Simonson had been building towards the Surtur Saga since his first issue, with the first volume leaving off with the introduction of the Casket of Ancient Winters, one of the least-threatening mystical devices in Marvel. When opened, it causes it to snow. Yep.
Still, the recently-introduced Malekith the Accursed wants it real bad and he is one evil bastard while trying to get it. He kills without remorse, feeds humans food that turns them into slaves and - refreshingly for a Marvel villain - he has a mean streak a mile wide. The company has its share of great villains who murder and manipulate, but Malekith deciding to take away someone's eyesight is some first-class casual cruelty. The kind of evil that makes you want Thor to cave his skull in with Mjolnir.
Much like Saruman with Sauron in "Lord of the Rings," Malekith is so strong as a secondary villain that he takes away from the arrival of Surtur and his gigantic sword, Twilight (which no one would DARE name a weapon today.) However, also much like "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," it doesn't matter. The climax of the Surtur Saga is amazing, a multi-issue battle fought on multiple fronts. Earth is being torn asunder by a demonic horde, held back as best they can by the Avengers, Fantastic Four and the warriors of Asgard led by Beta Ray Bill and Sif. Many comics promise war and fail to deliver. This, however, is a freakin' war. Well, as much as you'll find in the era, I suppose. The battles are monstrous, and there's growing and evolving strategy at work. The introduction of the cavalry is glorious, particularly after seeing how Balder the Brave coaxes them in. That character is winning me over strong.
The best is saved for Asgard itself as Surtur bowls over Thor, then Odin... but doesn't expect to have to deal with Loki. As the God of Mischief keeps him busy, Odin and Thor recover. The three gather for a combined front, captured in an iconic panel where Odin cries "For Asgard!," Thor "For Midgard!," and Loki... "For myself." Gold.
I am sold on Walt Simonson. This is beautifully drawn and beautifully written. "The Surtur Saga" is exquisite, especially when you consider that it began as Walt's own fanfic years prior. I am so glad that there are three volumes left to go, and I can only hope it gets better.
That will be a tough task.