to have.

Before the Thing or any other heroes can renew the attack, Thor, Mister Fantastic and Triton remind everyone that only Ultron-7 knows where the kidnapped Crystal is being held. The villain has the edge until they can learn if she is even still alive.       Continue reading

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MANTIS 19: THE WEDDING OF QUICKSILVER AND THE INHUMAN CRYSTAL

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Avengers 127AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 127 (September 1974)  Bride and Doom

AVENGERS ROSTER (Friends of the Groom): Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Frank), The Vision (not applicable), The Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne) and MANTIS (Mantis Brandt)

FANTASTIC FOUR ROSTER (Friends of the Bride): Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards, PhD), Invisible Woman (Sue Storm Richards), The Thing (Ben Grimm), The Human Torch 2 (Johnny Storm), Medusa (not applicable), Franklin Richards and Agatha Harkness 

INHUMANS ROYAL FAMILY (Family of the Bride): Black Bolt (King), Medusa (Royal Consort temporarily serving in the Fantastic Four), Gorgon, Triton, Karnak and Maximus the Mad  

BRIDE AND DOOM

Gorgon mad at PietroSynopsis: At Avengers Mansion the six current team members are at the dinner table for a turkey meal prepared by Jarvis, their butler. Suddenly, Gorgon, a member of the Inhumans (movie coming soon) and Lockjaw the car-sized teleporting dog appear in the room.

Gorgon had Lockjaw teleport the two of them to Avengers Mansion to pick up the team and bring them to the Inhumans’ hidden futuristic city the Great Refuge. He is surprised to find that Quicksilver (Pietro Frank), their former member and Wanda’s brother, did NOT tell them about the impending wedding of Pietro to Crystal, one of the Inhumans.  

Mantis Action figure 2Quicksilver, in spite of the hatred he and the Scarlet Witch had always endured for being mutants, harbored such intense bigotry over Wanda’s romance with the android Vision that he had cut off all ties with her months earlier. The Scarlet Witch is driven to tears at the realization that he didn’t even invite her to his upcoming wedding.

Gorgon expresses his own outrage, making it clear that Pietro’s usual jerkish attitude has already alienated him (Gorgon) and the rest of the Royal Family and that they only tolerate Quicksilver for their cousin Crystal’s sake. Mantis calms the Inhuman down and the Scarlet Witch announces that the Avengers will happily accompany Gorgon back to the Great Refuge in the Himalayas.   Continue reading

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MANTIS 18: THE SCARLET WITCH FINDS A FATHER

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Giant Size Avengers 1GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 1 (August 1974)  Nuklo: The Invader That Time Forgot

At this point in the 1970s sales at Marvel Comics were going so well that they introduced the short-lived Giant-Size versions of some of their titles, like Giant-Size Fantastic Four, Giant-Size Spider-Man, Giant-Size Defenders, etc. These were published every 3 months and featured original stories plus reprints.

The most famous of those editions was 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men Number 1 which introduced the new X-Men lineup of Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Banshee, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Thunderbird and Sunfire.

In my quick research for this escapist Superhero Summer series I noticed that the 1970s creative team at The Avengers did the best job of incorporating the Giant-Size quarterlies into their ongoing storyline. The greatest examples of that lie in the near future. 

For this tale, the Scarlet Witch encounters the father she never knew, just like Mantis with Libra and Moon Dragon with Drax the Destroyer. Coincidence? Stimuli in a bizarre nature vs nurture affair? Psychological tumblers tripped in sequence to unlock a certain something in one of those three women? The mystery WILL be resolved, in the days ahead.

NUKLO, THE INVADER THAT TIME FORGOT

mantis on nukloSynopsis: The story opens in Avengers Mansion as the Avengers discover an unconscious Jarvis (their butler) and a trench-coated intruder standing over him. The intruder broke into the mansion past the security systems and tells the Avengers now surrounding him that he is there to claim the chrono-module.

That chrono-module is a mysterious pod-like machine that was unearthed about a week earlier during construction work in New York City. The Avengers were called in to assess the device and moved it into the laboratory at Avengers Mansion for further study.     Continue reading

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MANTIS 17: KLAW AND SOLARR TEAM UP

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Avengers 126AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 126 (August 1974)  All the Sights and Sounds of Death

AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Steve Rogers), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda), The Black Panther (Prince T’Challa), The Vision (not applicable), The Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne) and MANTIS (Mantis Brandt).

ALL THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF DEATH

Synopsis: The exact amount of time between the last installment’s conclusion of the Thanos War and the beginning of this installment is another of those things that obsessive fans debate as they try to establish a timeline of Avengers stories. 

In any event this issue starts out at Avengers Mansion in New York City. Inside, Mantis is watching her romantic partner the Swordsman battle some robots in the Avengers’ Training Room. The Swordsman is trying to show off for her because he is still smarting with insecurity over the way Mantis and the Vision seem to be growing more and more attracted to each other. 

The various energy blasts from the Swordsman’s high-tech sword finish off the two remaining robots he’s fighting but Mantis still seems distracted. As they kiss it is obvious her thoughts are already turning toward the Vision.

The Vision himself is pondering his growing fears that his android brain may be malfunctioning. His panic attacks in Dormammu’s quicksand and Taurus’ pool combined with Ant-Man’s mysterious discovery in the Vision’s brain during the Kree-Skrull War all continue to hang in the air.     

Mantis miniMeanwhile, the Vision’s romantic partner the Scarlet Witch, is still torn with her own fears that the Vision may leave her for Mantis. (Two women fighting over him? The Vision really IS fully functional.) Wanda ponders her recent arguments with the Vision and how he always makes the arguments out to be HER fault. Continue reading

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MANTIS 16: THE THANOS WAR CONCLUDES

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE  – With Marvel Comics characters basically being Pop Culture Deities these days I’m approaching this topic the way I approach neglected mythological epics.

Captain Marvel 33CAPTAIN MARVEL Volume 1, Number 33 (July 1974)  The God Himself

Before I dive into Mantis’ crucial role in this final chapter of the 1970s Thanos War I’ll do a quick look at two supporting figures in that conflict – Drax the Destroyer and Moon Dragon. 

These two characters and their relationship with each other have a direct connection to the mysteries surrounding Mantis herself, especially the upcoming Celestial Madonna storyline.

Drax the DestroyerDRAX THE DESTROYER: Just like our Vietnamese heroine Mantis, Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies was introduced in the 1970s. He’s much different in the G of the G films but this blog post deals strictly with his original depiction.

Drax was originally an Earthling named Arthur Douglas. Years earlier he was driving home from Las Vegas with his wife Yvette and his little daughter Heather when they spotted a UFO that was one of Thanos’ scout ships checking out the Earth in advance of a planned invasion years down the road. 

The ship blasted the Douglas’ car to kill any potential witnesses. Douglas died in the crash, but Thanos’ father Mentor – wanting to create a nemesis to destroy his mad son – intercepted Arthur Douglas’ soul as it left his body. Mentor encased that soul in an incredibly strong and powerful elemental body.

As Drax the Destroyer, whose sole purpose for existence was the destruction of Thanos, the late Arthur Douglas became a major player in the forces opposing the mad Titan in the Thanos War. Among other deeds he helped Iron Man defeat Thanos’ minions the Blood Brothers.  

Moon DragonMOON DRAGON: As for Arthur’s daughter Heather, Mentor took the child back to live with him and his fellow Eternals inside Saturn’s moon Titan. From an early age the girl was rechristened Moon Dragon and was trained in super-powerful versions of martial arts.

Most importantly Titan technology helped bring out and enhance her telepathic and other psionic powers to the point where she outclassed even Charles Xavier himself. (And Moon Dragon debuted YEARS before the bald woman Ilea in Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Mantis faceNOTE: So, as we’ll see, a) Mantis and Moon Dragon were born at the exact same time in different parts of the world to different parents … b) Each were raised and trained by otherworldly cultures to bring out the most in their physical and supernatural abilities (Mantis by the Priests of Pama, Moon Dragon by the Eternals of Titan) … c) Each is “the other woman” in a romantic triangle (Mantis with Vision and the Scarlet Witch, Moon Dragon with the Black Widow and Daredevil) … AND d) Each recently had an emotionally scarring reunion with a father they’ve never really known (Mantis with Libra, Moon Dragon with Drax the Destroyer).   

Just coincidental parallel experiences or something more? Stay tuned.

THE GOD HIMSELF

Captain Marvel 31Synopsis: The Avengers (Thor, Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, the Black Panther, the Vision, the Swordsman and MANTIS) have just landed back at Avengers Mansion after destroying Thanos’ invasion fleet in space. As we saw in the previous installment Mantis’ mutant empathic powers told her some strange change had come over the entire planet during their hours-long battle in outer space.

Thanos, lurking nearby, smugly observed that Mantis was correct. He had willingly sacrificed his invasion fleet because while the Avengers had been off the Earth fighting that fleet of spaceships he had made subtle alterations that have doomed Earth and our heroes. Continue reading

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MANTIS 15: THANOS

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THE MARVEL SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Avengers 125THE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 125 (July 1974) The Power of Babel  

MANTIS’ vital role in the 1970s Thanos War is on the slate in this post. This first Thanos War was basically the same as the much later Infinity War, coming in movie form soon. Thanos was trying to get his hands on the Cosmic Cube, later called the Tesseract. This object was later ret-conned into being one of the Infinity Stones or Infinity Gems that fit into the Infinity Gauntlet.  

So I guess the Infinity War is like the Thanos War but with SIX items for the scavenger hunt instead of just one. If this villain’s name isn’t familiar to you, he’s the big purple guy who keeps showing up in mid-credits scenes of Marvel movies.

THE POWER OF BABEL

Synopsis: The Avengers are back from Vietnam after saving the world from the Star Stalker. Much was revealed about the enigmatic Mantis but much still remains a mystery with some contradictory notes especially puzzling our heroes for now.

Mantis 125Libra is being taken off to prison by the authorities. Mantis tells him she still can’t think of him as her father but she feels that they are both the better for what has happened. He asks if she will visit him in prison but she replies that she does not know. It may depend on what she learns about her enigmatic past next.

Captain America returns to the team after dealing with a long, multi-issue adventure in his own comic book. Mantis welcomes him back and then goes to visit her romantic partner the Swordsman in the hospital as he recovers from being tortured by her crime lord uncle. 

After she leaves, Thor, Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, the Black Panther and the Vision bring Cap up to date on the new developments regarding Mantis.

Captain Marvel 28Soon the Avengers – including Mantis and the recovered Swordsman – get dragged into the ongoing Thanos War which had been playing out in multiple Marvel titles back then.

Parts of the conflict involved Iron Man, Daredevil and the Black Widow plus the Thing from the Fantastic Four but the bulk of the action took place in Captain Marvel’s comic book.

Supervillains like the Blood Brothers, Ramrod, Angarr, Super-Skrull, the Dark Messiah and the Controller served Thanos who – with his homeworld (Saturn’s moon Titan) at last conquered – turned his attention to Earth. Continue reading

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MANTIS 14: THE STAR STALKER

READERS CANNOT GET ENOUGH SUPERHERO ITEMS THESE DAYS. FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THE MARVEL SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE   

Avengers 124 star stalkerTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 124 (June 1974) Beware the Star Stalker 

The Celestial Madonna Saga continues! Our previous installment ended with some of the Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, The Black Panther, The Vision and MANTIS) at the Temple of the Priests of Pama in the jungles of Vietnam. Meanwhile the other two Avengers (The Scarlet Witch and The Swordsman) were back in the capitol city with Wanda aiding the Swordsman, who had been tortured for information regarding the temple’s location.

The Avengers themselves had only found that temple through the aid of Libra, from the supervillain team Zodiac. Libra had been revealed as the father of the mysterious superheroine Mantis and claimed both he and his daughter had been trained by the Priests of Pama.

The Vietnamese drug and vice lord Monsieur Khruul (no relation to Mademoiselle Unkhiind) had used his super-powered minions to slaughter every single Priest of Pama. The Avengers and Libra defeated Khruul’s men (his “Khrewe” you might say) then found the dying crime boss himself slashed to ribbons in the temple’s dungeon.

The criminal chief’s dying words were “Beware the Star Stalker.” Unknown to the Avengers, the Star Stalker – a giant, red-scaled dragon-like creature – was watching them from above, seemingly poised to strike.     

BEWARE THE STAR STALKER

Synopsis: The Avengers have no idea who or what the “Star Stalker” might be. From hiding, the creature itself continues to observe our heroes as they split up and search every nook and cranny of the temple but find nothing.

Despite her continued claims that she remembers nothing about this temple, her father or the Priests of Pama, Mantis eventually intuits the location of a device to open a secret passageway. The Black Panther expresses suspicions that she might simply be lying about not remembering anything but Mantis sarcastically inquires if she is “on trial.”

Mantis star stalkerAt any rate the hidden passageway leads the Avengers right into the chamber that the Star Stalker had slunk away to. The creature now stands up on two legs and threateningly addresses the Avengers since, during its years of captivity in the temple, the Priests of Pama had taught the Star Stalker Vietnamese, English, French and presumably other languages as well.   

The Avengers attack the creature, whose very scales seem to ooze energy. After a furious battle it becomes apparent that physical attacks on the Star Stalker do little damage and energy blasts like Iron Man’s repulsor rays simply feed it and make it more powerful. That prompts the Vision to refrain from using the solar rays he shoots from his eyes and our heroes attempt to regroup.

The group also notes that the temple itself is in danger of collapsing from the damage the battle has inflicted. The Star Stalker points out that such destruction is nothing – he intends to destroy the entire planet as he destroyed countless others during his thousands of years of life. He further states that other life forms are meaningless and he is all that matters.    Continue reading

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MANTIS 13: AN ORIGIN FOR MANTIS

READERS ARE LOVING THESE LOOKS AT THE SUPERHEROINE MANTIS. FOR PART 1 CLICK HERE 

Avengers 123 An Origin For MantisTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 123 (May 1974) An Origin For Mantis

As our homegirl MANTIS here passionately defends her father Libra’s eccentric decision to wear hot-pants into battle, I’ll welcome you to Balladeer’s Blog’s latest installment of The Celestial Madonna Saga.

NOTE: This issue is titled AN Origin For Mantis, not THE Origin. For reasons that will become clear later Libra is not telling the full story this time around but he still fills in a LOT of background regarding his mysterious daughter. 

AVENGERS ROSTER: Thor (Donald Blake, MD), Iron Man (Tony Stark), The Scarlet Witch (Wanda), The Black Panther (Prince T’Challa), The Vision (not applicable), The Swordsman (Jacques Duquesne) and MANTIS (Mantis Brandt).

AN ORIGIN FOR MANTIS

Synopsis: Our previous installment ended at the skyscraper headquarters of the international supervillain team called Zodiac. In the aftermath of the Avengers’ defeat and capture of the entire group, Libra (Gustav Brandt) revealed that the only reason he betrayed Zodiac was to save Mantis, claiming she is his daughter. 

Mantis reacts furiously, accusing Libra of claiming to be her father as some cruel attempt to garner sympathy from the Avengers, possibly for a lighter prison sentence.

The argument is cut short by Iron Man, who insists that the conversation continue ONLY away from the prying ears of their deadly foes in Zodiac. The Vision concurs, all the while hiding his fear that his android brain is beginning to malfunction and that THAT is the reason for his frantic panic episodes in Taurus’ penthouse swimming pool last time around and in Dormammu’s quicksand at the end of the Avengers-Defenders War.

So, after the authorities arrive to occupy Zodiac HQ the Avengers take in their prisoners with the sole exception of Libra. After the usual post-mission press conference and such for our heroes they gather back at Avengers Mansion with Libra temporarily released in their custody.

Mantis hai ahhThe injured Swordsman is well enough to listen from his wheelchair as his teammates interrogate Libra. Mantis impatiently insists that she never knew any father and calls Libra a liar once more. Given the way the blind member of Zodiac handles himself in battle as well as the blind superhero Daredevil does, the Vietnamese woman even goes so far as to accuse him of FAKING his blindness.

She strips off the blindfold that serves as Libra’s mask and she plus the other Avengers are shocked and disgusted at the burns and scars that surround the empty eye sockets of Libra – Gustav Brandt. He re-ties the blindfold around his eyes and begins his tale. Continue reading

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MANTIS 12: SHOCKING REVELATIONS IN THE SHOWDOWN WITH ZODIAC

READER INTEREST IS THROUGH THE ROOF FOR THESE LOOKS AT THE SUPERHEROINE MANTIS. FOR PART 1 CLICK HERE 

Avengers 122 Trapped in Outer SpaceTHE AVENGERS Volume 1, Number 122 (April 1974) Trapped in Outer Space 

It’s kind of nice that you readers have been so enthusiastic about these nice little bits of escapism. That’s why I’m doing two per week now. We can all use a light-hearted distraction now and then. 

As our last installment ended, five Avengers (Thor, Iron Man, The Scarlet Witch, The Black Panther and The Vision) were battling seven of the twelve members of the supervillain team called Zodiac (Aries, Leo, Cancer, Aquarius, Pisces, Scorpio and Sagittarius).

The Avengers called MANTIS and the Swordsman were recovering from their injuries back at Avengers Mansion. Taurus, the leader of Zodiac, had lured the seven mutinous members of his criminal cartel to a seeming warehouse that was really a trap.

The Avengers, all unknowingly, had trailed the Zodiac superteam to that locale and had attacked them, only to have the battle royal interrupted by the taunts of Taurus. Taurus – openly revealing his true identity of billionaire Cornelius Van Lunt – launched the warehouse/ disguised spaceship into orbit to let his enemies die when their air runs out.    

TRAPPED IN OUTER SPACE

Synopsis: At first all of the Avengers and Zodiac members are pinned to the floor by G-Forces but eventually the huge deathtrap reaches its programmed altitude and settles into orbit. The reinforced steel door slides right to reveal the Earth far below and a mostly transparent force-field enclosing the entire warehouse.

Thor hurls his hammer at the force-field, but it just penetrates the force-field, which re-forms after it passes through. The hammer tries to return to Thor’s hand like usual but his relative position to the hammer has changed as the spaceship/ trap has moved along in its orbit. Thor’s hammer remains floating outside in the vacuum of space.

Mantis trapped in outer spaceThe Vision is not able to phase through the force-field because it is the same technology that Zodiac used to seal off Manhattan from the rest of the world in one of their previous clashes with the Avengers. In 1974, when this story was published, Thor would still magically transform back into his secret identity as the lame (as in limping), mortal Dr Donald Blake after 60 seconds without his hammer.

He leaps behind one of the prop boxes in the phony warehouse and pulls some tarp over himself just in time to avoid having Zodiac see what has happened to him. The villains HAVE noticed how paniced Thor became without his hammer Mjolnir and realize something is up. Aries leads his teammates in an attack to finish off Thor, who is obviously in dire straits.   Continue reading

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