THOR #345-353 (1984-1985): Casket of Ancient Winters

Make sure you read until the end of this post for a cool story about issue #350!

The Casket of Ancient Winters story is one of Simonson’s most famous, and served as part of the basis for the second Thor movie (but don’t hold that against it–it’s a great comic). 

In the early issues of his run, a mysterious smith keeps banging away at the sword of Twilight, with a resounding “Doom!” as Simonson keeps teasing us–and this is where we find out what’s going on.

The Casket story involves two humans who are seeking to stop Malekith from unleashing the Ancient Winters on Midguard, and they do it by force-feeding fast food to Malekith’s soldiers.

And eventually, after a ton of battles with mythic creatures (that are a spectacular sight to behold), like this one…

…Malekith succeeds in shattering the Casket…

…and Surtur picks up that big ass sword we kept seeing.  This means, of course, that we have the biggest battle of all, so Simonson brings together the various plotlines he’s been weaving so far: Balder, Sif, Beta Ray Bill–all come together for a Ragnarok and Roll party.

Sif gets some good warrior Goddess scenes.

It leads directly into Ragnarok and Roll 2, which is the three-issue battle against Surtur. 

The battle moves from the other realms to Midgard, so we get some guests.  The US Army…

…And The Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and even Loki.  And in the end, it takes Odin to save the day.

And at the very end, Odin appears to be dead. Cliffhanger!

Absolutely fantastic.  And this isn’t even Simonson’s best Thor story!

The cover to #350 has a great story behind it, which I pulled from this blog.

This Walt Simonson THOR cover has a great story behind it, one that I heard at Mark Gruenwald’s memorial service.Mark was the editor on this portion of Walter’s THOR run.
So, this cover was ready to go to press, but Editor in Chief Jim Shooter didn’t like the Thor face that Walt had drawn, and he demanded that Gruenwald get a correction done. Mark believed that. if he brought the situation to Walt, it would escalate, possibly resulting in Simonson quitting the series.
Mark also knew, however, that Jim was going to be out of town on business the following week. So he came up with a plan. He had art director John Romita draw a new face for Thor on a piece of adhesive patch-paper. And then, once Shooter had left the building, Gruenwald peeled off and discarded the patch. If Shooter came back with a complaint, Mark intended to claim that the patch must have fallen off at some point while the cover was in transit.
Weeks later, the make-ready for this cover came in from the printer, and Shooter called Gruenwald down to his office. Mark figured that he was going to get it, and readied his defense. And then, Shooter held up the cover as mark entered and said, :
“See? Doesn’t it look a lot better this way?”

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