Northern Song

Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson Volume 5: written by Walt Simonson; illustrated by Sal Buscema, Walt Simonson, and Joe Sinnott (1986-87; collected 2007): Simonson’s five-year run ends in typically epic fashion, as a crippled Thor — cursed by the death-god Hela with brittle bones and an inability to die — faces enemies that include the Frost Giants, his eternally evil step-brother Loki, Grendel (mostly recovered from the whole lost arm thing), the Destroyer, Fin Fang Foom, and the Midgard Serpent.

The last enemy is possibly the most dangerous. Norse mythology has it that the Serpent and Thor battle to mutual destruction at the end of the universe. However, emboldened by the news that Thor can no longer die but is also gradually being reduced to a bowl of jello by also being unable to heal, the Serpent decides to start Gotterdammerung early.

Once the reduced Thor is stuck eternally in his belly, the Serpent believes that it will have free rein to do whatever it wants. The exciting battle between the two comes in an issue illustrated entirely in one- and two-page spreads, supplemented with running commentary from Norse mythology.

Simonson’s swan song is a fun one — yes, his run goes on for two more issues after Thor’s devastating battle with the serpent, and there are more epic battles before the end. Simonson actually figures out how to make the robotic, previously mindless Destroyer interesting, something no one had really ever been able to do. Recommended.

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