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Top Ten Thor Graphic Novels
'We are gods, 'tis our purpose to set aright the path of lesser beings...'
I have always had a nostalgic attachment to Thor. He's not my favourite hero (that would be Superman), not even my favourite Marvel hero (that's probably Captain America), but he was the first Marvel hero I remember reading. My uncle had some late 60's/ early 70's Thor comics which I eagerly devoured, and actually led to a life-long interest in mythology. I loved the uniqueness of Asgard, the Donald Blake/ Thor duality, great supporting cast, and the mock Shakespearean dialogue.
Starting with his debut in Journey Into Mystery #83 in 1962, and continuing through 4 volumes,many miniseries, one-shots, and spinoffs, there is a massive amount of Thor material out there (I should know, I own most of it!). My list will , of course, be subjective, but I think it will give you 10 solid reads you will enjoy.They are in no particular order,but my No1 choice IS No.1 If you disagree?
I Say Thee NAY!!!!
Images are used under Fair Use (Comic Single Panels)
10. Thor: Ages of Thunder
Writer: Matt Fraction Artists: Various
If you looked at my Iron Man lens (and if you haven't, may Odin look sternly at you) you'll see I like Matt Fraction. The man can write. This book collects his 4 specials- Thor: Ages of Thunder One-Shot, Thor: Reign of Blood One-Shot, Thor: Man of War One-Shot, and Thor God-Sized Special.
Although the writing is consistently top notch, the art varies - mainly good, but the fact the God sized Special had 4 artists for example, means it can interrupt the flow.
These stories are on the list because we have 'bad' Thor - this is the Thor before he was banished to Earth, the rash, impulsive, arrogant God of Thunder. Probably the one quite familiar to fans of the movie. It IS violent. Asgard and the outer realms are rough, violent places and Fraction show s this to stunning effect.
I also liked his nod in the God-Sized Special to what Walt Simonson did with the Executioner in his run, nice touch. This collection brings a modern take to an often under used part of Thor's life. This is not your fathers Thor.
Thor:Ages of Thunder
By Odin's Beard... - ....what reasonable prices.
9. Thor vs. Hercules
Writers: Various Artists: Various
Had to include this, purely because what's not to love when Thor and Hercules get together. Both spoilt princes, both arrogant, both gods and both convinced of their own superiority. Their confrontations pretty much wrote themselves, and were great fun. Yes, they are a little formulaic, but think of them as 'popcorn' comics - sit back and enjoy!
This collection includes Journey into Mystery Annual #1, Thor, Vol 1 #126, #221, #356, #400 (backup), #437, Annual #5; Thor: Blood Oath #3-4; Incredible Hercules #136
Thor vs Hercules
The Thor Corps.... - ..name 'em!
8. Thor: Tales of Asgard
Writer: Stan Lee Artist: Jack Kirby
Just the fact you see Stan Lee and Jack Kirby listed here means I shouldn't have to say anything further...but I will. This is a great collection for the Thor novice, or Thor historian, as it collects together the original back up stories from Journey into Mystery starting back in 1963, in which we see a lot of background on Asgard, on supporting characters (Heimdall, Balder, Loki, Odin, and Hela), on Thor as a boy , and a Stan Lee twist on tales from Norse mythology. Some tales are better than others, but with anthology tales that's the nature of the beast.
In total, you have over 50 individual tales here, plus a reprint of Thor's origin from Journey into Mystery issue 83, maps of Asgard and the The Nine Worlds, pages of character profiles from the Marvel Universe index, 6 interlocking covers in fold-out form from the most recent reprinting of the Tales that formed this book, sketches and various other goodies.
Great value volume for the Thor completist. The stories are also reprinted in black and white in the Essentials volumes, along with the main Thor stories, so you may want to check them out that way instead.
Thor Tales of Asgard
Essential Thor, Volume. 1
Essential Thor, Volume 2
Thor variant cover.... - ...look closely, the art is made up of many artists work down the years!
7. Thor Omnibus
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski Artist: Marko Djurdjevic Olivier Coipel
This is another entry I could quite easily have divided into 3, with 3 separate volumes by Straczynski from his run (I'll list them below), but to appreciate the entire 'arc' this Omnibus has to be recommended. This Omnibus collects together Fantastic Four #536-537, Thor #1-12 and #600-603, Thor Giant-Size Finale, a solid 520 pages. The Fantastic Four 'prologue' is a nice inclusion.
This run is important because Thor had been gone from publication for several years after the events of Avengers: Disassembled and Ragnarok, Marvel decided the time was right to bring him back in 2007, and J. Michael Straczynski was the man to do it. Straczynski ran with what had gone before, with his own seasoning, and built a faultless opening arc which brought Thor back to centre stage in the Marvel Universe.
The story begins with Thor returning from the Norse afterlife, and re-creating Asgard outside a small town in Oklahoma. As the rest of the Asgardian gods begin to return to their former selves, we're treated to some very entertaining interactions between the gods and the locals. This sums up the run for me, as well as the all-out 'widescreen' Thor fighting, there is a nice human touch....and Don Blake is back, which is cool.
The artwork is superb, really brings life to Straczynski's words. Highly, highly recommended.
Thor Omnibus Hardcover
Thor Volume 1
Thor Volume 2
Thor Volume 3
High Prices... - ..I say thee NAY!!
Thor vs Shazam....now THAT's a titanic tussle!
6. Thor: Thunderstrike
Writer: Tom DeFalco Artist: Ron Frenz
Now, this may divide opinion a bit. There are better written Thor stories out there, and probably better drawn ones , but I quite liked the retro feel that DeFalco and Frenz brought with them. This collection is important in that it tells how Thor himself is banished by Odin for killing Loki (yeh, right) and Eric Masterson, previously the new 'Donald Blake' to Thor, actually becomes Thor. No more Shakespearean dialogue, no more Asgard, just 'what if a normal guy became Thor'. It was an interesting take.
The collection begins with Thor #408, where single father Eric Masterson is merged with Thor, replacing Donald Blake as his human alter ego. We then fast forward to #431-#433, which takes us to yet another important chapter of the Masterson/Thor story, where the Thunder God himself is now replaced by Masterson, with the latter now fully conscious when in his Asgardian body.move to the final arc of this book Thor 457 - #459, which sees the return of Thor, and an epic confrontation between Thor and Masterson, concluding with Odin giving Masterson an Asgardian mace called
Thunderstrike, which allows the pseudo-Thor to continue as a hero. This issue then leads directly to the first issue of Thunderstrike, or Thor-Lite if you will.
Solid storytelling and, more importantly, FUN!!
Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers Graphic Novel - Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic
5. Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Vol. 1: The God Who Fell to Earth
Writer: Roger Langridge Artist: Chris Samnee
This is a book that many miss. Not high profile, cancelled after 8 issues, yet some of the finest storytelling to grace a Thor comic. As Langridge himself summed it up..'an out-of-continuity "re-imagining" of Thor's early days on modern-day Earth. Part romance comic, part old-school superhero nerd-out'.
Having a blank page means Langridge can pull all the stops out for his vision, and it's a thing of beauty. If you want more than just fighting and simple exposition, pick this up; its an all-ages book that puts many others to shame.
Pick up both volumes, you will not regret it.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Vol. 1: The God Who Fell to Earth
Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Vol. 2
Cross the Rainbow Bridge.... - ....before these disappear!
its Hammer time....
4. Thor: Worldengine
Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Mike Deodato
Not everyone 'gets' Warren Ellis, and I know this 4 issue story arc is not everyone's cup of tea. I, however, loved it. This volume collects together Thor, Vol 1 issues 491-494, plus a bonus reprinting of Journey into Mystery #10, by Lee and Kirby, which had the first appearance of the Enchantress and the Executioner, pivotal characters to Ellis's story.
The story has a now powers-less Thor trying to stop the machine known as the Worldengine from bringing about Ragnarok, due to a mad scientist rigging Worldengine to control Yggdrasil, the tree upon which all creation is built, according to Norse mythology. He teams up with usual enemy Enhantress, in, ahem, more ways than one.
Ellis both indulges his love of 'weird stuff' and reintroduces the strong mythological elements that were missing from the badly floundering Thor title at the time. The art is fantastic too.
If you want some slightly left field Thor, this is for you.
3. Thor: The Eternals Saga, Vol. 1 and 2
Writer: Roy Thomas, Mark Gruenwald Artist: Various
Volume 1 collects together Thor Annual #7 and Thor, Vol 1 issues 283 - 291, and Volume 2 collects Thor Vol 1 issues 292-301. This was one of those great cosmic epics that Marvel used to do so well.Started by Roy Thomas, and completed by Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio , this storyline is not just an action-packed epic, it also officially integrates Jack Kirby's Eternals ,and the Celestials, into the Marvel Universe proper, while expertly expanding upon Thor's roots in Norse myth. How big is big? Well....
A century ago, Thor met the Eternals on Earth in ancient Mexico. Their encounters revealed to him the secret ancestry of the human race and the Eternals' connections to the Deviants and god-like Celestials; however, in order to keep Thor from interfering with the arrival of the third Celestial host on Earth, (Judgement Day!) the Eternals made Thor forget everything and return to Asgard. Now, Thor's memories have been awoken, and when he returns to present day Earth to search for the Eternals, he runs smack into the middle of the fourth host of Celestials! It is time to begin the 50-year judgment of mankind, but Thor isn't happy. He wants the Celestials to leave, and this time around, the Eternals are only too eager to help him... so it appears.
Volume 2 sees more epicness (is that a word?) as, deep breath...
we see a series of flashbacks where Thomas reveals the history of a previous Asgard, and ties Thor's origins into the classic operas of Richard Wagner, retelling "Siegfried" and "Gotterdammerung".( featuring mortal versions of Thor and Brunnhilde the Valkryie in the roles of the lovers) - all recounted by Odin's gouged out eye, now grown to a huge size. Things all tie together as we learn Odin has been building towards defeating the Celestials throughout the centuries, hence the extended history lesson.
This is, without doubt, some of the most finely crafted, well thought out, continuity friendly work you will ever see. It is epic in every sense of the word. Oh, and some guy called Walt Simonson shows up on some art chores...whatever happened to him?
Thor: The Eternals Saga, Vol. 1
Thor: The Eternals Saga, Vol. 2
2. Thor, Vol. 1
Writer: Dan Jurgens Artist: John Romita Jr
Dan Jurgens relaunch of Thor in 1998 was a fresh start after Heroes Return; Jurgens was asked to rekindle the magic, and he did so, in a vastly underrated run of 70 issues. This first volume collects Thor, vol.1 1-8 and Peter Parker: Spider-Man #2
Jurgens presses all the right buttons, at a time when Marvel desperately need a hit from a long term struggling'franchise'...he gives Thor a new human counterpart, we see the return of Jane Foster, guest appearances by Spider-Man, Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the Avengers, and a slow-burning multi-issue mystery developing, along the lines of Simonson's earlier work. He also makes sure he utilises heavy hitter villains, as Thor should be operating on a cosmic level.
John Romita Jr's artwork is immense, giving genuine presence and grandeur to The Thunder God.
I would actually recommend all the volumes, but this was the original 'reboot' volume, so we start at the start.
Thor, Vol. 1, 2,3,4
Thor: Across All Worlds
Thor: The Death of Odin
Thor: Lord of Asgard
Thor: Gods on Earth
Thor: Gods and Men
Heimdall says.... - what reasonably priced scrolls.
Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers Graphic Novel Trailer 2 - Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic
1. Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus
Writer/ Artist: Walt Simonson
There could only have ever been one choice for my number 1. Batman has Frank Miller, Watchmen has Alan Moore, Fantastic Four has John Byrne and Thor has Walt Simonson.
This Omnibus does the run justice, covering Thor issues 337-355, 357-369, 371-382 and the Balder the Brave 4 issue mini-series. Firstly, I DO own this. Its not cheap, but it is an essential purchase for any God-fearing comics fan. 1200 pages in length, you also get a huge amount of extras - bonus artwork, pin-ups, ALL the original covers. It.is. Beautiful. As for the contents...
Beta Ray Bill ! Hela ! Surtur ! lots of Loki! The Casket of Ancient Winters! The death of Odin! The origins of Asgard! The sacrifice of the Executioner! Thor as a frog! The Mutant Massacre! Ragnarok! Some will live! Some will die....etc. There is so much packed in here I really couldn't do it justice. If you read nothing else starring Thor, read this. You can get bite size chunks of the Simonson run, which I'll also list but, if you can afford it, buy this. Its Thor heaven.
Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus
Thor Visionaries - Walter Simonson. Volumes 1,2,3,4,5
Frog Thor says... - ribbit. ribbit.(*buy these now)
Want a Second Opinion?
Don't blame you! click on any of the Amazon links to see what other reviewers thought of my choices. There's lot more Thor goodness too!
Thor Movie Trailer
Verily. there shall come a question...
Apart from Thor, who is your favourite Asgardian?
Every great hero needs a great villain.... - ...though preferably not your brother.
Epilogue: Worst Thor Story? Ultimates 3
Writer: Jeph Loeb Artist: Joe Madureira
Ultimates 3 was a horrendous train wreck of a book, and Jeph Loeb completely disregarded all the character work Mark Millar had established in volumes 1 and 2 and messed Thor up....badly. In fact, he could be a completely different character entirely. He talks different, acts differently, has different abilities, and wields a different weapon.
Look it up...or not
'I am Thor Odinson of the Vikings, giant. I am not the god of reason and understanding. I am the god of Thunder and Lightning!!!
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