I’ve been doing this column for 190 entries, and there have been so many instances where we get a legacy hero. But it seems a little odd that a character like Thor can have a legacy. I mean, the character’s actual name is Thor. How can someone else be Thor when the guy is literally Thor?
As it is, Thor’s power can go to anyone “worthy” enough to lift his enchanted hammer Mjolinir. Somewhat recently, that was seen with a woman Thor that was eventually revealed to be longtime Thor supporting character Jane Foster. And while there have been others who have welded similar powers to Thor, most like Beta Ray Bill did so while maintaining a distinct superhero personality, but in the case of Jane Foster, she was still called “Thor”. But she wasn’t the first to do so, and that leads to one Eric Masterson.
Eric Masterson was an architect who found himself being saved by Thor on a routine basis.
Hey, it happens.
Anyway, Masterson started going on various missions with Thor, even meeting Hercules, when an attack by a supervillain left Masterson severely injured. Since he was himself a noble man, Odin saved Masterson’s life by putting Thor’s form and powers into the dying man.
As such, Eric became the new Thor, looking a lot like the old Thor, only wearing a mask covering the top of his face. It was connected to his helmet, but otherwise, he pretty much looked exactly like Thor. This was temporary the first time it happened.
Yes, I said the first time. Eric had a son named Kevin, and when Loki kidnapped the boy, Heimdall, filling in for Odin during the Odinsleep, separated Thor from Eric during the rescue and then banished Thor, making Eric Masterson into a new Thor.
Yeah, Eric wasn’t going to be a permanent Thor, but he did a lot of Thor-stuff in the meantime, confiding his real name with Captain America, joining the Avengers, and even being the Thor present for the madness that was the Infinity Gauntlet. But all things come to an end, and eventually the real Thor was located and returned.
But then Eric was manipulated by the Enchantress, and that led to Thor reclaiming his hammer on a more permanent basis. But because Eric was still a good man, Odin had a new uru weapon made, this time a mace, and that weapon became known as “Thunderstrike” complete with the legend “The World Still Needs Heroes”.
But after all that, someone at Marvel decided to give the new hero who quickly dubbed himself “Thunderstrike” his own series. And that’s what brings us to here, ostensibly the purpose of this week’s column.
Initially, there was one problem for the new hero, and that was aside from the weapon, he still looked like Thor. Sure, the Thunderstrike mace provided similar powers to Thor’s, but because Odin whipped up the new mace in something of a hurry, the power was more primal and unwieldy. The flight and the energy blasts were less controlled than when Thor used them, but the real problem of his appearance was solved fairly quickly by giving him a new look that was about as 90s as it could get: sleeveless leather jacket in place of the cape, ponytail, earring in one ear, you know the drill, but still keeping the more classic Thor look underneath it all.
Now, the thing is, Thunderstrike didn’t really take off the way Marvel might have hoped, so the creators ended up doing something unexpected: they killed him off. And he’s still dead as I type this. Thunderstrike actually had an archenemy named Bloodaxe. Just as Eric Masterson claimed the power of Thor originally through Mjolinir, Bloodaxe gained the power of the Executioner through, well, the bloodaxe. Bloodaxe’s identity was something of a mystery for a while because the power made the character over into a giant in formless armor and a red skull helmet. Bloodaxe was eventually revealed to be a woman Eric was romancing, so, yeah, that happened. But Eric managed to wrest the bloodaxe away from Bloodaxe (that sentence sounds really dumb), and the curse of the weapon eventually seeped into Eric’s mind. When he finally broke the curse by defeating an Executioner duplicate in his mind, the psychic backlash killed him. And aside from a temporary resurrection caused by the Grim Reaper, he hasn’t come back yet.
But hey, the world still needs heroes, and Eric did have a son.
Yeah, Eric may have stayed dead, but Thunderstrike didn’t because sometimes even a forgotten hero can be a legacy hero.