Archive for March, 2011

Balder the Brave #1 of 4

March 30, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
November 1985
***
Interleaved btw the pages of Thor 360, this mini’s first ish is an expansion of Simonson’s epic run. Balder leaves the side of his lady, the anti-villain Norn Queen, to harrow Hel with his brethren. Buscema does a more-than-passable imitation of WS’s blocky style, turning out some of his best work.
[continued from The Mighty Thor #360]
[continued in The Mighty Thor #360]
[next issue: Balder the Brave #2 of 4]

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The Mighty Thor #360

March 29, 2011

Walt Simonson
October 1985
****
After a parlay w/ a ghost witch, Thor marches upon the underworld, where he, Balder & the warriors of Valhalla will rescue mortals cursed by the faerie king. But is Thor really hoping to find his father’s spirit there? This issue is rich w/ emotional subtext, to a level rare for mainstream comics.
[continued in Balder the Brave #1]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #359]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #361]

The Mighty Thor #359

March 28, 2011

Walt Simonson
September 1985
****
Loki dances a pas de trois with Thor & the siren of Asgard, aiming to ascend to the kingdom’s throne. Despite all the women involved (Sif appears too), the dialogue doesn’t exactly pass the Bechdel Test. But the arc has its romantic pleasures, esp. when a bewitched Thor catches the couple in bed!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #358]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #360]

The Mighty Thor #358

March 27, 2011

Walt Simonson
August 1985
***
In the ruins of Asgard, a sorceress bewitches Thor but gives her heart to Loki. On Earth, Bill faces a cadre of robot-armored thieves. Thor hasn’t offered conventional NYC superheroics in a while, but this plot—involving Vietnam vets & a Soviet foe of Iron Man—reminds us why we haven’t missed ’em!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #357]
next issue: The Mighty Thor #359]

The Mighty Thor #357

March 25, 2011

Walt Simonson
July 1985
****
Simonson’s recharged after his break from art duties: his lines seem zippier & more confident. He’s brewing a Shakespearean struggle for the throne of Asgard, now that Odin’s dead. A warm subplot dips into soap opera, as Beta Ray Bill romances Sif while tracking high-tech armored bank robbers.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #356]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #358]

The Mighty Thor #355

March 24, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
May 1985
***
Sal Buscema takes the art duties, bringing his old-fashioned Kirby-lite style to a schmaltzy tale. A retired god, nine feet tall, imparts a few words of sentimental wisdom to a mopey Thor. Still, the ish has a confident tone & a few deeper strokes, like the ice maidens who perish in a day.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #354]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #356]

The Mighty Thor #354

March 23, 2011

Walt Simonson
April 1985
****
An epilogue to the Surtur Saga lends gravity to Odin’s sacrifice. When the Death Goddess claims the All-Father’s soul, Thor’s reaction is rage, an obvious displacement of his filial grief. But then, an immortal would rarely confront death. This note & others touch on the gap btw divinity & humanity.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #353]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #355]

The Mighty Thor #353

March 21, 2011

Walt Simonson
March 1985
****
Loki takes the role of rescuing cavalry, a fun heel/face turn. Then Odin plummets with the Fire Demon off into the void, but it feels like a sensational twist rather than an earned sacrifice. W/ Asgard in flames, the Saga of Surtur closes. The art & plot conjoin in a Thor story for the ages.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #352]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #354]

The Mighty Thor #352

March 20, 2011

Walt Simonson
February 1985
*****
A sublime arc is traced at a gallop: #352 begins & ends w/ heroes on the defensive, but in btw. they’re roused by victories. Beta Ray Bill & Mr. Fantastic turn the demons’ line in NYC, but in Asgard the Demon Lord fells Odin & preps the apocalypse! Note how Thor is MIA all ish, anteing the stakes.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #351]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #353]

The Mighty Thor #351

March 18, 2011

Walt Simonson
January 1985
*****
In NYC, Bill leads gods, heroes, & US Marines in a grand battle v. fire demons; in Asgard, Surtur the Demon Lord shatters the rainbow bridge then bests Thor! Nearly every page features all-caps SFX (a Simonson hallmark), & note how panels shift from large to small depending on the moment. Epic!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #350]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #352]

The Mighty Thor #350

March 17, 2011

Walt Simonson
December 1984
*****
This grand arc aspires to (& reaches!) a Tolkein-like tone, a/w/a the reckless momentum of old Lee/Kirby glories. The armies of Asgard are marshaled, w/ allies like Bill & the Avengers and foes like the Enchantress among them! They array themselves against the fire demons in a wintery NYC melee.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #349]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #351]

The Mighty Thor #349

March 15, 2011

Walt Simonson
November 1984
****
Each issue of Simonson’s first year has upped the ante on his epic. Now he breaks to offer a Tale of Asgard, laying down exposition to raise the stakes. Long ago, Odin battled Surtur (the approaching fire demon) & left his bros behind in a hell dimension to delay the apocalypse—till now!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #348]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #350]

The Mighty Thor #348

March 14, 2011

Walt Simonson
October 1984
*****
Thor & a mortal ally capture the elf king but not before he opens a Norse artifact, plunging Midgard into endless winter! Next ish: the big bad fire demon & his star-sword! Good stuff, but the meat is Balder’s mystical vision, upon plunging into the tapestry of the Fates, of a holistic universe.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #347]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #349]

The Mighty Thor #347

March 13, 2011

Walt Simonson
September 1984
****
Odin, foreseeing trouble, appoints the Warriors Three to conscript an army, cuz his two great champions are off noodling. Balder fights past giant sandworms to face the Fates themselves! And Thor, bewitched by a sorceress, gets kayoed in a faerie kingdom allied w/ the Big Bad.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #346]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #348]

The Mighty Thor #346

March 12, 2011

Walt Simonson
August 1984
****
Another mythos of northern Europe, that of faeries, clashes w/ Asgard upon the 59th St. Bridge for a mystical casket. Thor’s foe: an elf king w/ a lurid black-&-red ’80s costume. Simonson’s got an individual style that ranks beside Chaykin, Miller, & other grand masters of this golden era of comics.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #345]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #347]

The Mighty Thor #345

March 11, 2011

Walt Simonson
July 1984
****
Food & sex are vehicles for dark magic in this strange arc. Thor unknowingly slips a seductress’ trap to join the citywide hunt for an ancient artifact. His opponent: the elf king from last issue, whose minions turn to dust w/ a bite of food. All this links somehow to the sword from beyond creation.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #344]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #346]

The Mighty Thor #344

March 9, 2011

Walt Simonson
June 1984
****
Thor barely figures into #344. Instead it follows the doughy Balder, a pacifist since his resurrection, who’s tricked into facing an elf king & fruitlessly beheading Loki. But was the devious plot Loki’s or Odin’s? It’s an odd shuffling of the knight’s status that’ll pay off later, presumably.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #343]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #345]

The Mighty Thor #343

March 8, 2011

Walt Simonson
May 1984
****
Knit from the past pair of issues, #343 hosts an epic battle amongst the South Bronx tenements. The last Viking in Midgard earns his seat in Valhalla by helping Thor defeat a raging dragon. Simonson has obviously done his homework: what could be a standard comic rumble is shored up by Norse ritual.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #342]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #344]

The Mighty Thor #342

March 7, 2011

Walt Simonson
April 1984
****
Half a year in, Simonson’s already got five or six plots aboil! The most ominous involves a sword forged from starstuff beyond the demonic gates of #340. Loki, on the other hand, doesn’t even rate a mention this ish. Thor himself faces a Viking, the last member of a lost colony in the Savage Land.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #341]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #343]

The Mighty Thor #341

March 6, 2011

Walt Simonson
March 1984
****
Now that Thor no longer has an alter ego, he dons a pair of glasses (the perfect disguise!) & gets a job in construction. That leads to a rumble w/ a Kirby monster, a dragon from wayyy back in “Tales of Asgard”. Speaking of the King, Simonson shares his sense of dynamism & weight of objects.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #340]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #342]

The Mighty Thor #340

March 4, 2011

Walt Simonson
February 1984
*****
The climax to Simonson’s first arc fuses space epic & Norse myth like no once since Lee & Kirby—and maybe not even them! The melancholy Bill partners up w/ Thor to save his race, a fleet of galactic refugees, & his valor earns a reward from Odin: ironically, it’s Thor’s “cursed” life as a mortal!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #339]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #341]

The Mighty Thor #339

March 3, 2011

Walt Simonson
January 1984
*****
Simonson packs #339 with event, setting up multiple conflicts concurrently (in standard ’80s style) but w/ a tone of grandeur & portent. Sif battles a giant dwarf (huh?) & pines for the bionic alien Bill. A setpiece unlike any prior shows the epic forging of an enchanted warhammer to match Mjolnir.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #338]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #340]

The Mighty Thor #338

March 2, 2011

Walt Simonson
December 1983
****
Simonson’s burly style synthesizes Kirby w/ Adams yet has its own fully formed aesthetic. After providing a sci-fi backstory for his noble alien, Simonson pits the horse-faced warriors against Thor in a grand duel in a field of lava. But he also finds space for a couple of scenes among Asgardians.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #337]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #339]