I remember when I first began reading and thus collecting comics, my parents would only really buy one title for me: GI Joe. They didn’t want me collecting one or two issues of random titles I’d never finish or see through. That idea worked for the most part, thought the odd issue of something like the Transformers, the Sectars of Elfquest made it into my comic box from time to time.
I’m fairly certain my first major introduction to the world of Super Heros in comic form was Thor, specifically Thor number 354. I don’t know what made me want this issue specifically. Maybe it was Death’s boobs on the cover. Maybe it was Thor himself. Whatever the case, this one issue has remained with me of the next 30 odd years as a defining issue in my comic book collecting life.
Synopsis for “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” from the Marvel Database:
With the disappearance of Surtur and Odin, the demons are routed and begin to disappear back to Muspelheim. Back in Asgard, Hela has sensed Odin’s passing and comes for him. Thor strikes her relentlessly and sends her fleeing back to her realm. Sif barely manages to get back to Asgard because with the Rainbow Bridge gone, passage is almost impossible. While Sif and Thor plan on how to bring the Asgardians home, Lorelei and Loki continue their plans. Thor leaves Asgard and goes wandering in the wilderness, but Hela, still smarting from her abuse at Thor’s hands, kills his horse just as an avalanche is upon him. Back on Earth, in Chicago, Fandral goes to Don Blake’s office to give Nurse Stevens and Mrs Barclay their severance pay and to tell them and Shawna that SHIELD had need of Don and he may not be coming back. The charms he gives them will cause them to forget Don Blake.
Thor #354 would remain in my comic collection for several years before Thor himself would fully captivate my imagination. I think it was maybe in early high school where the God of Thunder would really take up the majority of my comic collecting energies. I would eventually pick up the issues both before and after number 354, thus rounding out the story I only had a fragment of for roughly five or six years.
Thor #354 was also my first introduction to the art of Walter Simonson. His style is highly distinct. It’s very organic, yet highly technical. He relies heavily on the interplay between straight lines and circles. He uses a hard edge, but you can totally tell it was drawn by hand. I love his style, and it’s one I can pick out fairly easily still today outside of his run on Thor. He is by far my favorite comic artist.
Thor #354 is one of those issues where the story itself is lost to me (I haven’t read it in years), yet it still defines me as a comic collector. It’s the one issue of any comic I own where I still know the issue number by heart. It was also a happy coincidence that it was published in April of 1985. So it’s a 10-year anniversary issue of sorts, and it falls in nicely with the Project 475 I’m working on.
I think I’ll have my parents bring all of my comics up the next time they visit so I can see what kind of shape Thor #354 is in.