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Thor #197: Review

Mar 1972
Gerry Conway, John Buscema

Story Name:

The Well at the Edge of the World!

Review & Comments

5 stars

Thor #197 Review by (June 8, 2015)
Comments: As Thor’s journey continues, it’s nice to see some loose ends begin to get tied up, and see this arc move towards its conclusion. One thing that really stuck out for me is the “Twilight Well” that Thor finally reaches: a pool of water that exists on multiple worlds, is a tool of the Norns, and whose waters grant Thor visions of what is happening elsewhere. This sounds like the same pool that Thor visits in the new Avengers movie, “Age of Ultron” (MINOR SPOILERS). In “Age of Ultron,” Thor states that there is a similar pool on every realm, that it gives people visions, and (as seen in the trailers but deleted from the final cut of the movie) it is a tool of the Norns. Kudos to Marvel Studios and Joss Whedon for taking something relatively obscure from a 40-year-old comic and bringing it to modern audiences. As for this issue itself, it continues Thor’s quest at an appropriate pace. Another issue of Thor seeking the Well would have been one too many, so I’m glad he finally reached it here and this arc can find its resolution in the next issue. At the same time, the seeds for the next adventure have possibly been sown already with Sif’s mysterious encounter on Blackworld. If I have any criticisms, it is that this issue felt like it ended a bit to quickly, but maybe that’s just me.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thor #197 Synopsis by Seahammer
 Thor’s quest for the Well at the Edge of the World, now also referred to as the Twilight Well, has finally come to an end.  With the Warriors Three behind him, Thor ventures into the cave of Kartag, the keeper and protector of the well.  As Thor battles the giant, Satrina once again turns on the warriors, and uses her sorcery to hold the Warriors Three in the grip of gigantic stone fists rising from the ground.  With the Warriors Three looking on, Kartag and Thor tumble over a ledge, landing next to the Twilight Well.  Since they can no longer aid Thor, Satrina releases the Warriors Three, who watch the battle below helplessly.  Thor is surprised to see that Kartag has survived the fall, but when he rises the two commence their battle once again.  Kartag is impressed by Thor’s strength and determination, and promises to grieve for a moment when he defeats Thor.  Then, Kartag dives at Thor and plunges them both into the waters of the Twilight Well.

            As the two sink deeper into the swirling waters of the well, Thor’s mind is filled with visions: he sees that the Asgardians are battling Mangog, and that Odin sent both Thor and Sif away for their own safety.  Thor also sees Odin’s final action to destroy Asgard, and understands that he is the only hope of the realm.  As the Warriors Three and Satrina watch from above, a massive hand rises from the water.  It is Kartag, and as he rises from the well, the Warriors Three see that he has pulled a motionless Thor out with him.  As Kartag mourns Thor’s fate, the cavern is filled with a mystical smoke, from which three ancient women emerge.  They reveal that they gave Kartag the orders to guard the well as a way to test Thor’s worth, knowing that eventually he would come for it and that the fate of the universe would rest on him.  Then, the women magically produce several sheepskins, which the now-revived Thor and the Warriors Three fill with water from the well.  Upon seeing her personal schemes destroyed, Satrina becomes furious and attacks the women.  The women then reveal that they are The Norns, more powerful than Odin himself, and attacking them is pointless.  After Satrina begs forgiveness and professes her love and devotion to Kartag, Thor invites Kartag to return with them to Asgard, where he believes they will need all the help they can get.  Spinning Mjolnir, Thor opens a portal to enable them to return to the Rainbow Bridge.

            Worlds away, Sif and Hildegarde drink from a river and continue to wonder about the mysteries of Blackworld.  They consider that the mysterious threat, as well as the medieval knights they fought in the last issue, must be new to this world since Odin believed the world to be uninhabited.  Suddenly, a great monster rises out of the river and attacks them.  While their strength is no match for the river monster, Sif uses her magic sword to blast the creature with a mystical bolt.  The creature disappears, but is shortly followed by a steamship coming down the river.  As Sif contemplates the anachronisms of knights and a steamship in the same world, a man named Silas Grant comes ashore in a rowboat and reveals that all of these strange occurrences are the work of single mysterious entity, the one everyone has been referring to as “him.”  Silas agrees to explain the story of Blackworld, then takes Sif and Hildegarde back to his steamship.

            Back on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor and his companions find a group of dead Asgardian soldiers and, worse yet, an empty void where Asgard should be!  Thor deeply laments that he was not be his father’s side at the last moments, but Fandral suggests that perhaps it is not as it seems, and that Odin has given them a means of saving Asgard yet.  Thor realizes that the Twilight Well is mystically connected to Odin’s own Cosmic Well, and that he can use that mystic link to find Asgard’s current location.  After pouring the water from the Twilight Well over Mjolnir, Thor spins his hammer, transporting him and his companions to another dimension.  Rather than destroying Asgard (as it appeared in THOR #196), Odin magically moved it to another dimension in order to save the universe.  When they arrive, Thor and his companions find the warriors of Asgard still battling valiantly, but hopelessly, against Mangog.  Thor lunges against Mangog, but is handily cast aside.  Next, Kartag grapples with Mangog, but Mangog overpowers him as well.  Mangog then proclaims that he is ready to take his final revenge against Odin, Thor, and all of Asgard.  He reaches through the window of a nearby building and pulls out the limp body of Odin!  Moving Asgard to this dimension weakened Odin, leaving him vulnerable for Mangog’s final blow.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

John Buscema
Vince Colletta
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.



Warriors Three
Warriors Three

(Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg)

> Thor: Book info and issue index

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