Is it just me, or is everyone kind of going Thor crazy right now? He finally got his own team in VS System in the new set (Billy, please have them make more Asgardians in the next Marvel set!). If you follow heroclix at all, it was recently announced that he will be the theme of the next marvel expansion coming out next year. Also, he currently has his own series as well as some one-shots written by Matt Fraction in the comics. It has also been announced that Thor will have his big screen debut in Iron Man 2 as well as his own movie supposedly coming out in 2010. So I think it’s safe to say that the God of Thunder is getting some good treatment right now. So I thought I’d take a moment to delve into the big guy’s past.
If you are any kind of a Thor fan, the name Walt Simonson should be at least a little familiar to you. His run, along with Stan Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s, is considered the definitive Thor run by many Thor fans. So I finally tracked down the out of print first trade. This collection contains issues 337-348.
In the first few pages of the first issue, we see a mysterious figure hitting an anvil with something luminous and see the ominous words…DOOM! No, not the doctor, but something sinister indeed. The rest of the issue has Thor investigating something that turns out to be a new character. That’s right, Beta Ray Bill. This fearsome new creature defeats Thor due to the thunder God reverting to his human form. Beta Ray Bill then picks up Thor’s hammer in staff form, smacks it against the surface and gains Thor’s power. The creature is then summoned to Asgard leaving Dr. Donald Blake left below. Pretty crazy first issue!
This matter is brought to Odin and it is decided that Thor and Beta Ray Bill shall enter mortal combat! The two clash and trade mighty blows. Beta Ray Bill is the victor! But instead of killing Thor, he saves his life. I should also mention that some interesting side stories involving Loki and Baldur are also taking place during these issues.
Beta Ray Bill’s intentions are revealed to be very noble. He is from an alien race that is being attacked by foreign invaders and he is his people’s super soldier. He needs Thor’s power to aid his people. So Odin has Sif complete an adventurous task to have another hammer forged, the Storm Breaker!
Thor and Sif set course for their new friend’s home. Together the three of them vanquish the opposing forces. When the three arrive back at Asgard, Odin has a surprise for Beta Ray Bill. The alien is a super soldier as I mentioned earlier, his appearance is a twisted and altered version of his original self. So Odin bestows in Bill the power to revert back into his normal form much like Thor could change into Dr. Donald Blake. The price, Thor is Dr. Donald Blake no longer! Beta Ray Bill, along with Sif, leave Asgard in the hopes of completely freeing Bill’s people.
Thor then returns to Midgard and assumes a new identity. Lorelei also travels to Midgard with sinister intentions. Thor battles a fierce creature and has an uneasy victory.
Thor is challenged by an old Viking seeking Valhalla. Baldur goes on a quest of his own. The creature from the previous issue returns.
Thor and the old Viking engage the fierce creature in a very heart wrenching battle. This issue was very well done! Lorelei in her secret identity begins dating Thor in his secret identity. Baldur deals with more troubles.
We next get a great Baldur issue. He is tired, fat, and is tortured by his old demons. Yet he still has the will to deal with all the new demons he faces including Loki and the fierce Malekith.
This review is getting pretty long so I’ll just say the next few issues are very mysterious and in some ways terrifying. They deal with the sinister Malekith, but his motives are unknown. All we know is that he desires an artifact but for what purpose we aren’t sure. It then all becomes clear when Malekith is at last slain, but before he dies he succeeds and paves the way for Surtur! He is destruction incarnate. This was the mysterious figure that we have been seeing briefly over the last twelve issues.
Recently with Thor’s current series I’ve heard some people say that this is the best Thor they’ve ever read. Now, I may take some flak for this, but I haven’t been enjoying this new series at all. I haven’t been a Thor fan long, but I read the first three issues of the new series and I nearly despised those issues. I have a friend who has been a Thor fan for over twenty years and even he thinks that this current stuff is some of the worst Thor he has ever read. Walt Simonson’s run however, is the Thor stuff he loves the most.
I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. This is only the first volume in a five volume run. This reminds me of Brubaker’s current Captain America run in that you can tell that Walt Simonson had read every Thor comic at least twice and was picking the parts he liked best and put them in his story. He also gave these classic characters new twists and also created some new ones. That, along with the Watchmen-like trick, only instead of a clock getting bloodier, we see the satanic Surtur get closer and closer to his wicked goal, this comic came out before Watchmen by the way. This also reminds me of Brubaker’s Cap because you can tell Walt Simonson has a goal that he has already planned out years before he executes them. We get the perfect blend of action and mythology that is essential to a great Thor comic.
Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, this trade is out of print. However, if any of this sounds interesting, I heard that they will be reprinting this trade soon so hopefully it will be easily accessible sometime in the near future. I hope there is an Omnibus of Walt Simonson’s run someday as well. Maybe when the movie comes out.
4 stars out of 4