Thor and Loki Hilariously Guest Star in ‘Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose’
Over the past few weeks, we here at ComicsAlliance have talked quite a bit about Thor. We’ve covered the recent blockbuster Marvel movie, the video game tie-ins, and we’ve even taken an in-depth look at the SyFy Channel’s low-budget knockoff. But there’s one dubious tie-in that we’ve yet to discuss:
The current story arc in Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, in which Tarot’s boyfriend fights Loki with Thor’s hammer. It’s hard to believe that the timing of this particular arc is a complete coincidence, but regardless, the end result has become one of the strangest and most ridiculous stories in the comic’s eleven-year run. And considering this is Tarot we’re talking about, that’s saying something.Long-time readers will probably already be aware that I have a deep and abiding love for Tarot, but if you’re new, here’s the deal: Created by Jim “The Talent” Balent, Tarot follows the adventures of the title character, a ludicrously busty witch who protects the mortal world from the world of magic, and vice versa. She’s joined by her sister, the even more ludicrously busty Raven Hex (who is sometimes good and sometimes bad), a bisexual nymphomaniac werecat lingerie boutique owner named Boo, and of course, her boyfriend Jon, alias The Skeleton Man. He is, and this cannot be overstated, the worst super-hero of all time.
And he’s the one who takes center stage in the current arc, which is a good sign of just how insane things are going to get. The Jon-centric issues always propel new heights, although in all honesty, “heights” might not be the right word. That time that Jim Balent drew a werewolf that was just a sexy naked lady with Courage Wolf’s head that was fighting a woman with an electrified taser bra? That was a Jon issue. And of course, the most infamous issue of the title, the one where this happened?
Oh you best believe that was a Jon issue. In fact, it’s the one where he cemented his status as the Worst Super-Hero Ever by being completely unable to stop a gang of evil ghosts, even when they literally gave him the street addresses of the women they were planning to ghost-murder. Seriously.
This arc, however, features neither wolf-heads nor ghost-parts. Instead, it opens on the relatively mundane event of the Skeleton Man (who can see and talk to ghosts, and thus defends them from the astonishing 83% of Salem’s population that appear to make their living as grave robbers) having an argument with his spoooooky charges when Thor falls out of the sky and destroys his home.
Faced with an exploded house and a KO’ed Thunder God, Jon then does the logical thing: He takes Thor’s magic gauntlets, belt and hammer and tromps off to go fight Loki. You know, like you do.
It’s worth noting that Balent goes out of his way to portray Thor as the red-bearded thunder god of the original myths and distinguish him from Marvel’s blonde version, to the point where he basically starts talking directly to the reader with some recommendations on further reading:
That, for the record, is the truest statement that has ever appeared in this comic.
Of course, as it turns out, Thor’s homewrecking unconsciousness is the result of an evil plan by Loki, who shows up to try to recruit Tarot’s sister. I should say at this point that this is the only Tarot story I can remember that doesn’t involve explicit nudity. Don’t get me wrong, the characters are still frequently naked, but with the strategic placement of hair and such. Either way, rather than seeing Raven Hex kicking it Skyclad, we are treated to the most improbable article of clothing I’ve ever seen, even with a lifetime of reading super-hero comics: A metal cemetery gate halter top.
That is, in all seriousness, amazing, especially when you throw in her truly absurd cemetery fence crown. We should all be so committed to an aesthetic.
Raven and her wrought iron lingerie are accosted by Loki, and even though she conjures up the Dark Mark from the Harry Potter books (seriously) and enlists the aid of Tarot and their mom, Loki’s still a god, and smacks them all down pretty handily. Loki takes Raven Hex prisoner and teleports Tarot out to the middle of town, where he’s
opened up the Casket of Ancient Winters just like in Marvel comics conjured up a crazy magic(k)al snowstorm. Meanwhile, Hel the Goddess of the Underworld shows up, and since most depictions of Hel show her as half beautiful woman/half corpse, Balent goes ahead and picks the top half to be the beautiful woman so that she can still have a totally sweet rack.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the BroadSword Comics ouvre, I can assure you that sweet racks are a recurring theme.
Now, fans of Tarot — fans of Tarot who aren’t me, anyway — often praise the book for having what they consider to be a strong female lead, which I don’t think is entirely accurate. After all, this ist he part of the story where Tarot gets sent to fight some frost giants, and you’d think that this would be a pretty good place for her to show off the super-powerful magic(k)s that have earned her the often repeated title of “Sword Maiden to the Goddess,” right?
Yeah, about that.
Okay, okay, admittedly, in between getting slapped around by giants — or as I like to call it, “pulling a Wasp” — Tarot does fly around and call down some magic lightning. But then… this is where it starts to get crazy.
The third — and most recent — issue of the story finds the Skeleton Man and Tarot’s Mom running around the snow-covered wasteland that is Northeastern Massachusetts, when they are attacked by the Midgard Serpent (of course they are), who promptly rips off Tarot’s Mother’s arms and legs and eats her.
And that is hilarious.
Not because I’m particularly fond of seeing people get violently dismembered in comics — I think we’ve all probably had quite enough of that in recent years — but because in 68 issues and 11 years of comics, Tarot’s Mom has never actually gotten a name. So when Jon attempts to avenge her death, full of anguish and rage at what has happened, he has to say this:
Sort of undercuts the emotion there, doesn’t it? But on the bright side, it definitely adds to the hilarity.
The worst/best/worst again bit, though, comes a few pages later, when Jon uses a magic amulet to try to find Tarot, only to find that those frost giants from earlier have killed her, impaled her, roasted her over a fire and torn her body in half. And even though the skin and hair have burned off her body, her ginormous breasts remain intact.
They are, however, slightly tanned. Strong female lead, everybody!
And that’s how the issue ends. There is, of course, one more issue to go before the storyline finishes, and considering that a) this is in fact a super-hero comic, b) Balent tells you right in the name of the story that this is about “The Trickster God,” and c) the comic isn’t called Tarot’s Dumb Boyfriend The Skeleton Man, I’m pretty sure that Tarot’s death is going to end up being a somewhat temporary condition.
And hey, maybe this is actually a plot point. Maybe we’re going to find out that Tarot’s breasts are actually invulnerable, like the opposite of an Achilles Heel. I mean, at this point? That makes about as much sense as anything else in this comic.