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Ultimate Thor

Marvel Select
by yo go re

The Marvel Select figures just get better every time. They've come a long way from the early disappointments of Spider-Man and the Punisher, improving almost every facet of the figures with each new release. Following their main-Marvel Universe foray with the Green Goblin figure, it was back to the Ultimate Marvel world for their next figure, Thor.

He claims to be Thor, son of Odin, the legendary Norse God of Thunder. His throngs of supporters who read his self-help books and go to his lectures believe he is the new Messiah, here to save the world from those who make war and destroy the environment. Others think he is a washed-up ex-nurse who had a nervous break-down at the age of 30. When Nick Fury asked him to join the Ultimates, Thor told him he would be no nation's puppet but would come to help when the world was in danger. His strength, endurance and resistance to injury are unparalled. He wields the enchanted hammer Mjolnir and is able to control the elements of storm and lightning.

Marvel's "Ultimate" comics take the big iconic characters and strip them down to their essences, freeing the creators to tell any kind of story they want. One of the characters who has benefitted the most from this new attitude is probably Thor, the Marvel version of the Norse god of thunder.

In the regular comics, Thor has always been pretty goofy - he wore a big, winged helmet and spoke in iambic pentameter. Why anyone would think that a Viking god would speak perfect Shakespearean English is a total mystery. Does it make sense? I say thee nay! Still, as a member of the Ultimates (the "Ultimate" version of the Avengers), Thor's been given more personality in just ten issues than in 40 years.

Gone is the silly superhero costume. Sort of. Sculptor Sam Greenwell did a good job of capturing the costume that Ultimate Thor wears. There's no more cape, no more weird banded boots and, best of all, no more wings on his head. This Thor just has a few "superhero" elements over street clothes. He's wearing completely average boots, a pair of jeans, a pair of gloves and a sleeveless shirt. Other than the six big discs on his chest and belt (the only nod to the original Thor design), he looks like a weightlifter on his way home from the gym.

Okay, so maybe the discs aren't the only design elements lifted from the original. The Thor of myth had red hair, while Marvel's has always been a blonde. Ultime Thor also goes the fair-haired route, but it really just helps him look more Scandanavian. The figure's hair is molded from a soft plastic so it won't get in the way of the articulation, and he's got a pretty angry look on his face.

You can't have a Thor figure without his magic Uru hammer, Mjolnir, and Ultimate Thor doesn't disappoint. Rather than a little stone square on a stick, this Mjolnir is a mighty modern tool of war. It's big and flat on one side, like any hammer, while the other side is thinner, like an axe head. This double-sided implement is 4" long and can be held in either of the figure's hands.

Mjolner's handle has a tendency to bend and warp in the packaging - even looking through the blister, you can see that it's out of alignment. Fortunately, it does straighten out easily. Also, Thor is usually shown holding the hammer by the golden section near the head, but that piece is too large to fit the figure's hand.

ToyBiz and Diamond Select did a good job articulating Ultimate Thor; he's not superposeable, but he moves enough to get the job done. There are joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles, and together they give Thor a nice range of motion. At 7½" tall, he'll be a towering addition to your Avengers lineup.

In the comics, Ultimate Thor is a peacenik hippie. Sort of. They dropped the "Verily, t'is true" spiel in favor of a more realistic approach: he recognizes that rampaging supervillains aren't as big a threat as poverty and unchecked corporate influence, so that's what he focusses on. He forced the president to double America's international aid budget before he'd help bring down the Hulk. Thor's a good old-fashioned liberal, a pacifist with a big, scary hammer.

Like all the Marvel Select Figures, Ultimate Thor has a large, detailed base. His represents the aftermath of the team's battle with the Hulk, and shows the unconscious Giant Man lying in a pile of rubble. There's a hole in the back to allow you to mount the base on a wall, though there are no footpegs to hold Thor in place upon it. The base measures 9½" long by 7¾" wide.

The Marvel Select series is intended to eventually have 36 figures released one per month for three years. All the Select figures share the same oversized blister cards with nice graphics on the spine, allowing MOCers to display them like books on a shelf.

When he debuted in Marvel Comics, Thor's long flowing hair made him a counter-culture icon. So it makes sense today that his Ultimate counterpart would be a war protestor, an oppononent of globalization and generally have a vested interest in protecting and aiding the common man. We may never get a Marvel Legend of him, but this Select version is good enough.

-- 09/16/04

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