The Most Mythic and Magnificent Thor Comics Ever Released

Thor 351 thor comics

Thor existed long, long before the Marvel Comics universe launched in 1961. Even after people stopped believing in Norse deities, they still told stories about the God of Thunder and other heroes of Asgard, tales that have endured for generations.

When Jack Kirby and Stan Lee took on the character in 1962's Journey into Mystery #83, they reshaped him as a superhero, complete with a red cape and a traditional supervillain in Loki. The approach worked, and Thor comics continue to define the Marvel Universe, both as a charter member of the Avengers and a solo hero in his own right.

1. Thor #341-353 (1984)

Thor 353
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Even after all of these years, the king of Thor comics remains artist and writer Walt Simonson. With his sharp-angled designs and blocky, Kirby-inspired figures, Simonson brought kinetic action to Thor, underscoring the cosmic sci-fi within the fantasy characters.

The twelve-part “Surtur Saga” from Thor #341-353 demonstrates everything great about Simonson’s approach. When the fiery demon attacks Asgard, Thor must both swallow his pride and summon his courage, building to a climactic battle that stands alongside the best fights in comic history.

2. Thor #337-340 (1983)

Thor 337-340 (1983)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Where the “Surtur Saga” plays with classical mythology, “The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill” in Thor #337-340 leans hard into science fiction. Forced into a mission by Nick Fury of SHIELD, Thor meets the equine alien Beta Ray Bill. When Thor switches bodies with his human host, the frail human Dr. Donald Blake, Bill picks up Mjolnir and proves himself worthy, gaining the power of Thor for himself.

The three-issue arc — colored by George Roussos and lettered by John Workman — once again shows off Simonson’s ability to do over-the-top action, while furthering the Thor mythos and introducing one of Marvel’s greatest C-level heroes.

3. Thor: The God of Thunder #1-5 (2012)

Thor- The God of Thunder #1
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Forget the obnoxious adaptation in Thor: Love & Thunder. The story of Gorr the God-Butcher is far more moving and somber in Thor: The God of Thunder, written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Esad Ribić, colored by Dean White, and lettered by Joe Sabino.

Driven by a tragic loss of faith, Gorr seeks to kill all of the gods in the universe, forcing Thor to team up with his reckless younger self and bitter older self. Thanks to Ribić’s realistic figure work and White’s watercolor washes, the story has an epic feel, one that cuts straight to the heart of Thor as a character.

4. Thor #380 (1987)

Thor 380
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

In the hands of almost any other creator, Thor #380 would disappoint. The issue consists of one battle, all told in full-page splash panels. However, because it comes from Walter Simonson at the height of his powers, Thor #380 “Mjolnir’s Song” stands as one of the greatest single-issue stories of all time.

As Thor dukes it out with Jormungand the World Serpent, Simonson provides grandiloquent narration to match his amazing artwork — inked by Sal Buscema, colored by Max Scheele, and lettered by John Workman. It may last a single issue, but “Mjiolner’s Song” feels like it spans volumes.

5. Loki #1-4 (2004)

Thor _ Loki - Blood Brothers
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Before the handsome Tom Hiddleston took the role, the God of Mischief Loki often played the part of a scheming supervillain, not the anti-hero that MCU fans know today. For the most part, artist Esad Ribić portrays Loki as a sniveling old man throughout the four-part Loki miniseries. However, writer Robert Rodi does find complexities in the character, adding depth to his relationship with Thor.

In Loki, Rodi and Ribić, working with letterer Cory Petit, find Loki ruling Asgard after defeating Thor at last, just to discover that he needs his brother more than he ever wanted to expect. The characters in Loki might not look like the MCU versions of Thor and Loki, but the series lays the groundwork for those fan favorites.

6. Thor #1-5 (2014)

Thor #1 (2020)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Jane Foster has been part of the Thor story from the beginning, but she did not often transcend the thankless role of “superhero’s girlfriend.” When Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman subject Jane to a series of tragedies, climaxing with her cancer diagnosis, it seems like a cynical way to make a character interesting by killing them.

However, as the story's themes about faith and suffering indicate, the duo has much more in mind, which builds to 2014’s Thor #1, written by Aaron, drawn by Dauterman, colored by Matthew Wilson, and lettered by Joe Sabino. With the son of Odin deemed unworthy, Jane becomes the new Thor, gaining powers in her Goddess of Thunder form while still dying in her human form.

It’s a fantastic take on the original pairing of Thor with Donald Blake while continuing the complex ideas in Aaron’s run.

7. Thor #154 – 157 (1968)

Thor #154
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

As great as the Simonson and Aaron Thor run are, they follow in the footsteps of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, who combined a love of mythology and pop-art super heroics to create something special. The best of the duo’s original take on the God of Thunder occurs in Thor #154 – 157, in a story with the wonderful title “To Wake the Mangog.”

The battle allows Kirby to go back to the sci-fi monsters he drew for Marvel’s precursor Atlas Comics in the 1950s, while Lee’s weird Shakespearean dialogue makes the battle the stuff of legend. Combined with sharp inks from Vince Colletta and Artie Simek’s clear lettering, “To Wake the Manghog” shows everyone why Thor was one of Marvel’s first big hits.

8. Thor #364-366 (1986)

Thor 364
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

The worst runs of Thor comics get so caught up in the muscle-bound battles between gods that they forget just how odd these stories can get. As the best take on Thor, Simonson’s run, of course, remembers to bring the goofiness, especially in the three-part arc “Thor Croaks!”

Written and drawn by Simonson, with colors by Paul Becton and letters by John Workman Jr., the issue involves Thor getting cursed by Loki and transformed into a frog (dubbed “Throg”). Does this indignity prevent Thor from doing his duty? Of course not! With a tiny version of Mjolnir, Thor does battle with his enemy in frog form, setting things to right.

9. The Immortal Thor #1 (2023)

Immortal Thor #1 (2023)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

After his amazing horror take on the Hulk on The Immortal Hulk, it might seem that Al Ewing is just retreading familiar ground for The Immortal Thor with artist Martin Coccolo. By the end of issue #1, colored by Matthew Wilson and lettered by Joe Sabino, all those fears go away.

Ewing explores the mythology of Thor by bringing into the Marvel Universe Toranos and Utgard-Loki, the elder gods on whom the Norse gods are based. Coccolo’s dramatic page layouts capture the scale of Thor’s clash against his amoral forerunners without ever losing the focus on the main characters.

10. Thor #362 (1985)

Thor 362
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Even before director Taika Waititi reduced Skurge to comic relief in Thor: Ragnarok, the Executioner remained one of Thor’s lesser antagonists, often forced to play the dumb muscle to the Enchantress. In Thor #362, colored by Max Scheele and John Workman, Simonson gives Skurge a tragic end, finding dignity in a man who devotes himself to war and violence, even as those very things consume him.

The final pages might be the best of Simonson’s work as a writer, paring with the intentional pacing of his panels for a tragic and moving end for a minor character.

11. Thor #1-6 (2007)

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Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Despite a successful career as a television writer, which includes creating the cult hit Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski has had a checkered record in comics. Too often, Straczynski grounds his fantastic characters in too much reality, as in the ill-conceived Superman story in which the Man of Steel goes for a walk around the world.

Straczynski’s Thor run threatens to do the same, as it involves Asgard, recently destroyed in Ragnarok, manifesting in Broxton, Oklahoma. However, the unusual setting allows Straczynski to devote individual attention to Thor’s supporting cast, reaffirming their place in the Marvel Universe and returning Thor to his place in the canon.

12. Thor: The Mighty Avenger #1-8 (2010)

Thor the Mighty Avenger #4
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Retelling origin stories can sometimes result in boring, familiar comics. That’s not the case for Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which does indeed revisit Thor’s first days in the Marvel Universe, including his first appearance in 1962’s Journey into Mystery #83. What makes The Mighty Avenger so special?

Part of the answer involves writer Roger Langridge, whose playful dialogue feels true to the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby original. But the main answer must point to Chris Samnee, one the best pure illustrators in modern comics. Colored by Matthew Wilson and lettered by Rus Wooton, Samnee’s art gives readers a believable, immature Thor, both heroic and strong, not yet burdened by the weighty adventures to come.

13. Journey Into Mystery #622 (2011)

Journey Into Mystery (2011) #622 resized
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

On the whole, fans disliked the Fear Itself event, in which an evil pretender All-Father gives cursed hammers to various characters across the Marvel Universe. However, one highlight comes from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Doug Braithwaite in Journey Into Mystery #622.

When Loki returns from the dead to aid his brother, he promises that he’s changed his ways. Although Thor knows better than to accept Loki’s promises, his desperation forces him to accept his brother’s help, leading to a satisfying buddy adventure. Gillen would go on to further develop Loki in later works, making him into the God of Stories seen in the recent season of the MCU show Loki.

14. Journey into Mystery #83 (1962)

Journey into Mystery #83
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

At the time when Journey into Mystery #83 hit shelves in 1962, readers considered it a fresh twist on the superhero genre. However, modern readers might get bogged down by all of the superhero conventions in the story, written by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber, penciled by Jack Kirby, inked by Joe Sinnott, colored by Stan Goldberg, and lettered by Artie Simek.

As punishment for his son’s arrogance, Odin casts Thor to Midgard/Earth, where he shares a body with human doctor Donald Blake. The cape, secret identity, and even the lackluster villains — Stone Men from Saturn — feel like standard superhero fare, but they also set the stage for some of the most unique comics in Marvel history.

15. Thor #80-85 (2004)

Thor #82
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Many great creators have complained that modern superhero comics suffer from their lack of an ending, forcing the characters to return to an ongoing status quo. That’s not the case for Thor, who has Ragnarok (and rebirth) baked into the mythological concepts from which he sprung.

Although it gets lumped in with the Avengers: Disassembled arc, which ended the classic Avengers and made way for Brian Michael Bendis’s New Avengerss, the storyline “Ragnorok” stands on its own. Written by Michael Avon Oeming and Daniel Berman, drawn by Andrea Divito, colored by Laura Villari, and lettered by Randy Gentile, Thor #80-85 delivers on the promise made by the title “Ragnarok” and kills Thor and the Asgardians. However, it also clears a space for rebirth, which occurs in J. Michael Straczynski’s strong run.

16. New Avengers #32 (2015)

Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Like the aforementioned “Ragnorok” arc, the “Time Runs Out” story features the end of the entire Marvel Universe, setting the stage for the reboot story Secret Wars. With such mighty stakes, of course, Thor gets involved, and he takes the spotlight in the standout issue of New Avengers #32.

At the edge of the universe, Thor and his fellow Avenger, the Superman homage Hyperion, prepare to face the Beyonders, godlike figures responsible for creating the universe. Instead of quaking with fear, the heroes steel themselves for one last glorious battle. “Will you wait for me in Valhalla?” asks Hyperion as they near their enemies. “Brother,” Thor answers. “This day, I will race you there.”

17. Thor  #283-301 (1979)

Thor 283
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Stuck between the Lee/Kirby and Simonson runs, writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema don’t get enough credit for their solid if not always groundbreaking, work. The height of the Thomas Buscema run began with issue #283, inked by Chic Stone, colored by George Roussos, and lettered by Joe Rosen. The eight-issue arc pits Thor against the Celestials, the godlike creatures responsible for Earth and other planets in the Marvel Universe. Along the way, Thor teams with the Eternals to explore the foundations of the planet.

18. Thor #1 (2020)

Thor #1 (2020)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

2020’s Thor #1, written by Donny Cates and drawn by Nic Klein, gives Thor a new role within the Marvel Universe. With Odin in the death-like state Odinsleep, Thor takes his place as the new All-Father. Moreover, Thor answers the call of Silver Surfer to prepare for a new threat in the form of the World-Devourer Galactus, agreeing to become a new Herald.

As the Herald of Thunder, Thor possesses both the power of Odin and the Power Cosmic, making him the most formidable character in the Marvel Universe. The change doesn’t stick forever, but it makes for an exciting temporary status quo.

19. Journey into Mystery #97-100 (1963)

Journey into Mystery #100
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

After a few bumpy issues, Kirby and Lee settled into a rhythm with Journey into Mystery, mixing superheroes and mythology into something special. Collected under the heading “Tales of Asgard,” the later issues of Journey into Mystery fleshed out Thor’s world. Villains such as the Lava Man or even Mr. Hyde don’t have the same impact as Thor’s best baddies, but the issues — drawn by Kirby and Don Heck, with letters by Artie Simek — are rollicking adventures.

20. Thor: Ages of Thunder (2008)

Thor- Ages of Thunder (2008)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Thor might hit people in the head with a giant hammer, but he rarely strays outside the kid-friendly restrictions of the Marvel Universe. With Thor: Ages of Thunder, writer Matt Fraction and a team of artists bring the Marvel Thor back to his barbarian roots.

Created for mature audiences, Fraction’s Thor: Ages of Thunder traces the Thunder God’s many trials and victories, portraying them in all their gory glory. Ages of Thunder might disturb those who want Thor to remain a virtuous hero. But those who want wall-to-wall action in Thor comics will love Fraction’s take.

21. Thor #126 (1966)

Thor #126
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Like most Marvel characters of the early 60s, Thor didn’t get his own comic at first. Instead, he became the lead character in Journey into Mystery, the series in which he debuted. But after issue #125, Journey into Mystery changed its title to Thor.

To celebrate his new position as the title character, Thor throws down with one of his best rivals, the mighty Hercules. Lee and Kirby continue the adventures they started with the “Tales of Asgard,” inaugurating the son of Odin’s run with a lovable rock-and-sock ‘em fight.

22. Thor #300 (1980)

Thor 300
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Anniversary issues are always a big deal, and Thor #300 is no exception. Written by Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio, with pencils by Keith Pollard and inks by Gene Day, the epic “Twilight of the Gods” begins with a truncated version of Thor’s origin, tracing his mythological beginnings and builds to his current Marvel status quo. But then, the story shifts to Thor’s rage against the gods of other pantheons after they convince Odin to enter the living armor called the Destroyer to fight the Celestials, which costs the All-Father his life.

The titanic story barely fits within the oversized issue, making it feel all the more exciting.

23. The War of the Realms # 1 (2019)

War of the Realms #1 (2019)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

The first Thor-based Marvel crossover, Fear Itself, disappointed most readers, but the second one faired much better. Spinning out of Jason Aaron’s run, The War of the Realms involves the Dark Elf Malekith (a much more intriguing character in the comics than he was in Thor: The Dark World) sparking a civil war among the nine realms, including Midgard/Earth.

Aaron and penciler Russell Dauterman, joined by colorist Matthew Wilson and letterer Joe Sabino, pen a universe-spanning tale, one that takes advantage of Thor’s nature as both a mythic god and a Marvel superhero.

24. Thor #502 (1996)

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Image Credit: Marvel Comics.

Thor has had some pretty outrageous looks over his career, none better than his heavy metal look from the much-despised Avengers storyline “The Crossing.” In “The Crossing,” the Avengers learn that Tony Stark has been a sleeper agent for Kang since the group’s founding, a revelation that leads to major status quo changes for all the characters.

In Thor #502 — written by William Messner-Loebs, drawn by Mike Deodato Jr., colored by Marie Javins, and lettered by Jon Babcock — Thor dons his ridiculous costume to battle Onslaught, the all-powerful baddie who kills the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, leading to yet another status quo change. Not everyone loves Thor #502, but it’s a must-read for anyone who misses the days of 90s extreme comics.