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|
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!
|Young Thor tries to lift Mjolnir|
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|
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|
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|
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|
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.
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.
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.
After Thor attacked a group of police in Italy, however, his brother, Loki, convinced Nick
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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