Comics/Graphic Novels

The Best Thor of All Thors

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Who here is excited for Thor: Love and Thunder? *waves Mjolnir around* To be fair, I don’t know what I am more excited about: the return of Valkyrie, the return of Taika Waititi, or the introduction of Thor/Jane Foster. I mean, it’s not the first time we are seeing an alternate Thor in Marvel. Thor kind of gets around. There are at least 24 different confirmed versions of him in the Marvel (multi-)Universe. And if we have learnt anything from Loki, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man messing with the Multiverse, then I am sure there are at least another 4378 ready to rock and roll onto my comic pages.

That’s the thing about comic book superheroes: when you’re onto a good thing, you want to spread the love around and make sure the good times keep going. Does this get a bit confusing? Oh, most certainly! But when, in the history of Marvel, have the best stories ever been boring? After all, Thor may be a god but more importantly, Thor is an ideal. This gives far more power and opportunity to your storytelling.

Now, I may not be truly worthy to tell you of all the Thors but I carry the burden of sharing with you the Best Thor of All Thors. And yes, things are going to get weird.

The Original Thor and Dr Donald Blake

Image from Journey into Mystery #83 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Image from Journey into Mystery #83 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Let’s start at the very beginning: the original Thor, God of Thunder. Born in the Silver Age of Comics, Thor debuted in Journey into Mystery #83 in August 1962. He sprang forth from the creative minds of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The series was initially meant to be a horror comics anthology, but it changed to monster and science fiction. This tied in with Lee’s vision for Thor; although inspired by the Norse God of Thunder, Lee wanted Thor (and other gods) to be more of an evolution from our civilisation.

For a full detailed flashback at the origins of Thor, check out this great round-up from fellow Rioter Jessica Plummer.

The Top 10 of All Thors

10. The Mighty THRR from Arfguard – The Spectacular Spider-Ham

Image from Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham #5 by Steve Skeates and Mark Armstrong
Image from Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham #5 by Steve Skeates and Mark Armstrong

The Mighty THRR from Arfguard is a member of the Scavengers alongside Captain Americat, Ant Ant, Black Panda, Iron Mouse, Pigeon, Quacksilver, Scarlet Pooch, and Squackeye. And if you feel like you have fallen into the bizarre world of Peter Porker, you are 100% correct. THRR is the animal equivalent of Thor found in Peter Porker: the Spectacular Spider-Ham #5, written by Steve Skeates with art by Mark Armstrong. THRR isn’t a regular character, but the Dog of Thunder is such a good boy, I had to include him on the list.

9. Roger “Red” Norvell

Image of Red from Thor #273 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema
Image of Red from Thor #273 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema

The first alternative to the original Thor was Red Norvell, introduced in Thor #273 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. The short story is Loki gave Thor’s Iron Gauntlets and Belt of Strength to Red Norvell to compete with Thor for Sif’s affections. Unfortunately, it was part of a bigger plan by Odin to create an alternate Thor to sacrifice to the Serpent of Ragnorak and fulfil the prophecy, to avoid losing his own son. It was the first time Odin explicitly stated the importance of having “back-up Thors” to ensure the ideal was forever protecting Asgard. It was nice of Odin to realise this after Red sacrificed himself, but at least Red was sent to Valhalla and kept available as The Spare for subsequent fights. #Odinisajerk

8. Throg

Thanks to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Loki (Season 1), there has been renewed interest in this peculiar character. Originally published in Thor #364 by Walter M. Simonson, Thor was turned into a frog and must prove himself not only worthy to wield Mjolnir but worthy to be an Asgardian again. Put this one down to Loki’s mischief again, however, it is Thor’s natural skills that land him in a war between frogs and rats.

7. Rogue Thor – What If…?

Image from What If…? Vol.1 #66 by Simon Furman and John Royle
Image from What If…? Vol.1 #66 by Simon Furman and John Royle

Rogue is my fave X-Men character but she really was a scary killing machine in the early years. In What If…? Vol.1 #66 by Simon Furman and John Royle, Rogue permanently absorbs Thor — she says by accident but she really did make the active decision to do so “for funsies.” Unfortunately, it’s more power than she can control and she kills most of the Avengers and the Brotherhood. Loki (the true king of “funsies”) attempts to manipulate her into waging a war on Asgard. Rogue, however, sides for what is best for Asgard and doesn’t follow through on Loki’s dastardly plans. All of this takes place while Odin genuinely grieves the loss of his son, Thor, who is able to manifest in Rogue’s subconscious. All of this leads to Odin re-enforcing the idea of Thor being an ideal rather than a person.

6. Cosmic King Thor

Image from What If…?: Thor Vol.1 #1 by Robert Kirkman and Michael Avon Oeming
Image from What If…?: Thor Vol.1 #1 by Robert Kirkman and Michael Avon Oeming

This one is tricky and will leave you thinking about a lot of loose threads. In What If…?: Thor Vol.1 #1 by Robert Kirkman and Michael Avon Oeming, Galactus intends to consume Asgard. While his herald kills Sif, Thor kills the herald in return. Impressed (and vaguely sated by Asgard), Galactus offers Thor to become his new herald and in return, Galactus will spare Asgard from further destruction/consumption. Thor agrees and uses his position to guide Galactus to planets and races he considers worthy of destruction. However, when Odin dies, Thor learns it was all a plot by Loki to weaken Odin and take over Asgard. Thor once again returns the favour, sending Galactus to Asgard to defeat Loki (after releasing the remaining imprisoned Asgardians and sending them to Midgard). After Loki’s defeat, Thor chooses to remain Galactus’ herald, as he recognises the power of Thor in deciding which planets to feed to Galactus. That in itself is a heavy burden to carry and one that requires the strength of only the best Thors.

5. Dani Cage – Dead Man Logan

Jump ahead to a potential future, where we meet Dani Cage; daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. Dani was a recurring character in Old Man Logan solo series by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino. It’s not until later in the sequel series, Dead Man Logan by Ed Brisson and Mike Henderson, that we see Dani shot in the Wastelands. She falls next to Mjolnir, taking it just before she dies and becomes the new Thor. Even before her transition, Dani was always focused on making the best of a bad situation; especially when it means taking care of those who are important to us. By the time she embraces the mantle, Dani has already been working her butt off as Captain America. In this post-apocalyptic world, it is no wonder she needs the strength of TWO heroes, both of who have been worthy of the power of Thor.

4. Beta Ray Bill and “Stormbreaker”

Image from Beta Ray Bill Vol1 #3 by Daniel Warren Johnson
Image from Beta Ray Bill Vol1 #3 by Daniel Warren Johnson

An alien of the Korbinite race, Bill was the first being outside the Norse pantheon worthy to wield Mjolnir. It was all a case of mistaken identity, with everyone assuming at first that Bill was a hostile entity trying to kill Thor. During the initial skirmish, Bill accidentally activates Blake’s cane and receives Thor’s power. Odin proposed a battle to the death to determine who would keep Mjolnir. Despite winning, Bill saves Thor’s life and reconsiders his claim to the hammer. In return, Odin orders a new weapon for Bill: “Stormbreaker,” which also allows Bill to turn into Thor with a strike on the ground. Bill has been such a strong character and definitely one of the best Thors, it would be a shame not to see him in the MCU movies or series.

3. Storm Thor – Thor Corps

Image of Storm Thor from What If...? Vol 1 #12 by Jim Valentino
Image of Storm Thor from What If…? Vol 1 #12 by Jim Valentino

When Loki kidnapped the New Mutants, the X-Men followed him and after successfully whooping his butt, they were offered to go or to stay. In the original timeline, the X-Men returned to Earth but “What if the X-Men had stayed in Asgard?” (Vol 1 #12 by Jim Valentino). Loki was then chosen by the Asgardians as their new leader, with Storm being his champion and the new Goddess of Thunder. However, it didn’t last long: Loki was soon captured by a Thor as a giant toad and thankfully it was revealed to be a really convoluted plot to undo Loki’s mischief. While the worlds resettled, Storm chose to stay upon the throne of Asgard in place of Thor while he returned to Earth. Storm Thor was so brilliant, she featured again during the Secret Wars when God Emperor Doom assembled the Thor Corps (read: his own personal Thor army).

2. Cat Thor – Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

Image of Cat Thor from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Image of Cat Thor from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

This one is a little weird but totes-worthy. Cat Thor sits in the realm of fanfiction. Well, fanfiction within the comics, as revealed in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8 (Aug 2015) and created by Ryan North and Erica Henderson. Cat Thor is the son of Meowdin, the Allpawther, and defeated Laufur of the Frost Giant Schnauzers with his hammer, Mernir. Cat Thor later meets Dog Bruce Banner, who was unable to lift Mewnir and sulked. Okay, peeps! I’m gonna need the full fanfiction story right now!

The Best Thor of All Thors Is…

Jane Foster

Long ago in 1978, Marvel toyed with the idea of Jane Foster being Thor thanks to the wonder of What If…? Comics. I’m totally thrilled she had the opportunity to show her worth so early on but who had the idea to name her “Thordis”?! And why-oh-why did they feel the need to raise Jane to godhood only to marry her off to Odin?!

Thankfully, this version of Jane/Thor was only a “what if,” with the latest version introduced in Thor vol.4 #1 (Oct 2014) by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman. To be clear, this is Thor. Not Lady Thor. Once again, all of the strength and power and awesomeness is held within the ideal of Thor, and carried within Mjolnir. “Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” Of course, we had to wait many years before the comic book creators finally agreed she was worthy of wielding Mjolnir full-time — before twisting the plot with pain and illness because the fanboys couldn’t face Jane being the best Thor of all Thors. And she is.

Cover of Jane Foster & the Mighty Thor #1 by Torunn Grønbekk and Michael Dowling
Cover of Jane Foster & the Mighty Thor #1 by Torunn Grønbekk and Michael Dowling

Jane never questions her worthiness of being Thor because she holds it as a position of trust, duty, and honour. It is not about being able to carry the mantle of Thor. It is about being as much a tool as Mjolnir and allowing the power of Thor to work through you. At every point, Jane understands this, far better than every other version of Thor (although Red and Bill come pretty darn close). We even have the chance to revisit this Best Thor of All Thors in the new comic series Jane Foster & the Mighty Thor by Torunn Grønbekk and Michael Dowling (1st issue released June 2022). I think part of me will always hold Jane in the highest regard for her time as Thor and for that, I am truly looking forward to what Waititi will achieve in Thor: Love and Thunder.

One final comment about our fave Thor variants: sometimes we can have a character who is truly worthy of everything that is…well, Thor. There is a new Marvel What If…? comic which explores the possibility of Miles Morales being Thor. Just that sentence alone sounds absolutely brilliant. Miles is one of the most popular Marvel characters and totally worthy of wielding Mjolnir. Unfortunately, the storytelling itself is not worthy. The comic in question, written by Yehudi Mercado with art by Luigi Zagaria, places Morales in an alternate Brooklyn with racist themes and lazy stereotypes. You can read more about the comic here.

What I don’t understand is how you could get something like this so wrong? Miles would easily be one of the best Thors of all the Thors. He is right there next to Jane with both compassion and determination to do what is right. It’s a harsh let-down to see the comic presented in such a negative interpretation.

Hey Marvel — there is still time to fix this. I know I will read almost anything with Miles and I will adore him as Thor. Just give us a comic that is equally worthy of the title.

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