Issue(s): Thor #361
If you're wondering about the similarities between Garm and the Fenris Wolf, it seems that in the Norse myths, Fenrir and Garmr, as well as two other wolves, Skoll and Hati Hroovitnisso, may have all originally been the same wolf but they were made into distinct entities by Snorri Sturluson, author of the Prose Edda (written circa 1220). I imagine Sturluson was a little like me, piecing together all the various Norse myths into a coherent order and having to make judgement calls based on little fragments and hints. Except Sturluson didn't have George Olshevsky and the Marvel Chronology Project to build off of. And he wasn't wasting his time on, you know, comic books. And he had a cooler name.
Anyway, Garm only guards the way out of Hel, so Thor and his companions are allowed to pass after only a nicely written verbal exchange.
Hel's next challenge is the appearance of the group's dead loved ones, who attempt to lure the group away from their mission. Balder is faced with Nanna, his former love who killed herself in order to free him from a vow to marry Karnilla.
Thor and Executioner are both confronted with Sif and the Enchantress, respectively, neither of whom are dead.
While some of the Einherjar are lured away by their dead, Thor and Balder both recognize the peril in time (we'll get to the Executioner next issue). Hela manifests and Thor challenges her to what seems to be the standard form of challenge in Asgard (see Thor #355), a wrestling match, with the unfairly imprisoned mortal souls as a prize.
Since Hela's very touch means aging and death, Thor dons his iron gauntlets and makes a mask out of his cape.
I've always felt that Thor should be able to fly the same way Storm can, by using the winds to hold him aloft. Hela's taunt here seems to contradict my theory, although Thor doesn't seem too Earth-bound after all.
Simonson channels a little Chris Claremont during the scripting of the fight.
During the fight, Hela nails Thor with her "Hand of Glory" special attack (move the D-pad in a sweeping arc and press any punch button)...
...and Thor's face, indeed his whole body, is badly damaged.
When Hela demands that Thor yield and become his slave, Thor manages to rally, crying that it was as the slave of another that he hurt Sif, and he pulls off Hela's cloak, which causes half of her body to age and rot.
Threatening to permanently destroy the cloak, Hela yields. However, Thor's face is "destroyed" and Hela still schemes to prevent the Asgardians from leaving her realm with the souls.
In addition to his physical injuries, Thor is despondent to learn that Odin's soul is not to be found in Hel.
Thor learns from Nanna that while she is compelled to do Hela's bidding, she's allowed Balder to believe that she is now corrupted and evil so that he won't try to stay in Hel with her.
In contrast to all of the dark battles in the main plot, a subplot has Voltagg returning home to his many children, after having been away on Midgard for so long. And we learn that his youngest daughter, Hildy, has a crush on Hogun.
As always, amazing epic but human writing and art.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: Thor #360-362 is a continuous story with each issue leading directly into the following, but there are other issues that take place concurrently, so i've broken it up into three separate entries. Balder the Brave #1 takes place during Thor #360. And Hela abandons her confrontation with the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men annual #9 due to the events of Thor #361-362.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAgnar, Balder, Executioner, Fandral, Frigga, Garm, Harokin, Hela, Hildy, Hogun, Modgud, Nanna, Sif, Thor, Toothgnasher, Toothgrinder, Volstagg
The Surtur Saga is a lot of fun...but I think I like this Hela's Quest story a bit more. It is a bit more emotionally driven rather than super epic action for four issues. I like that Walt foreshadowed wrestling with Hela with Thor having to wrestle with his great-grandfather a few issues ago.
Posted by: David Banes | February 20, 2014 9:04 PM
"And he had a cooler name." I disagree. FNORD is a pretty cool name, IMO.;)
Posted by: clyde | April 22, 2015 3:13 PM
Another great issue, one that really highlights how good Simonson is at inking his work, with the way he depicts Thor's damaged face.
But Hildy might be the best character that Simonson writes.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 3, 2015 11:34 AM
A wee bit of sexual subtext in that fight between Thor and Hela.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | January 29, 2018 5:27 PM
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