I got your Thor right here!

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Anthologies, Short Fiction

I love Thor. The idea that a Nordic god has been kicking around in the Marvel Universe for decades fills me with a sort of geeky glee. That said, I haven’t been a huge fan of the comics. I’ve always loved the concept more than what they did with him as a general rule. Several years ago, they were looking to reinvent him and I put together a pitch that involved him tricked by Loki, nailed to the World Tree, and his consciousness cast back in time to the Dark Ages where he was stuck in the body of a young Viking caught up in an adventure over his head. Meanwhile, his old body died a death by inches on the tree, and the question was, is he really having this adventure, or is it a hallucination.

But that was an idea for Marvel’s Thor, an idea that went nowhere. It’s not the direction they want to take for a comic book read by kids. Such a shame.

But Thor as a Nordic god of Thunder, well, no one owns him, leaving him wide open to interpretation. When I was thinking of ideas for Cobalt City, I kept coming back to the idea of avatars. Big concepts, like decay and madness & corruption have agents who serve as their right hand, specifically the Queen of the Black Sigh and the King in Yellow, in my universe. So why not the gods? They had already been responsible for Doctor Shadow’s predicament, so why not give them a bigger role, specifically in the 70’s. Not only does it coincide with the Age of Aquarius, it also parallels the rise of the Weird Hero books from the big comics publishers. Thus, I found the inspiration to reinvent Thor in the body of an African-American veteran of the Vietnam War, returning home for the first time since coming back stateside to find a very different war waiting for him.

Welcome to the premise of my story for Cobalt City Timeslip, “The War at Home.” Enjoy a sample page below.

The house smelled of smoke when they opened the door. Errol waded through to the kitchen, cursing under his breath. “Damn lasagna burned. Should have come out of the oven half an hour ago. Sampson was supposed to be here taking care of this!”

“Maybe he fell asleep,” Cole answered. he looked out the window to John Sampson’s house across the street. The lights were on, and a crack of light showed through a door left ajar. Two shapes moved in silhouette against the blinds. “I’m going to go check on him, pops. you okay to deal with dinner?”

“I’ll be fine. I might be able to save some of it,” Errol called from the other room. “But don’t bother bringing that darned fool over for dinner. His fault for falling asleep on the job.”

Airborne Ranger training took over when Cole hit the street. He moved fast, shadow to shadow, approaching the house. His eyes did not stray from the dark shapes in the window. The distinctive grunts and thuds of a beating reached his ears by the time his feet found the steps of the porch.

Sparks jumped to Cold’s eyes. He clenched and unclenched his hand and thunder rolled ominously in the distance. Cole straightened , but deep in his heart, he knew that he really wasn’t entirely Cole Washington anymore. The avatar of Thor rode his shoulders like a well-worn coat, passed from friend to friend, soldier to soldier in the heat of battle as the All-Father intended. The porch creaked beneath his step and the sound of fighting inside came to an abrupt stop.

Cole gave in to instinct. Two swift steps carried him to and kicked open the door, revealing two punks standing over the prone, broken body of an old man. The skinny black kid held a steak knife, blade glistening wetly. The Latino punk had an axe handle in his meaty fists, brow beaded with exertion.

The knife waved in his direction, only vaguely threatening. “This ain’t none of your business, brother.”

“You gonna back up off my friend, there?”” Cole said. He could see the uncertainty in their faces. It was something he was used to seeing when he channeled the thunder god. Other than the sparks, there was nothing to indicate that he was anything other than just another Vietnam vet. But there was a presence, a weight, that Cole hadn’t possessed before. Even though the two robbers couldn’t see a difference, their lizard brain could feel it. This town had its share of super-heroes. The fact that Cold wasn’t in some kind of costume didn’t mean a damn thing.

The attackers hesitated, looked at each other. The Latino kid licked his lips nervously.

They made no effort to move.

Cole shrugged. Thunder inside the room. “You had your chance.” He snapped his fingers and sent lightning bolts arcing to the attackers. The shock sent the two men flying across the sofa. He listened and heard both men moaning. They would live, but wouldn’t be waking up for a while.

For the rest, including a Loki unlike any you’ve ever seen before, check out Cobalt City Timeslip.

And prepare to get thunderstruck.

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