Story - Walt Simonson
Art - Walt Simonson
Lettering - John Workman Jr.
Colors - George Roussos
Editing - Mark Gruenwald
Editor-In-Chief - Jim Shooter
It’s a strange thing to sit down and start reading an issue that kicks off a run considered one of the greatest of all time, but The Mighty Thor #337, the first chapter of Walt Simonson’s epic five-year stint on the book, is arguably one of the best first issues of a run I have ever read. Right from the cover featuring the now-familiar alien figure of Beta-Ray Bill smashing the logo with Thor’s hammer, while dressed in Asgardian garb is both intriguing and captivating; it’s a classic image, one that’s been reprinted time and time again to draw people further into the mythology of Thor, and the expansive world Walt Simonson placed him in.
Fury assigns Thor with a mission to take a look at a space vessel heading to our solar system that seems to have destroyed a space probe. As Thor heads to intercept this vessel, we’re treated to a quick scene featuring some of the extended Asgardian cast that seems to set up Sif’s need for a meeting with Odin. Back to Thor, we seem him come under attack from the space vessel in a great little action sequence, which ends when he comes aboard. After a few moments, Thor is attacked by an alien figure, before we quickly move onto a scene of Loki, pondering his boredom and desire for mischief. It’s clear that Loki’s up to something, but what exactly it is we don’t fully learn just yet.
Bill prepares to attack the oncoming S.H.I.E.L.D. forces, as Nick Fury tries to assess the situation and launch a counter-attack. Before the fight can truly get under way, Odin appears to Bill, mistaking him for Thor and dragging him back to Asgard (presumably for this meeting Sif was seeking earlier). As Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. approach the wreckage of the vessel, Donald Blake emerges, screaming "FATHER!" to the heavens as he realises his father has abandoned him, taking Beta-Ray Bill in his place.
Now, I’ve read a lot of comic books (and I mean a lot), but this might be one of the best first issues I have ever read. It establishes the old characters quickly, brings in a new antagonist in the form of Beta-Ray Bill, sets up numerous mysteries and has a cracking cliffhanger. Walt Simonson clearly has a fondness for Thor, right from the off, and this issue literally kicks off a run I now anticipate to be flawless from start-to-finish.