• THOR #352


    Title: "Ragnarok and Ruin"

    Writer: Walt Simonson

    Penciller: Walt Simonson

     Surtur stands at the gates of Asgard, facing Odin. He tells Odin that he has come for the eternal flame, and that he has broken the rainbow bridge, and defeated both Heimdall and Thor. Odin tells him that he knew Surtur was coming, but that the Norns — the keepers of fate — say it’s not his time yet. Surtur scoffs and says he cares not for the Norns, as once he puts his sword into the flame there won’t be any fate for them to rule over. Odin bars his way, and tells him that if he goes back home, he might be merciful, but otherwise he’s GOING TO LAY THE SMACK DOWN ON HIS ROODY POO CANDY ASS! Surtur attacks, and Odin repels his attack, knocking Surtur off of his feet. They continue taking smack and throwing attacks at one another.

    Back on Earth, Beta Ray Bill is trying to figure out what to do. He’s worried about Sif, and the appearance of more and more demons through the portal. He wants to know more about them. Meanwhile, the Warriors Three continue to battle and bicker in their way., and Bill asks Volstagg to grab a demon for him for questioning.

    Reed Richards tells Bill he’s thought of a way to shut down the portal without destroying it. He tells Bill he thinks he can reverse the polarity of the gate and that way they could attack the demons at their source. Bill agrees, but says they need to secure the gate first.

    Meanwhile, Sif leads the Einherjar against the demon forces guarding the portal. She reflects upon their plan to retreat once they’ve broken the line, and leads her troops into the fray. As they break through, Harokin remarks that Thor should never have let her go, and Sif replies that Thor would never keep her from her desires, and neither would Bill. She starts to say that/s why she cannot choose between the two, but then decides to keep that feeling to herself.

    Roger and Johnny Storm are en route to England. Roger brings Johnny up to speed, and tells him his plan is to put the casket of ancient winters back together. When Johnny compares that to Humpty Dumpty, Roger says that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men didn’t have crazy glue to work with. They arrive, and Johnny blasts the snow and ice in front of the opening to the cavern away. They find the fragments of the casket, and Roger begins piecing it back together. Johnny hears a noise, and goes to investigate. Some flame demons heard him blasting through the snow earlier, and since Johnny cannot let them find Roger, he decides to lead them away.

    Back in New York, the demon hordes are reinforcing the portal. Sif tells Harokin to continue with the plan and retreat while she covers for them. Harokin objects, but she tells him to go.

    Down on the ground, Bill tells Hermod and the Enchantress to give a message to Tyr and Skurge, the Executioner that they need to deactivate the portal, not destroy it, and that Bill needs to be the one who does that. Hermod rides away to give the message enhanced by Amora’s magic. They see the demons pursuing the Einherjar away from the portal, as planned. Suddenly the Asgardian forces, led by Tyr on the left and Skurge on the right, attack the pursuing demons in a pincer movement., trapping the demons between them. The Einherjar also turn and attack. Bill grabs Reed and heads for the portal. Reed manages to shut it down.

    Without reinforcements, the battle turns in favor of Earth’s heroes. Bill looks for Sif, but doesn’t see her. He asks Harokin where she is, and Harokin is surprised she isn't back yet. He tells Bill that Sif chose to cover the retreat of the Einherjar. Bill wants to go and look for her, but Volstagg holds him back. He reminds Bill that this battle is only a small part of the war and that any delay could have massive consequences. Bill reluctantly agrees.

    Back in Asgard, Odin hits Surtur with a dropkick, Surtur replies with a tornado DDT, etc. Odin goes for his finishing move — seemingly a huge Kamehameha wave — and uses it to separate Surtur from the source of much of his power, the Eternal flame. Surtur pulls out the international object and summons the power of the casket of ancient winters to enhance him.

    Frigga and the children face off against the troll who demands that they feed him or die. Gunnhild uses her agility to jump over the troll, and the other children begin taunting the troll with insults, making him forget about Gunnhild. She pulls out a knife.

    Back on Earth, the Warriors Three have secured another demon after the one Volstagg had secured was now indisposed (Volstagg is a bad man). The demon initially shows some bravado, but then cowardly breaks down and tells Bill about the portal in the Sahara.

    Bill checks with Reed, who has figured out how to operate the portal, and he’s ready to send forces to their source. Bill leads a contingent of Asgardians through the portal and into the main force of the demons.

    Back in England, Roger finds the last piece of the casket. There’s a sudden end to the cold, and Roger is able to grab the piece and begin gluing it into place. He realizes, however, that with the weather growing warm again, the Dark Elves may be awake again, and he looks up to see himself surrounded by them.

    In Asgard, Surtur fires off his spirit bomb fueled by the full power of the casket of ancient winters, and Odin goes down, trapped in a ball of ice. Surtur moves past him to the flame, and lights his sword.

    My Rating: 8/10

    Some thoughts:

    * Love that cover. Love seeing the other Marvel heroes fighting it out with the Asgardians.

    * The fight on Earth is really, really exciting. Everything from the adventures of Roger and the Human Torch to he battle of Manhattan to Sif leading the charge against the demons—it’s all quite good.

    * On the other hand — is it wrong that I’m bored by the battle between Odin and Surtur? Maybe it’s because I simply know it’s just a delaying tactic to build up suspense, but it isn’t working for me — at least not yet. I knew form the moment it was mentioned that Surtur would light his sword — the flame in this case being Chekhov’s gun — so I’m just waiting for the inevitable.

    * Nice to see the X-Men taking part in the battle. 

    * Roger just continues to be awesome, although the simple expedient of crazy glue does seem perhaps a tad too simple.

    * I love me some competent Volstagg. 

    * Hildy being badass too.

    * I’m surprised we didn’t see the armed forces in this issue. I know we’ll get to them though. 

    * Despite my complaints, this is still awesome.



  • Would anyone object if I took over this discussion? Or should I start one of my own?

    • Go for it. I would think Randy would appreciate his thread being continued.

    • I will agree with the others.  It is a nice tribute to Randy.

  • I have no objection. A nice salute to Randy.

    My only question is: Are you going to talk about books that are already talked about on the thread? If so, I think your comments ought to be put under those books. 

    And I see I need to edit Randy's remarks to take out the coding that came with them, from whatever source he copied them from. (Probably Microsoft Word.)

  • A nice salute to Randy.

    That was my intention.

    My only question is: Are you going to talk about books that are already talked about on the thread?

    If I were to start my own discussion, I would start from the beginning (#337). If I take over this thread, I will pick up with #352. Because I participated in this discussion at the time, I see no need to go back and add additional comments. This won't be for some time yet, because first I want to re-read #337-352 as well as the entire discussion up to this point. I just wanted to post this question well in advance in case anyone thought I was being disrespectful.

  • OK, I think I've taken all the weird, imported coding out of Randy's OPs. They should be easier to read now (and mostly consistent, although no promises). You're good to go, Jeff of Earth-J, to pick up this discussion, and go into infinity and beyond.

    And I have to say that reading some of these posts makes me miss Randy terribly.

  • Thank you for doing that, Cap. (Of course the real tribute to Randy is re-reading his old posts.) I've noticed the formatting change as I've been working my way through #337-352, refreshing my memory and following along this discussion as I go. I'm reading at the rate of at least one issue per day, so I should be ready to continue in a week or so.

  • I am now caught up reading both Thor #337-352 as well as the discussion up to this point, so without further ado...

    THOR #353:


    Under the circumstances, it behooves me to transcribe the following RECAP (courtesy of Walt Simonson himself):

    "Asgard, home of the mighty Norse Gods, stands empty, her halls abandoned, her streets deserted... The Mighty Thor lies beaten and unconscious on the fragments of the broken Rainbow Bridge. Odin, the All-Father and ruler of Asgard, is imprisoned in a crystal of ice that came from the dawn of time and that defies even his powers to escape... And in the center of the frsaken realm stands the author of these events--Surtur of Muspelheim, lord of flame, ancient of days, and demon of prophecy. Before him is the Eternal Flame, and even as we watch, he thrusts his glowing blade Twilight, into its very heart!"

    But the flame is an illusion. Asgard finds itself with a most unexpected defender: Loki! They battle, and as Loki is driven back, the true Eternal Flame stands revelaed.

    "But even as Surtur turns toward the seething cauldron of fire, we find beneath the isle of Great Britain in the realm of Faerie... Roger Willis in a race for his life!"

    The Human Torch saves him at the last minute, and Willis is able to complete the repars to the Casket of Ancient Winters. As he slams the lid shut, the winter enchantment is contained and, in Asgard, the icy prison holding Odin vanishes as if it had never been. Just as Surtur is about to touch Twilight to the flame, Mjolnir knocks the sword away from the brazier. With Odin and his sons united, they sound their respective battle cries:

    ODIN: "For Asgard!"

    THOR: "For Midgard!"

    LOKI: "For Myself!"

    "But even as the trio of Asgardians renew their attack... in the farthest reaches of the Golden Realm, at the bridge above the endless chasm... a large troll confronts Odin's wife, Frigga, and her charges, the children of Asgard."

    It is Volstagg's daughter Hildy who tricks the giant troll into jumping off the bridge after her while she herself is securely tied by a rope. 

    "Meanwhile, deep in the Sahara Desert of Earth, the forces of Asgard led by Beta Ray Bill stand and fight against overwhelming odds as the demons of Muspelheim close in for the kill..."

    The forces of Asgard are being driven back into the dimensional gateway to Muspelheim. If they are driven through it, they will surely be defeated. Just then the cavalry arrives in the form of Balder the Brave, Karnilla the Norn queen and all the forces at her command. This buys Beta Ray Bill enough time to gather Hercules, the Vision and She-Hulk to his side. Together, the four of them topple the gateway on top of the demon horde, which not only destroy the gateway itself, but also sends most of the demons back through it. Now it's just a matter of defeating the relative handful of demons which remain.

    "Yet as Bill and his allies charge into battle with ringing swords and hearts, in Asgard we find" that the battle against Surtur is notr going well. Unable to reach the Eternal Flame itself, Surtur cut through the crust of Asgard and freed the flames of Muspelheim itself to "come forth and devour the high home of the gods!" Then Thor hurls Mjolnir, knocking Twilight from Surtur's hand. As soon as he drops it, Odin regains his ability to assume giant size which the sword was keeping at bay. Standing on te brink of the cleft to Muspelheim, Odin orders Thor to "do what must be done!" Odin sacrifices himself to eternal battle with Surtur as Thor destroys the ground upon which they stand and they both fall into the pit. 

    "FATHER!" yell Thor and Loki in a full-page final panel reminiscent of the one from Thor #337.

  • THOR #354:


    In the aftermath of Odin's battle against Surtur, it falls to Loki to talk reason to Thor. He points out that Odin must not be dead, else the Odinpower would have passed on to them. He is, however, hopelessly lost in Muspelhiem. If they try to free him, they run the risk of freeing Surtur as well, and Odin's sacrifice wouldhave been in vain. This is a major development, and as permanent as anything in comics ever is. [Although Odin would one day return, it would not be during Walt Simonson's tenure.] On Midgard, the heroes of Asgard and Earth mop up the remains of Surtur's demons. Beta Ray Bill and the Warriors Three reunite with Sif in New York City. The Rainbow Bridge has been shattered, but Sif uses her power to bypass time and space to reach Asgard.

    In Asgard, Hela has sensed a disturbance in te worlds and arrives to claim Odin's soul, but Thor drives her off. Thor needs some time to himself to process Odin's fate and asks Sif if she and Bill will remain on Earth to supervise the Asgardian troops until the Rainbow Bridge can be rebuilt. He suggests that the news of Odin's fate be kept from the rest of the Asgardians lest, "in theirawesome grief, they migt do more damage than Surtur's legions." He also asks her to request a favor of Fandral. In the distant mountains of Asgard, Frigga and the children have arrived at their destination. Frigga instinctively knows what has happened to her husband, and the children figure it out, too. 

    Back on Earth, in NYC's Central Park, Sif conveys Thor's message to Bill and Fandral and the rest of the Asgardians, who have been allowed to bivouac there by Mayor Koch. In a penthouse overlooking Central Park, Lorelei wonders why Thor has not returned to her. Loki appears and the two begin to scheme about who the next ruler of Asgard should be. Speaking of Asgard, Thor sets off on horseback into the mountainous wilderness to the east. Seeking revenge for the way he treated her earlier, Hela causes an avalanche. thor refuse to abondon his horse but, as they speed to safety, Hela kills the horse and Thor is buried by the avalanche.

    "Tales of Midgard - Home of the Amazing Human Race": The issue ends with a three-page back-up feature in which Fandral visits the title's previous supporting cast (Shawna Lynde, Nurse Stevens and the receptionist Brenda Barclay) from before Simonson's run, and ties up Don Blake's loose ends. He tells the that "his govenment hath need of him and he hath answered its call" (which they interpret to mean "SHIELD"), then he gives them a bag of gold as severence pay. Their memories of Dr. Donald Blake will soon fade, but their "dreams will always be colored by the radience of his presence" and their "hearts shall be glad though they know not why." Then, as a final keepsake, Fandral rips Blake's shingle off the wall reasoning that "Thor might well delight in a souvenir of the time he spent as a mortal amonst such beauty."

    And that concludes Walt Simonson's first Thor story arc.

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