Title: The Coming of the Crusader
Release date: April 1983
Scripter: Alan Zelenetz
Plotter/Penciler: Bob Hall
Inker: Vince Colletta

Our Heroes (in order of appearance): The Mighty Thor and Sif
The Baddies: The Crusader and his faithful squire, Mr. Polowski

The issue opens with Our Favorite Asgardian™ soaring high above the skies of Chicago. He notices a crowd gathered in front of the Wrigley Building, arriving on the scene just as a comely redhead throws herself from the roof. Being the hero he is, Thor catches the maiden and delivers her safely to the crowd below. He's greeted by a cadre of Thor-worshippers, joined by the girl he just rescued. She knew Thor would save her... it was a set-up!!! Thor flees the scene to avoid the "cultists" and some heavy questions posed by a TV reporter on the scene.

WATCHING THE TV COVERAGE... A group of well-dressed seminarians is interrupted by fellow student Arthur Blackwood. Blackwood rails against his fellow priests-in-training for paying attention to the exploits of a purported pagan god. Blackwood, whose ancestors built the very seminary where they train, is about to punch out Manley, the pudgy toad of the school, when he's interrupted by Father William. William attempts to reason with Blackwood, who advocates "the avenging spirit of the church", which lands him a backhand to the jaw. Blackwood, newly expelled, skulks away from the seminary.

IN THE APARTMENT OF CHICAGO PHYSICIAN DON BLAKE... The sultry Sif does her best to look sexy while reclining on an uncomfortable-looking green couch, eating off TV trays and watching a 16" television with a crappy antenna connection. (C'mon Blake, you're a frigging doctor. Splurge a bit and get the goddess some cable!) It seems that Michigan Avenue isn't quite Asgard, and Sif (covertly "Sybil", Blake's cousin) is having trouble shedding the archaic "doths" and "yons" that the Marvel-ized Asgardians prefer. Between bites of Blake's shitty cooking, Sif watches a news report (on Blake's shitty TV, of course) that Chicago's mayor wants to award Thor the key to the city.

LATE THAT NIGHT, AT CHICAGO'S MUNDELEIN CEMETERY... Arthur Blackwood has bribed the gravedigger into letting him into his family's crypt after hours. Leaning on his father's tomb, he prays for help. He's greeted by the shimmering, disembodied head of his father (who looks quite a bit like Teddy Roosevelt), who chastizes Arthur for forsaking his heritage of religious zealots (including priests, crusaders and Knights Templar). Daddy Blackwood enlists his son to serve as a redundantly-titled "holy warrior of the faith" to "take up the sword against pagan infidels." While his faith remains true, Blackwood will have the combined might and skill of centuries of Christian zealotry! Out of thin air, a sword, shield and suit of mail appears!

TWO OPPOSING CROWDS GATHER AT THE DALEY CIVIC CENTER... Around the podium set up for the Mayor's meeting with the Thunder God and separated by only a handful of bored-looking cops are mobs of "Would somebody please think of the children?!?" Mrs. Lovejoy types and members of Thor's personal cult. The reporter from the previous day interviews several members of the crowd, including the comely redhead, as Thor drops in. Chicago's sleepy-eyed mayor, who apparently dragged her WAVE uniform out of the closet for the ceremony, presents Thor with the key. Just as Ol' Goldilocks bellies up to the mike to make a statement, a caped figure cries "BLASPHEMER AND INFIDEL!" from a nearby rooftop.

Hero and villain bicker a bit, sparking a riot in the crowd. (Those few cops working crowd control decided to go for some deep-dish.) Thor quiets the crowd with a few lightning bolts, but then has to face the wrath of the Crusader, who rappels down from his rooftop. At first, Thor thinks the Crusader to be an average mortal, and treats the guy with kid gloves. Only after the Crusader hurls a Plymouth Fury at him does Thor realize that he's in for more than a cakewalk. He catches the car, taking care to set it down without damaging it (and giving his foe time to retrieve his dropped sword and shield). Combat is rejoined, with Thor landing most of his blows ineffectually upon the Crusader's shield. But on the last page, Blackwood sees his opening and strikes, cutting a huge diagonal gash across Thor's face.

AND NEXT MONTH... The Crusader has to deal with a very, very, VERY pissed off Thunder God.

Plot holes doomed to the darkest depths of Hel
While it's never stated as fact, it seems obvious that Blackwood's a devout Catholic. He attends a seminary run by collared priests and espouses a return to the Church's crusading ways. But how then does he count priests among his forefathers? Even the Knights Templar swore oaths of celibacy, though they were rarely enforced.

And where did Blackwood find the spare suit of mail for Polowski?

Quotations deserved of a seat at Valhalla's dining tables
Blake: "Soup's on, Sif."
Sif: "I want no broth."
Blake: "No, no, that's just an expression. It means 'The food's ready.'"

--Thor, in the guise of Blake, explaining American idioms to his betrothed.

"I guess a little extra protection against the chaos of modern life... but... Ha! I'm beginning to sound like a deodorant commercial!"
-- Blake again, musing on people's spiritual need for Thor.

"Your end draws near, dog son of dark Odin, bloated on the blood of innocents!"
-- The Crusader, proving his in-battle banter to be better than his premise.

Advertisements dug up from the roots of the Tree of Life
Grit? Check. Olympic cards? Check. The one with the X-ray glasses and trick gum? Nope.

The back cover has two ads for games for the old Atari 2600 console. The back outer cover pumps up Reactor, the game that packs all the fun of running a nuclear power plant into one cartridge: "Knock out control rods! Shrink the reactor core!" Yay! And the back inside cover advertises the M Network games, which was Mattel's way to salvage some cash from their Intellivision franchise by porting their best games over to Atari. And inside is one of my favorite Marvel subscription ads: Magneto, Doctor Octopus and Dr. Doom seen singing Christmas carols through a window, while Spidey pokes his head through the fireplace. But the special offer expires January 31, 1983... d'oh!

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