Doth mine eyes deceive me? T’would be folly to journey the path of Asgardian tales alone.
Okay. I can’t do that for more than two sentences. Hi, it’s your uncle Geekly, and if you can’t tell, this week’s starter comic book stories will feature the Avenger who sounds as if he belongs to an oafish Shakespearean acting troupe. Thor!
Many comic fans wouldn’t place Thor as one of the most important Marvel creations, but I’d argue that the Jack “The King” Kirby and Stan “The Man” Lee character did as much for Marvel’s universe as the Fantastic Four or at least his tales gave context to the Fantastic Four’s. The dysfunctional, loving family may have introduced readers to the Marvel universe’s greatest reaches due to their exploits, but Thor is a citizen of one of these far reaches. He gives readers a different perspective.
It should come as no surprise that when the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs an alien perspective, it often turns to Thor or another Asgardian. Speaking of the movies and television shows, I’ll be focusing more on Thor stories for new readers who have been introduced to the character by the MCU and that means that there will be a notable omission: Kirby and Lee’s series run.
Boo! Hiss! Uncle Geekly isn’t a true believer.
Okay, I may not include it in the main list, but I’ll give Kirby and Lee’s run an honorable mention here because it’s some of their best work and does a great job of setting up most of the series’ regulars. Thor Epic Collection: The God of Thunder is a great place to find one of the best mixes of sci-fi and mythology. It’s like Thor and the other Norse gods were meant to be reinvented by Lee and Kirby.
With that out of the way let’s get to the stories that may remind readers of the movies.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger Vol 1 (written by Roger Langridge/art by Chris Samnee; 2010-2011)
We’ll start with a short read. Thor: The Mighty Avenger didn’t last long enough, but it does a great job building the relationship between Thor and Jane Foster. Don’t worry. Readers can find some action, but it often takes a backseat to Thor’s personal life and that’s a major point in a lot of Thor books and a focus for the first Thor movie.
Thor (written by J. Michael Straczynski/art by Olivier Coipel; 2007-2011)
Thor had disappeared from the Marvel Universe for many years before Straczynski and Coipel brought him back in a big way. He and the rest of the Asgardian gods were reborn in this run. Lady Loki—you’ll see plenty of people dressed as her at Comic Con—made her first appearance in this storyline as did changing the thunder god’s base of operations west of the Mississippi (specifically Broxton, Oklahoma), which helped combine elements of the fantastic and mundane.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe may have changed where Thor landed to New Mexico, but the earthly elements in this story are the basis for the earthly ones in Thor.
Avengers Disassembled: Thor (written by Michael Oeming/art by Andrea Di Vito; 2004)
There’s a reason Thor vanished from the Marvel universe for several years before Straczynski and Coipel brought him back, and Avengers Disassembled: Thor is it. Ragnarok has been explored in the Marvel universe before, but the basis for Thor’s part of Thor: Ragnarok comes from this section of the crossover event.
This comic felt like a movie waiting to happen, but if you’re thinking that it’ll be as light-hearted as Thor: Ragnarok, think again. This is a much somber tale.
Thor: God of Thunder (written by Jason Aaron/art by Esad Ribic; 2013-2014)
In deference to Jim I won’t include Jane Foster as Thor when I discuss Thor: God of Thunder. He may have to write an unpopular opinion or another article of that ilk explaining why he doesn’t care for different characters donning the costumes of classic superheroes in the future. But before Jane took the mantel, Thor: God of Thunder was epic.
It made Thor a rock star. It showcased the character’s raw power and with stories that explored Thor as a brazen youth, it reminds readers of the immaturity Thor sometimes displays in the movies.
The Mighty Thor (stories and art by Walter Simonson; 1983-1986)
It’s hard to find a place for Walter Simonson’s run on Thor. Many fans would dub his series run as the definitive Thor.
Simonson built on what Lee and Kirby started. The fusion of sci-fi and mythology grew. Classic battles with villains like Hela and a version of Loki similar to the movies can be found here. Even the—shudder—villain of Thor: The Dark World Malekith comes from Simonson’s run. If you want a better Malekith tale, check him out in the original comics.
Simonson is the one Thor creator who had the stones to transform the main character into a frog and make it amazing. These stories remain arguably the character’s highest point.
That’s my list for readers who are new to Thor comics. Great Jim Plath’s beard those were terrible choices. Unleash hate mail on the writer from Broxton. Or you can leave a comment. If you’d like access to the Bifrost, subscribe for new content.