In 1973, MARVEL SPECTACULAR picked up the Thor reprints from SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION left off the previous year (with enough of a gap that they added an apology for it on the first page). "The Power of Pluto" is reprinted from THOR #128. As we open, Thor is recovering from the battle with Seidring. I find it amusing that his bed is in the shape of a viking ship, as it makes me think of those race-car beds made for five-year-old boys. Anyway, proud papa Odin visits, actually feeling guilty for weakening Thor, leading to his injuries, and dispenses ironic Odinic justice to Seidring. Meanwhile, on Earth, Hercules proves to be as smart as a bagful of hammers, as he lets Pluto convince him to sign a "movie contract" that really consigns him to rule the netherworld in Pluto's place (although, to be fair, that movie set Pluto built for the ruse was spectacular). After recovering with some hunting and dueling in Asgard, Thor seeks out Hercules to avenge his honour from his defeat two issues before, only to see Herc under seige from the denizens of the netherworld, and comes to his aid.
They're victorious after Pluto departs, but Hercules knows he'll still have to deal with Pluto taking his contract to Zeus, which even Thor knows is a bad thing.
This whole sequence with Hercules is rousing good fun, with some of the best fight scenes Kirby ever did. I've got it all in scattered formats, so I'm looking forward to seeing it straight through in black and white (and I find Colletta somewhat improved without the colour, as long as they're able to get a solid reproduction source) in the upcoming ESSENTIAL THOR v2.
They also pick up the "Tales of Asgard" reprints, which were running a year behind, so this issue has "The Challenge" from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #116. This is one of the stories where Loki tries to trap Thor, this time by encouraging King Hymir of the ridiculously big crown to challenge Thor to various tasks. Thor almost fails, but thanks to his charm with the ladies and his willingness to kill the King he triumphs, much to Loki's frustration. And I have to say, those Asgardians let Loki get pretty far before they finally realized he was a villain.
This was one of those eras where they apparently thought word balloons on the cover were what sold comics, so this issue reprints the original cover from THOR #128, but with some superflous dialogue and much brighter colours.
All inks by Colletta.
Published August 1973