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Author Topic: Thor knows KARATE?  (Read 11512 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: November 02, 2005, 08:31:02 PM »

It's an interesting thing about Thor comics: the more they got away from Norse mythology, the more interesting the stories got. One would think it would be the opposite, but some of the best Thor Silver Age stories involved the Black Galaxy, Ego, the Planet with a Face on It, the Raddish-headed Rigellians, the fascinating concept of the Destroyer suit, and one of Thor's more enduring contributions to the Marvel Universe, the High Evolutionary.

I direct your attention to THOR #115 (1966).

By accident, the High Evolutionary creates the Super-Beast, a wolf with a mind 1,000,000 years ahead of man's current state. The Superbeast is able to defeat Thor because his knowledge of combat techniques is 1,000,000 years more advanced than any yet known, using knowledge of Pressure Points that could disarm even Thor's molecules. This interesting weakness was used much later by the Mantis against Thor, disarming him with nerve cluster hits. Now, when the Superbeast (possessing knowledge of fighting styles not to be discovered for several million years) uses a Karate Chop against Thor, Thor is heard to remark:

"A Karate Chop - but one unlike ANY I have EVER SEEN!"

Whoa, hold up. How many Karate Chops has Thor seen in his day?

Does this mean Thor knows Karate?

It couldn't possibly be because Don Blake knows Karate, and this knowledge was transferred to the Thunder God; for one thing, each time Thor has to use his medical skills, he transforms back into Dr. Blake, indicating that the knowledge the two possess is separate; that is, Thor has no access to Blake's abilities. Also, Don Blake has been established as a noncombatant; his lameness may preclude knowledge of advanced Martial Arts.

It could just be that Thor has seen Karate performed in a movie or possibly by his Avengers ally Captain America, and so he knows what a Karate Chop looks like. However, given the nature of the statement it implies specialized, detailed knowledge - how would one Karate Chop look different from any other?

One possible explanation: perhaps Captain America devoted some time to showing Thor a few combat tricks when he was an active Avenger?

Both Hawkeye and Hank Pym were shown to know Judo as a result of Avengers combat training, which is presumably mandatory. Does that mean Thor may have been taught a few Karate moves, too? Surely the lustful warrior Thor would not turn his nose down at a few new fighting techniques he is unfamiliar with.

The Norse Gods lost interest in Earth for hundreds of years; Karate was invented in the 19th Century in Okinawa, when the Asgardians were aloof from Midgard. Thor might surprise some of the Asgardians with his knowledge of techniques that developed since their days on earth; can you imagine Thor teaching a Feng Shui course for stressed out Viking gods?

One can't imagine the hot-blooded Thor doing something so relaxing, but that is a pretty funny mental image.
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2005, 09:10:58 PM »

Not having read that particular book, let me speculate from pure ignorance so please forgive me if I make any blunders.

Thor is given to bombastic, grandiose statements.  If he had to tie his shoes he'd say it in some overly stated manner completely out of proportion to the task at hand.  Perhaps this is part of why he said that karate chop remark.

Thor hasn't seen all manner of karate moves but he probably has seen some in his time in the 20th century.  He probably knows the general nature of the move and might have seen a martial arts film or even a tournament.  It would be in character for Thor to watch a karate tournament just for enjoyment given his warrior nature.

Regardless of how much real karate he's seen, Thor has seen at least some demonstration of a karate chop.  Perhaps the Superbeast's skill use was so remarkably great, esp. to Thor's trained warrior eye, that it stood out far and away from anything our modern karate had to offer.  Modern practitioners operate within normal human skill and body limits.  What that beast did obviously exceeded anything achievable for us, which would stand out to the trained warrior Thor.  What he can't do, Thor certainly can observe and remark on the same way a good coach may not be better at basketball than Michael Jordan but he certainly can notice what the man is doing right or wrong.

Or maybe I'm just completely off my rocker here ...  :wink:
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Captain Kal

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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2005, 02:02:08 PM »

Please let me add a more explicit example re: difference in skill/execution levels.

The difference in skill/execution Thor observed would be like comparing a kid fumbling onto the ice in hockey gear for the first time (normal human karate level) with a top-notch NFL player like Gretzky (Superbeast).  If the difference were that dramatic, it wouldn't even take Thor's warrior eye to notice it as any one of us would be able to.
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Captain Kal

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nightwing
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2005, 04:12:46 PM »

Quote
Thor is given to bombastic, grandiose statements. If he had to tie his shoes he'd say it in some overly stated manner completely out of proportion to the task at hand. Perhaps this is part of why he said that karate chop remark.


Ha!  As Homer Simpson says, "It's funny because it's true!"  :lol:

Also, Julian, you may be reading too much into this.  Thor said it was a karate chop unlike any he'd ever seen.  But he didn't say he was an expert on karate.  Therefore for all we know he'd only seen one karate chop before in his whole life.  And so the chop delivered by the Superbeast wouldn't have to be all that special at all to dazzle Thor with it's "uniqueness," would it?  And as Captain Kal says, it would fit in with his overblown speech to make a big deal about it.

This whole conversation reminds me of Maxwell Smart and one of his running gags.  An example occurs in the film, "the Nude Bomb," where the entrance to a villain's hideout is a gigantic zipper.  Of course as soon as it opens and a truck drives out, Max says, "That's the second biggest zipper I've ever seen!"   :lol:
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2005, 04:48:58 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
The difference in skill/execution Thor observed would be like comparing a kid fumbling onto the ice in hockey gear for the first time (normal human karate level) with a top-notch NFL player like Gretzky (Superbeast). If the difference were that dramatic, it wouldn't even take Thor's warrior eye to notice it as any one of us would be able to.


Hmmm, this might be the case. The very fact that it CONNECTS - against a guy like Thor who is no slouch in a fight and knows how to keep his guard up - might imply such a statement; Superbeast was just that good, so of course it would be a move LIKE Thor's never seen (in terms of skill level) instead of a move that Thor's never seen.

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
 Thor is given to bombastic, grandiose statements. If he had to tie his shoes he'd say it in some overly stated manner completely out of proportion to the task at hand. Perhaps this is part of why he said that karate chop remark.


Hee hee! Well, Thor's dialogue was always theatrical and antiquated, but there's a funny thing about it: the more you read it, the more and more natural it gets.

A while back I made a post saying how one of my favorite superhero comics was Kirby's Fourth World. While I do love MISTER MIRACLE a lot, after reading MIGHTY THOR again, I'm not sure I'd have it on that list again. Thor had everything that Fourth World had: acid-trip weirdness, amazing Kirby art, fantasy worldbuilding, gadgets..and it was also FUNNY a lot of the time, thanks to Stan Lee. Kirby never made me laugh; not once.
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2005, 06:59:52 PM »

I'd take that karate chop connecting with a bit of a grain of salt.  The convention in the books is everybody gets to tag everybody else at least once in an encounter.  Even the top-tier super-speedsters get tagged at least once by the normals in a bout.  It's a given in the genre.  Maggin tried explaining this as a side-effect of the metagene in that it give the possessor a measure of initiative.  IOW, metas have a bigger than normal share of sheer luck for both hitting their targets and avoiding being pulped by superior forces.

Of course, the fact that it connects and Thor makes that remark at the same time is perhaps proof that this isn't the usual meta-gets-to-tag-Thor theme.
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Captain Kal

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
-- The Dalai Lama
JulianPerez
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« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2005, 10:15:03 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
I'd take that karate chop connecting with a bit of a grain of salt.  The convention in the books is everybody gets to tag everybody else at least once in an encounter.  Even the top-tier super-speedsters get tagged at least once by the normals in a bout.  It's a given in the genre.  Maggin tried explaining this as a side-effect of the metagene in that it give the possessor a measure of initiative.  IOW, metas have a bigger than normal share of sheer luck for both hitting their targets and avoiding being pulped by superior forces.

Of course, the fact that it connects and Thor makes that remark at the same time is perhaps proof that this isn't the usual meta-gets-to-tag-Thor theme.


Well, that's DC physics, not Marvel, but it is an interesting theory nonetheless, at least to consider. I was never a fan of its application; Johnny Redbeard's GENESIS made me wish DC would never, ever mention the metagene ever again; suddenly human heroism no longer became about guts and gumption, but because a planet blew up at the dawn of the universe and that's why firefighters can rescue little children.

(Which begs the question: why is anybody heroic in the REAL world, where there was no Genesis wave?)

The problem with "the nation that controls magnesium controls the universe" metatheories when applied to superheroism and superpowers is, they make every other origin illegitimate. It wasn't REALLY the lightning and the chemicals that gave us the Flash, but the Genesis wave activating Barry Allen's metagene. Something that was previously straightforward now becomes almost an afterthought.

It doesn't QUITE apply in this instance, because the Superbeast was a super-physical monster that presumably had super-physical agility and speed, which was how he was able to strike at Thor.

Although I did like the explanation that Kurt Busiek had for how even super-speedsters could be struck in a fight occasionally, when Steeljack battled MPH: "I've fought fast guys before," he said, and how he beat him was not a measure of initiative, but the fact that he was able to anticipate where his enemy was going to be and trip him this way. In other words, taking on speedsters by slow guys is more a matter of tactics - and even here, it isn't a perfect strategy; Steeljack noted that this trick would only work once before MPH adjusted for it.

Another way for normal guys to defeat speedsters is by surprise, which is how Captain America defeated the Whizzer in Steve Englehart's Serpent Crown story: throw the shield, have the Whizzer dodge, and let the shield get the fast guy in the back when it bounces.
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
Captain Kal
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2005, 03:21:21 PM »

Point well taken re: metagene doesn't apply to Marvel.

Just the same, the previous point stands.  The genre has the convention of everyone getting to do themselves honour by scoring at least one hit in an encounter, no matter how impossible that would be in the real world.  Maggin chose to come up with a possible explanation.  Marvel fails to even try on this.

I'd like to speak about the other aspect you brought up but time is pressing at work today.  I'll get to them in another post.
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Captain Kal

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
-- The Dalai Lama
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