Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes, by Rick Riordan – The follow-up to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods has Riordan’s own demigod hero retelling the tales of the human heroes of the ancient Greek world with plenty of snide comments and anachronisms. All of the major heroes are included here, as are a few who didn’t get quite as much press, particularly some female ones. Not included are the heroes primarily associated with the Trojan War. Percy also applies Riordan’s notion that many demigods have Attention Deficit Disorder to Theseus, explaining that he was restless and always seeking action. That explains why he was such an effective hero, but a terrible king and husband. As with the preceding volume, there are many excellent full-page color illustrations by John Rocco.
The Sword of Summer – The beginning of Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, which is intended to do the same for Norse mythology that the author already did for Greco-Roman and Egyptian. While these other two series were eventually tied together, this one is immediately revealed to take place in the same world, with its main hero being the cousin of Annabeth Chase, who shows up a few times. After the death of his mother, Magnus has been living on the streets of Boston. On his sixteenth birthday, he learns that he’s also a demigod, only the son of a Norse god instead of a Greek one. He dies in a battle with the fire demon Surt and ends up in Valhalla, but death doesn’t stop him from pursuing adventures throughout the Norse worlds.
He’s accompanied by a fashion-conscious dwarf, a deaf elf who knows runic magic, a disgraced Valkyrie who is a daughter of Loki, and the titular talking sword itself. They visit the worlds of the dwarves and frost giants as well as the prison of the wolf Fenris, running into such notable figures as Thor, his magically regenerating goats, the son of the dwarf who forged his hammer, the Midgard Serpent, and Mimir‘s disembodied head. As in Riordan’s other series, there are indications that the ancient gods have been active throughout history, as one of the einherjar is a Civil War soldier and one of the Thanes of Valhalla none other than Davy Crockett. There are also acknowledgements of the popular portrayals of the Norse gods in modern media, with Magnus noting that Frey is more similar to Marvel’s Thor than the actual Thor, who is more of a rough-and-tumble kind of guy.
I read a few more of Marvel’s Thor comics as well, although it’s difficult that the library never seems to carry complete story arcs, and switching around can be really confusing. I did find the first collection of Walter Simonson’s run, which I’ve heard is iconic, and it really was a good take on the character and the universe.
Thor fights and later teams up with the alien hero Beta Ray Bill, who’s actually able to wield his hammer. On his return to Midgard, he takes on a new civilian identity as construction worker Sigurd Jarlson, for which he basically just ties his hair into a ponytail and wears glasses. There’s a good gag where, just after adopting this disguise, he runs into a reporter named Clark.
Later, his foreman thinks he’s actually Spider-Man.
The Black Galaxy Saga sees Thor sharing the body of architect Eric Masterson, who is engaged in a custody battle for his son. He’s also rooming with Hercules, and the Celtic god Leir shows up in Asgard to woo Sif. Thor ends up having to prevent Ragnarok by banishing Surtur (yep, same guy as in the Magnus Chase book, although the name is transliterated differently) and Ymir into a rift in space.
Also featured is the High Evolutionary, who seeks to create gods using his own genetic powers. I guess it makes sense within the Marvel universe, although the writers don’t seem to be entirely sure how evolution works. Still, when Marvel is trying to fit together a world in which incredibly advanced science, magic, the gods of classical mythology, and space aliens all co-exist, there are bound to be some cheats.
Speaking of Norse mythology, I think I’d like to dress up as Odin someday. Halloween is coming up in a few days, but since I’m not planning on going anywhere, I doubt I’ll bother assembling a costume. Maybe at some point in the future, though. When that will be, not even the wisdom of Mimir’s well can tell me.