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The Greatest Thor Stories Ever Told!

Every day in May we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Thor Stories Ever Told!

Enjoy!

10. Thor #355 “The Icy Hearts”

This story by Walt Simonson and guest artist Sal Buscema shows Thor dealing with the seeming death of Odin during a stay with an old man who has an unknown connection to Thor. Simonson’s way of slowing bringing Thor out of his funk over his father’s death works quite well.

9. Thor #154-157 “Thor vs. Mangog”

This classic Jack Kirby/Stan Lee story arc pits Thor and Odin against the Mangog, a villain who blames Odin for the death of the alien race who fed him energy through their hatred. Almost pulled the Odin-Sword out of its scabbard, which would have caused the end of Asgard.

8. Thor Vol. 3 #1-6

This is J. Michael Stracyznski’s first story arc on Thor (collected in a single collection), as Thor goes around to gather the survivors of Asgard who have each taken refuge in human bodies. This arc is particularly notable for issue #3, where Thor faces off against Iron Man over Iron Man’s actions during Civil War (including a certain Thor clone).

7. Thor Vol. 2 #80-85 “Thor Disassembled”

Michael Avon Oeming and Daniel Berman along with artist Andrea DiVito end the Thor series (and retire the characters of Asgard for a few years) by having Ragnarok actually HAPPEN!

6. The Eteranls/Celestials Saga

Begun by Roy Thomas before he left for DC, this epic tale was finished by Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio (all three men worked with Keith Pollard as the artist, while the story began with John Buscema as the artist). It was Thomas’ attempt to bring Jack Kirby’s Eternals characters (as well as the Celestials) firmly into the Marvel Universe.

5. Frog of Thunder

Really, it’s just what it looks like.

Drawn beautifully by Walt Simonson, who also wrote it.

4. Hela’s Curse/Thor vs. the Midgard Serpent

This was the conclusion to Walt Simonson’s run on Thor and it involved an epic battle between Thor and the Midgard Serpent!

3. Skurge’s Last Stand

This storyline involves Thor going to Hel to save some innocent humans. Skurge the Executioner goes with him and Skurge ends up staying behind to hold off a bridge while Thor and the others get away. Skurge’s Last Stand is one of the most memorable single issues of Thor ever.

Walt Simonson wrote and drew it.

2. The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill

This is the beginning of Walt Simonson’s legendary run on Thor and it was also the first appearance of the alien Beta Ray Bill, who was ALSO worthy to lift Thor’s hammer!

1. The Surtur Saga

Almost from the start of his run, Simonson was building to this epic battle that resulted in Thor, Loki and Odin putting aside their difference to take down a common enemy – the evil Surtur!

In the end, Odin was thought to be lost for good. Simonson did some of his most epic storytelling during this story arc.

That’s the list! I’m sure there is a lot of agreement and disagreement with the list out there! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

And please vote for the lists that are still up for grabs here!

48 Comments

This top features the same problem than the one about the Punisher : it’s overwhelmed by one scenarist. Don’t get me wrong : I LOVED Simonson’s Thor and Ennis’s Punisher MAX, which are some of the greatest comics I ever read, but a Top should be more balanced IMHO (featuring works from different scenarists/artists/styles/eras). That’s the problem with the voting method, I guess.

As expected, Simonson dominates the list.

A lot of good reads here. I really enjoyed Fractions “Age of Thunder” stories published in the last couple of years, too, and thought that might show up…

Simonson created the definitive run of Thor and the series has been living in its shadow ever since.

If the list was longer, I would add:
What If Thor battled Conan? (What If? 39)
Thor #342 (The Last Viking)

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 12, 2010 at 5:21 am

Simonson.

The GOD among vikings!

A-men.

Is Dan Jurgens’ run on Thor good ? I’ve read many good reviews about it …

[MGW]Spike, then you’d get a list of the best runs or creative teams on a character, or a showcase of the different interpretations of the character–and that’s fine too, but in a list of specific stories, it only makes sense that the creator(s) who have the best grip on the character get multiple entries.

My favorite is the Oeming/DiVito Ragnarok story. Still haven’t read most of the Simonson run, though.

“Is Dan Jurgens’ run on Thor good ? I’ve read many good reviews about it …”

Yeah it’s good stuff. I’m a little surprised that we didn’t see any of it here frankly. The best stuff was when he was working with John Romita Jr. After the artist change, the book kind of floundered, and then went into this extended alternate realty story that went on way to long and wasn’t very good. This story was also by Jurgens.

Come to think of it, save for the Oeming Ragnarok story, all of Thor vol. 2 was written by Dan Jurgens.

@Strider I’m a big fan of Jurgen’s run on Thor. I think it really marked the beginning of the revival in his fortunes after the ignominy of his title returning to an anthology format and it’s original name (Journey into Mystery) due to sustained low sales. Personally I’m surprised to see the Thor Disassembled arc listed here rather than some of Jurgen’s run from earlier in the second volume, but as I forgot to vote, I can’t really object too much I suppose.

I do like the Disassembled arc, but unlike a lot of the decompressed story-lines around today, it really feels like it needed more issues to tell it’s full tale. Or to put it another way, great plot, but fits in too much over too few pages.

Incidently, the early arcs of Volume 2 feature some fantastic JRjr art!

I’m actually surprised that Roy Thomas’s Celestials story made it to the Top 10. It may be a famous story, but it isn’t a good story, IMO. If we have to have one representative of Thomas’s run, I’d rather have Thor 272-278, with the tale of the Ragnarok and the cameraman who becomes a bearded, red-headed Thor.

I’m also surprised by the almost total lack of Lee/Kirby in the Top 10.

But Simonson deserves it, of course. And I’m glad that my favorite story – the final battle with the Midgard Serpent – ranked so high.

too bad no Herc appearances made the top 10

glad to see Simonson dominating

I’m surprised to see anything that isn’t Simonson or Kirby on this list.

For the first time in one of these lists, I voted for the whole top 5.-Skurge and the Midgard Serpent were my top 2. I guess the majority likes the Simonson Thor as much as I do. I am sorry that Jurgens’ Death of Odin did not chart..

The first twenty-five Jurgens issues– basically, the ones in which JRjr was the “regular” artist– are the best, and there’s some really good stories slipped in there. I have a nostalgic love for this run, as it was pretty much the only comic I was reading at the time.

I also love the DeFalco and Frenz era of Thor, but I know I’m the only one who would dare vote for it on this list.

There should probably be more Lee/Kirby on this list. I cast my vote for the Mangog epic, because I think it was Stan and Jack at the height of their powers on the Thor title.

I thought that the DeFalco era of Thor was fun. But I also think that Thor could have ended with issue 380 and I’d never wonder, “What happens next?”

Theno

I thought the second half of Straczynski arc was much better than the first, as he brought Loki’s plans to fruition.

Scott Rowland

May 12, 2010 at 9:05 am

I should have voted! I’m surprised that the Mangog story is the sole representation of the Lee/Kirby years, as it was late in their collaboration and shows the relationship breaking down. It doesn’t hold nearly the appeal for me that the Hercules arc ( 124-130) did, or the Trial of the Gods (114-119?), or the Colonizers arc (131-134?). Any Lee/Kirby Thor is worth reading again, though.

I think Jurgens did a great job on Thor, and I loved his last mega-story, with the side stories showing how various people were affected by Thor’s actions. Reminiscent of his Metropolis Mailbag stories for Superman.

I agree with the commenter that Roy Thomas’ best work on the title was the Ragnarok storyline, where he tried to acknowledge the myths, and then lay to rest the restrictions placed on them. The Celestials saga would rank higher for me if he had actually been able to finish it himself, and the final issue hadn’t been so crammed full.

I enjoyed the DeFalco run quite a bit, but it’s tough to pick out any of the stories as being noteworthy enough to make a ten best list. It wasn’t groundbreaking, it was just good old-fashioned Marvel-style storytelling.

The Conway/Wein years have some sentimental appeal to me, but again, there wasn’t much groundbreaking there.

I’ve not read Thor since Jurgens left, so can’t comment on the later runs that made the list.

sort of surprised the warren ellis/mike deodato “world engine” story from thor 491-494 missed out. it’s certainly not as good as any of the simonson stuff, but i remember people making a big deal of it at the time, to the extent that it’s the only thor i’ve ever read besides the simonson stuff.

I voted for a lot of this stuff, but also for more Lee/Kirby, particularly the cosmic stuff with Galactus and Ego, travels with the Recorder and Tana Nile, and Hercules Hercules Hercules. The Thor/Conan What If? was also on my list — easily among my top three What Ifs ever.

It doesn’t hold nearly the appeal for me that the Hercules arc ( 124-130) did, or the Trial of the Gods (114-119?), or the Colonizers arc (131-134?). Any Lee/Kirby Thor is worth reading again, though.

Lee/Kirby’s “problem” was that no one could seem to agree on which were their standout arcs.

So pretty much every arc they did got SOME support, but no one arc got enough to make the top ten (outside of Mangog, of course).

While on the other hand, the top five on the list got almost universal support, as everyone seemed ready with those five stories, in whatever order, as Simonson’s most famous stories are widely agreed upon.

In fact, I was surprised that a Simonson story OTHER than those five made it on to the Top 10.

I didn’t vote because I didn’t think I’d read enough Thor. So I surprised to see a couple on here that I’ve actually read (partly). I’ve read what I assume is an early part of the Surtur saga (#347-349, with the Casket Of Ancient Winters), and I’ve read the issue shown with Beta Ray Bill, but I haven’t read the next one to see what happens.
When I was deciding whether to vote or not, those were the two stories that would clearly have gone at the top of my list.

I voted for the stories that made the top six plus:

-Thor 341-343 (fighting Fafnir)

-Thor 387-389 (DeFalco and Frenz’s Celestial story which has Thor’s hammer getting broken)

-What If? no. 25: What if Thor and the Avengers fought Odin and Asgard (I don’t know if this holds up, but I remember it being a pretty cool story when I was a kid)

-Thor 356 (The fill-in where he fights Hercules, from its great cover onward this was just an enjoyable and sweet story)

This was a fun list.

I too voted for Simonson’s Fafnir story. Apart from Thor’s trip to Hel and back climaxing with Skurge at Gjallerbru, the Fafnir story may be my favourite (though Thor vs. the Midgard Serpent is far more glorious in a visual sense). The pyre at the end was one of the most striking moments in comics for me for a long time.

I did also vote for one of Jurgen’s JRJR stories too (the Dark Gods one around issue 12 or so in the reboot).

I never read deFalco’s run in the 1990s, because I HATE HATE HATE his Fantastic Four so much that I considered anything he touched radioactive.

“I am sorry that Jurgens’ Death of Odin did not chart.”

Probably in part because it’s not easy to get and read. The issues don’t seem to circulate all that freely (were sales on the lower end?), and the TPB has been out of print for quite a while. It can be had for ~$40 on Amazon or ebay but I’ve never been willing to pay that much.

On the other hand, I have every story among the 10 above in either a paperback or spiffy hardcover.

AverageJoeEveryman

May 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Yeah I also loved the Jurgens run on Thor (much better than his Superman stuff which was average most of the time). The Nuff Said issue was probably my favorite silent issue that month. I think a lot of people who voted for the Eternals/Celestials arc may not have read it. It drags on and on and on and on and on and so forth. I liked the idea and the art but the story not so much. Glad the Oeming Ragnarok arc made it though. It was a very good story based around a not very well like story. The Ellis World Engine arc probably would have made my list too but I am too lazy to vote.

The frog stuff was fun, but in the top ten? The Last Viking was way better. Nothing by Buscema? Id certainly want to include the issues he did with Len Wein which introduced the timetwisters. And , though I didnt care for it so much, I thought The Ellis-Deodato Worldengine was popular and would be in there.

Skurge’s Last Stand is the best Thor story ever, bar none. In a time when Barry Allen, Bucky and I can’t recall who all else from the list of prviously-untouchable deaths has been brought back, Marvel established (in Thor: God-Sized) that undoing Skurge’s death would destroy the Marvel Universe.

He stood alone at Gjallarbru. That answer is enough.

Thor #356 is one that has stayed with me even after 20+ years. Undoubtedly because I saw myself as the little kid in it. Oddly, it’s in the middle of the Simonson run, but wasn’t done by him.

Good list.

What *do* you call a 6’6″ fighting-mad frog? The answer was inside but we only got the cover.

My guess? Hoppy.

IIRC, the answer was “sir.”

Thor 380 wasn’t the end of Simonson’s run. It was 382. 380 was almost-entirely composed of splash pages drawn by Simonson and inked by Sal Buscema, who took over as artist from Thor 368. 380 is still my favorite Thor issue until today.

I’m just reading Thor visionaries; Walter Simonson right now. One of the best Comics I’ve read so far. Good timing for this list :)

It’s a very good mix of Mythology/Cosmic/Action stuff.

Thor 380 wasn’t the end of Simonson’s run. It was 382. 380 was almost-entirely composed of splash pages drawn by Simonson and inked by Sal Buscema, who took over as artist from Thor 368. 380 is still my favorite Thor issue until today.

Right, that cover was there just to symbolize the entire last storyline (since most of the votes specified the Midgard Serpent aspect, I made that be the featured cover).

As a Thor fan, I feel like one of my most grievious oversights is having never read a Walt Simonson “Thor” comic. I’m starting to feel like my experience as a Thor fan is incomplete until I’ve read them.

I’ve went to my comic shop with the intention of buying the first volume of the “Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson” on a few occasions, but each time I’ve been put off by my store lumping a pretty steep price tag on it. But I’m going to Comic-Con this year, and they often have a wide variety of graphic novels for sale at bargain prices. I think I’ll try and scoop up the entire Walt Simonson run through all 5 (?) of the “Visionaries” graphic novels.

re: John Lees
No clue where you are, but I’e seen the first volume of Visionaries at Hastings for fairly cheap. And Amazon has em all for $20 or under.
Simonson was the reason I actually started following comics, instead of buying them whenever they “looked cool.”
To this day, his is the definitive Thor. And I still wonder what happend to the AK-47s in Asgard.

Great list. Can’t complain, although notable mentions for me would be Thor 398-400, which saw Surtur and Thor go at it again. That was always a personal favourite of mine.

Yeah, I can’t complain about Simonson dominating the list, as his work was so definitive it is only fitting. Also, I voted for Simonson. ;)

I am surprised at the first choice, as I was sure #337 or #362 would have won out.

DetectiveDupin

May 30, 2010 at 6:18 pm

The Thor/Iron Man “fight” was stupid. Iron Man isn’t an idiot and would not try to engage Thor like that. He knows how strong Thor is. Bad writing IMO.

Re: DetectiveDupin

Actually it’s pretty much great writing. Iron Man isn’t an idiot, but he was at that point time being potrayed as arrogant and convinced of his own self-righteousness. It was completely in character for Stark to go in and confront Thor, expecting him to blindly fall in step behind him.

Typical Stark smugness.

It has to be the first Mangog story, for me. The sight of Thor up against an opponent he can barely even slow down, let alone stop, is fantastic. Shame about the cop-out ending but still a great and epic tale.

I would have included the series from 145-153 staring with Abandoned on Earth (powers removed, only strength left) Thor faces in succession Ringmaster, Loki, Wrecker (my favorite was 149 “When Falls a Hero”), the Destroyer (my favorite Thor opponent) and Ulik.

It’s missing “Alone Against The Celstials” arc and “I Whom The Gods Would Destroy”GN. Thor vs Seth was also pretty good.

You really need to give issue numbers, man, WTF?

I mean really. By failing to do so you make this list useless to anyone who doesn’t already have these comics. Did you not think about this at all?

I would rate Thor: Eternals Saga #1. It’s my favorite Thor story by far, and I love the character.

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