Thor (1st series) #374

Issue Date: 
December 1986
Story Title: 
Fires of the Night!

Walter Simonson (writer), Sal Buscema (penciler, inker), Max Scheele (colorist), John Workman (letters), Ralph Macchio (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Thor fends off the Marauders and tries to help the badly injured Angel. They find Artie Maddicks, who tries to lead them to the rest of X-Factor. Before that, though, Blockbuster attacks Thor again, managing to break his arm. Angel distracts Blockbuster long enough for Thor to kill the Marauder in self-defense. Afterward, they find Marvel Girl and Cyclops, who thank Thor and bandage his arm. Thor promises to do something about the corpses. When the mutants are gone, Hela appears and tells Thor she has cursed him with brittle bones and immortality. Soon, he will beg her to die. In a berserker rage, Thor uses his lightning to scour the entire network of tunnels. In Asgard, Volstagg’s family welcomes the mortal orphans Mick and Kevin, and Balder gets some Water of Life from the Norns to restore Hugin, the second raven of Odin.

Full Summary: 

Thor finds himself in the Morlock Tunnels beneath Manhattan, defending the impaled Angel against the people who injured him so horribly: three Marauders, namely Blockbuster, Harpoon and Vertigo. Harpoon angrily announces he scared them off with his mumbo jumbo, but the Marauders are ready for him now. He throws one of his energy lances at the thunder god, who smashes it with his hammer Mjolnir.

The strongman Blockbuster attacks next, trying to wring Thor’s head from his neck before he can raise that hammer again. Thor swats him away. Vertigo attacks and dizziness assails Thor, who reacts with a vortex spun by Mjolnir to reverse the effect, causing her to lose her balance. He strikes the hammer to the ground and lightning chases the three Marauders away.

Thor turns to their victim, finding is features familiar. Gently, he lowers him to the ground. He realizes the man needs a doctor badly. Did Artie make it? Angel asks weakly. Thor doesn’t understand the question. He guesses he didn’t, Angel sighs. He can’t seem to do anything right anymore. Just leave him to die…

Thor realizes the will to live is vital if he is to survive his injuries. The doctor he once was demands that he succor his needs, but the Viking warrior is not so sure. The man has given his all in battle and Valhalla would be his reward in his world. Should he deny him his dying wish in this one?

A part of the ceiling falls as the lightning and heat have weakened the structure. Thor gathers the Angel up and walks away.

Meanwhile, in Asgard, Balder the Brave follows the raven Muninn through the desert, realizing he feels he is being watched. He calls out to the other presence, seeking an audience. He holds up a white ring, asking to be granted this boon for the sake of the token he wears.

Suddenly, a giant wormlike dragon burrows from out of the ground. He commends Balder’s courage, asking what he wants. Balder wishes to speak with him.

The dragon turns into a beautiful young woman, Wyrd of the Norns, who bids him welcome. Few wear the token of the sisters of fate and even fewer have returned for a second audience. Necessity compelled his journey. He has come to ask a favor which only the fates can grant. Smiling, she tells him the fates are fickle but they cannot refuse the unselfish request of Balder the Shining, who wears the white token. But Wyrd may one day ask the favor be returned. She hands him a vial with water of the well of life. Use it wisely. Such a gift cannot be given twice. He is surprised they know.

Balder pours the water on a feather of the dead raven Huginn. The feather glows and soon the second raven of Odin is restored. Balder turns around to thank Wyrd but finds her gone. He cries out his thanks, hoping she will hear and leaves with the two ravens.

In the Morlock Tunnels, Harpoon and Blockbuster have met up with their teammate, Sabretooth, talking about how they failed to kill the Angel. Sabretooth mocks Blockbuster for not being up to the job. Furious, Blockbuster leaves to find Thor and wring his neck.

Not far away, Thor is carrying Angel when he hears sobbing coming from within a pipe. Inside, Artie Maddicks see them. He shows Thor a vision of a graveyard. Thor understands and tells him that the man he carries is injured but not dead yet. He is trying to find a way out of the tunnels. He holds out his hand to Artie and suggests they find it together.

That moment, Blockbuster attacks from above. Thor shouts at Artie to run, just as Blockbuster lands hard on Thor’s arm. The thunder god screams in pain as his bones shatter.

Blockbuster intends to kill Thor before he can get up to use his hammer. However, Angel awakes and sees the giant who helped pin him to the wall about to kill someone else. With his last strength, he throws himself on Blockbuster and tries to choke him. Blockbuster turns around, tearing out some of his feathers. Thor takes his hammer and swirls it, then throws it into Blockbuster’s face. His time has run out! he booms. May Hela, goddess of death, deal with him as he deserves!

He thanks the unconscious Angel and hopes he will survive. Artie takes his arm and shows him images of Marvel Girl and Cyclops. Thor finds them familiar-looking but can’t place the faces. Nevertheless, Artie’s insistent tugging tells him Artie can lead him there. Carrying the Angel, he follows the boy.

Meanwhile, in Asgard, in the home of Volstagg, the Voluminous:

Volstagg knocks at the door of the room given to the two orphaned human boys, Mick and Kevin, whom Thor took to Asgard after their mother was murdered. Mick tries to comfort Kevin, telling him to be brave. Kevin asks where their mom is. Why would she go away and leave them?

Volstagg tells them their mother sleeps peacefully in the gentle embrace of the earth. Her time in this world is done. It’s the way of all living things, but their time is just beginning. He carries them down. And none should think of going anywhere on an empty stomach. He tells them he has many children of his own and they are eating in the dining room. They will feed them foods to toughen them up properly and make hardier mortals of them than have ever trod the golden paths of Asgard before.

He brings them to the dining room, where his kids happily welcome the two boys for breakfast. Especially Hildy immediately makes them feel welcome.

Meanwhile, in the Morlock Tunnels, Artie seems to be sure where to lead Thor. Finally, they reach the people he was looking for: Angel’s teammates, Marvel Girl and Cyclops. Jean happily hugs him. Thor informs them Angel needs medical attention.

Awake again, Angel moans they shouldn’t have come back for him. He’s not worth it. He collapses.

Jean levitates him telekinetically. Cyclops makes excuses to Thor, who finally recognizes them as members of the original X-Men. Some years ago, they faced Lucifer together. How is Professor Xavier? he asks. Fine, he thinks, Scott replies evasively, but they are sort of X-Men graduates now, one could say.

He touches Thor’s arm and Thor screams in pain, admitting he had his arm broken in battle and the bones are grinding together. Cyclops blasts a ladder and frees a metal rod. Jean tears a strip from Thor’s cape and with the two things they make a makeshift sling and support for his broken arm.

Cyclops announces they need to find a doctor for Angel, but wonders what to do about all the dead. They can’t just leave them here. Thor promises to give them a Viking funeral and urges the X-Factor members to leave the tunnels first. Before they leave, Cyclops explains that upstairs Thor might hear some things about them that aren’t true. They aren’t exactly what everybody thinks. Thor assures him he learned a long time ago not to judge a book by its cover. Thanking him, the mutants leave.

Soon, Thor has covered all the tunnels. The battle is over and nobody is left alive. Save him. No one is left to mourn the dead or bury them. And should they be left untouched, they might well become a health hazard, he muses. He figures Cyclops’ group should have reached safety by now. For those who died in this foul place, the god of thunder will sound the death knell. A kingdom of death in miniature. Hela must be enjoying this.

As if called, the death goddess appears, noting she does not take delight in cruelty, but appreciates death’s necessity. He calls her a liar and she admits she may be enjoying it a little. But far more will she enjoy what is about to happen to him. She has journeyed all the way from Hel to share the knowledge with him. For she will teach Thor fear.

Does he remember the weakness that befell him when he left Asgard? It was the kiss of Hela’s gift. From this day forth, he shall fear to enter combat. For his bones are now as brittle as an old woman’s and, when they break, they will not heal. Nor will he find respite in the arms of death, for she has cast him out! And the absence of death is eternal life. He will live forever until his every waking desire is to die! Perhaps someday she will release him. But it may never please her. Thus is she revenged for her humiliation at his hands in Hel! Laughing, she disappears.

Crying out her name, he smashes his hammer to the ground and lightning and fire sear the tunnels, leaving nothing. When it is over Thor stands alone in the darkness, wondering if he will come to envy the dead…

Characters Involved: 


Hela, goddess of death

Balder the Brave

Wyrd, one of the Norns


Gudrun (his wife)

Hildy and Volstagg’s other children

Mick and Kevin, two boys from Earth

Huginn and Muninn (Odin’s ravens)

Angel, Cyclops, Marvel Girl (all X-Factor)

Artie Maddicks, ward of X-Factor

Blockbuster, Harpoon, Sabretooth, Vertigo II (all Marauders)

Story Notes: 

The issue belongs to the Mutant Massacre crossover.
Muninn brought back the feather from Muspelheim in issue #344.

Thor attacked Hel in #360-362 to save the mortal souls Hela had stolen.

The Avengers and X-Men faced Lucifer in X-Men (1st series) #20-21.

Charles Xavier is currently in space with the Starjammers.

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