A fictitious character by the name of Thor Odinson can be found in American comic books produced by Marvel Comics. The character is based on the same-named Norse mythical hero, the Asgardian god of thunder who, among other superhuman abilities, can fly and control the weather thanks to his enchanted hammer Mjolnir. Thor is a founding member of the superhero team the Avengers and has a wide variety of allies and foes.
The character made its debut during the Silver Age of Comic Books in Journey into Mystery #83 (August 1962). Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Larry Lieber created it. In addition to appearing in every book of the Avengers series, the character has starred in a number of ongoing and short series. The character has appeared in toys, apparel, video games, films, animated television shows, and items from Marvel Comics.
Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Doctor Strange (2016, cameo), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) all feature Chris Hemsworth as the character. The What If…? series on Disney+ features other versions of the character (2021).
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Thor’s Publication History.
The science fiction/fantasy anthology Journey into Mystery #83, with a cover date of August 1962, is where the Marvel Comics superhero Thor made his debut. Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, and editor-plotter Stan Lee wrote it. The mythological Thor has already made an appearance in Venus #12-13 in a different form (February–April 1951). Following the introduction of the Hulk, Lee outlined the origins of Thor in 2002.
In an interview from 1984, Kirby remarked “I did a version of Thor for D.C. in the fifties before I did him for Marvel. I created Thor at Marvel because I was forever enamored of legends, which is why I knew about Balder, Heimdall, and Odin. I tried to update Thor and put him into a superhero costume, but he was still Thor.”
The tale first appeared in Tales of the Unexpected #16 in 1957, and although Kirby would later redesign the character for Marvel Comics, he would retain some of the story’s details. Kirby added in an interview from 1992 “I knew the Thor legends very well, but I wanted to modernize them. I felt that might be a new thing for comics, taking the old legends and modernizing them.”
Following the 13-page feature “The Mighty Thor,” subsequent stories were still plotted by Lee and scripted by Lieber or Robert Bernstein, writing under the pen name “R. Berns.” Various artists penciled the feature, including Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott, Don Heck, and Al Hartley. The series’ long and successful run by writer and co-plotter Lee and penciler and co-plotter Kirby began with Journey into Mystery #101 (February 1964) and lasted through the then-retitled Thor #179 (August 1970).
Thor was introduced as a founding member of the superhero group in The Avengers #1 by Lee and Kirby in September 1963. Since then, the character has appeared in each of the series’ later books.
Journey into Mystery #97 (October 1963) added the five-page featurette “Tales of Asgard,” while issue #104 (May 1964) introduced “The Mighty Thor” as the magazine’s primary cover image. The remaining anthological narrative from each issue was dropped when the feature itself increased to 18 pages in #105; it was then shrunk to 16 pages five issues later.
The exploits of Thor were progressively changed from tales about an odd-looking superhero into a tremendous story, according to comics historian Les Daniels. Several early Thor stories were penciled by artist Chic Stone, who noted that “Kirby could just lead you through all these different worlds. The readers would follow him anywhere.”
With issue #126, Thor (per the indicia, or The Mighty Thor according to most covers) replaced Journey into Mystery (March 1966). From #146–152 (Nov. 1967–May 1968), “Tales of Asgard” was substituted by a five-page featurette featuring the Inhumans. Thereafter, featurettes were discontinued, and the Thor stories were lengthened to Marvel’s then-customary 20 pages. The United States Patent and Trademark Office registered “The Mighty Thor” as a trademark in 1970 after Marvel applied for it in 1967.
Issues #180–181 were penciled by Neal Adams after Kirby quit the book (Sept.-Oct. 1970). The following issue’s regular artist was John Buscema. Up until page #278 (Dec. 1978), Buscema continued to illustrate the book essentially without stopping. Soon after Kirby left, Lee stopped writing the scripts, and during Buscema’s lengthy involvement with the series, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, or Roy Thomas wrote the majority of the stories.
After Buscema left, Thomas continued to write the book, spending a lot of time with the artist Keith Pollard. During this time, Thomas incorporated many aspects of traditional Norse mythology into the book, with certain specific stories being adapted into comics. Thor had a shifting creative staff after Thomas’ employment.
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As of #337 (Nov. 1983), Walt Simonson took over both writing and artwork. His tales gave the character’s legendary roots more prominence. Although he continued to write and occasionally illustrate the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987), Simonson’s tenure as a writer-artist ended with issue #367 (May 1986). Beta Ray Bill was first introduced during Simonson’s tenure, which is regarded as a critical and commercial success.
Sal Buscema, who drew Simonson’s later stories, described Simonson’s works as “extremely energizing. Working on his stories was enjoyable since they were a lot of fun to draw. He had many brilliant ideas, and he led Thor in a completely different direction.” When asked why he was leaving Thor, Simonson responded that he believed the show needed a change in creative direction and that he wanted to temporarily lighten his workload.
Tom DeFalco, who was Marvel’s editor-in-chief at the time, took over as writer after Simonson left. DeFalco continued to work on the book until issue #459 (Feb. 1993), collaborating largely with illustrator Ron Frenz.
After Thor’s enigmatic disappearance in The Mighty Thor #341 and The Mighty Avengers #242, Jim Shooter’s Marvel Superheroes Secret War storyline, which spanned from May 1984 to April 1985, featured the character.
Due to the “Heroes Reborn” crossover narrative arc of the 1990s, Thor was exiled from the regular Marvel timeline and spent a year with other Marvel characters in an alternate reality. With issue #503 (Nov. 1996), the Thor title changed back to Journey into Mystery. It then published four distinct, consecutive features (The Lost Gods; Master of Kung Fu; Black Widow; and “Hannibal King”) before the publication ended with issue #521 (June 1998).
Thor was relaunched with Thor vol. 2, #1 (July 1998) when the character was brought back into the main Marvel Universe. In honor of the first Thor series, the book began using dual numbering with issue #36, and the caption box for that issue was changed to #36 / #538 (June 2001). The title was published up until December 2004’s edition #85 / #587. Daniel Berman and Michael Avon Oeming finished the series after the first 79 issues, which were written by Dan Jurgens.
The first issue of the third volume, written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Olivier Coipel, premiered as Thor #1 (Sept. 2007). The third volume changed to issue #600 with what would have been vol. 3, #13 (Jan. 2009), representing the total number of published issues from all three volumes.
In Thor #604 with artists Billy Tan, Richard Elson, and Dougie Braithwaite, Kieron Gillen succeeded J. Michael Straczynski, and his final plot was concluded in issue #614. Following his announcement in Thor #610 and #611, Matt Fraction took over the series with issue #615.
Marvel debuted a variety of new series portraying the character in the middle of 2010 to coincide with the release of the Thor movie. These included Iron Man/Thor by the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, Thor: First Thunder by Bryan J. L. Glass and Tan Eng Huat, Thor: For Asgard by Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi, and Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee.
Thor returned to its former title of Journey into Mystery in April 2011 with issue #622, bringing writer Gillen and illustrator Braithwaite back together for a collection of tales involving Loki, Thor’s adoptive brother. The same month, writer Fraction and artist Coipel debuted The Mighty Thor, a continuing series. In October 2012, the series ended with issue #22.
Thor joined the Uncanny Avengers as a regular character in October 2012, with issue #1. The following month, as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, the ongoing book Thor: God of Thunder by writer Jason Aaron and illustrator Esad Ribi premiered. According to Comicbook.com, this narrative arc is the eighth-best Thor story.
After the traditional hero is no longer able to wield Mjolnir, a female character (later identified as Jane Foster) assumes the role of Thor in the fourth volume of the Thor comic book, which was released in October 2014. Aaron said “this is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”
Aaron and Dauterman acquired an exclusive contract with Marvel the following October to continue working on a second volume of The Mighty Thor, which also starred Foster.
The Unworthy Thor by Aaron and Coipel was a new ongoing series that Marvel announced in July 2016. The first Thor, who now calls himself Odinson, is portrayed in the series as he searches for his purpose after giving Foster his name and title. Odinson is found in a dark place in the series, according to Aaron, who explained, “He failed for a reason we still don’t quite understand. He dropped the hammer and hasn’t been able to pick it up since. So then we go to a pretty dark place. A darker, more desperate, more driven version.”
Thor volume #6 was published in January 2020 and was authored by Donny Cates. This story follows Thor as he ascends to the throne of Asgard and struggles to carry out his royal responsibilities while battling his destiny to protect the multiverse from an unidentified menace.
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