All of us are waiting with bated breath for Taika Waititi’s upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, which looks to be the most fun and, well, “comic-booky” of all the Thor films released by Marvel so far. Judging from the trailers, it seems the filmmakers were definitely inspired by some of the greatest Thor comic book runs of all time.
For fans of the movies who want to know just where all the inspiration for the film came from, there are several classic Thor storylines and complete creative team runs out there collected by Marvel Comics for your reading pleasure. Here are the very best of them, starting with the cream of the crop of all the Thor runs:
Collecting Thor (original series) #337-355, #357-369, #371-382; Balder the Brave #1-4
Some 35 years after creator Walter Simonson took over writing and illustrating The Mighty Thor, his run on the title is still the gold standard by which all other Thor runs are judged. Together, it forms one giant storyline. For nearly five years, Simonson reinvigorated the world of the Thunder God, crafted epic battles with the likes of Surtur and Hela and the Midgard Serpent and introduced characters like Beta Ray Bill and the Thunder Frog (yes, there is a Thor Frog, and he’s awesome).
The Mighty Thor Omnibus
Collecting Journey into Mystery #83-120 and Annual #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Next to their run on Fantastic Four, the greatest (and longest) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby collaboration was on Thor. Lots of big, cosmic ideas and characters were introduced in their original ’60s run, which began in Journey Into Mystery, before Thor ended up totally taking over the title. Lee and Kirby were able to take the Norse mythology and tweak it into something uniquely sci-fi and uniquely Marvel. If you can get past some of the ’60s cheesiness, there is much to treasure here.
Collected in Thor: God of Thunder Vol. 1-3, Thor: Goddess of Thunder, and The Mighty Thor Vol. 1-3
The most recent entry on this list is writer Jason Aaron‘s run on the character, which has now spread across three different volumes over five years–Thor: God of Thunder, Thor, The Mighty Thor, the mini-series Thors, and most recently, The Unworthy Thor. Under Aaron’s watch, many huge events happened in the life of the Odinson, including having his hammer taken away and his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster becoming the new Thor. His artistic collaborators have been great illustrators including Esad Ribic, Ron Garney, Russell Dauterman, Jorge Molina, Valerio Schiti, Steve Epting, and Rafa Garres; they’ve all known how to give the books a proper mythic grandeur.
Avengers Disassembled: Thor
Back in 2004, Marvel brought the Avengers as we knew it to a close, with the Avengers: Disassembled storyline. As a side story to all this, Ragnarok finally happened in the pages of Thor: Disassembled, after its impending arrival was on the table for decades. This story by writer Michael Avon Oeming and artist Andrea Di Vito ends with the universe itself claiming the lives of all the Asgardians. Ultimately, Thor allows himself and all known Asgardians to be destroyed, and they actually stayed dead for a solid three years.
Collecting Fantastic Four #536-537, Thor (2007) #1-12 and #600-603, Thor Giant-Size Finale by
The Thunder God finally came back to the land of the living in 2007 in writer J. Michael Straczynski‘s relaunch of the title. In this saga, Thor is reunited with his old mortal form of Dr. Donald Blake. But Thor finds it’s not just him that has a new mortal body; other Asgardians have also been reborn in new mortal shells. On top of that, Asgard itself has appeared floating above a small town in Oklahoma. J. Michael Straczynski’s run was relatively brief, but its creative take on the Asgardians accompanied by the excellent art by Olivier Coipel makes this run super memorable.
Thor: The Eternals Saga Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Collecting Thor (original series) #283-301
There was something of a drought of truly great Thor comics between the end of the Lee and Kirby run and Simonson taking over. But there is one big exception to that statement–The Eternals Saga. Writer Roy Thomas brings together the Asgardian pantheon with the Kirby-created Eternals, and although Kirby is not involved with these stories, his presence is felt throughout. These collections feature some solid art by Keith Pollard, John Buscema, and future Thor superstar Walt Simonson.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger: The Complete Collection
Collecting Thor: The Mighty Avenger #1-8, by
This series was very short lived, but has stood the test of time as a charming and comedic take on Thor’s early years in the Marvel Universe. The book only ran for eight issues total, but it features fun and fresh takes on the Thunder God’s first meeting with Jane Foster, along with his first encounters with various Marvel villains. You also see his first meetings with the likes of Iron Man and Captain America through a different lens.
Which Thor saga is your personal favorite, and which storyline do you think should have made it on our list? Be sure to share your thoughts with us below in the comments.
Images: Marvel Comics
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