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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Space Phantoms Are Even Trained to Think Lies to Themselves!

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked.

Today we examine the story of how the Space Phantom tricked Thor into giving up the time-travel ability of Mjolnir.


In Thor #282 (written by Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio), Thor helps the Space Phantom save the Phantom’s home world.

Here, we have the Space Phantom think to himself about how he needs Thor’s help…

It ends with Immortus getting involved and he explains how Thor can save the planet – by giving up the ability of Mjolnir to travel through time…

In Avengers Forever #8 (written by Kurt Busiek), however, this was revealed to be all part of a plot by Immortus to get Thor’s time-traveling ability as part of Immortus’ plan to keep the Avengers from traveling through time willy nilly.

Here, the Space Phantom (well, A Space Phantom, we also learn that the Space Phantom that the Avengers met over the years was actually a bunch of different people who all just look alike) explains how he was even trained to THINK the lie he was telling Thor!

I still love that bit so much. “I trained myself to THINK the lie.” Now that‘s devotion to a retcon!


Note the Lex Luthor cameo, very dignifiedly riding Doc Ock piggyback.

Just re-read Avengers Forever for the first time in years, and I have a new appreciation for how Busiek could make a coherent narrative out of all that convoluted history. It’s a feat of tremendous skill :)

I maintain to this day that the Wasp and Hawkeye who had sex in Chuck Austen’s Avengers were both Space Phantoms.

That’s a retcon I always thought was kind of a reach. Why not just say that Immortus was deceiving BOTH Thor and the Space Phantom? Same result, MUCH less convoluted.

I must admit that that thought did cross my mind while I was featuring it.

Luthor? Why would that not be Charles Xavier? He is the one who needs carrying, so to speak…

It’s Luthor — the panel is from Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man, as confirmed in Busiek’s notes for the story publishe din a later issue.

Steven R. Stahl

December 6, 2011 at 9:01 am

There are other potential holes in the storyline; I admit to not being an expert on Mjolnir.

How believable is it that the hammer could be depleted of any type of magical energy? It’s not like a battery that has to be recharged. If the enchantment that gave the hammer its time travel ability was removed/depleted, Thor could have the enchantment restored by Asgardians.

The Phantom’s thought, “With Thor’s immortal body to plug the nexus at Phantus’ temporally-unstable core” does not read very well.

The bits shown make the storyline seem like one motivated by an editorial desire to rid Thor’s hammer of an inconvenient power. That might have been a case of antiquated thinking, since one’s own past can’t be changed anyway.


to be fair, the last panel of the original Thor story sows the seeds for this retcon ‘I am gnawed by the notion that this was all a contrivance to cleave my hammer of its time spanning might’ – nice little throwaway line by the writer to allow for retcons OR (just as likely) the writer breaking the 4th wall and revealing the purpose of the story (‘thor being able to time travel at will is rather too powerful so we got rid of it’).

I do think the ‘For the honor of an oath, for the comfort of an enemy…’ line. Very Thor.

I am confused as to how Immortus could have just been lying to the Space Phantom, as the story also emphasized that the Space Phantom’s home planet didn’t actually exist, which you think the Space Phantom would have known. So presumably he had to be in on it. Unless I missed something, which is also quite likely.

Not to take anything away from Busiek’s great work, but so much of why Avengers Forever is awesome is owed to co-plotter Roger Stern. Marvel chose not to put his name on the front covers and most people think Busiek wrote Avengers Forever all by himself. Not so. Uncle Rog is a genius and deserves much more recogntiton for this series then he seems to get.

I love Gruenwald having Thor plainly state the purpose of the original story. It makes me wish Peter had mused, as the deal with Mephisto was being completed, “I can’t help but think the whole purpose of this is to make me a younger and more accessible Spider-Man.”

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