Holy cow, the long wait is nearly over! We are now only a couple of days away from “Thor: Ragnarok” hitting the big screen. With that in mind, this is as good time a tine as any, to tell you about a few underrated comic stories starring the God of Thunder.
Before we get to my list, a quick reminder: just like my previous underrated comics posts, this Thor comic list features a few stories you may have missed when they first came out.
But these comics are by no means necessary to enjoy “Thor: Ragnarok” in theaters. And finally, my Thor list is not in any particular order. These are just good comic stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the movie. And away we go:
Thor #443 (January, 1992)
To be honest, I was not a huge fan of the Tom Defalco/Ron Frenz run on Thor. Not that I have anything against either Defalco and Franz, both are talented creators. But their style felt outdated even in the early 1990’s.
However, there was one exception during their run on the title. In Thor #443, then Thor, Eric Masterson, travels to Mephisto’s realm, with the help of Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer.
Notice I didn’t say Thor was traveling to the underworld, that’s because Masterson has to retrieve Thor’s hammer after Mephisto tricked Eric into giving it to him. This is a really fun issue that actually has something at stake. And Eric’s reactions to this crazy world are rather funny too.
Thor #491 (October, 1995)
In the mid 1990’s, acclaimed writer Warren Ellis had a short, but awesome, run on Thor. Ellis was joined by superstar artist Mike Deodato Jr., fresh off his stint on Wonder Woman. Thanks to these two creators, I jumped back on the Thor book for the rest of the decade.
Thor #491 is the start of the “Worldengine” storyline, and this isse features Thor sick and dying. The big guy is then attacked by a slew animated corpses, but Thor manages to fight them off, and follows one of them back to an underground tunnel. To tell you more would spoil things, but I will tell you this issue has a brief appearance by the hottest version of the Enchantress I’ve ever seen.
Thor (Volume 2) #26 (August, 2000)
Thor #26 has a story written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Erik Larsen and Klaus Jansen, and a cover by the one and only Mike Mignola. Seriously, what else could you possibly need from a $2.25 comic?
In this gem of a comic, Thor returns home to fabled Asgard where the All-Father begins his week long Odin sleep (a hibernating process the King of the Aesir takes once a year to replenish his strength). Thor also learns that his one time love Lady Sif has been appointed Keeper of the Realms. Meanwhile back on Midgard, Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, has learned that the woman he loves, Titania, is dying. He kidnaps Jane Foster to save her life and Jake Olson pays the cost for standing in his way.
Thanks to an awesome creative team, this issue of Thor is jammed packed from cover to cover.Thor #26 has great storytelling, action, drama, and even a little humor. They simply just don’t make them like this anymore.
Thor Annual #16 (1991)
Long time comic book fans can tell you that the late Herb Trimpe drew an awesome incredible Hulk. But did you know that Herb Trimpe also drew a kick-ass Thor?
Thor Annual #16 features part two of “The Korvac Quest,” guest starring the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the story, The Guardians of the Galaxy chase Korvac’s energy signature into the future, but not all the way to their own future of the 31st century. They land in 2591 AD, which happens to be the period where Thor is missing and has been replaced by Dargo Ktor.The plot was written by Tom DeFalco, the script by Len Kaminski, layouts by Alex Trimpe, pencils by Herb Trimpe.
But since this is an Annual, the book comes with additional stories like: “Fly Like a Skyhawk!” With a script by DeFalco, art by Herb Trimpe. “Child’s Play!” Script by DeFalco, art by Herb Trimpe. Beta Ray Bill stars in “World Gone Mad!” Script by Michael Heisler, pencils by Kevin West, inks by Bob Petrecca. “The Origin of the Once and Future Thor!” Script by DeFalco, pencils by Ron Frenz, inks by Al Milgrom. Hard to believe all this goodness cost only $2.00 back in 1991.
Thorion of the New Asgods #1 (1997)
The Amalgam one-shots of the mid nineties were hit or miss. A lot of the amalgamations felt forced, (Spider-Boy anyone?). But combining the God of Thunder with Orion of the New Gods, actually made sense!
Thorion and the New Asgods #1 was written by Keith Giffen, with art by John Romita, Jr. In this issue, Thor, the mighty Norse god of thunder, and the Asgardians are merged with Orion and the New Gods. Can Thorion and his fellow Asgods prevent Ragnarok, the end of days? Not if L’ok Desaad (Loki/Desaad) and the power of his Mother Cube (Mother Box/Cosmic Cube) have anything to say about it.
Thorion of the New Asgods #1 is easily one of my favorite Amalgam comics, and it should be easy to find in most dollar or fifty cent bins.
Journey into Mystery (3rd Series) #647 (2013)
All right, I may be cheating here a bit because Thor doesn’t actually appear in Journey into Mystery #647. But in my defense, this issue takes place on Asgard and stars a lot of the Odin Son’s best friends.
Journey into Mystery #647 was written by Kathryn Immonen, with art by Valerio Schiti. The story goes something like this: Newly minted with an ancient version of the Berzerker spell, Sif returns to an unsuspecting Midgard…and with no patience for relative peace, she starts putting out fires with gasoline..! When the All-Seeing Heimdall pulls big brother rank…will Sif find herself in the ultimate time-out?!
What I love about this issue is that it puts the spotlight on Sif, and on a darker version no less. Also, Volstagg’s home life is one of the funniest things in comics. This book is well worth tracking down.