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Thor #401: Review

Mar 1989
Randall Frenz, Rich Yanizeski

Story Name:

The Wager

Review & Comments

3 stars

Thor #401 Review by (March 23, 2021)

Review: Fill-in issues are always a risk, subbing in an inferior writer and artist, or just breaking into an ongoing story at an awkward point. Case in point: LUKE CAGE, POWER MAN #29 interrupts Cage’s imminent death with the notorious tale of Mr. Fish. Well, some series have it easier than others for avoiding that latter problem: Captain America can always flash back to World War 2 and Thor, even easier, can harken back to the earlier life of out hero, seeing as it occupied thousands of years. And so that’s what we get here, a tale of youthful Thor learning a lesson about pride and prejudice (without a Mr. D’Arcy). The story is routine, the art unexceptional; there’s nothing more to say.

Comments: First and only appearance of Baldric. Baldric makes a pun on “mummy” as both the preserved corpse and a term for one’s mother; this pun works only in English, which none of the characters in the tale could speak.  


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thor #401 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Thor and his pals are gambling at a tavern when Thor makes a joke about “cringing mortals;” Loki calls him on it, saying that mortals show extraordinary courage to struggle against overwhelming odds and claiming that Thor could not live the life of a mortal without his divine powers. Thor insists he could and Loki challenges him to a wager. Thor will be stripped of his powers and sent to join an expedition to the New World; he will have Mjolnir but be forbidden to use it and should he at any time use his powers under any circumstances he will lose and be exiled to Midgard, forfeiting his claim to the throne of Asgard; if Thor succeeds, Loki will be banished to Jotunheim. Thor is forced to accept the wager or lose face, so…

…Thor goes to Norway circa A.D. 1000 and joins the expedition under the name Sigurd. Loki, meanwhile, is setting a trap in an Atlantean temple in the New World. The adventure goes well, Thor making a friend of a warrior named Baldric, until Loki whips up a storm to wreck the ships and drown some warriors with Thor unable to do anything about it lest he forfeit the wager. The band lands on a shore where they can see the ancient temple (and Loki’s trap) before them and decide to explore….

Thor’s pals (Balder, Hogun, Volstagg, Fandral) go to Odin telling them of their suspicions that Loki is cheating. Odin responds that Thor knew what he was getting into and drives them from his presence….

Thor joins several of his companions in exploring the temple to look for treasure; suddenly doors slam shut, cutting the group in two; they are attacked by giant rats and suffer losses until Thor detects a cistern and floods the chamber, washing away the vermin. The wounded stay behind while Thor, Baldric and two others search for an exit. They enter a room full of mummified warriors that come to life and attack them. In the fray, Baldric is slain, spurring the others to fight harder. Loki, watching from a distance, transforms a small lizard into a dragon—but Thor clearly sees Loki’s hand in this and so whips out Mjolnir and destroys the monster then heads back to Asgard to confront Loki…

…whom he finds with Odin. He tries to kill Loki for his treachery but Odin tells him he brought it on himself, threatening the future of Asgard for a stupid wager. Thor realizes Odin is right but also that mortals are better than he thought and deserving of respect and protection. He comforts himself knowing that Baldric is now in Valhalla…. 

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Rich Yanizeski
Hector Collazo
Evelyn Stein
Rich Yanizeski (Cover Penciler)
Al Milgrom (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Ken Lopez.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Balder the Brave)

(Hogun the Grim)

(Loki Laufeyson)


> Thor: Book info and issue index

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