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Comic Book / The Surtur Saga

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The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Muspelheim! Go back to the Shadow! YOU! SHALL NOT! PASS!
The Surtur Saga was a 1984-1985 storyline of The Mighty Thor, written by Walt Simonson.

Thor had just lost the power to turn into the human Donald Blake, as that enchantment was transferred by Odin to Beta Ray Bill's hammer. He got a secret identity, and began his new life fighting against a dragon, with the help of the last viking. He was also seduced by Lorelei, the sister of the Enchantress who was acting as a mortal. In the meantime, Odin discovers that Surtur is working in the galaxy of fire, and investigates the details. He sends Balder to recruit Loki for the upcoming battle, but Loki has already allied himself with Malekith, a lieutenant of Surtur. Malekith seeks the Casket of Ancient Winters, kept by the Willis family for centuries, and Thor and Eric Willis cannot prevent its destruction, which unleashes an ice age on earth.

When this ice age begins, Surtur heads to Earth, to search the Bifrost and get to Asgard. Odin knows that Surtur wants to retrieve the Eternal Flame, to burn his sword and destroy the universe. With his demons holding the superheroes and the main forces of Asgard on Earth, Surtur gets to the gates of Asgard. He defeats Heimdall and Thor, and finally Odin himself by attacking him with the full force of the Ancient Winters. But Loki betrays Malekith, and joins the war against Surtur. Even more, Eric Willis manages to reforge the Casket of Ancient Winters, trapping them again inside it... and, without knowing it, he frees Odin, who returns to the fight. Odin, Thor and Loki fight together against Surtur, and finally both Odin and Surtur fall into an abyss that engulfs them.


The Surtur Saga contains examples of:

  • 2-D Space: The pincer movement should not work with flying units, but for a time that they avoid the simple Attack! Attack! Attack! mindless tactic, we may let it pass.
  • Avengers, Assemble!: Said word for word by the Vision in the Battle for New York against Surtur's hordes after Thor went ahead to call their aid, and the Fantastic Four also turned up. Their aid proved crucial in ending the Endless Winter gripping the Earth unleashed by Malekith (With Roger Willis' help), shutting down the warp-gates allowing Surtur's hordes to invade New York and later aided the Asgardians in launching an all-out final attack at the Fire Demons' central mustering point at the Sahara desert.
  • Achilles in His Tent:
    • Loki in his castle, as per an agreement with Malekith. Turned out he lied and later came out of his castle to help Odin and Thor fight against Surtur and stopping him from reaching the Eternal Flame.
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    • Also Lorelei, who is content to sit out the battle for Midgard even as her sister Amora the Enchantress and everyone else fought tooth and nail against the Fire Demons that were invading it, a battle literally right outside the window from her apartment in New York City. Needless to say, Amora is very outraged by this.
  • The Ageless: Eric Willis. The Casket of Ancient Winters grants him eternal youth. By the end of the story, Roger Willis may become one as well.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Loki, son of frost giants, always claims that he hates his adoptive father Odin. He refuses to help in the crisis, and eventually shows up... but just to save his own skin. Still, when Odin falls into the abyss with Surtur, he shouts "FATHER!" along with Thor.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Thor and Roger Willis, in the Brooklyn Bridge, standing against a never-ending wave of demons sent by Malekith.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Roger Willis, son of Eric Willis, is a Korean War veteran who helped Thor retrieve the Casket of Ancient Winters, rescue 'Melodi' (actually Lorelei in disguise) and try to stop Malekith from unleashing a global ice-age. He managed to hold his own against Faerie and Fire Demon forces with nothing but his trusty pistol, even managing to wound Malekith one time despite being unable to truly see where he actually is and delaying the attempt to release the Endless Winter and allow Surtur to escape. During the battle for Midgard, he fought and found his way through the war-zone New York City had become to reach Beta Ray Bill and the Earth heroes so he could tell them he figured out how to reverse the Endless Winter by restoring the Casket, which Malekith had shattered, venturing back into the Faerie realm with the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four to collect and glue the casket back together.
    • At one point, just when the Asgardians forces and Earth heroes are about to be overrun in New York, reinforcements came in the form of the 101st Airborne Division, the 'Screaming Eagles', deploying via Chinook helicopters and laying down automatic fire against the Fire Demons attacking New York. Later on, after the battle was over, they found and rescued Sif, who nearly died acting as a rearguard to buy Asgardian warriors time to retreat from hordes of Fire Demons. They impressed the Asgardians so much that the Asgardians were enticed to acquire samples of 'mortal ingenuity' they wielded against the Fire Demons: Assault Rifles which the Asgardians would later use against the forces of Hel.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Volstagg notices that Balder has left, but before searching for him, he checks if the pantry was filled with food, just in case some unexpected visitor arrives. Not wanting to be followed, Balder had already filled the pantry, so that Volstagg could "inspect" it, and he would be far away by the time that Volstagg was done with it.
    • Surtur pulled one on ALL the Asgardians: after breaking the seals barring the exit from Muspelheim with Malekith's aid, they launched an all-out invasion of Midgard, forcing the Asgardians to muster all their armies and allies and head down to Earth to stop them. During the initial stage of the battle in Midgard, while he and his Fire Demons rampaged and fought against the Asgardian forces in New York, they end up setting a lot of fires that threaten to burn the whole city down. To prevent this, Thor called forth a thundering rainstorm which put out the fires out... and that was what Surtur intended all along, as due to the mystical nature of the storm, once the clouds part and a rainbow appear, he could sense and find his way to the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, allowing him to immediately assault Asgard, now empty save for Heimdell and Odin himself as its last-line of defense, where the Eternal Flame he needs to light his greatsword Twilight and burn the Nine Worlds to ashes. And with all the Asgardian forces and heroes stuck on Midgard trying to hold off against the forces of Muspelheim, only Thor can head back to help his father stop Surtur from winning.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When Thor rescues Melodi... which was actually Ajenjo, disguised as Melodi
  • Book-Ends: The final scene of Odin and Surtur mirrors the incident of Odin and his brothers, told in a flashback.
    Odin: "Guard well this ancient realm and rule it wisely! Into your hands I give the future!"
  • Clark Kenting: Used in-story. Even wearing street clothes, people may still recognize Thor, his Heroic Build is very huge. So Nick Fury thought, why not a pair of glasses? It works for that other guy! They even included a Captain Ersatz of Clark Kent for a couple of scenes afterwards.
  • Death by Origin Story: Vili and Ve, the brothers of Odin. They died to keep Surtur trapped in Muspelheim, as Odin escaped with the Eternal Flame.
  • Death Seeker: Balder, after killing Loki during a diplomatic mission (or so he thought).
  • Disability Immunity: Roger Willis, a mortal man, can not see the Dark Elves in their fortress, unless his vision is enhanced. But he loses this enhancement during the adventure. However, this allows him to notice that Melodi was actually a Dark Elf in disguise, because he saw Thor hugging the air.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Lorelei sought a Dragon, who hates Asgardians, and began to gave him orders. The dragon zapped her will with a mere eye-to-eye contact.
  • Due to the Dead: The death of the last viking shall not go unnoticed: Thor gives him a proper and giant viking funeral. First he makes a giant funeral pyre with the remains of the buildngs destroyed in the fight. Then, instead of throwing a dead dog at his feet, Thor throws the corpse of the dead dragon. Then he summons a giant thunderstorm to blow it all up, and Odin and his Valkyries fill the sky, to take Eilif to Valhalla.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: If he wants a place in Valhalla, Eilif must have one of those. Not an easy task for a viking stranded alone in paradise. He tried to cheat Thor to kill him, which didn't work, and dies instead while killing a dragon. He loses his renewed youth, becoming a frail elder rapidly losing his strength and about to die... but he manages to climb to a ruin that places him above the Dragon, and lets himself fall. Elder, frail and dying, he manages to get his spear (blessed by Odin himself) into the Dragon, killing him with his last breath.
  • Earn Your Title: With his death, Eilif shall no longer be "Eilif the lost", he shall be forevermore known as "Eilif the Dragonslayer".
  • Eureka Moment: Played for laughs. The guy in the construction site sees Sigurd Jarlson jumping to rescue the damsel in distress, how he manages to climb the building in no time, so when a monster appears afterwards... Eureka! Sigurd Jarlson is Spider-Man!
  • Everybody Knew Already: Melodi has seduced Sigurd Jarlson. She was rescued by Thor... and both of them gave in to their love impulses. Melodi knew it was Thor, and Clark Kenting is a new thing for Thor.
  • Fountain of Youth: Thor's hammer allowed Eilif to become young again to battle the dragon. But don't get confused: when Eilift managed to make the mortal attack to the dragon, he had already returned to his elder age again.
  • Glasses And Ponytail Cover Up: Since Thor can't turn into Donald Blake anymore, he must adopt this style of disguise to become Sigurd Jarlson.
  • Heaven Seeker: Eilif, the last viking, is an old man trying to earn a place in Valhalla, instead of going to Hel by dying of old age.
  • He's Back: Beta Ray Bill.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted. It was about time that those gods of war tried an actual war maneuver: the pincer movement.
  • I Lied: Turned out Loki wasn't being honest when he said to Malekith that he would not interfere in Surtur's attack on Asgard. He lampshades this by pointing out that a Manipulative Bastard like Malekith are surprisingly also the easiest to fool.
  • Informed Ability: Lorelei considers herself a Magnificent Bastard, even greater than her sister the Enchantress, but no luck. She fails several times to do something as simple as make Thor drink a glass with a potion, and she's captured by a bigger bad and turned into a Damsel in Distress... twice
  • In the Name of the Moon: During the final stretch of the battle in Asgard, when Odin, Thor and Loki stand united against Surtur.
    Odin: For Asgard!
    Thor: For Midgard!
    Loki: For myself!
  • I Want Them Alive: Malekith sends his forces against Roger Willis, but he wants him alive: he wants to find out how he resisted the magic bolt that should have left him blind (see Kneel Before Zod)
  • Kneel Before Zod: Malekith forces Roger to kneel before him, and blasts him with a magic ray to make him blind. Roger makes a Big "NO!" and drops his head... All According to Plan. Roger's got a cranial injury which distorted Malekith's ray, so Roger was just a bit dizzy, but still capable of seeing.
  • Last of His Kind: Eilif, the last viking
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The love potion and Lorelei turned Thor into this. When he saw the enemies, he didn't stop to think, and simply stomped them all. Which is his usual fighting style, anyway.
  • Love Potion: Lorelei pepares one to turn Thor into her love slave. She fails several times to make him drink it, and finally Malekith makes him do so for his own purposes. Roger Willis realizes the change in Thor when he drinks it, and so he dilutes the remaining potion with water, so it will be less effective.
  • MacGyvering: Eric Willis is very resourceful
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When he summons a thunderstorm during the battle, Thor showed Surtur the path to Asgard
  • Old Soldier: Roger Willis, a war veteran of Korea. He can still kick ass, even without a military division backing him up.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Surtur, naturally enough, as are everyone else from Muspelheim.
  • Overprotective Dad: Odin will not allow Thor to have a relationship with a mortal woman. But he then realizes that "Melodi" is actually Lorelei, an Asgardian goddess, so he did not interfere.
    Odin: "A son should have some secrets from his father."
  • Portal Door: Capturing the warp-gate assembled by the Fire Demons at New York City became crucial for Asgardian and Earth forces in stopping the invasion of the Fire Demons, as it allows them to reach the Sahara Desert, where an even BIGGER warp-gate linking directly to Muspelheim is located and allows the endless Fire Demon hordes to pour forth.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The reason why Loki ultimately goes back on his agreement with Malekith and joins the fight against Surtur. Loki wants to rule the Nine Worlds, and while he has no problem with the destruction of Asgard, he realizes that Surtur has no intention of stopping there after attaining the Eternal Flame. What point is there in allowing Surtur to win when in his wake there will be nothing left to rule?
  • Really 700 Years Old: Eric Willis, as the Casket of Ancient Winters kept him forever young. People usually thought that the grown up Roger Willis was his father, but he was his son (not blessed with eternal youth, and aging normally)
  • Red Skies Crossover: Other comic books, such as Spider-Man, acknowledged the events of the Surtur saga... by merely pointing that it was snowing in summer.
    • The first issue includes a mention of this type about the Secret Wars. Thor enters into the strange machine in Central Park, and dissapears. A few pages later, Dum Dum Dugan declares "hey, it's Thor, he's back!", and that's it. There's not a single mention of the events in Battleworld.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • It seems that Loki would refuse to fight for Asgard, but he finally joins forces with Thor and Odin (if only for himself).
    • Lorelei, on the other hand, really does refuse to join the battle, and never changes her mind. The Enchantress swears vengeance against her for that.
  • Reluctant Warrior: In order to reach Loki and give him the message from Odin, Balder has to kill hundreds of demons, even if he had made a solemn oath not to kill anymore. Loki had already decided to reject it, but didn't want to interrupt the fun...
  • Secret Legacy: The Willis family has been protecting the Casket of Ancient Winters since time immemorial, after Eric Willis managed to steal it from the Dark Elves.
  • Secret Test of Character: Balder, who has escaped into the desert expecting to die, is dying of thirst... and suddenly sees a "beast of the sands" attacking a woman. Without thinking twice, Balder heads to the rescue, and fights against the creature with a stick he found. The woman thanks him for the rescue, teleports with him somewhere else, and reveals herself to be a Norn.
  • Shoot the Messenger: No, Loki didn't shoot Balder, the messenger of Odin. He forces him to break his oath of no killing and drives him insane, but he did not directly kill him. Even Loki respects diplomatic immunity. Now, if Balder wants to suicide after leaving his castle, that's none of his business.
  • The Strategist:
    • Beta Ray Bill shines as Thor's designated second-in-command in this battle, taking reins after Thor rushes back to Asgard to stop Surtur's attack and proving to be as much a supremely capable tactician as he is as an alien warrior equal to Thor. His battle-plans allow the Asgardian and Earth heroes and forces to lure, ambush and decimate a significant portion of the invading Fire Demon forces in New York, allowing them to capture the warp-gate there and use it to launch an all-out attack at the Muspelheim forces' main rally-point at the Sahara and stopping the invasion there.
  • Tongue-Tied: Roger Willis realizes that Melodi had enchanted Thor to love him, but before he can say it, Melodi enchants him to prevent him from saying so. As a result, Roger seeks instead a moment of distraction, and dilutes the love potion in water, to reduce the effects.
  • Villainous Rescue: Eric Willis is surrounded by the soldiers of Malekith, but a woman passing by helps him to escape. Bad luck, that woman is actually Malekith himself. Do not accept a drive from strangers...
  • Weakened by the Light: The Dark Elves are vulnerable to sunlight. Their fortress is completely closed, but Thor sends them away simply by destroying the walls and letting the light of the sunrise in.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Dark Elves are vulnerable to mortal food and steel. Eric and Roger Willis take full advantage of those weaknesses.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Balder meets the norns, is taken somewhere else, and spends a lot of time in metaphysical issues. And he's finally teleported back to the desert, riding his horse. Agnar, who was there, mentions that he disappeared, and then reappeared almost immediately.
  • You Shall Not Pass!:
    • The climax of the story has Odin and his sons standing their ground at the gates of Asgard, peventing Surtur from getting into the city.
    • In a lower degree, Odin's raven Muninn manages to get to the rainbow bridge, followed by Malekith. Heimdall rescues the bird, and drives Malekith away.
  • Zerg Rush: The Asgardian and Earth forces were more or less outnumbered by the near-endless Fire Demon hordes of Surtur during the entirety of the battle for Midgard and were nearly overrun at several points. Stemming the tide by neutralizing the warp-gates bringing them from Muspelheim became critical to winning the battle there. Only cunning strategy and reinforcements from Nornheim brought by Karnilla and Balder allowed the heroes to wrest a victory at Midgard.


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