Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thor’s Day – Thor #338

Today we’ll be looking back at a classic comic from my collection.

Series:                               Thor (Volume 1)
Issue:                                 338
Title:                                  “A Fool and His Hammer…”
Art & Story:                      Walter Simonson
Colors:                              George Roussos
Lettering:                          John Workman, Jr.
Editing:                              Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief:                 Jim Shooter
Cover:                               Walter Simonson

We are back in space and the giant has grabbed a hammer.  It pounds on the ingot of star stuff, ringing “Doom!” with every blow.

Back on Earth, Donald Blake is still attempting to call Odin back to help him.  He realizes that he’s probably going to be stuck as a mortal, with no way to contact Asgard.  Just before Blake slips all the way into depression, Nick Fury joins him on top of the crashed ship.  Fury explains that if it was Odin that brought Beta Ray Bill to Asgard, he won’t be “…happy to see somebody else wearin’ yer threads and heftin’ yer hammer.”

Elsewhere, in Asgard, those in Odin’s Hall realize that this isn’t Thor as Bill attacks them, calling them all demons.  Odin reveals himself, demanding to know where his son is.  Bill hurls Mjolnir at Odin, who catches the hammer.  All this attack does is really tick off Odin.

Odin uses his magic to seal Bill in a sphere while he looks for Thor.  This causes Bill to rethink his opinion that these are probably not demons he’s dealing with.  Odin manages to find Don Blake and brings him to Asgard via another storm.  When he arrives, Thor is in his own form once more.  Seeing that his son is unharmed, Odin releases Bill and apologizes to him.  Bill accepts Odin’s offer of hospitality and all three proceed up a mountain to Hlidskjalf, Odin’s High Seat.

We cut to elsewhere in Asgard where Lady Sif catches Thor and Lorelei kissing in the bushes.  She clocks both of the lovers and storms off.  Thor begins laughing and Lorelei is upset that she wasn’t told that there would be hitting involved.  Thor then changes form to Loki, hinting that she may have success “where your sister, the Enchantress, has ever failed.”

Back at the High Seat, Beta Ray Bill tells his story.  He comes from a race that lived in floating cities in the heart of a galaxy.  The core of this galaxy exploded, destroying much of their race.  In order to survive almost all of them had to be put in suspended animation and placed in starships to find a new planet.  So that they would not be attacked they created a guardian, based on a ferocious carnivore.  Bill’s soul was placed in this bioengineered body and he lead the exodus from their galaxy.  Soon after they left a race of demons came out of the exploded galactic core and attacked them.  Having fought them off enough to give the fleet a chance to escape, Bill and Skuttlebutt raced ahead to find a suitable sanctuary.  This is where Thor came upon them and lost his hammer to Bill, who wants to use it to protect his people.

Thor and Odin explain how the combat where Bill won Mjolnir wasn’t actually fair, but they all agree to another combat where the final fate of the hammer will be decided.  Odin does muse on how the source of the demons is hidden from him, “as few things are” but the more immediate need is to decide on who will have the power of Thor.  Both Thor and Bill are transported to Skartheim, a land of lava flows and geysers, to fight to the death.  The warriors fight, giving it their all, and we cut to Volstagg and Balder.

Volstagg is chiding Balder for not truly understanding the philosophy of eating.  Volstagg explains how eating should be an affirmation of life, not an escape from it.  Their conversation is interrupted by a youth, Agnar of Vanaheim, who wants to test his mettle against Balder the Brave.  No matter how Agnar attacks, Balder easily evaded, saying that he is done with fighting.  Volstagg steps in, literally, crushing Agnar’s foot.  He carries Agnar off, dropping him in a glade, then sitting on him and beginning to tell him the story of Balder the Brave.

Back in Skartheim, Thor and Bill are still fighting.  They are very evenly matched and eventually there is a double knockout on a piece of obsidian which is floating towards a lava fall.  Bill manages to awaken in time to grab Thor, heedless of the conditions of the fight, and leap to safety.  They are both transported back to Odin’s throne room where Bill tells all, “The hammer … is mine!”

Where it comes from: Hlidskjalf is, in fact, Odin’s High Seat in the lore but it is located in his hall, Valaskjálf, not on a mountain top.  In both versions, though, whoever sits there is able to see into other worlds.

The Enchantress is an Asgardian sorceress, created for the comics, who became an enemy of Thor when she realized that she couldn’t make him fall in love with her.  Here she is given a younger sister, Lorelei, who seems to be going down the same path.

While Skartheim was invented for the comics, Vanaheim is the realm of the Vanir, who are also gods and opposed the Aesir of Odin way back in prehistory.  Freyr (or Frey in Marvel) and Freya are both Vanir who, along with their father Njord, were sent to the Aesir as peace hostages and welcomed into their tribe.  Now Freyr, along with Odin and Thor, is considered one of the most revered gods.

Next time we discover the final fate of Mjolnir.

No comments:

Post a Comment