Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dig In: Featuring Thor!

Dig In will be a semi-regular feature I write, introducing characters or creators to folks. I hope it will help folks to get started with new characters they haven’t tried before or expose them to storylines they haven’t read before!

This week featuring: Thor!

You want to read classic tales of Thor? 

You should try:

 Essential Thor vol. 1-3.
If you want to dig deep into the past of Thor as a Marvel character then this is the place to start. The first four volumes of Essential: Thor cover the entirety of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s run on the character. For those who haven’t read them before, Marvel Essentials are large, newspaper print, black and white reprints of classic comics. You lose the color but you gain more issues for less money. If you are willing to skip out on the beginning issues when Lee/Kirby were getting their traction on their new creation my suggestion is to go straight to volume 3 and if you can find it, volume 4. Volume 3 includes the story Thor vs Mangog as well as the first appearance of erstwhile love interest the Lady Sif. Volume 4 concludes Kirby’s run on a character he liked very much and has some cool storylines such as when Thor faces off against the world eating Galactus!

Thor: Tales of Asgard
More Kirby and Lee goodness! Originally printed as back up stories in Journey into Mystery (where Thor started before getting a solo title) these stories take place before Thor becomes tied to Dr. Donald Blake. This is where the creators put their own spins on actual Norse myths, making them more Marvel friendly. Characters such as the Warriors Three, Sif, Balder, and Odion all get their due here. If you have an interest in folklore or mythology, as Jack Kirby did, you will likely enjoy this collection of stories. 

The Eternals Saga vol. 1 & 2 (or Thor vol. 1 issues 283-301 and annual 7)
When Jack Kirby came back to Marvel after his stint at DC he chose to work mostly alone. In his last years at Marvel he came up with The Eternals. Likely spawned from reading Erich von Daniken’s “Chariot of the Gods,” The Eternals were humans that had been experimented on at the dawn of time by a host of alien gods known as The Celestials. The Celestials also created a race of evil creatures known as The Deviants. These creations were not part of the Marvel universe proper, until this storyline by Roy Thomas, Mark Gruenwald, and Ralph Macchio. Art was provided by John Buscema and Keith Pollard. In it Thor must contend with the return of the omnipotent Celestials to judge humanity, the interference of the Eternals and Deviants, and lies and secrets from within Asgard itself. As the collected editions’ tagline says, “Can even a Thunder God prevail?!”

You like your Thor less super hero-esque and more Viking like? 

You should find:

Thor: Vikings
Written by the Master of MAX, the Deacon of Darkness of himself Garth Ennis, this is a strange pairing if there ever was one. Ennis brings his signature weirdness to the character of Thor with this story featuring Thor teaming up with Dr. Strange to defeat time traveling, indestructible, zombie Vikings (that is the most metal sentence I have ever typed). King Jaeckelsson, the leader of the zombie Vikings, attacks New York and breaks both of Thor’s wrists in half before declaring himself king of the city. As the bodies pile higher and higher Strange and Thor must come up with a desperate plan to stop him before the entire world is beneath to boot heel of the dread king. 

  The story has been collected once and can also be found in loose copies (issues 1-5) pretty easily. 

You want a good modern interpretation of the character? 

Go for:

Thor: The Mighty Avenger
A much beloved and much missed all ages series from 2010. Written by Roger Landridge with awesome covers and interiors by Chris Samnee, this book features a young and brash Thor who still must learn the lessons of humility that come with age. Thor battles dragons, robots, Mr. Hyde and falls in love with Jane Foster all while trying to be more humble as his father wants him to be. These are pretty simple tales but they have a heartwarming innocence that will keep you coming back for more. Plus I could stare at Chris Samnee drawings all day and never get tired of it.
If you want to get acquainted with Thor or just enjoy fun comics then I suggest you start here. 

What to buy: Thor The Mighty Avenger volumes 1 & 2 (Both come with extra issues from Thor’s early Journey into Mystery Appearances)
                         Thor The Mighty Avenger issues 1-8 and Captain America /Thor FCBD #1

You want to read the best Thor comics ever published? 

You should look for: 

Walt Simonson Thor comics
Walt Simonson’s run on The Mighty Thor (issues 337-382) is considered not only the seminal run on the character but also to be one of the best long runs in comic history. Simonson wrote and drew the character for about 9 years before all was said and done and introduced many new ideas and characters to the Thor mythos. Thanks to this run we got to meet characters like Beta-Ray Bill and to read an epic worthy of the Norse themselves! Featuring the return of the deadly fire-demon Surtur, the evil machinations of Loki, dark elves and the Cask of Ancient Winter, and much, much more, this is the legend building epic you have been looking for.
What to buy
 Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson volumes 1-5 (trade paperbacks)
  Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus (be careful not to hurt your back when you lift it) 
 Single issues The Mighty Thor 337-382

What’s Marvel doing with Thor currently?
Currently Thor is starring in several books for Marvel but his stand alone title is called Thor: God of Thunder. Written by Jason Aaron with art Esad Ribic it has been one of the standouts from the Marvel NOW initiative. The storyline features Thors from three different eras: A young and brash Thor who has not yet earned his mighty hammer and likes to hangout with Vikings, the modern day Avenger Thor, and Old King Thor last god of Asgard. All three incarnations must deal with a character known only as the God Butcher. There have only been three issues so far but it’s already one of my favorite Thor comics ever so I suggest you give it a shot!

Thanks for reading, now go buy some good comics!


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