THOR continued to roll along in a storyline that I felt relatively invested in, even though much of it took place in Asgard and began to feel more like a Conan/Barbarian series as a result. This was writer/editor Roy Thomas’ big Ragnarok storyline, the first such story I had encountered, and so that gave it an additional weight that, in retrospect, I don’t know that it deserved. But as opposed to all of those previous almost-Ragnaroks, this one was sold to me as the genuine article, and to be taken seriously. In order to do that, Roy integrated much material from the genuine Norse legends of the day of Ragnarok, as was his wont. of course, he also made sure that there were human characters in play who could give events a grounded perspective.

Those characters included Earthly reporter Harris Hobbs, who along with his film crew had scammed a trip to Asgard intending to film it as a Network Special. But one of Hobbs’ men, cameraman “Red’ Norvell, was inveigled by Loki to steal first Thor’s iron gauntlets and belt of strength ,and then to wrest his enchanted hammer away from him. Norvell did this due to his immediate attraction to Lady Sif, who wouldn’t give him the time of day. Having clobbered the true Thunder God, Norvell as the New Thor had taken off, with Sif in tow. And that’s where this issue opens.

It’s probably worthwhile to stop a moment and speak about the very nice artwork for this issue delivered by John Buscema and Tom Palmer. Buscema always seemed to feel more at home in fantasy settings rather than typical super hero adventures, so his work seems a bit more lively in this storyline that it often did. And Palmer was used to embellish Buscema’s simple breakdowns, a task he was well-suited for, being a great artist in his own right. I didn’t always love Palmer’s finish over everybody in every situation–a decade later, I thought it wasn’t right on AVENGERS, for example. But here, the pairing works, and Palmer’s line add detail and texture to the environments in a pleasing manner.

With Thor now bereft of his hammer and Ragnarok another step closer to happening, evil Loki cannot hold his tongue any longer. He taunts his brother and the rest of the Gods, revealing how he and Hela, the goddess of Death, resurrected the prophetess Volla and learned the secrets of what needed to happen in order to bring about the day of doom. Loki has steadily worked towards that purpose ever since. But he may have been wiser to keep his mouth shut, because Odin hereafter sentences him to a punishment straight out of myth: Loki is chained beneath a huge viper, whose venom drips upon him constantly, burning him. Loki’s recently-returned wife Sigyn petitions Odin to be permitted to give her husband some relief from his pain, but the pan she brings for such a purpose is shallow, and she much constantly turn to empty it of venom, allowing more of the stuff to drip onto Loki in the meantime. Those Norseman really knew how to torture a person.

Still, even without him actively in the game any longer, Loki’s plan still races towards fruition. Realizing the weakness of their foes, the assorted enemies of Asgard begin massing into a huge army intent on destroying the Golden Realm and ending Odin’s reign. meanwhile, having made off with Sif as his prize, the newly-minted Red Norvell Thor isn’t quite sure what to do next. He doesn’t have a real destination, so he drops down in Alfheim, home of the Elves, and proceeds to act like a huge bully, smashing the elves who peacefully come to greet him. Sif ponders the notion that the sheer power of the enchanted garments he wears has surely driven Norvell to madness, but she’s got no recourse against his obvious might. Still, she makes an attempt to appeal to the goodness within him.

As Norvell wonders about just how he was transformed into another Thor, Sif recounts to him the events of an earlier day, one in which Odin feared that the true Thunder God might one day exhaust his power in defense of Earth, leaving Asgard bereft of it in a time of need. And so he drew from his son a portion of the essence of his being, and implanted it into the belt of strength and the iron gloves, so that should such a day come, another Thor might rise to save everyone. By putting them on, Red Norvell has upset Odin’s design–but the surly cameraman isn’t moved by Sif’s plea.

And so the issue wraps up with Sif seeing the battle now taking place in her mind’s eye, imagining the Trolls storming Heimdall upon the Rainbow Bridge and his sounding of the Gjallarhorn as a call to battle. Odin himself cannot enter the battle, as he is needed to keep the ethereal flames which prevent Balder’s final demise from happening burning–Balder’s death having been decreed as the first moment of Ragnarok. And so Thor and the heroes of Asgard assemble, and wielding a simple sword rather than his own mighty hammer, the Thunder God leads them into battle joined. But they are definitely outnumbered and, without Mjolnir, outpowered. And that’s where this issue wraps things up.

3 thoughts on “BHOC: THOR #277

  1. “I didn’t always love Palmer’s finish over everybody in every situation–a decade later, I thought it wasn’t right on AVENGERS, for example.”

    Could you expand on this thought a bit, Tom? I thought Buscema and Palmer were still a great team in the 1980s. What changed for you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I concur! I really got into Marvel in ’85, I have fond childhood memories of the Buscema/Palmer Avengers run


  2. This plotline got me to pick up Thor for the first time. I loved the mix of real mythology with the Marvel take — but then I wound up sitting through Roy’s retelling of the Ring of the Nibelungs and wished he hadn’t indulged himself to scratch that itch.


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