Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thor’s Day – Thor #346

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

Series:                                  Thor (Volume 1)
Issue:                                    346
Title:                                     “The Wild Hunt!”
Story & Pencils:                Walter Simonson
Inks:                                      Terry Austin
Colors:                                  Christie Scheele
Lettering:                            John Workman, Jr.
Editing:                                Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief:                 Jim Shooter
Cover:                                   Walter Simonson

We open in New York City at night time.  Roger Willis, of Long Island, is walking down the street musing to himself that he preferred his time in Korea to the current situation, since he knew who the good guys and bad guys were.  He has changed trains and cabs so as to lose anyone following him, and is now on foot in Greenwich Village. A stranger asks him for a light, which he gives the guy, and then is attacked. Roger fights back, flinging the first guy into his oncoming cohorts and catches a cab out of the area.

We switch to Midtown where Thor is in the law offices of Strother and Martin. Mr. Strother is recapping his connection  to Eric Willis to Thor, explain that he carried out all of his instructions but is still worried.  Since Eric mentioned Malekith and the Casket of Ancient Winters, which are references to Norse Mythology, Strother contacted Thor. Thor takes a picture that Strother had of Eric and flies to the Police precinct where Eric was last seen.

On the West Side, Lorelei is in a singles bar taking all of the attention of the men. She casually mentions that she’s actually Thor’s girlfriend, which causes one of the men to break away and call his master.

Thor arrives at the precinct just as Roger walks through the Lower West Side.  Thor inquires about Eric and is told to take a seat while they bring him out. Thor takes one of the cookies offered to him and comments how it has an odd taste. The officers then tell him that it is the enchanted food of Faerie and he will never taste anything else, for his will is being taken over.  Thor pretends weakness until Malekith’s name is mentioned and his plans reveiled, when he summons the lightning and knocks them out.

Roger, meanwhile, is climbing a ladder to get to the underside of an abandoned portion of highway. What he finds is the Casket of Ancient Winters.  He puts it in a Macy’s bag to disguise it and walks off.  Just then Malekith, who had learned the Casket’s location last issue, arrives and finds it gone.  He pulls out an elaborate horn and calls in The Wild Hunt, but also alerts Thor that something is up.

Roger, now in a cab, is stuck in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge. He hears a howling, looks up and sees a huge amount of demon dogs flying down towards him.  Roger, the cabbie and all the other drivers get out of their cars and run. Roger manages to shoot one of the dogs before it gets to him, but is then attacked by the Master of the Hunt, who is wielding a spear and riding a demon horse.

Meanwhile, in the wasteland outside of Asgard, Balder comes across a young woman running from a Sand Devil. He grabs a nearby chunk of wood and attacks the creature. Agnar of Vanaheim, who has been trying to catch up with Balder, now sees him run headlong into danger with only a stick of wood as his weapon.

Back on Earth, Roger shoots the mount and kills it.  The Huntsman is angered by this and moves to attack him on foot, but he is hit with a bolt of lightning before he gets close enough.  The Huntsman changes shape back to Malekith as Thor arrives. The hounds now attack both Roger and Thor.

We now switch to the Smith, now revealed to be Surtur of Muspell, Lord of the Fire Demons, towering over his army with the sword, Twilight, in his hands, calling to “Sound the battlecry that all who live may hear it and despair!”

Back on the bridge, Thor and Roger are fighting a losing battle, until Thor attacks Malekith with an I-Beam. Noticing that the pack had not attacked en-mass, Thor realized that the steel of the bridge was keeping them at bay.  Since Cold Iron is the bane of all Faerie, the I-Beam hurts Malekith sufficiently that he and the pack flee, the hounds back to Faerie and Malekith to Lorelei’s apartment.

Thor and Roger compare notes and Roger reveals that he is Eric’s son, even though he looks old enough to be Eric’s father, due to the enchantment of the Casket.  Thor takes Eric to Melody’s (who is Lorelei in disguise) apartment in his guise of Sigurd Jarlson.  Melody offers Sigurd a drink, which he accepts. This is the magical Golden Mead that she has been preparing to entrance Thor, and it works! Melody is shown to be nothing but an enchanted piece of wood, which tells Thor to bring the Casket to the Cotswolds of England in exchange for his beloved.  Thor swears to do so.

Where it comes from: This is an interesting take on The Wild Hunt, since the Hunt is traditionally led by Wotan (aka Odin).  It makes me wonder whether Odin gave that responsibility to the Dark Elves at some point or if he only was included as an honorary member from the beginning. Either way, it seems as if the Hunt disappeared once Malakith was banished, since they haven’t been running around under another Huntsman. It’s possible that the horn was kept in Svartalfheim but, if it was, I doubt that another Dark Elf would have used it.

Thor getting enchanted finally pays off the sub-plot that started way back in Issue 338, where Loki tells Lorelei that she will succeed where the Entrantress has failed.  I doubt that she would have wanted to succeed in this particular way, getting kidnapped, but it’s probably an ends justify the means kind of thing. It also leads us to some interesting stories ahead.

On to the big bad guy that was just revealed, Surtur (or Surtr in the original spelling). This is the oldest being in existence, according to the Norse Lore, and ruler of the Land of Fire, Muspell, one of the two original worlds. Surtur has been trapped in Muspell since ancient times and has a mad on for Odin and the Asgardians. Surtur is destined to light fire to the worlds during Ragnarok and bring about the end of all things. Not someone you want to mess with.

Next time Thor and Roger travel to England and confront Malekith!

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