It's time to continue the Walter Simonson era with this collection! The plots start to come to a close with only one big plot continuing. The others have wrapped up nicely and this seems to be the end of an era for Thor. Could this comic surpass the first one thanks to the abundance of action or did Thor's underwhelming portrayal destroy its chances? Time to find out!
Well, the first part of the collection deals with Malekith as his plan goes into motion. He realizes that he cannot hope to defeat Thor in a battle of power so he decides to resort to trickery instead. After tricking Thor into drinking of the golden mead; it would seem that Malekith may have the upper hand in the battles to come as Thor starts to act irrationally. With only Roger Willis at his side, Thor infiltrates Malekith's home base and they begin their assault on the castle. Outnumbered hundreds to 2, Thor and Roger fight on and may get more than they bargained for when Algrim appears to join the fight.
The rest of the collection (excluding the final issue) deals with the threat of Surtur as he seeks to burn away the 9 Realms and destroy everything. It's a very ambitious goal, but now that he has the Twilight Sword, it would seem that the goal is not unreachable. All Surtur has to do is light the sword with the giant fire that is in Asgard and then he will be able to burn away the 9 Realms. The climax is a large one as Surtur heads to Earth to find the Rainbow Bridge and must content with the (3rd string) Avengers and Fantastic Four. The X-Men are evidently too busy to deal with a being who will incinerate the universe.
Surtur has brought a legion of fire demons with him and their sheer numbers bring the heroes to a halt. Unfortunately for them, none of the S Rank Heroes like Spiderman, Cyclops, Ironman, or even the Incredible Hulk are around to help. The heroes quickly start to get overwhelmed and that's considering that they get a lot of reinforcements. The Army, Knights of Valhalla, Beta Ray Bill, The Asgardians, and many more heroes are around to help, but they're still being crushed. Thor is forced to let Earth fend for itself as he goes to aid Odin against Surtur himself. Can they defeat this being of immense power?
There are other plots about as well like Lorelei's plot to get Thor, Loki's plot to rule Asgard, and Thor's mission to free the souls in Hela's domain which he has had to put on hold. Roger Willis gets a pretty big role during the Malekith arc which could have been considered as a slightly different plot from Thor's, but they ultimately merged and concluded. Balder's plot was also concluded in the end, but not in a cool way.
Thor did not look quite as good as in the first volume. While he still does show glimpses of his former glory from the first volume, the golden mead tricks him a little too easily. I would hope that such a thing would not affect Thor The Thunderer. Aside from that, Thor is still a solid character, but the effects of the Golden Mead do affect him greatly for the first few comics. Thor does give it his all against Surtur, but he ends up succumbing to sadness after the battle because he regrets his lack of power. This will likely lead into the Hela plot, but is he ready for such a battle? Only time will tell, but he did look pretty good when he fought Hela towards the end, so I wouldn't count him out.
Odin has a big role in this volume and he's a lot better than usual. It is regrettable that he did not let Thor know that he was being deceived by Melodi, but that's his only negative scene. Odin has a lot of good dialogue and he usually says "Well met" if someone addresses him correctly. Odin puts up a good fight against Surtur and while he may not have been a match for the fire tyrant, he still put up a valiant effort. If the battle had been a fair one, perhaps Odin would have had the upper hand.
Surtur makes for a great villain and he's easily one of Thor's most impressive ones. He fears no being and even Odin does not seem to be at the same level of power. Surtur is good with a sword and also pretty fast as he was able to land some good hits on Thor when even Hela could not. Surtur essentially fought Thor, Odin, and Loki back to back which is not a bad feat. He's a likable fighter and you almost want to root for him as he doesn't seem to hold a grudge against the heroes. No, he wants to destroy everything, but it's not personal and it's hard to root against him.
Roger Willis is a pretty likable character and he gets a big role in this collection. It's too bad that his reflexes were too slow and he could not warn Thor about the Golden Mead, but he still took matters into his own hands and got rid of the rest. He put up a solid fight against the Dark Elves and he's handy with a gun. He even admits that he could have beaten the rest of them if he had his platoon from back in the day. I can't say that I doubt him as he put up a solid fight. He almost destroyed Malekith when they fought because he knows that iron is their weakness and exploited it. He mildly helps against the fire demons and proves that humans can still be tough. It would be nice to see him appear in more comics in the future.
Loki also gets in on the action to further his own agenda. Using trickery, he does manage to last for a little while against Surtur which is impressive. He could have done even better if he had used his abilities to the fullest and not stayed so close to the monster, but Surtur would have eventually wiped him out anyway. I can't say that Loki is very likable in this comic since his other plans are hard to root for, but at least he got to fight.
The art is solid for the comics and they look really good. The art definitely amplifies the intensity of the fight scenes and makes them look even better than usual. It helps to capture the dramatic tension that fills the characters as they fight Surtur. There seems to be no hope, but still they fight on. After all, if they always believe in the Three Fates, then they would basically be doomed. This is definitely some nice art!
I do have to say that the fight scenes are very well done. Nowadays in the comics, we rarely get such large fight scenes and they tend to only be a few pages at the most. In this battle, we get some nice/long fights that keep on going for a while and the fights are also very dramatic. You feel the blows as the characters make dramatic speeches while going in for the win. It definitely helps to remind me that Surtur is a very real threat and someone who should not be taken lightly.
Overall, this is a solid collection of comics and continues Simonson's solid run. Some parts like the Lorelei plot still drag on, but it has a much grander feel than the first collection. I still don't care for Balder the Brave and his subplot ends on a pretty low note. Still, I am glad that it is now over! Surtur is definitely a big threat and it's nice to see how the rest of the Marvel universe responds. Human Torch and Reed Richards play a critical role in the comic and it makes sense if you've read their comics. They always perform well during crunch time! It'll be very hard to top the Surtur saga as far as Thor comics go, but we shall see. If they use Kurse, then it is always possible! I highly recommend this Thor collection as with the previous one. All Marvel fans should appreciate the drama and the action!