Svartalfheim, home of the Dark Elves:
No enemy has ever breached the gate of their home until now, when something destroys the door between their realm and the realm of the humans. The elves wonder what it could be, feeling the ground tremble. One of them, Wormwood, orders the others to follow him to the Dark Hall. The Mirror of Finvarra will tell them what they must know.
The mirror shows an image, revealing a great blacksmith working the terrible bane of Elves – iron, but the image is distorted beyond reading. The Elves see a steel foundry in Pittsburgh where the smith smites the metal. Suddenly, the Mirror of Finvarra shatters. The Elves wonder why. Iron has always existed on Earth, but never posed such a threat.
Wormwood explains whom they saw was at work was Thor, the thundergod. And he is forging nothing less than Asgardian steel, of all elfbanes the deadliest! With each blow, another portal from Svartalfheim to Midgard will shatter! Should Thor complete the forging, the power of such iron may well seal faerieland off from the mortal world forever! They must stop it!
Another Elf reminds him they faced Thor before and were no match for his fury. Wormwood decides they must summon the one whom even the Dark Elves fear. He alone can stand against iron as no other of their kind. They must summon… Grendell!
As they follow Wormwood into the catacombs, the other Dark Elves worry that summoning Grendell may destroy them as well. But Wormwood clangs a gong and a powerful being crouches towards them.
Some days earlier on Earth, in Roosevelt Hospital where Thor has been treated after his battle with the Absorbing Man, which resulted in several cracked ribs and a broken left arm. The doctor has taped everything and would like to keep him under observation. Thor thanks him but believes his staying here would disrupt the hospital. The event that precipitated his visit here will only be repeated. His enemies have gathered for the kill and he nearly let them win in his depression. Yet that despair is the greatest enemy he has ever faced and he will conquer it or renounce forever his heritage as the god of thunder!
Two days later, Thor visits the offices of the Damascus steel mills in Steeltown Pittsburgh. He asks to take over the entire facility for a week. The director recalls how Thor once reforged his hammer here. That’s why he agreed to see him. But can even a … thunder god afford that kind of expense? Thor hands him a certified check from the Bank of Switzerland. The gods have dealt with mortals on a cash and carry basis for a long time. And the Rhinegold is more than a simple ring of doom in the operas of Wagner.
Soon, with the help of the steel workers, Thor begins his work. They begin by pouring molten steel into the moulds. Thor warns the men to look away and swings his hammer. Mjolnir transforms that metal into the finished steel of his desire. Lightning strikes the molten steel.
Having gathered the metal, Thor orders them to leave: the mortal does not live who could withstand the concussions of the forging he must do now.
Thor begins work, though every blow brings fresh agony to his side. Hela cursed him with brittle bones that do not heal once broken. And she has robbed him of the gift of death. But should he succeed here, he may yet thwart her will.
In Asgard ,at the edge of the broken Rainbow Bridge stand its guardian, Heimdall, and the Enchantress. He tells her it must be difficult to be so lovely in laughter or anger. She tells him not to try and appease her. He carried her off forcibly from her home in the midst of her mourning for the Executioner. He humiliated her in front of Balder himself. Is there no limit to the scandalousness of his behavior?
Heimdall reminds her that her very history is a fair measure of scandalousness. She is too bright and beautiful to waste her tears on empty regret. Better to live now and regret nothing later.
Intrigued, Amora steps closer to him, but did he have to carry her off as though she were a cask full of mead? He thought it appropriate he replies, the mead seemed ready for the tasting.
Suddenly, she turns away in pain, feeling dizzy, then sinks down in his arms, unconscious.
At that moment in Pittsburgh, Thor has nearly finished his armor, figuring he will yet cheat Hela of her revenge. Suddenly, an army of Dark Elves attacks. Angrily, Thor warns them back. He strikes the ground with his hammer, but a lance hits him in the head, causing his skull to ring.
Given his weakness, Thor realizes he must flee. But the entrance is barred by Grendell, a huge one-armed monster that swings a war club in his remaining hand. Thor realizes should it strike him he will fall. He blocks the blow with his hammer, but the force of the blow nevertheless shatters Thor’s hand and he drops his hammer.
Encouraged, the Dark elves attack. Thor kicks the table leg, allowing the molten iron to drop. The elves quickly scatter.
Meanwhile, a the castle of Loki on the border of Asgard near the icy kingdom Jotunheim:
The former (currently shrunken) frost giants wonder if Loki will hold his word and restore them to their former size and glory, which they lost thanks to Balder the Brave. Grundroth figures Loki’s hatred of the gods has never been greater. He will help them and, once he has, they shall repay his kindness as such a traitor deserves.
Inside the castle, Loki points a strange device at Earth, namely at the headquarters of X-Factor, where Beast observes to his teammate Iceman that with the Morlocks returned to the Alley their HQ seems a tranquil, even unexciting place. At least Scott will be home tomorrow. He suggests a workout. Bobby Drake seems unwilling though. With all that happened to Angel and Scott and stuff, he’s wondering if maybe Masque was right about them. He just wants to go somewhere and think.
His back turned to him, Hank McCoy assures him it will do him good. He doesn’t see how Iceman is grabbed by energy from Loki’s device. He turns around to see him gone. Maybe a guy that fast on his feet really doesn’t need to work out, he concedes.
Iceman suddenly finds himself chained to a lens in Loki’s home. Who is he and what does he want? Bobby shouts. Loki grins. They will have to chat another time. His friends have been waiting so long. Perhaps he’d like to change into something more comfortable?
He presses a lever on the device and against his will Iceman ices up, freezing with an unnatural cold. Bobby screams in pain. Draining the energy, Loki turns the blast of near absolute zero cold into the proper direction, namely at the tiny giants who suddenly begin to grow.
In the meantime in the Golden Realm, Sif and Volstagg’s new charges, the mortal boys Mick and Kevin, watch Fandral and Hogun demonstrate some fighting skills. Mostly Hogun as he demonstrates a judo throw on Fandral.
However, the boys quickly sober up. What good will it do them? They are just ordinary kids and Volstagg’s kids are still rougher than they are. They are never going to be able to fit in here, no matter how nice everybody is.
Looking them sternly in the eyes, Hogun promises them they will walk in Asgard as tall as any of the gods. Already they have partaken of the apples from the Tree of Life, and they shall make them strong. But he will give them a greater gift: though one must possess skill to best Fandral as he has done, that skill is the least of talent. Such power as they have seen is a power of the mind and the heart. He will give them the gift of faith. It is said on Earth that faith can move mountains. He will be their mountain. And in the end they will move him.
Sif notices that Fandral seems weak and asks if he was injured. But she too suddenly finds herself weakened.
And on Earth, Thor is in trouble of his own dodging another of Grendell’s blows. Again the creature grabs him, intent on throwing him into the furnace. Thor kicks him in the face and breaks frees. He plans to escape with the armor he has forged while there is still time.
But the other Dark Elves trap him. Grendell gets ready for the coup de grace. Thor twists but Grendell’s mace hits his side, breaking his leg. In agony, Thor shakes off the Elves.
Grendell orders him to give up. Thor calls for Mjolnir, which flies to him and hitting Grendell in the back along the way. Refusing to give up, Thor attacks him, slamming the hammer into Grendell’s gut.
Grendell moans that his mother wove about him magic that he might withstand the touch of iron, yet now his hour is come. But he will not go down alone. He orders the elves to hold Thor as he intends to kill him. He goads if Thor wants to plead. Thor replies he has found his truth at last. And thanks to Hela, he will find he is much more difficult to kill than Grendell. The Black Elves salute his courage before intending to finish him off.
Watching this in his scrying crystal, Loki as usual insults Thor’s intelligence and praises Hela’s curse. If Thor has made his peace with his fate, Loki will take this away from him. He intends to take Thor prisoner and torture him for the rest of his life.
Loki activates his machine of the gods and Thor suddenly glows with energy as a shining sphere surrounds him, to the horror of the black elves. Then it vanishes and Thor with it, leaving Grendell to shout his name in impotent fury.
Loki finds Thor unconscious and intends to take care of him later. He steps into another room where an unconscious Iceman hangs, still radiating cold. The Frost Giants have reached their original size and are still growing. Time to stop the engines, Loki figures.
The Frost Giants notice that the cold has ceased flowing from Loki’s castle and want more. Angrily, they batter against the castle doors, demanding the source of the power.
Furious, Loki gets ready to fight as they break in, noticing that they have grown very large indeed…