The last time I did a comprehensive Thor re-read I stopped with the last of the Kirby issues (or rather the last volume of MMW Thor which had Kirby stories in it). As I explained in my Doctor Strange discussion thread, in the days when i was still actively building my backissue collection, I collected in three direction: from the present forward, from the present back, and from the beginning forward (in this case, primarily Special Marvel Edition and Marvel Spectacular, but also early editions of Marvel Tales and Thor Annual). Also like Doctor Strange, Thor is another title for which I have significant gaps (mostly between #229 and #271). Although I have previously read through #228 (some 35 years ago), the last time I did a read-through I stopped with MMW volume nine. Because I recently started a "Post-Kirby Fantastic Four" discussion and the MMW volumes of the respective series are roughly analogous in terms of release date, I thought I'd jump back and forth for a little variety.
After Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC, Stan Lee wrote two issues illustrated by Neal Adams followed by two issues illustrated by John Buscema. That brings me up to MMW v10 and Thor #184. Volume 10 comprises eleven issues, #184-194, eight of which are written by Stan Lee, all of which are illustrated by John Buscema. The last two issues in the volume are written by Gerry Conway. The comics are inked by a bevy of great inkers including Joe sinnott, Bill Everett, Sam grainger, Jim Mooney and Sal Buscema.
We'll start with issue #184.
#301: This issue is a recap of and an epilogue to #300. It also gives further insights into the New Young Gods and writes finis to all of the previous false Ragnaroks. Thor is the sole [Asgardian] survivor of the conflict with the Celestials, and he must sue the other pantheons to contribute a fraction of their power to revive the other Asgardians. He visits the Greek Gods, the Egyptian, Chinese, Incan, Aztec, Eskimo, Persian, Japanese, African, Celtic, Aboriginal and Native American in turn and all agree to help. It is only when he visits the Hindu Gods that his entreaty is turned down.
The refusal is surprising because Vishnu (the preserver-force) was an ally of Odin's a millennium ago against the Third Host. But Nirvana is ruled by a trinity, and Brahma (the creator-force) and Shiva (the destoyer-force) both object. Thor defeats Shiva and obtains the reaming God-force to restore the Asgardians. This he does, and a nine-day celebration begins.
#302: At the end of the nine days, Thor decides to return to Midgard and resume his Don Blake identity (for the first time since #267). Although all of the Asgardians have been restored, Balder was restored from a condition of life-within-death in which he had existed for a year, and the eperience has changed him. Physically, his hair has turned white, but psychologically he has vowed "ne-er again [to] dispatch a foe to that hated shadow realm in which I did wander!"
Story-wise, Macchio and Gruenwald decided not to try to top themselves with another cosmic storyline, so they introduced a small, bald-headed man who had developed the ability to concieve of prefect geometric shapes and then bringing them into physical reality where he could mentally use them as weapons. Locus (as they called him) possessed the power of mathematics unleashed!
The volume ends with two Hercules solo stories from Marvel Treasury Edition #24 & 26. Both are written by Jo Duffy, with art by Ricardo Villamonte and Ken Landgraf (who?) respectively. I bought most of the early Marvel Treasury Editions, but as the serires wore on, I bought fewer and fewer. I don't know if that was simply because I didn't see them for whatever reason, or because they started reprinting comics I already had. Probably a little of both. The penultimate issue (#26) is one I would really like to own because it reprints one of my favorite Hulk sequences (Modok/Harpy). But that's no going to happen because, although #24 features Hyppolyta, #26 features Wolverine inked by George Perez! #24 is rare but, because it features Wolverine, #26 has been reprinted multiple times.
MMW Thor v19 kind of peters out toward the end, but what I would like to see is a single omnibus edition featuring the entire "Celestials" arc: Annual #7 and Thor #283-301.
"What I would like to see is a single omnibus edition featuring the entire 'Celestials' arc: Annual #7 and Thor #283-301."
Actually, Marvel released Thor and the Eternals: The Celestials Saga (tpb), reprinting those issues exactly, in January.
I had this discussion timed to reach the last volume of MMW Thor at exactly the point my "Post-Kirby Fantastic Four" discussion reached the Byrne era. what I didn't account for. however, was a 20th volume which would go on sale the week after I "finished" this discussion, and I wasn't in the mood for Thor anymore after I started the Byrne FF. Flash forward four months. Today I'm perusing the latest Previews catalogue and notice that a 21st volume of MMW Thor has been solicited for April 2021 release. This happens to be the point at which I began collecting Thor, but the series was pretty mediocre at that point. (It wouldn't get good until Walt Simonson took over with #337.) I don't foresee myself ready to dive into this discussion again in April, so I'm going to end it here, with an excerpt from Fantaco's "Chronicles" series Super Sized Annual (my favorite backissue guide), just as I had intended to after MMW v19.
"Despite some slow periods, this was a fine series overall and requires reading in its entirety to be fully appreciated. The following issues were all good with Doug Moench's poignant tale of a priest qustioning his faith (303), the return of Gabriel (305) and 304, displaying the ineptitude of the Wrecking Crew, standing out. Unfortunately, Moench became the regular scripter with 308, and after a resonable debut he has turned Thor into a title to play 'spot the cliche' with."
When the Marvel Masterworks series catches up to the Simonson era, I'll return to this discussion.