A TITANIC BATTLE FOR THE HAMMER! (A Review of Thor #338!)
Continuing from the events of THOR #337, we find Thor's human alter ego Donald Blake shouting and praying to the All-Father Odin. Just moments prior, a warrior named BETA RAY BILL bested THOR in combat after the 60-second enchantment on his Uru hammer expired. Bill struck the wall with Blake's cane and took Thor's power, hammer and garb. ODIN believes Bill is Thor and whisks him back to ASGARD.
BETA RAY BILL arrives in Asgard, attacks a group of warriors with THOR's hammer and is confronted by ODIN himself, who is puzzled by the events before him. BILL explains to ODIN that he fought a mighty warrior, won his weapon in fair combat and took it for his own. Odin turns his eye to Midgard and finds his son is still there.
Nick Fury (who sent THOR on the mission into space last issue) is speaking with Blake when lightning strikes, transforms him into THOR and takes him away to Asgard. Odin bids the two warriors follow him up a mountain where better introductions may be told.
While Odin and Thor gives Bill the skinny on their history, Bill explains he is a genetically-enhanced warrior protector of his entire race who travels to find a new home in space aboard his ship, SKUTTLEBUTT, but a large faction of demons seek to destroy what remains of his people. Bill explains how he's happy to have won the hammer in combat to protect his people, which angers Thor. Odin explains to Bill that the fight was not fair because of the enchantment placed upon the hammer that causes Thor to revert back to an ordinary human after one minute away from the hammer.
Odin bids they fight to the death for rights to the mighty prize and transports them to SKARTHEIM where they must battle without weapons. After a fierce fight that causes much damage to both the realm and both warriors, THOR is bested and BILL remains battered from the ordeal. But Bill, a noble and honorable fighter, cannot accept Odin's command, and carries THOR's body from the battlefield saving his life. BILL carries THOR's unconscious body back to ASGARD, ready to claim the hammer as his prize.
WALT SIMONSON continues to reel in readers with his amazing story and artwork on this title. Throughout the history of the title, there have been high points and low points, but these issues truly are some of the highest points of the entire run. With a love and feel of the old LEE/KIRBY days, the introduction of BETA RAY BILL to the THOR mythology is a terrific place for new readers to jump on board and old readers to get interested in THOR again.
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