Archive for April, 2011

The Mighty Thor #380

April 28, 2011

Walt Simonson
June 1987
*****
Legend. Thor faces his fate in epic battle with the monstrous reptilian World Serpent. Captions count out the poetic beat of Norse sags, but it’s the art that adds earthshaking weight to this, the grand finale of Simonson’s run. Each page is a splash, yet they can barely contain the dragon’s coils!
[continued in Mephisto vs. #4 of 4]
[last issue:  The Mighty Thor #379]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #381]

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The Mighty Thor #379

April 26, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
May 1987
****
If only Walt S provided art, this would be a superlative issue! As it is, he delivers an A+ script, leaving his pal Sal to do classical three-tier layouts. Thor converses civilly with a wily dragon who’s disguised as the Kirby monster Fin Fang Foom. But it’s the Midgard Serpent, fated to slay Thor!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #378]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #380]

The Mighty Thor #378

April 25, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
April 1987
***
At four issues & counting, this ongoing plot wouldn’t be out of place in Lee/Kirby’s ’60s run, but it hints at an epic turn. Clad in mystic armor, Thor rescues Loki & an X-Man from a posse of supercharged frost giants. Meanwhile, the gods of Asgard are seizing up, stricken by a mysterious malady.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #377]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #379]

The Mighty Thor #377

April 24, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
March 1987
***
Simonson’s Thor has run low on vision since adopting Buscema for its, art, tho’ the action remains fun. Elves batter & nearly best our hero as he forges new armor in a Pittsburgh factory. Lucky for Thor, Loki kidnaps him as well as X-veteran Iceman in a plan to restore the strength of frost giants.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #376]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #378]

The Mighty Thor #376

April 23, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
February 1987
***
The Kirby style of Sal B. puts Walt S. into a retro mood. His drama of superhero neurosis & shame comes right out of Stan Lee’s playbook: a NYC crowd cheers & reporters jeer as the Thunder God retreats under the blows of the ol’ Absorbing Man. Tho’ Thor carries the day, he’s broken & unconscious!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #375]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #377]

The Mighty Thor #375

April 22, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
January 1987
***
#375 is that rarity in Simonson’s run: a conventional Thor ish set mostly on Midgard. Loki’s learned of Thor’s curse (tho’ he’s immortal, his bones are breakable), so he pits his step-brother against replicas of bruising foes. Of course, he’s also perking plots in Asgard & parlaying with giants.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #374]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #376]

The Mighty Thor #374

April 21, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
December 1986
****
Thor crosses paths w/ The Mutant Massacre,  perhaps the strongest X-over of all time & certainly the tightest. In a noble climax, he builds a funeral pyre for the sewer-dwelling Morlocks. And in augury of a big Simonson event, Thor faces the Death Goddess & learns he’s neither invulnerable nor mortal!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #373]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #375]

The Mighty Thor #373

April 20, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
November 1986
****
Quiet issues like this one make you miss Walt’s art, esp. now that he’s creating X-Factor w/ his wife. Not coincidentally, #373 picks up when Thor rescues a crucified Angel in NYC sewers, part of the Mutant Massacre. But first, his mournful mood is lifted by a family of BK Italians.
[continued from X-Factor #10]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #372]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #374]

The Mighty Thor #372

April 19, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
October 1986
***
Where #371 was a British pastiche, #372 owes something to the whimsy of Thor’s Journey into Mystery era. Jane Foster cameos as an unknowing damsel-in-distress whose murder prompts a quick timeloop! The tone’s at odds w/ Simonson’s mythic adventure, as Thor helps a sci-fi timecop to kill a demon.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #371]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #373]

The Mighty Thor #371

April 18, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
September 1986
***
After all the epic fun, this ish is quite a comedown. Balder fills the throne of Asgard (empty since #353), which leaves Thor to resume superheroics on Midgard. His first foe is an homage to the British fascist future cop, Judge Dredd; his second is a slasher demon who’d fit in Moore’s Swamp Thing.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #370]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #372]

The Mighty Thor #369

April 17, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
July 1986
****
It’s the minor arcs of Simonson’s run that show how coherent his vision is. This two-part tale adds medieval motifs to his usual Norse myth. Evil enchantresses & their troll mother (Uglitha—what a name!) lure questing knights into their floating castle. Buscema’s art is almost a Hal Foster homage.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #368]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #370]

The Mighty Thor #368

April 13, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
June 1986
****
Balder has been seduced by sirens on the road to his coronation, while his role is nearly usurped by the elf king from earlier in Simonson’s run. How will Thor (now bearded) rescue him? Sal Buscema, having proved an able partner to Simonson during the Balder mini, now provides his stolid pencils.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #367]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #369]

The Mighty Thor #367

April 12, 2011

Walt Simonson
May 1986
****
Amid much pomp, a new monarch is crowned over Asgard—a nice turn has Thor abdicate to Balder the Brave. The new arc has intrigues aplenty, both romantic & Machiavellian, but the best twist is the worry that royal responsibilities will throw the fraternal bond btw the two men into conflict.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #366]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #368]

Balder the Brave #4 of 4

April 11, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
May 1986
***
Simonson closes the supplement to his superlative run on Thor with satisfying follow-through. He focuses as much on the anti-villain Karnilla as on Balder, now a sort of Sun God, who teaches her of mercy, love, & the burdens of rule. Props to Sal for his clear storytelling & dynamic layouts.
[continued in The Mighty Thor #367]
[last issue: Balder the Brave #3 of 4]

The Mighty Thor #366

April 10, 2011

Walt Simonson
April 1986
****
The climax to the “Frog of Thunder” arc unfolds nicely. Thor arrives in Asgard in time to scotch Loki’s election to the throne, just as a pal lifts the spell that’s turned him into a god-sized toad. In a fun 3-issue tale, Simonson taps the surreal potential of comics that often goes underexploited.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #365]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #367]

The Mighty Thor #365

April 9, 2011

Walt Simonson
March 1986
*****
Thor, trapped in the form of a bullfrog (!), helps a colony of batrachians fend off scuzzy NYC rats with allies like alligators & a sewer mutant. Then he hefts his hammer & transforms… into a 6′ frog in Kirby armor! Simonson’s audacity makes this whimsy as fun as the Norse epic, just 3 months ago.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #364]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #366]

Balder the Brave #3 of 4

April 8, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
March 1986
**
The Brave God randomly gets a power-up, his newfound heat proving as deadly a weapon against Frost Giants as the magic sword he wins in an arena fight. The art of Our Pal Sal hasn’t advanced past Kirby’s ’60s innovations: it’s fine for this trad fantasy quest, but it lacks an emotional core.
[last issue: Balder the Brave #2 of 4]
[next issue: Balder the Brave #4 of 4]

The Mighty Thor #364

April 7, 2011

Walt Simonson
February 1986
*****
This is Loki’s greatest act of mischief: he’s transformed Thor into a large frog! It’s part of his plan to take the throne of Asgard. Now the hero’s stranded in Central Park, helping a tribe of croakers war against local rats. Brilliant! More like Watership Down than either Lee/Kirby or Norse myth.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #363]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #365]

The Mighty Thor #363

April 6, 2011

Walt Simonson
January 1986
***
Secret Wars II arrives at Thor’s doorstep, having roped Beta Ray Bill into its mini. The Beyonder supercharges a thug to wallop Thor. But w/ assistance from the Power kids, Thor teaches the omnipotent naïf about family & ironic motives. The last, a surprise, shows Simonson’s confidence w/ his mag.
[continued from Power Pack #18]
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #362]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #364]

Balder the Brave #2 of 4

April 5, 2011

Walt Simonson // Sal Buscema
January 1986
***
High adventure in a Tolkein vein. Balder returns to his lady’s castle to find her abducted by storm giants. A quest! Simonson’s dialogue is esp. good: a cod-Elizabethan that demos better grammar than Stan Lee ever did. Sal B does his usual journeyman’s job, providing a clear story & muscled action.
[continued from The Mighty Thor #362]
[last issue: Balder the Brave #1 of 4]
[next issue: Balder the Brave #3 of 4]

The Mighty Thor #362

April 4, 2011

Walt Simonson
December 1985
*****
Thor & the Valhallans learn that exiting the underworld is harder than entering. So the Executioner, a minor heavy from the Lee/Kirby era, stands alone at the Bridget to Hel. An exemplar of Simonson’s approach to Thor, this one-man Thermopylae is a truly epic moment that honors a warrior’s sacrifice.
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #361]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #363]

The Mighty Thor #361

April 2, 2011

Walt Simonson
November 1985
****
This journey into Hel is nearer to pagan Homer than a Christian harrowing, as the  warriors of Valhalla face their belated loved ones—but in comics, the spirits tempt a path to death. The mag’s Death Goddess wrestles w/ Thor for the souls of cursed mortals, disfiguring our hero before her surrender!
[last issue: The Mighty Thor #360]
[next issue: The Mighty Thor #362]