Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

FROG-THOR. Greatest. Character. Ever?

Not sure if I have a whole lot else to say. I know a little bit of this reeks of the Disneyfication of Marvel Comics that we have sometimes dreaded. But I just don’t care right now. This is too brilliant. So are all the Pet Avengers actually. And to be fair I like how all of this is contained to its own book/continuity kind of thing.

Now how does Frog Thor exist? Well, believe it or not, Frog-Thor is really the THIRD Thor (fourth if you want to count Thunderstrike, a somewhat unnecessary mid-nineties replacement for the original. He had his moments, but mostly he just rocked the beard so he had that going for him, anyway).

Walt Simonson’s run on Thor in the 80’s was pretty groundbreaking. Really, epic stuff as this was Thor without the Superman flavor he had in the 60’s. Asgard, Ice Giants and Flame Demons, Hela and an army of dead warriors, big rainbow bridges…pretty out there stuff. Like Dungeons and Dragons and Rainbow Brite’s love child or something. Simonson did a lot to bring this comic to life, I think, and I have a feeling that vision of Asgard as dreamy, surreal and larger than life is going to be a part of the Thor movie. Although, I do think Millar’s ultimate Thor is going to be a large inspiration for the film too which I dig, but that’s a whole other post.

Anyway the relationship between Dr. Donald Blake and Thor is interesting. I always saw this as a little bit of the Captain Marvel- DC/Fawcett thing going on here. Blake and Thor were kind of the same guy -the same soul, maybe- but they also sort of switched places I think. It was never quite clear as sometimes Blake just seemed like Thor walking around with a secret identity. Other times, he’d strike that cane, grab that hammer, and start hocking ‘Thou’ around left and right like he was a different person.

Long story short, what I do know is THIS: only those of purest heart can pick up Mjolnir, Thor’s weapon. Blake is one of the only human beings capable of picking it up and thus becomes Thor when he does. So enter Beta Ray Bill. A heartbroken alien warrior whose own people experimented on him and made him a weapon, directed against the human race. Bill and Thor clash. Thor drops Mjolnir…and Bill picks it up. It’s sort of like for every race in the universe, there’s going to be ONE guy out there who’s that good, that pure. Bill was just that guy for his race. But what happens when Bill picks up the hammer? The enchantment kicks in! And he becomes ‘Thor’!

So yeah that’s Bill, if you’re ever wondering who that weird, horse-looking alien Thor guy was. Odin gave Bill his own weapon of comparable design to his son’s in Stormbreaker. So believe it or not, there’s kind of two ‘Thors’ running around out there. Now all of this is just pre-game for our new Thor on the block Frog-Thor, or ‘Throg’, or ‘Puddlegulp’. Or ‘Simon Walterson’- probably a hint to his creator’s name, Walt.

Where do I begin explaining how Puddlegulp became Thor? Partly, I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience of reading Simonson’s now classic run, but I will say that Thor maybe spent a little time as a frog himself. A magic whammy courtesy of his evil brother set Thor up in a big way. Now, here’s the WEIRD thing (if you can believe that)- I think Simonson was the first guy who picked this up and ran with it. But the Marvel Universe has this thing about frogs. I swear to god! Frogs make cameos in lots of different Marvel books. And, while no one seems to notice, the frogs are sophisticated, intelligent creatures.

They don’t speak English or fly around or do anything else un-frog like, but when Thor became one himself, it was like he traveled into a new land with its own culture. We are left to assume that the speak between Thor (as a frog) and the other frogs would sound like ‘Ribbit Ribbit’ to any human being listening, but we, the reader, are given insight into just what is being communicated. So frogs show up in Marvel stories. Most often in Thor and Dr. Strange, but you’ll see one jump out of the way when some huge, intergalactic rift is opening up, just off to the side of the panel. It won’t seem like a big deal, but why did the illustrator put that in there, anyway, right? Why take the time to draw that?

The frogs are this sort of benevolent culture, just under everyone’s noses in the Marvel Universe. Now the irony of this whole thing is that Frog-Thor was a human TOO. Simon Walterson was, seemingly, cursed by mystics and became a frog. But the thing is Puddlegulp -as his now Frog brothers call him- is sort of the destined Frog saviour or something. Like those mystics took a look at Walterson and saw something about him that was important and sort of knew that somehow, across time and space, the frogs of the Marvel Universe needed him.

Now, of course, it looks like Puddlegulp has found his true calling. Armed with Frogjolnir, Frog-Thor’s diminutive size belies his ridiculously awesome power. Literally wielding the power of Thor, Puddlegulp now rights wrongs in the animal community as befits a warrior of his stature.