“A Balance is Struck!”
Roy Thomas, Writer/ Editor * John Buscema & Tom Palmer, Illustrators * J. Rosen, Letterer/ B. Sharen, Colorist * Jim Shooter, Consulting Editor
Balder is dead! Out of desperation, Odin sends an Asgardian by the name of Hermod the Swift to Hel to see if anything can be done to restore Balder. The Allfather lends Hermod his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir toward that purpose.
Odin tasks various Asgardians with protecting the Realm. Amongst them he tasks Sigyn, the wife that Loki has apparently had all this time, with guiding the aim of blind archer Hodor. She clearly states that while she loves Loki, she would defend Asgard even if it meant turning on him.
Thor briefly steps away to consult with Mimir.
Harris Hobbs and his team report on the events, but what’s more, Hobbs, who did a lot of studying of Norse mythology before his trip, has been predicting events before they have been happening. Not because of prophetic visions, but because things are matching what he read of Mythology.
Red Norvell hits on Sif some more, and as angry as that makes her, she refrains from slaying him. Butthurt, Norvell tells himself that Sif only likes Thor better than him because Thor is stronger than him. Loki offers to help him with his girl problems.
Loki takes Norvell to Jotunheim, land of the Giants but meets with an assemblage of Trolls and Dwarves. Geirrodur and Ulik are conspicuously absent. Thor somehow tracks them down, and Loki attacks his brother with what he claims to be very axe that Odin used to slay Ymir, eons ago. Since Odin did not slay Ymir, but eternally trapped him in a ring of fire, it seems clear that Loki is lying.
The two brothers battle while Norvell records the fight. Some time prior, Loki weaved an enchantment on Thor so that were he to enter Jotunheim, he would find his strength halved. Thor is no stranger to having his strength halved, but finds he need his full strength and so he uses Mjolnir to summon his Belt of Strength, last seen 184 issues prior. With it, he is able to defeat Loki as well as the trickster’s horde of Trolls and Dwarves.
Thor takes Norvell back to Asgard. As Thor carries his unconscious brother, he asks Norvell to hold his belt.
When Hermod arrives in Hel, Hela tells him that Balder can be revived if all the world would weep for Balder’s passing. It comes to pass that all things do weep, all save for a Giantess named Thokk, who proclaims that Balder never did nothin for her. This is exactly what Hobbs said would happen, although he adds that there are rumors that Thokk is actually Loki in disguise.
Balder cannot be revived. In order to forestall his full death, Odin sacrifices some of his Odinpower, siphoning it into the fallen god’s body in order to bring Balder to a state of Odinsleep, surrounded by an Odinshield. This will perhaps stave off Ragnarok, but at the cost of weakening the All-Father.
This issue also makes it explicit that time passes at a different rate on Asgard than it does elsewhere. This, perhaps, can account for Odin’s difficulties with understanding time.
Also, Odin has started letting a pair of wolves follow him around wherever he goes.
First appearance: Hermod the Swift, Thokk, Sigyn