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The Mighty Thor by Walter Simonson, Vol. 2…
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The Mighty Thor by Walter Simonson, Vol. 2

by Walter Simonson

Other authors: Terry Austin (Illustrator), Sal Buscema (Illustrator), Bob Wiacek (Illustrator)

Series: Thor, Thor by Walter Simonson (2), Thor [1966-1996] (346-355)

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251649,341 (4.2)None
"Few people have ever left their mark on one character quite the way Walter Simonson has. His work on the Mighty Thor swept the Norse God of Thunder to heights never before seen and rarely achieved in his wake. Spanning epic tales of heroism and treachery, love and war, Simonson's work is often considered the definitive Thor. From the majesty and mystery of fabled Asgard to the gritty streets of New York City, Thor was never the same. That is the mark of a true visionary. This secons volume continues the collection of Simonson's epic run--completely remastered from the original artwork and newly colored by Steve Oliff!" --Cover.… (more)

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Volume 1 of The Mighty Thor ended with a somewhat complicated plot about elves and food and an old guy who looked young and Wild Hunt and cops? Something like that. To my surprise, this plotline blossoms in volume 2 and turns out to be the payoff to what was an ongoing thread in volume 1: a mysterious weapon being forged outside of time and space. Well, Malekith's dark elves are after the Casket of Ancient Winters, so they can deploy it in aid of Surtur, Ruler of Muspelheim, an ancient evil that once battled Thor's father Odin and his brothers. Odin's brother's sacrificed themselves to seal Surtur in Muspelheim, but now he's back, and he threatens all of the Nine Realms, especially Asgard and Midgard.*

What delights me about Thor, both on screen and now in these comics, is how it uses a heightened style: everything about these comics is always on the next level from our mere mortal existence. The gods of Asgard are always speaking in dramatic pronouncements; I loved how Odin's story of his first encounter with Surtur ended, with proclamations like, "THUS WAS BORN THE ODIN-POWER, THE BIRTHRIGHT OF THE SONS OF BOR!"

In volume 1, Odin obtained intelligence that the final battle was coming, and so mustered the forces of Asgard throughout this volume, meaning that when Thor encounters the forces of Muspelheim on Midgard, Asgard is ready, having summoned not only the warriors of Valhalla and Beta Ray Bill and Lady Sif, but also many of the former enemies of Asgard who do not wish to see the Nine Realms burn. What follows is a four-issue battle between Asgard and Muspelheim, and it is incredible. I wouldn't have thought that I would like such a thing-- it occupies almost 100 pages, yet is never dull. The forces of Asgard cross the Rainbow Bridge to make a stand in New York City, assisted by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and suchlike. The whole setup actually make me think somewhat of the first Avengers film, with alien demons swarming from a portal atop a New York tower. Deliberate or coincidence?

Anyway, Surtur devastates New York City, his effectiveness enhanced by his opponents having to flight through a worldwide glacier. Thor calls a rain from Asgard to stifle the flames of Surtur-- but Surtur uses the link to Asgard to travel there himself, where only Odin and Heimdall stand to protect the City of the Gods. Beta Ray Bill takes command of the Asgard forces while Thor follows Surtur, but Thor is too slow: Surtur defeats Heimdall and destroys the Rainbow Bridge. The scene were its pieces rain down on New York City is ominous.

Basically, it's lots of fighting: Beta Ray Bill, Sif, and the Fantastic Four vs. the demons of Muspelheim on Midgard, and Odin and Thor vs. Surtur in Asgard. Simonson has a good grasp of character throughout; Bill and Sif keep the Midgard battle anchored, stopping it from becoming sheer overwhelming spectacle. I also liked Roger Willis, the Korean War vet whose mysterious father passed to him the task of guarding the Casket of Ancient Winters. He's an ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary events who does his best to do the right thing.

Things in Asgard get epic when Loki turns up, too; Simonson has a great panel of Odin and son leaping into battle, where Odin cries, "FOR ASGARD!", Thor cries "FOR MIDGARD!", and Loki "FOR MYSELF!"

There's also a nice subplot about Frigga, mother of Thor, getting the children of Asgard to safety. Simonson never forgets to leaven the seriousness. On all fronts, this is everything a giant superhero battle should be-- would it that they were all so good. Sadly, it all ends in the death of Odin.

The whole thing is followed by a nice pair of aftermath issues. The destruction of the Rainbow Bridge means that the forces of Asgard are trapped in New York City; they decide to bivouac in Central Park. (Sif has the power to transport herself through spacetime, and I assume Beta Ray Bill can use his hammer, but otherwise they're all trapped.) The Warriors Three go to Macy's. I am of course looking forward to more culture-clash hijinks in volume 3. Meanwhile, Death herself turns up to collect Odin's soul, but can't find it. Thor lays the smackdown on Death, in what has to be one of my favorite scenes in any superhero comic.

Insisting his father is still alive, Thor heads out on a mystical quest (as you do). I look forward to seeing where this all goes in volume 3 as well. Simonson's run on Thor is clearly cyclical; as one big story cycles down, another one begins to cycle up in turn, and I'm sure this is all going somewhere new and exciting.

A final note: Simonson always pepper his stories with humor, which I appreciate. My favorite moment comes when (in a subplot I haven't had the space to mention in this review because this book is chock-full of them) Roger Willis doesn't buy Thor's girlfriend's explanation of how she saw through the disguise of Thor's secret identity of Sigurd Jarlson. She claims that "anybody would have known. You're just too big to hide behind a pair of glasses and an Izod shirt." But Roger is genre-savvy enough to know it doesn't work that way.

I also enjoy the running gag about Sigurd's boss at the construction company where he works when he's not battling demon hordes (he doesn't come to work very much, to be honest) trying to guess which superhero he is. He's never right.

* Earth.
  Stevil2001 | May 23, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walter Simonsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Austin, TerryIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buscema, SalIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wiacek, BobIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Collects Thor (1966) #346-355.

Few people have ever left their mark on one character quite the way Walter Simonson has. His work on the Mighty Thor swept the Norse God of Thunder to heights never before seen and rarely achieved in his wake. Spanning epic tales of heroism and treachery, love and war, Simonson's work is often considered the definitive Thor. From the majesty and mystery of fabled Asgard to the gritty streets of New York City, Thor was never the same. That is the mark of a true visionary. This second volume continues the collection of Simonson's epic run — completely remastered from the original artwork and dynamically recolored by Steve Oliff.
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