We might as well start at a key book that is very near and dear to me personally.
When I first got this book and started collecting again back in the 80s, I had no idea how this single comic would start me down the road of being a lifelong comic collector. I had just started reading comic books again. I had discovered Walt Simonson on new issues (at the time) on X-Factor and I had really enjoyed his artwork, but it wasn’t until I bought this issue from a back issue bin, that I realized how much fun comics can be. This issue starts the legendary run of Walt Simonson writing and drawing Thor. In my opinion, one of the top 3 best runs of a comic book… of all-time! Up there with the ranks of Chris Claremont/John Byrne X-Men, Frank Miller’s Daredevil and other fantastic comic runs. If you have never read this series, be sure to pick it up, it gets my highest comic recommendation. This comic run is epic, with a large cast of great characters and contains great action, drama and humor.
As a young comic fan, I sent Mr. Simonson a fan letter, telling him how much I enjoyed his work, and inquiring about other comics that he might have worked on. A few weeks later, I received a thick letter in the mail. Inside Mr. Simonson sent me a printed list of all of the comics he had worked on and a personal sketch of Thor. I was in heaven what a great unexpected gift! I still have the sketch framed and hanging on my wall, appreciating it every time I walk by it.
Today, Walt remains my favorite comic book artist, I will pick up any comic that he draws. I had the chance to meet with him and his wife, Louise Simonson at a Comic Con. He is one of the nicest people working in comics.
Walt Simonson draws with a powerful style, very much in the vein of a modern day Jack Kirby. Large hands, bulky characters, action packed, fluid storytelling…but with grace. Action scenes crackle with power. Sound effects by the great John Workman reverberate through the panels, and are designed with the artwork on the panel.
Mr. Simonson starts the story with a bang, shakes up the status quo and introduces a new character (Beta Ray Bill) who is able to lift Thor’s hammer, and steal the show …and Thor’s hammer! This issue will leave you wanting more, a real page turner. You can’t get your hands on the next story fast enough. Things happen, so much is setup, and things will never be the same!
Considering that the next Thor movie (Thor: Ragnarok) will be taking some story threads from this classic Surtur story, and might introduce Beta Ray Bill into the Marvel movie universe, this issue is way under valued, and will continue to rise.
I was surprised at how little this comic was valued in the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #44 (2014) at NearMint of $25! It is definitely under valued, and has tons of room to grow. The value has increased $5.00 (25%) since the year before, and overall an increase of $19.00 (42%) since 1999.
Updated 07/21/2015: Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #45 (2015) NearMint is $40, the value has increased $15 (60%) since the year before, and overall an increase of $34.00 (67%) since 1999.