Review by Woodrow Phoenix
This is the first of five volumes containing the entirety of Walt Simonson’s epic run on The Mighty Thor, which created a story cycle of a hugeness unseen since the days of Lee and Kirby. From the very first image connected to his epic journey, Simonson demonstrates his intention to shake things up. The logo on the cover of his first issue is smashed by a creature who looks like an alternate version of the Thunder God with a hammer that looks exactly like Mjolnir, and everything is up for grabs. The pace of his innovations scarcely lets up as each issue builds on the one before it with a slew of brilliant ideas and fantastic storytelling, beginning with the unthinkable: Thor’s hammer is taken from him by someone who is equally entitled to heft it. How can this be? Remember what it says on the side? “Whosoever should lift this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”. Those words had been there since the very beginning, but until Beta Ray Bill bested Thor in combat, they had never been tested.
Bill is loath to return the hammer – after all, he won it fair and square so why should he? It’s up to Odin the All-Father to devise a solution since he’s the one who put the enchantment there in the first place. But will Bill accept it? Meanwhile elsewhere in the cosmos, a giant anvil is resounding with the sound of Asgard’s enemies preparing for battle, Thor has to fight legions of demons, then answer the call of the Last Viking, and then face the deadly menace of Malekith the Accursed, king of the Dark Elves. This warrior of shadows enslaves anyone who eats his mystical elf food, and once he finds the Casket of Ancient Winters, he will plunge all of Earth into a new ice age. At the end of this volume it looks like everything is going to plan!
This is essential reading if you have ever been interested in any cosmic adventure, or indeed any superhero comics. This volume features an afterword by Walt Simonson, a cover gallery and some sketches. It is also available in the UK as Thor: The Last Viking (No 5), a hardcover from the Marvel Graphic Novel Collection, Volume 38. It is also reprinted as Thor Legends Volume 1: Walt Simonson, with a different cover but exactly the same contents.
A revised version of this volume, Thor by Walter Simonson – Volume 1, features the same contents but is recoloured by Steve Oliff, as seen in The Mighty Thor by Walt Simonson Omnibus.