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Essential Thor

Essential Thor

Look back on the history of the mightiest Avenger as we kick off the Essential Thor!

With the release of "Thor" on May 6, 2011 and "Captain America: The First Avenger" on July 22, 2011, Marvel.com presents the Essentials, a series of articles showcasing each character's expansive history and mythology  in the Marvel comics. From character retrospectives to a look at memorable storylines and interviews with key creators, the Essentials will act as the perfect guide for fans both old and new! Look for new Cap Essentials every Monday and Thor Essentials every Thursday as we head toward the release of each film!


By Marc Strom

The Mighty Thor
Since the early days of the Marvel Universe, Thor has brought his unique brand of heroism to the world. Making Earth his adopted home, the Thunderer has become one of the central figures in Marveldom, and with his own silver screen adventure set to debut May 6, 2011, Marvel.com is set to give you a primer on his history from the comics.

Over the coming weeks we'll give you the lowdown on some of Thor's greatest allies and villains as well as look at some of the most influential and significant stories from his past. But before we get into all that, you'll need a primer on the man himself, Thor! So journey back with us as we track the hero from his first appearance to the present day in this, the first installment of the Essential Thor!

Reckless Youth

Young Thor tries to lift Mjolnir
As a young boy, Thor had to endure a number of trials in order to prove himself worthy of wielding Mjolnir, the mighty Uru hammer of Odin. Upon saving the lady Sif from the clutches of Hela by offering up his own life, Thor was able to lift the hammer for the first time.

Over time, however, Thor's selfless, noble character began to deteriorate. Thor's arrogance escalated even as his interests became increasingly focused on wallowing in physical excess. After a group of mortals executed Thor's precious stallions, the Thunderer goes on a rampage across the Nine Worlds until his father, Odin, finally intervenes. After an epic battle between father and son, Odin strips Thor of his memories and godly nature, banishing him to Midgard to live as mortals live so that he may learn humility.

For alternate takes on Thor's youth, read "Tales of Asgard" from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #100-102, collected in ESSENTIAL THOR VOL. 1 and THOR: TALES OF ASGARD, as well as THOR: SON OF ASGARD #1-12, collected in THOR: SON OF ASGARD. The true nature of Donald Blake's existence was revealed in THOR ANNUAL #11, with writer Matt Fraction offering an alternate take on the events leading to Thor's exile in THOR: AGES OF THUNDER.

"Whosoever Holds This Hammer..."

Thor's first appearance from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #83
On vacation in Norway, Dr. Donald Blake discovers a gnarled wooden stick lying in a deserted cavern. Accidentally tapping the stick against a boulder, frail Don Blake is transformed into the mighty Thor, the stick becoming his mighty hammer Mjolnir. Now inscribed on the majestic weapon are the words, "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

In Thor's earliest adventures, he faced off against the likes of the Red Army, the Tomorrow Man, Mr. Hyde and the Grey Gargoyle, while slowly falling in love with Donald Blake's nurse, Jane Foster.

For more on Thor's earliest adventures, read ESSENTIAL THOR VOL. 1 or MARVEL MASTERWORKS THOR VOL. 1. Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee also offer a different spin on the events of this period in the currently ongoing THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER.

Between Earth and Asgard

Donald Blake transforms
Once Thor regained his full memories, he found himself constantly torn between his duties to Earth and Asgard. His love for Jane Foster also became a sticking point between him and his father, who disapproved of his son loving a mortal woman. Odin finally relented in his disapproval, agreeing to bless Thor and Jane's relationship if Jane could pass a trial as an immortal. After failing the trial, however, Odin sent Jane back to Earth without any memories of Thor and Asgard.

On several occasions, Thor outright disobeyed his father's commands to return to Asgard due to a conflict with his life on Earth. Angered, Odin once stripped Thor of his powers, stranding him on Earth to teach him a lesson. Over time, Thor learned to balance his responsibilities on both Earth and Asgard without failing either.

Odin briefly transformed Jane Foster into an immortal in THOR #136, collected in ESSENTIAL THOR VOL. 2.

A Warrior True

Thor and family prepare for Surtur
Over time, Thor integrated himself further into Midgard, becoming a founding member of the Avengers and helping protect the Earth from interstellar and mythological forces beyond man's reckoning. During this time, Thor learned many of the lessons in humility, heroism and nobility that Odin hoped he would when the Allfather exiled his son to Midgard. As one of the leading members of the Avengers, Thor also learned many of the lessons in leadership that would help him in later years.

As a warrior and a hero, Thor proved himself time and time again. In one of his most epic battles, Thor led an Asgardian army as well as Earth's super heroes against the evil Surtur. The fiery ruler of Muspelheim launched an all-out assault on Earth with the assistance of Malekith, the Dark Elf, and the Casket of Ancient Winters. With a perpetual winter blanketing the Earth, Surtur almost succeeded in laying claim to the domain. It took the full might of Thor, Loki and Odin to fell the fire giant.

Surtur launched his attack on Midgard in THOR #349-353, collected in THOR VISIONARIES: WALTER SIMONSON VOL. 2.

King Thor & Ragnarok

Thor crowned King of Asgard
After Odin gave his life in battle with Surtur, Thor became King of Asgard. Abruptly thrown into the role, Thor had a hard time finding his feet at first. His newfound power eventually led him to take control of all Midgard, proclaiming it part of his domain. As the centuries progressed, Thor came to see that his power had corrupted him, and through time travel went back to his early days as King to set things right.

Immediately afterwards, Thor and his Asgardians faced their greatest challenge yet as the death of Balder harkened the beginning of Ragnarok. Thor and his closest allies, including the Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, faced off against the collective threats of Loki, Mangog, Surtur and their respective armies. With the end of Asgard and the Nine Worlds at hand, Thor travelled to Yggdrasil, the World Tree, where he communicated with "Those Who Sit Above in Shadow," a host of mysterious beings who feed off the cycle of Ragnarok.

Thor broke this cycle by destroying the loom from which the Fates weave the tapestry of Asgard. In so doing, the Son of Odin freed his fellow Asgardians from the endless cycle of death and rebirth that had trapped them from ages unknown.

Odin died in THOR Vol. 2 #40, with Thor becoming king in THOR Vol. 2 #44. Writer Dan Jurgens chronicled Thor's reign into the far future from THOR Vol. 2 #45-79, when the Mighty Avenger traveled back to the past to change the course of events. The Asgardians faced Ragnarok for the final time in THOR Vol. 2 #80-85, collected in AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED: THOR.

Thor Reborn

Thor reborn
After Thor destroyed the Fates' loom, his hammer, Mjolnir, fell through the Nine Worlds until it landed in Oklahoma. Donald Blake, whose existence was restored by the deaths of the Asgardians and the end of their magic, came to the hammer and, by touching it, regained contact with Thor in the void of non-existence he now called home.

Blake convinced Thor to return to Earth, where he rebuilt Asgard outside of Broxton, OK. In the following weeks, he also found his fellow Asgardians living as mortals without any knowledge of their past and restored them to their former states.

Thor remained King of Asgard until Loki tricked him into killing his grandfather, Bor. For the crime of slaying the first King of Asgard, Thor was banished from his kingdom and stripped of his titles.

Mjolnir landed in Oklahoma in FANTASTIC FOUR #536, collected in CIVIL WAR: THE ROAD TO CIVIL WAR, and Thor returned and rebuilt Asgard in THOR Vol. 3 #1-6, collected in THOR BY J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI VOL. 1. He killed his grandfather, Bor, and was exiled in THOR #600, collected in THOR BY J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI VOL. 2.


To fulfill a promise to Loki, Norman Osborn declared war on Asgard. While the Siege reunited Thor with his estranged fellow Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man, it also resulted in the destruction of Asgard at the hands of the Void. During his rampage, the Void also killed Loki before Thor managed to end the powerful villain's assault by slaying the Void's host, the Sentry.

Norman Osborn's attack on Asgard took place in SIEGE #1-4, collected in the SIEGE hardcover, the events of which were also told from the Asgardian perspective in THOR #607-610, collected in THOR: SIEGE.

Be sure to follow Thor's ongoing adventures, as writer Matt Fraction and artist Pasqual Ferry begin their run in THOR #615 on September 22, sending the Thunderer through the larger cosmos of Yggdrasil.

Ultimate Thor

In 2000, Marvel launched its Ultimate line of comics, contemporary re-interpretations of their most classic characters. Over the last ten years, the Ultimate Universe has grown to include new visions of many of Marvel's greatest heroes and villains.

Ultimate Thor
Before joining the Ultimates, Thor lived in a small community of political activists in Norway. Few believed Thor's claims to be the actual son of Odin, but Nick Fury invited him to join the Ultimates on the basis of his power levels alone.

After Thor attacked a group of police in Italy, however, his brother, Loki, convinced Nick Fury and the rest of the Ultimates that Thor was actually a mentally unstable man named Thorlief who gained his powers as part of Norway's Super Soldier program. The team captured and imprisoned Thor, clearing the way for Loki's attack on Earth. The Trickster's attack, as well as the appearance of Thor's fellow Asgardians, proved Thor's sanity and lineage.

During Magneto's devastating attack on the Ultimate Universe, Thor gave his own life to save that of his love, Valkyrie. Trapped in Valhalla, the mythical land of the fallen, Hela forced Thor to perpetually battle the undead until finally striking a deal with him to let him return to the land of the living. The exact details of this deal, and just what it means for his future, remain unknown.

Loki's attack on Thor and the Ultimates took place in ULTIMATES 2 #1-13, collected in ULTIMATES 2 ULTIMATES COLLECTION. Thor sacrificed himself in ULTIMATUM #3, collected in ULTIMATUM, while writer Jeph Loeb and artist Frank Cho are currently chronicling the story of his return in ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES. Jonathan Hickman and Carlos Pacheco will also explore the character's origins in the October-debuting ULTIMATE COMICS THOR limited series.


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      Of course he is! He's the freakin' Norse thunder god for crying out loud!


      What a great character!My favourite one,by far!


      Thor is the best!


      Walt Simonson's run on Thor, might be the best comic series of my 50 years reading comics.


      i've played games with thor, i think he is kinda cool like in marvel ultimate alliance 2 he is one of my favorite character


      thor vs celestials & thor vs seth,the serpent god are classics.


      thor is i think one of the all time greatest charactors,the stuff by j.michael straczynski is awesome. i'd also recommend thor vs celestials & thor vs seth the serpent god.