Spanning Thor’s 1977 outings, this selection is prefaced by an introduction from involved illustrator and eventual redeemer of the Thor franchise – Walter Simonson.

As in Masterworks 15, Len Wein writes the core series, which picks up here with John Buscema now providing breakdowns for Tony DeZuniga’s finished art. That team launches a new interstellar epic with Thor once again searching for the missing Lord Odin. Having exhausted every avenue of location available, Thor is compelled to search the galaxies, prompted by vague hints of a distant destination – the Doomsday Star. On spacefaring dragonship Starjammer, Thor is accompanied by Lady Sif, and Warriors Three Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg, leaving a beleaguered Eternal Realm under the stewardship of Balder the Brave and his dark inamorata Karnilla the Norn Queen. However, before they even leave local space, the seekers encounter – and battle – malign aliens marooned ever since they initially fought the Storm Lord in his debut adventure.

There follows a classic case of Marvel Misunderstanding as the voyagers encounter an ancient and colossal colony ship populated by the last survivors of a civilisation that died from over-exploiting their environment. As the Asgardians are joined by Rigellian Recorder Memorax, the slowly-fading Levianons reveal how their poverty and resource-blighted existence has been further threatened by an invasive beast who takes the elderly.

Another mineral-based miscreant resurfaces as the Starjammer is attacked by space pirates inexplicably led by human super-villain – and early Thor foe – the Grey Gargoyle. The job is not one he wants, but as the unwilling captain conspires with the beaten and enslaved Asgardians for a chance to see again the Green Hills of Earth, their plot is exposed by fanatical second-in command Fee-Lon.

Meanwhile in Asgard, Balder and Karnilla have been resisting an invasion helmed by arch-traitors Enchantress and Executioner. As Walter Simonson signs on beside Wein and DeZuniga, that subplot expands and intensifies.

Odin is eventually located, captured and slowly diminished by the energy-leeching Soul-Survivors whose civilisation subsists on stolen divine power. Thankfully, given allies, Odin proves both wily and mighty and inevitable victory results in a weary and wounded pantheon returning to Asgard to find it taken over by Loki and his cohort of treacherous allies.

Wein immediately sidelines Odin, ultimately having him abducted yet again, as a covert civil war erupts between the returned champions and the city Loki has subverted. Once again, everything hinges on the power and determination of Thor and his valiant resistance to chaos. The conclusion shows the Thunderer at his indomitable best, keeping Loki at bay and off kilter until the Warriors Three rescue and revive an extremely unhappy All-Father.

The final story has Thor in the 31st century courtesy of Roger Stern and Sal Buscema. This riot of time-busting mayhem commences with Mighty Thor plucked from contemporary Manhattan. He’s accidentally summoned to the time period of the original/future (time travel tenses suck!) Guardians of the Galaxy by a cyborg maniac named Korvac. The legendary god-warrior briefly joins Vance Astro, Charlie 27, Yondu, Nikki, Martinex and Starhawk to bombastically battle super-powered aliens and thwart the sinister cyborg’s scheme to become master of the universe.

The usurping of Asgard presages a new direction fully followed in Masterworks 17. These tales lack a vaulting visionary passion, but definitely and decidedly engage.