Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1983 - The Mighty Thor #337

The Might Thor #337
November 1983
Writer/Artist: Walt Simonson

The purchase of The Mighty Thor #337 back in November 1983 was purely an impulse buy because of its unforgettable cover. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Thor back then having enjoyed a few issues by Roy Thomas and Keith Pollard. However, that changed the moment I saw that cover with some kind of alien version of Thor smashing through the comic book’s logo.

The Might Thor logo was the only Marvel logo at that time that had never been changed since the mid-1960s. Simonson actually cut up a copy of the logo from the previous issue and broke it up on a transparent overlay that sat neatly overtop of the daunting image of Beta Ray Bill.

With issue #337, Simonson's relative inexperience certainly didn't show. His first issue on this title is perhaps the most effective textbook example of how to tell a great comic book story. Simonson's distinctive art style certainly caught your attention and charged each page with energy, bringing it to life in a strong cinematic fashion that sparked your imagination. The action scenes sprawled beyond the panels, emphasizing its bold, larger-than-life feel. Thor was drawn physically more impressive and also with a certain nobility.

The first three pages set up a subplot that will eventually become a major story line, the Surtur Saga. In this opening sequence, a mysterious figure of cosmic proportions is forging a foreboding weapon. Simonson captures the tension of the moment and over the storyline of the next year, he paced this subplot, moving it ahead slowly, building on this rising tension.

Not only does this issue thoughtfully introduce establish characters, but it features the debut of Beta Ray Bill and the Enchantress’ sister Lorelei who will both be instrumental during Simonson’s run and beyond.

It featured one jaw-dropping twist after another. Not only was Beta Ray Bill as powerful as Thor was, not only was Bill somehow worthy enough to wield Mjolnir, Beta Ray Bill with Thor’s powers was mistakenly summoned to Asgard by Odin. And that final page, with Donald Blake standing atop the wreckage of Bill’s spaceship and crying out to his father Odin, was simply spectacular. That image still sticks with me today whenever I think about an amazing cliffhanger ending.

The worse part of all of this was that my local convenience store never got a copy of Thor #338 or Thor #339. It would be a year later before I discovered a comic book store and found those back issues, finally concluding that story!

I can’t write about this issue without mentioning letterer, John Workman. This issue was his first as the new regular letterer and while the change was a bit more subtle, his style added a distinctive Norse feel to the book. This new lettering style worked well with Simonson's explosive fonts that broke through panel borders leaving a clear ring in your imagination. THRAKKT! BARROOOOM! KRANNG!


  1. I believe this was the first issue of Thor I ever read. (If it isn't, the others made no impression whatsoever.) I'm so glad that the whole Simonson run is available in an omnibus edition, because it means I can read Thor stories again. Every other time I've tried, the stories never really excited me because, no matter how well done, they weren't by Walt Simonson.

  2. Hey Penelopecat, thanks for sharing!

  3. This is such a famous era of thor and that is a beautiful cover but I hate to say it but I have only read bits and pieces of this run. Much like your experience I didn't even see this issue or any of these issue on the rack at my near by Convenience store until probably around issue 400. I have always want to go and read it in its entirety but I have heard so much about it and had it much of the story spoiled for me I worry it will not have as huge of an impact. Ever week I see the The Omnibus at my local Comic shop and I think about getting it but its so Big and if I read it in bead and fell asleep with it might hurt me.



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