The inscription clearly reads “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!”

Hearken back to a time when worthiness arrived from the most unexpected quarter…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Thor #337 awaits!

Thor337CoverTHOR #337
Writer: Walt Simonson
Penciler: Walt Simonson
Inker: Walt Simonson
Colorist: George Roussos
Letterer: John Workman, Jr.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 60 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $40.00

Previously in Thor: Though you wouldn’t know it from his big-screen adaptation, the first adventures of Thor were created under the conceit that naive, limping young Doctor Donald Blake was able to channel the power of the Norse God through a magical walking stick.  Eventually, it became canon that Don didn’t actually exist at all, but was instead a test by Odin to teach his son humility by transforming him into a disabled human form, and that Thor was actually capital-T Thor of myth.  Of course, the bit about the hammer empowering ANYONE worthy stayed as part of the lore (as readers of Thor in 2015 can clearly tell you), leading to this issue.  The issue actually opens with heavy foreshadowing of “DOOM!”, as a mysterious giant figure hammers on a giant anvil, forging something as yet unseen in a strange cosmic void.  Cut to Grant Park in Chicago (Thor’s home circa ’83) as Doctor Donald Blake enjoys a nice, relaxing walk…

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Though the frisbee turns out not to be an attack, the two burly men who grab Blake and hustle him into a nearby car don’t seem nearly so benign.  Fortunately for all involved (This is Thor we’re talking about, after all), the driver of the car is a familiar and friendly face…

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This may be one of the best Nick Fury (and yes, that is Fury, as he looked before Samuel L. Jackson redefined the role) moments ever, as he quickly reveals that he knows Blake’s secret, that it’s safe with him, and besides, they both have bigger fish to fry.  No chicanery, no double-talk, just a straightforward admission of knowledge and a one-way trip to the SHIELD helicarrier, where Jasper Sitwell has prepared a presentation on the unknown threat that requires the power of a deity…

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Tasked with saving the entire solar system from certain doom, Thor takes to the skies immediately.  After a quick check-in with the denizens of Asgard (where Lady Sif tries in vain to bring Balder back from the bottom of a wine bottle) we join the Odinson in deep space, having warped his way into the path of the oncoming ship thanks to Mjolnir’s magic.

His flight, however, has not gone unnoticed…

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That shot of a flying Thor is utterly stunning work by Simonson, and it’s easy already to see why this issue was such a (you should excuse the expression) thunderbolt into the Odinson’s history back in the day.  After months of relatively pedestrian adventures, facing villains like Megatak, The Crusader and other human folk, suddenly seeing how different Thor is from the rest of the Marvel Universe had to have been pleasantly shocking.  (I, myself, didn’t buy this issue off the stands, finding the Beta Ray Bill cover weird-looking, yet another mistake by opinionated 12-year-old me.)  After a bit more Asgardian intrigue, featuring Loki and the ever-enchanting Lorelei, we return to Thor, just in time to see him get thoroughly waylaid by this issue’s special guest-star…

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Once again, Simonson’s unique and inimitable design sense hits the bullseye, giving us a foe who is truly inhuman and monstrous looking, all the better to fool us with.  Worse still, Beta Ray Bill proves to be Thor’s match in both might and combat skill, even depriving the Thunder God of his mallet of power…

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As their battle rages, the ship continues on a course for Earth, dead set on consuming the planet’s resources to continue their interstellar trip, especially given the battle damage to the outer hull thanks to the ongoing Donnybrook between Thor and Beta Ray Bill.  Unfortunately for Thor, as the ship enters the orbit of the third planet of the Sol system, one of the secondary enchantments of his hammer is triggered…

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The single shot easily downs Doctor Blake, leaving him unconscious as the ship lands on Earth, where they are intercepted by the agents of SHIELD, hoping to finish the job that Thor started.

But, a big surprise awaits both humans and aliens, as Beta Ray Bill searches for Thor’s fallen hammer…

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Aaaaand, that was unexpected, at least in the 80s.  Bill desperately lashes out against the agents of SHIELD before anyone can consider that whole business about being “worthy”, using the power of Mjolnir to devastating effect…

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Bill whirls Mjolnir above his head, preparing to attack once again, when SHIELD’s instruments measure a massive atmospheric disturbance.

Cue: ODIN!

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Odin gestures, and “Thor” disappears in a puff of logic bolt of lightning, leaving behind a confused Nick Fury, a disabled ship, and a suddenly terrified Donald Blake…

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Blake roars to the heavens for his father not to forsake him, but there is no response other than the breaking storm…

As last-page cliffhangers go, it’s a real whopper, and a memorable moment for all.  Though he was known for his work on ‘Manhunter’ for DC, Simonson’s writing on ‘Thor’, starting with this issue really cemented his reputation as a true auteur creator, and his work revitalized Thor the book and Thor the character.  Indeed, the modern Thor as seen in current books and the blockbuster films is as much Simonson’s as anyone else’s, even creators Lee and Kirby!  Beta Ray Bill has always been a favorite character of mine, once my idiot teenage self actually sat down and read the book rather than judging it by the cover, and the mystery of his worthiness makes for a fascinating arc of story, ending with him earning his own magic hammer eventually.  Thor #337 is the start of something really big, with excellent art and a compelling story combining for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that absolutely deserves top marks, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall. 

The inscription clearly reads "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor!" Hearken back to a time when worthiness arrived from the most unexpected quarter...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Thor #337 awaits! THOR #337 Writer: Walt Simonson Penciler: Walt Simonson Inker: Walt Simonson Colorist: George Roussos Letterer: John Workman, Jr. Editor: Mark Gruenwald Publisher: Marvel Comics Cover Price: 60 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $40.00 Previously in Thor: Though you wouldn't know it from his big-screen adaptation, the first adventures of Thor were created under the conceit that naive, limping young Doctor Donald…
A talented creator firing on all cylinders and utterly revitalizing one of Marvel's oldest characters... Truly an issue that lives up to the hype.

THOR #337

Writing
Art
Coloring

A talented creator firing on all cylinders and utterly revitalizing one of Marvel's oldest characters... Truly an issue that lives up to the hype.

User Rating: 4.43 ( 4 votes)
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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. January 3, 2016 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    First solo Thor issue I ever read. One could say I started from the top. I was absolutely captivated by this Thor run: Landscape and architecture of Nordic mythology, as well as gods I knew only from art history books before this were given a distinct look. Even this day, whenever Nordic mythology comes up, the first thing I think is the Einherjer like Simonson draw them. Stories that were told were also surprisingly close to their inspiration “Edda”, with American super hero twist of course. No Thor after this has come even close in my mind and farther away they drift from this, the more I dislike it. Sorry, just cant get behind current Thor, never will be.

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