Issue(s): Thor #310
This plays into a larger story where Mephisto is tempting people of the neighborhood to commit crimes.
And things quickly escalate to a battle in Hell.
Mephisto is unable to defeat Thor...
...but he is able to cause his newly captured souls to catch and hold Thor's hammer. And this results in Thor turning back into Donald Blake (which seems unusual; that attribute of the hammer isn't supposed to work outside of Midgard). But one of the souls holding the Mjolnir is the purse-snatcher from before, and he overcomes Mephisto's temptation and releases the hammer, allowing Thor to force Mephisto to release the souls.
It was Thor's meddling on Earth that forced Mephisto to act in the first place...
...which i see as fitting in nicely with the themes of this period introduced with issue #303: a god literally walking the streets of New York and uplifting people's souls, and here even battling the devil. This is actually not too different than the Adam Warlock book from the early 70s except it's being done much more subtly. I mean, this issue isn't subtle; he literally goes to Hell and fights the devil for people's souls. But this whole period is interesting. I think it's largely an accident, which is why it seems subtle. But you have the decision to take Thor out of the constant epic Asgardian adventures and put him on Earth for a while. The idea being to have him fight more earth-bound threats and make the book more appealing to super-hero fans. But only so many super-villains can stand up to Thor. And Doug Moench isn't going to do a straight super-hero story, in any event. So he reaches for the angle that Thor's a god. But i'm looking at this period, starting with a comment in Thor #303 where Thor says that gods need followers, and seeing this as a period where Thor is spending time on Earth to win the souls of the people. He's a force for good so it's not entirely selfish. But at the same time it's self-sustaining. I dunno. This is just an unusual period for Thor, and i think it's generally not a well-regarded one, but i think there's this meta-textual level to it that has potential.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Pushed back a bit in publication time to allow Thor to appear in Avengers annual #10 between this issue and #311.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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