THOR: KEY MOMENTS IN COMIC BOOK HISTORY
Posted by Jeremy Mullin on Nov 21st 2018
Since his comics debut in 1962, Thor has had many an adventure, such as founding the Avengers, battling his step-brother Loki on numerous occasions, battling numerous other gods and alien threats, ruling Asgard, and becoming a… frog? (No, really…) Here’s a list of the ten key moments in Thor’s comic book history.
THE THUNDER GOD RISES (“Journey Into Mystery” #83, 1962): Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (and based on the Norse deity of the same name), Thor made his debut in this comic book. When vacationing in Norway, Dr. Donald Blake stumbles across the arrival of invading aliens and is chased into a cave. Trapped by a cave-in, Blake tries to escape using a stick he found on the ground, and upon striking it against the rock, is transformed into Thor, the God of Thunder after proving worthy to wield the hammer, Mjolnir! After driving off the invaders, Thor continues to defend the people of Earth, going back and forth between his alter ego of Don Blake. It would eventually be revealed that, in fact, there was no “Donald Blake”, which was really an identity created by Thor’s father, Odin, when he banished the arrogant Thunder God to Earth as a mortal to teach him humility.
THE ARRIVAL OF LOKI (“Journey Into Mystery” #86, 1962): It didn’t take long for other Norse gods to arrive in the pages of Thor’s adventures, as not only did trickster god Loki appear here, but also other gods of Asgard! Freed from his imprisonment, Loki (re-imagined as the God of Mischief and Thor’s adopted brother) immediately seeks out his hated brother to begin a long series of attempts to destroy the God of Thunder. Though he would ultimately fail each time, Loki would continue his schemes, working with other gods and supervillains in the process. After recently being killed, Loki was reincarnated as a young boy who recently joined the Young Avengers.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE… FOR THE FIRST TIME! (“The Avengers” #1, 1963): Thor would end up forming a team with other heroes when his archenemy and brother, Loki, tried his latest scheme to destroy the God of Thunder by tricking the Hulk into battle with him. But other heroes – Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp – were also drawn in, and after discovering Loki’s scheme, Thor and the Hulk teamed up with them to drive the God of Mischief off. Seeing how well they acted as a team, the heroes formed as the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Thor would become a mainstay member of the team, even becoming part of the “Big Three”, along with Iron Man and Captain America, that would be the heart of the group.
ENTER BETA RAY BILL (“Thor” #337, 1983): Only those who were worthy could lift and wield Mjolnir, Thor’s mystic hammer. And while investigating an alien fleet detected by spy organization SHIELD, Thor was shocked to find someone else who proved to be so! Upon arriving on the alien ship, Thor encountered Beta Ray Bill, the guardian of a near-extinct race who, after separating Thor from Mjolnir, is able to lift it and take on Thor’s power! After the two work together to defeat the demon Surtur, who had caused the destruction of Bill’s world, Bill is granted his own hammer, Stormbreaker, by Odin, and becomes a mainstay in the Marvel Universe, recently being involved in the recent “Thanos Imperative” storyline.
THE FROG OF THUNDER! (“Thor” #364-366, 1986): Following Thor’s battle with the Dark Elf warrior Kurse, Loki uses Surtur’s Twilight to turn the God of Thunder into a frog! He proceeds to embark on his strangest adventure yet, helping a group of frogs fight off rats and still proving worthy to wield his hammer, Mjolnir! After returning to Asgard and stopping Loki’s true scheme (preventing Thor from being present at the Althing to determine the heir to the throne of Asgard following the disappearance of Odin after battling Surtur), Thor is returned to his human form, concluding what many consider to be writer/artist Walt Simonson’s best storyarc during his run.
ERIC MASTERSON, THE NEW GOD OF THUNDER (“Thor” # 432-459, 1989-1993): Debuting in “Thor” #391, Eric Masterson was an architect and supporting character who, after being injured and attacked by Thor’s enemies, was merged with the Thunder God by Odin to save his life, becoming Thor’s new mortal identity in the process. But when Thor seemingly killed Loki in battle and was banished as a result, Masterson was granted Thor’s power and acted as the new God of Thunder. After a series of adventures (including Operation: Galactic Storm with the Avengers), Masterson was more than happy to return the mantle to Thor, who was released from his banishment after it was revealed that Loki had faked his death. Masterson was given his own Asgardian weapon by Odin, the mace Thunderstrike, and continued as a superhero under that identity (with his own costume) until his death.
THOR: LORD OF ASGARD (“Thor” Vol 2 #43-79, 2002-2004): When Odin dies battling Surtur, Thor reluctantly takes the throne of Asgard. To make the gods of Asgard be worshiped again, Thor extends his rule to Earth, imprisoning or killing all who oppose him, even coming into conflict with his fellow Avengers. He even ends up marrying Amora the Enchantress, having a son with her in the process who questions his father’s decisions. After realizing what he’s done, Thor battles former ally Tarene and the Destroyer and uses time travel to undo what he’s done. But the God of Thunder’s greatest challenge is soon to follow…
RAGNAROK AND THE DEATH OF THOR (“Thor” Vol 2 #80-85, 2004): Thor and his fellow Asgardians were facing their greatest fear: Ragnarok, the long-prophecied “Twilight of the Gods” where they would meet their end. The event had been triggered by Loki, who had revived the demon Surtur, who in turn forged hammers for the God of Mischief’s Storm Giant followers. As his fellow gods fall, Thor discovers the truth of Ragnarok: it is, in fact, a cycle where the Gods of Asgard would die and be reborn again and again, created by Those Who Sit Above in Shadow, the self-style “gods to the gods”, who feed on said cycle. Having discovered the truth, Thor is able to severe the tapestry of Asgard’s existence and end the Ragnarok Cycle… all as his father, Odin, had planned. Thor then enters a state of hibernation, believed to be dead by his fellow Avengers.
THE THUNDER GOD RETURNS (“Thor” Vol 3 #1, 2007): Thor manages to return to Earth after Mjolnir falls into the possession of Donald Blake, who had been returned to existence after Odin’s death. Transported to the void where Thor lies in hibernation, Blake convinces the Thunder God to take up Mjolnir once again and return to Earth, merging with Blake and renewing their dual existence and identity again. Learning his fellow Asgardians were reborn as mortals, Thor rebuilds Asgard over Broxton, Oklahoma, and proceeds to seek them out. However, he also learns of the events of the Civil War, where the government passed the Superhuman Registration Act and his fellow Avenger founder, Iron Man, supported the Act and found against Captain America, who opposed it. When Iron Man tries to inform Thor that he must register in accordance with the SRA, the God of Thunder easily defeats his fellow Avenger, prompting Tony Stark and the U.S. government to declare Asgard as a diplomatic embassy separate from America and not bound by the SRA in order to save face. Following the “Siege” storyline, where Asgard is attacked and destroyed by Norman Osbourne’s Dark Avengers, and the SRA is repealed, Thor rejoins the Avengers and reforms his friendship with Iron and Captain America after an adventure in the realm of Hel.
FEAR ITSELF AND THOR’S SECOND DEATH AND RETURN (“Fear Itself” #1-7, 2011): A forgotten Asgardian had returned: Cul, aka the Serpent, the God of Fear and Odin’s brother! When Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter, locates an ancient hammer, she becomes Skadi, Herald of the Serpent, who frees him from his underwater imprisonment. Cul then dispatches more hammers to his generals, the Worthy, comprised of various heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe, in order to spread fear across the world. During the battle, “Bucky” Barnes, the current Captain America, is seemingly killed in battle, prompting Steve Rogers to take up the mantle again, and Thor is badly wounded battling fellow heroes the Thing and the Hulk, transformed into two of the Serpent’s Worthy. Given special armor and armed with the Odinsword, Ragnarok, Thor faces off against the Serpent, killing him at the cost of his own life, while Iron Man and other Avengers use newly-forged Asgardian weapons to defeat the Worthy. Thor soon returns to life, just in time to prevent his so-called “replacement” Tanarus, really his enemy Ulik in disguise, from taking his place, even in the memories of his friends.