Comic Book Detectives: Thor and Loki in the Wild, Wild West!

This is the Great Comic Book Detectives, where readers send in requests for the names of comic books that they remembered reading years ago and I try to find them for them! Send any future requests to brianc@cbr.com!

Commenter Ross wrote in last year to ask:

Today's Green Lantern comic detective feature reminded me of a Thor comic that has haunted me for decades. It is set in the old west where Loki and a gang are chasing an old man and a young gunslinger around town. At the end of the issue, the old man is attacked and piled on by Loki's goons and the gunslinger throws the old man a magic apple. The old man catches the apple (and presumably takes a bite) and turns into Thor! Thor throws off all of his attackers and I think the issue ends ...

It may just a "regular" issue of Thor from the late 80s or early 90s, but I only ever had a coverless and half torn copy, so never knew for sure where it fell in Thor history. Thank you!

The issue in question has a surprisingly fascinating place in Marvel Comics history. It's a rare fill-in issue that was later re-visited, over a decade later, in an entirely different comic book!

The comic book is a fill-in issue from 1986, Thor #370, by Jim Owsley, John Buscema and P. Craig Russell. It is set in Danville, Texas, in 1875. A young man named Sundance has been kicked out of Danville due to his cheating at cards too much. He is a terrible shot, as well.

He gets a chance, though, to make some money when an old man offers him a hundred dollars if he delivers a claim ticket to a mysterious man on a white horse. Sundance takes off, but he decides to try to stop off at a nearby town, instead, to see if he can't sell the ticket to someone else. A mysterious posse shows up and kills the old man and most of the people in Danville. When Sundance comes to the next town, he discovers that the posse is somehow waiting for him and their mysterious old leader has a strange proposition for Sundance. He WANTS Sundance to get the old man on the white horse to show up at the train now. He gives Sundance a magic deck of cards in exchange for his help...

The posse then robs the train and they discover that the train held a package (which the claim ticket was for) of the Golden Apples that Asgardians need to eat to maintain their immortality! The old man reveals himself to be Loki...

Okay, so the mysterious old man on the white horse is, of course, Thor, having been sent to Earth to retrieve the apples (a troll had stolen them for Loki but then repented and told Thor the location of the apples. However, Loki obviously got to them first). Now, Loki is prepared to kill the extremely old Thor with his posse (who are secretly trolls). Check out this stunning set-up by John Buscema and P. Craig Russell of Loki and the trolls riding the train to their showdown with Thor...


Thor, of course, can't turn down a fight...

The old and enfeebled Thor is soon overwhelmed by the trolls and is near death. Sundance is about to run, but he realizes he can't back down from this fight. So he steadies his hands and, for the first time in his life, he makes a great shot. He shoots an apple out of Loki's hands. Sundance then throws the apple to Thor and, well, the rest is history...

What an awesome fill-in story in the middle of Walter Simonson's legendary run!

So there you go, Ross! If anyone wants to stop here, fair enough, just send in any detective requests yourself to brianc@cbr.com!

However, if you want to learn of the surprising sequel to this story, go to the next page!

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