Issue(s): Thor #351, Thor #352, Thor #353
The battle in the streets of New York continues.
Thor leaves Beta Ray Bill in charge and heads across the Rainbow Bridge to help Odin fight Surtur.
The Sons of Muspell construct a "Doom tube" (someone's auditioning for work on a New Gods book, maybe? ;-) ) on the top of the Empire State Building that allows them to teleport in more waves of demons.
The Avengers and Fantastic Four are pretty much equal co-stars in these issues. They are reinforced by the 82nd Airborne (there's a kerfuffle about this in a later lettercol. Apparently there were some inaccuracies about the 82nd's battlecry, method of deployment, and base of operation which caused Marvel to (tongue-in-cheek) provide some dialogue cut-outs that could be pasted over the text here to retcon the 82nd into the 101st). They all fall in under Beta Ray Bill's command, despite some initial shock at his appearance.
Bill's strategy involves a feint that requires the Asgardian forces to retreat, something they're not comfortable with. But Eilif Dragonslayer (the 'last viking' that Thor met recently and fought Fafnir with) agrees to do it, and so they relent.
Eilif is talking to Harokin, captain of the Einherjar, the heroes of Valhalla.
Meanwhile, Heimdall isn't having much luck repelling Surtur.
When Thor arrives, Surtur traps him in Asgard by destroying the Rainbow Bridge.
As we'll see in future issues, that shouldn't have much effect, since Thor can create dimensional portals with his hammer. But Surtur might not know that. The effort nonetheless works in Surtur's favor, as it traps the rest of Asgard's forces on Earth, and, since the effect is visible there...
...it would also be demoralizing to all the troops.
In fact, Sif sees that the bridge is destroyed, and her first impulse is to teleport home. Beta Ray Bill reminds her of her promise to stay with him, and she relents, but instead decides to lead the charge on the demons' Doom tube.
Not knowing her fate, Bill loses morale and needs Volstagg to set him straight.
The heroes are able to claim the Hordes of Muspells' Doom Tube. Mr. Fantastic turns it off and then reconfigures it so it will take all the forces of Asgard to the source in the Sahara Desert. Tyr and the Executioner's forces handle the demons that were led into the ambush by Sif's group.
Thor is somewhat more effective than Heimdall, but as long as Surtur holds Twilight, he's outclassed.
When Thor is knocked out, only Odin remains.
Surtur's Twilight sword prevents Odin from transforming into the giant that he and his brothers merged into during their first encounter with Surtur. Despite that, he's still able to do ok.
In fact, he's able to mystically block Surtur from drawing power from his sword. Surtur responds by summoning all the power from the Casket of Ancient Winters. This pulls it out of Midgard* and allows Surtur to use it as a weapon against Odin.
With Odin encased in ice, no one is left to stop Surtur from lighting his sword in the Eternal Flame. Or is there?
Loki was only fooling when he agreed with Malekith that he'd sit on the sidelines when Surtur attacked. He is the God of Trickery after all. And he has no interest in ruling over nothing, which is what Surtur intended to leave behind.
Loki's dialogue is funny.
...you know how it is with schemers [like Malekith]... they are ever the easiest to deceive.
Meanwhile, since the Human Torch wasn't effective against the fire demons, Mr. Fantastic sent him to accompany Roger Willis, who studied his father's notes and learned that he could reassemble the Casket of Ancient Winters.
The Torch and Willis encounter more fire demons, as well as dark elves who are freed when Surtur summons all of the Casket's wintry power to Asgard.
Once Willis puts the Casket back together, all of its power is returned to it, and Odin is freed from his ice block. Thor also wakes up, and now Odin and his two sons battle Surtur together.
Thor is able to knock Twilight away from Surtur. This allows Odin to grow into his giant form.
As the two giants grapple, they fall into a giant crevice, ending the threat of Surtur but also seemingly killing Odin.
Back on Earth, the heroes continue to battle against the Sons of Muspell in the desert.
Earlier, Balder had been sent by Odin to try and recruit Karnilla. She demanded Balder's submission to her in return for her aid. Balder's response is surprising.
Now she rides to the aid of the forces on Earth.
There's a giant portal in the desert that all the demons are coming from. Bill devises a plan. He has Karnilla keep the demons busy and corral them into the proper area...
...while the more powerful Earth heroes and Bill tip the arch, causing it to topple onto the demons, sending them home.
We occasionally look in on Frigga's trip to safety with Asgard's children. It's a much more light-hearted subplot that balances the epic battle of the main story. They encounter a troll.
While the other children distract it, Hildy sneaks behind it, stabs it, and tricks it into throwing itself off the bridge.
It's a cute and funny scene.
Oddly, Storm is shown fighting with the heroes in issue #352. She doesn't have any dialogue, and none of the other X-Men are shown or mentioned, but that's pretty clearly her.
This entire arc was awesome. These last three issues are just full of epic fight scenes. Incredible art, great dialogue... even the sound effects are awesome.
And the huge cast is great as well - it's practically Secret Wars 1.5.
Thor doesn't seem to appear at all in issue #352; he's unconscious as of the end of issue #351. But the lettercol in issue #357 points out that he is indeed in the issue. He's the little lump that you see laying in front of Odin in panel 3 below:
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: These issues were published in 1985 (cover date), but it's a direct continuation of the story from #350, and all of the Avengers and FF characters appear here directly after Avengers #249/Thor #350. Issue #354 will pick-up directly where #353 leaves off, but, annoyingly, Beta Ray Bill is supposed to have appeared in ROM #65 mid-way through that issue. The Avengers participate in ROM #65 during Avengers #255, according to the MCP. And since both ROM #60 and Avengers #249 take place during the Casket storyline, we've got a lot of "concurrent" stories to get through before we can get to Thor #354.
Crossover: Casket of Ancient Winters
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (20): show
Just to make it clear, at the MCP, it was decided that there was a gap in the middle of Thor 354- Bill comes back from fighting the Wraiths after the gap and Thor's appearance in Marvel Team-Up 148 takes place during the gap. And yes, there doesn't seem to be a gap when reading the issue but there wasn't an easy solution- Thor 354 makes it seem like the fight against the Wraiths in Rom 65-66 took place a few hours after Surtur was defeated while all the other books make it seem like weeks if not months passed between Surtur's defeat and the battle against the Wraiths. Rom 65-66 caused a couple of problems with continuity- more on that when you get to Defenders 138-139.
Posted by: Michael | August 15, 2011 8:49 PM
I support the gap - there's no other way to square Beta Ray Bill's comment (except ignoring the footnote and assuming that Bill's "skirmish" was a different untold Avengers/Wraith fight, and don't think i didn't consider it!).
If interested, here's a sneak peak at Thor #354. I read & reviewed it, initially thinking i would tack it on to this entry but realized that was impossible, so it's floating in 1985 limbo for now, awaiting placement.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 15, 2011 9:13 PM
Is that soldier's hat flying off in surprise at the sight of Beta Right Bill? What a cartoony effect!
I love the (*Earth) gag by the way, it gets me every time.
Posted by: S | July 29, 2012 11:49 PM
As serious and epic as Simonson's Thor is, there's also a less noticed humorous side that keeps things grounded. Either that or it was very windy.
Thanks for noticing the Midgard/Earth thing. After reading so many of these issues it was almost impossible not to do that.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 30, 2012 10:53 AM
"Oddly, Storm is shown fighting with the heroes in issue #352. She doesn't have any dialogue, and none of the other X-Men are shown or mentioned, but that's pretty clearly her."
Posted by: clyde | March 19, 2015 4:19 PM
Oh I want to pick up the trades and read this story again. I think I liked the Malekith portion slightly more, I guess I really like that villain.
There's certainly something very charged about Simonson's work on the title from start to about here. The Surtur Saga kind of like the firey honeymoon and the feud with Hela is more the long happy marriage. I got the feeling Walt went in with the thought of 'I got to do this storyline and get it done! I made it! They kept me on long enough...oh they want to keep me for another 18 issues or so? Better get another overall arc.'
Posted by: david banes | March 20, 2015 3:07 PM
#353 is one of my favorite all-time issues, possibly in my Top 10. Not my Top 10 of Thor, but my Top 10 of all-time.
From the initial great confused look on Surtur's face when the sword doesn't light, to one of my all-time favorite battle cries ("For Asgard! For Midgard! For myself!") to one of my all-time favorite splash panels finishing off the issue.
By the way, the way Odin is drawn in the last panel of 352 he always reminds me of Thorin at the end of the Rankin / Bass Hobbit.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 24, 2015 9:00 AM
According to Uncanny X-Men #187-188, Storm was in Dallas, Texas fighting Dire Wraiths in Forge's building in Eagle Plaza during a blizzard caused by the Casket of Ancient Winters. So, it seems unlikely that it could actually be her in Thor #352.
Also, the worldwide snowstorms caused by the Casket began when it was broken (in Thor #348) and all the snow disappeared when Surtur summoned the Fury of Niffleheim to Asgard to imprison Odin (in Thor #352). If you read Thor #348-353, the battle against Surtur's forces seems to last hours but not days. However, other titles (like Rom #60 and West Coast Avengers #3) mention that the unnatural snows lasted for about a week.
Lastly, the end of the Wraith War on Earth (in Rom #61-65) took place "nearly two weeks" after Cindy Adams was found by Rom and his allies (in Rom #60). And since the massacre which she survived took place after the CoAW snowstorm began, that places the final battle of the Wraith War (in Rom #65) two weeks after the battle against Surtur's forces in NYC. Unless some time travel was involved, Beta Ray Bill's comment REALLY doesn't work.
Posted by: Don Campbell | July 7, 2015 9:00 PM
New Mutants Special Edition #1 confirms that it was Storm, though. I have her in Dallas and then coming back to New York for this issue.
Definitely agree that the temporal references don't line up, but that seems to often be the case. Time is a very fluid thing in the Marvel universe! And that's not even taking into account the sliding/compressed timescale.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 7, 2015 9:07 PM
I'm currently rereading these issues in the beautifully recolored (why don't they do that for other books?) Simonson Thor Omnibus. Interestingly, the 82nd/101st Airborne cut-and-pastes you mention in your review have been made in the book. Similarly, in the Michelinie/Layton Iron Man Omnibus they corrected the Jarvis/Cockrum resignation letter.
Posted by: Andrew | October 22, 2017 8:14 AM
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