This time around: the God of Thunder himself, Thor. The character isn’t in my top five but over the years he’s found himself in terrific stories that are great reads. And I have read many of them numerous times.
Thor stories are usually spectacular and vast in scope– these are among the most spectacular comics stories ever done and among my all-time favourites. They all stand up to several re-readings. Without further ado, here we go…
1. The Man-Gog trilogy from Thor #154-157
While it’s four issues, I call it a trilogy as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had this strange habit of ending Thor stories in the middle of an issue and then starting a new storyline. This is one of Thor’s greatest battles as he takes on a being with the power of a “billion, billion beings.”
The Man-Gog is released from imprisonment by Ulik the Troll and because Odin destroyed his race proceeds to invade and wreck Asgard en-route to drawing the Odinsword and destroying the universe.
This storyline is a tour de force of carnage and heroism, as the seriously overmatched Asgardians battle valiantly against an infinitely more powerful foe. Only the timely intervention of Odin saved the Universe.
2. Thor vs. Thanos and Man-Gog from Thor volume 2 #21-25
While I don’t care a lot for either villain, teaming them up was a stroke of genius. Either one is almost more than Thor can handle on his best days, but the two of them together is the team-up from Hades.
Great battles culminating in one of the cleverest scenes in Thor history when he finds the Man-Gog’s one weakness– the one place he isn’t armored– and lets loose with the full power of his hammer.
3. The Dark Gods storyline from Thor volume 2 #9-13
When Thor returns from the Heroes Reborn Universe he finds Asgard deserted and all of his fellow Asgardians missing. The mystery was set up in volume 2 #1 but it wasn’t until issue #9 that Thor finally finds out where they went (kidnapped and enslaved by the Dark Gods). Goldilocks mounts a rescue mission with the aid of Hercules and the Destroyer. Lots of great moments in this storyline including the discovery of an emaciated Volstagg.
4. Thor #145-152
This was a great sequence of stories I found difficult to separate, as it’s one long connected arc. It begins in Thor #145with Odin getting perturbed at Thor (yet again) and stripping him of his Godly might. (Loki, Sif, and Balder were also penalized for siding with Thor.)
What follows is the spectacle of witnessing Thor cope with life without his powers– a two issue battle with the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime (not being able to change back to Don Blake, it was the only job he could get). Then came a massively spectacular battle with the Wrecker that the powerless Thor barely survives, leading to an encounter with Hela and the Destroyer. Lots of fun in this story.
5. Thor vs. Galactus in Thor #160-162 & #168-169
While on a mission to the Black Galaxy, Thor gets caught in the middle of a battle between Galactus and Ego, the Living Planet. Spectacular…
That event is delayed until issue #168 and #169 where Thor finally meets with the big G. A brief tussle ensues, Galactus tells Thor his life story and they go their separate ways. Unconventional storytelling and anyone looking for a knockdown drag out brawl would have been disappointed, but finally getting Galactus’ back story was worth the price of admission.
6. “The Eternals Saga” from Thor Annual #7 & #284-300
A sprawling saga where Thor discovers the existence of the Eternals and the threat of the Celestials.
As is usual in Thor stories, the Thunder God goes on a quest, this time visiting other pantheons of Gods to enlist their aid in fighting the Celestials. In the middle of this story there was an odd detour retelling Wagner’s Ring Saga with Thor as Sigurd. It was almost as if Roy Thomas was padding the story so the Eternals story could climax in spectacular form in Thor #300.
This anniversary issue is one of the best stories ever, with Odin inhabiting the Destroyer packing the Odinsword and going to take on the Celestials. Naturally, Thor gets caught in the middle of the battle.
7. Silver Surfer volume 1 #4
The classic Surfer/Thor battle has been talked about a lot. An all-time classic cover and an extremely fun fight.
8.Thor vs. Iron Man from Thor volume 3 #3
Thor is perturbed at Tony Stark for his part in Captain America’s death and the whole “Clor” (Cloned Thor) debacle. He shows his displeasure in a massively entertaining beat down where Stark is hopelessly outclassed. There is no doubt who the most powerful of the pair is.
9. The Defenders #10
Hulk vs. Thor. A fun battle between the strongest beings in the Marvel Universe. The recent Red Hulk vs. Thor battle is almost on par with this one.
10. Thor #109: Thor Vs Magneto
One of the first ever X-Men crossovers. A fun little story pairing two characters who you wouldn’t expect to tangle. Clever use of Magneto’s powers to separate Thor from his hammer.
And that’s it.
For those of you wondering why I don’t have any Simonson issues in the list, the reason is simple: I just didn’t care much for the stories and Simonson’s art leaves me cold. I didn’t read very much of the run. I tried it from the beginning but quickly lost interest.
However, the Frog of Thunder and the Thor as Destroyer issues were fun little diversions. (Ken Boechler)