By Matt Tuck
Time to break out the long boxes for Thor #391. As Thor: Love and Thunder set photos reveal a new look for the thunder god, is a forgotten 1990s character being teased at the same time?
THOR: LOVE AND THUNDERSTRIKE?
Set photos are fueling comic speculation lately. Last week, we had a report of a Mr. Negative sighting in Spider-Man 3. Now there is a clear allusion to the most ‘90s of ‘90s’ characters, Thunderstrike.
As you can see in the picture, Thor is rocking some post-1980s fashion, especially with his leather vest that walked straight out of a hair-metal music video. If you will recall, that is the favorite look of Thunderstrike. Remember him?
THUNDER, THUNDER, THUNDERSTRIKE!
Maybe not. Despite Marvel Comics’ best efforts, they could not get fans behind Hair-Metal Thor.
Who is he?
In the comics, Thunderstrike was the codename for two different characters. First, there was Eric Masterson, who, like Donald Blake before him, lifted Mjolnir and merged with the God of Thunder in Thor #408. After a battle with Loki, Heimdall would combine the two, giving them Thor’s body with Eric’s mind in Thor #432.
This would go on for several issues until the two would separate. Thor Odinson then retook Mjolnir while Eric would wield his own weapon as Thunderstrike. In 2011, Eric’s son, Kevin Masterson, took up his father’s mantle in Thunderstrike #1.
Since Jane Foster will have the power of the thunder god and control Mjolnir, she would be the “love” in Love and Thunder. Could that mean the “thunder” in the title is referring to Thor taking on the guise of Thunderstrike? We may even see him merge with either Eric or Kevin Masterson in the film, which makes now the prime time to get your hands on those Thunderstrike keys.
To be honest, I never thought I would write those words, yet here we are. The 2020s are a strange time to be alive.
Of all the Thunderstrike keys, this will be the first one to feel the inflation from the Love and Thunder speculation.
Eric Masterson, the more famous of the Thunderstrikes, made his debut in this 1988 issue. If he does appear in the movie, look for this issue to become red hot. Just remember that is a big if.
Since it is the premiere of a minor character, this is the most expensive issue on today’s list, but it could well be worth your investment dollars. Over the past 90 days, the 9.8 has averaged $131, but prices are already going up. On January 20, one brought a record-high $170.
Do not let that price intimidate you. The “raw” copies are selling for about $10 on eBay, though you are rolling the dice on grade with those buys.
If you are going to collect the Thunderstrike keys, you might as well gamble on this issue. What’s special about it? It is the first appearance of Eric’s son, Kevin, the successor to the Thunderstrike mantle and eventual member of the Asgardians of the Galaxy.
While the jury is still out on either character appearing in Love and Thunder, Eric is the odds-on favorite, but this issue is too cheap not take the risk on Kevin, at least for a raw, ungraded copy. You also get the added bonus of the first appearance of Bloodaxe, whose name is too metal not to get Taika Waititi’s attention. His name even sounds like a metal band, and Waititi is obviously going for a heavy metal theme, considering the style of the Love and Thunder logo.
On the graded end of things, Kevin’s debut has a 90-day fair market value of $96 for the near-mint-plus 9.8. The most recent sale saw one earn a near-record high $103 on January 15. Just like his old man, Kevin’s first appearance is selling for next to nothing without the 9.8 slab. A January 31 sale saw one go for $0.99, and others were selling for no more than about $10 as of the time of this writing.
This is the issue when Eric splits from Thor and becomes his own character, Thunderstrike. Instead of a hammer, Eric wields a magic mace, also named Thunderstrike. It is essentially another version of Mjolnir, like Beta Ray Bill’s Stormbreaker.
The good part is that prices are relatively inexpensive at the moment. At a 9.8, the last graded copy sold in November for $89, which is on par with its $81 average from 2019. If you are looking for a “raw” copy, the eBay sold listings see the issue typically earn about $40, though some have gone for closer to $70 in recent weeks.
It is safe to say that the name “Thunderstrike” will be uttered in Love and Thunder. Whether or not it will be more than a passing reference is anyone’s guess, but it will be worth taking the gamble. The stage is very much set for Thunderstrike to arrive in the MCU in one way or another.