May 1978: Thor 274 – In which we learn that if Loki hands you something, put it down.

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Thor 274 was written by Roy Thomas with art by John Buscema and Tom Palmer and opens with Loki on Asgard (along with a news crew) ranting about the  oncoming Ragnarok. As Thor tries to stop whatever Loki is doing, Odin returns, missing an eye and tells Thor that maybe there’s something to it.


Odin then relates a story about how he learned that Ragnarok is coming, after giving his eye to Mimir and seeking the council of the wraith of Volla, he is told that the end will come after the death of Balder.

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He argues with Hela and retrieves the blind god Hoder and returns home, to the start of the issue, followed shortly by the goddesses of Asgard. After one of the newscrew (a camera man called Red) starts lusting after Sif, the Asgardians discuss the dire news.



As serious as the subject is, several of them, the Warriors Three and Balder are not to concerned, since Balder’s mother Frigga, was promised by living and non-living things not to harm Balder, so when in Asgard, he is unkillable, so of course that have to test that as a game. Yup, that’s right, it’s test his being impervious to harm by killing him. The news crew try to bring this to Thor’s attention.


As in the myths of old, Loki gives blind Hoder a bow and arrow to fire at Balder, knowing that the arrow made of mistletoe (not asked to spare him) will kill him and kick start Ragnarok. Thor arrives just in time to cradle the dying body of Balder the Brave, knowing now that the end is upon them all.


Relevance: This is one of those times that the title used the cycle of Ragnarok as a story, but this is one of the earliest I can think of.

Notes: This had all of the hallmarks of a really enjoyable read, Roy Thomas doing epic, with John Buscema doing a more Conan like setting, much preferable to him than the capes and cowls stuff, but it just didn’t get there. The story plodded along and it felt like a more recently paced story. That said, the characters looked mythic and while not his best work, John Buscema can’t do a bad Thor. It’s not a comic to jump in on, but it was part of an interesting era and is worth looking at.

Next Time: Iron Man vs a big robot, take two.

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