Thor is one of the oldest characters in the Marvel Universe, so it’s a little difficult to figure out just where to come in. With a complicated mythology and epic back-story, it can be daunting even to seasoned comic book readers… So here are ten great Thor stories that aren’t just excellent, they’re easy to jump right into:
10. Essential Thor, Vol 1
If you’ve got to start somewhere, why not start with the beginning? Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original run at the character – like most of their creative kick-offs – set the stage, tone, and characters for the next half a century of stories. Plus, they’re just plain fun, and nobody draws Asgard like Kirby does. Sorry, everybody else.
9. Avengers Disassembled: Thor
The threat of Ragnarok, the death of the Gods, has always been held over everything Thor does. If an author wants to add gravitas to a story, they only need to say, “If we don’t stop this, then it’s the Ragnarok!” And they always do… Except this time. Writer Michale Oeming, and artist Andrea Di Vito – given the chance to do what’s been threatened for so long go for it with gusto, ending every single Asgardians’ life for good. Well, until the reboot.
Rob Rodi and Esad Ribic also played with a “what if” scenario, showing what would happen if Loki ever finally beat his brother. Complex and Shakespearean, the book is sumptuously illustrated in a painted style reminiscent of Boris Vallejo.
7. King Thor
The in continuity story by Dan Jurgens shows what happens when Thor gains control of Asgard, and uses it to take over the Earth. Slowly turning a hero into a villain, and then breaking him down, Jurgens presents the more realistic side of godly rule.
6. J. Michael Straczynski’s Thor
A recent run on the title (a few years after Avengers Disassembled, in fact) found Thor returning to life, Asgard on Earth outside the small town of Broxton, Oklahoma, and the god of thunder tasked with slowly bringing back his compatriots, who have been living out normal, banal, lives. The run may have ended abruptly, but for the first few issues, it was a exciting new direction for the God of Thunder
5. Frog Thor
Thor #363-#366 by Walt Simonson contained what can actually be called the most offbeat Thor story of all time, as Thor was turned into a frog. Really. Through Loki’s machinations, the God of Thunder was turned into the Frog of Thunder, battling animals big and small, before turning back into his regular self. The legacy of Frog Thor has continued, though, as a new character picked up the mantle. And by character, we mean “frog.”
4. Thor: Ages of Thunder
Matt Fraction famously told Marvel during his first meeting with them that, under no circumstances would he ever want to write Thor. We’re glad he changed his mind, because Ages of Thunder is the heavy metal Thor we’ve always wanted to read. Fraction mixes myth with Marvel, and creates a story for the ages.
3. Thor: Blood Oath
We’d pick up a book from Mike Oeming and artist Scott Kolins regardless of content, but this book is an out-of-continuity delight. The Warriors Three are put on trial, so in order to save them, Thor goes on an epic quest all over the world, and beyond. For those of you looking for a done-in-one story that perfectly captures the essence of Lee and Kirby in a modern context, this is the book for you.
2. Thor The Mighty Avenger
Writer Roger Landridge and Artist Chris Samnee created a modern take on the God of Thunder that’s also completely, utterly timeless. From the beautiful nuanced writing – which takes Thor, and banishes him to Earth for the first time to encounter love and superheroes – to the Rockwell-esque penicls and inks from Chris Samnee; and Matt Wilson’s sumptuous colors, this is a near perfect book. It’s too bad Marvel will never publish the last three issues, but for a while there, we had something exciting and new with a character decades old.
1. Thor vs. The Midgard Serpent
It’s tough to pick out one story from Walt Simonson’s character-defining run on Thor. Every reader has their favorite (and why choose? You can pick up a pricey, but worth it Omnibus volume collecting his whole run if you like), but for our money, the beyond epic Thor vs. The Midgard Serpent storyline is the one that’s stuck with us forever. Thor is cursed with brittle bones by Hela, goddess of the dead. So he dons mystic armor, and fights what might be his last battle, against the massive Midgard Serpent. For DC fans, there’s Superman versus Doomsday. For Thor fans? It’s Thor vs. a giant snake. We like our battle better.