Your eyes do not deceive you, dear reader: Thor vs. Stilt-Man. The Norse God of Thunder versus a nerd in a suit with hydraulic legs. The Avenger who can go toe-to-toe with the Hulk, against a loser who regularly thrashed by Daredevil. Thor, who had left the Avengers not much earlier because he felt he was too strong to hang with mortals, battling a guy on freaking stilts.
Oh, Len Wein tries really, really hard to sell this, pumping up Stilt-Man's rep beyond all imagining. They gave him an adamantium stilt suit this time, for example. Ohhhhh, scary. Listen to Stilt-Man's inflated sense of self:
Oh, no, not a "man who change his very height with the speed of thought!!" Why, that would make him nearly as powerful as Ant-Man!!
OK, wait a minute--battling a living god MAY be beyond you? You're Stilt-Man, for chrissakes!! You couldn't handle Black Widow!!
And after a 6-page battle (SIX PAGES!!!!), Thor finally remembers he's the God of Thunder, taps his hammer on the ground twice, and fries Stilty with lightning. Easy peasy (finally!). Yet somehow, Thor, who has fought Hercules, Ares, Iron Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, etc, etc., feels the need to give Stilt-Man some mad props:
A mighty foe? A MIGHTY FOE?!?!?! By Odin, what the Hel are you talking about, Thor? Stilt-Man couldn't give Volstagg a tough time!! Who's next on your "mighty foe" list: The Owl? The Chameleon?
What is especially baffling...you may have noticed the cover blurb pimping "Stilty's new partner!" Who, on the last page, is revealed to be Blastarr!! Len Wein, you have Blastarr waiting in the wings and you send Stilt-Man on as the warm-up act???
Truly a puzzling choice of villains. Len Wein was his own editor on Thor at the time, so it was apparently all his decision to have the God of Thunder a) fight Stilt-Man, b) have Stilt-Man give Thor a tough time, c) use an awful lot of dialogue to convince us that Stilty was actually a threat to Thor, and d) feature this battle on the cover (no doubt a vast boon to sales..."Hey, Billy, loan me 35¢ quick...Thor is fighting Stilt-Man!!"). Despite having the entire Marvel Universe to choose from, this was his choice?
Wein had done some interesting things in his 2+ year run, but clearly he had run out of ideas on what to do in the mag. His run ended 2 issues later.
Oh, and you probably can't tell it from those scans, but the interior art is by young Walt Simonson, in his first stretch as regular Thor artist. Walt's signature style was still evolving, and was buried under very heavy inking by Tony DeZuniga.
OK, I know I've over-reacted here...but good gosh, Thor vs. Stilt-Man???
So, anybody out there have their own nominations for Mismatch of the Millennium?
The New England Patriots versus the Arizona Cardinals of super-hero battles is from Thor #269, 1977.