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CSBG Archive

Drawing Crazy Patterns – Other Characters Lifting Thor’s Hammer

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Here is an archive of all the patterns we’ve spotlighted so far.

Today, based on suggestions from reader butters911, we take a look at characters other than Thor who have lifted Thor’s enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, which is inscribed, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”


NOTE: Odin created the hammer, so obviously he can lift it. I’m not even going to bother with him.

The most famous example occurred in Thor #337 by Walter Simonson when an alien spaceship showed up near Earth that seemed to be an advance scout for a possible alien invasion of Earth. When Thor went to investigate, the ship went into high alert and woke up its inhabitant, Beta Ray Bill. You see, Beta Ray Bill is a sort of scout/champion for an alien race that is near extinction so it has went off on an exploration of space to find a new home. The force that drove them from their home was tangentially related to Asgard, so when Thor showed up, the ship viewed him as a threat. So Thor and Beta Ray Bill have a battle and in the ensuing fight, Thor is separated from his hammer…

Odin decided, like all good parents, that Beta Ray Bill and Thor will fight for the hammer. While close, Beta Ray Bill wins. Odin cuts him a deal where instead Odin makes him a NEW hammer that is just like Mjolnir.

Going into #390 (by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Brett Breeding), Steve Rogers had been stripped of the Captain America identity by the government and Steve Rogers (now going by “The Captain”) had run afoul of Iron Man as Tony Stark was destroying any armor that had a basis in his own. Thor was always a bit closer to Iron Man, so when he meets Steve in this issue, Thor is unsure who is “right” in the argument between teammates. Perhaps the government had a good reason to remove Steve as Captain America?

All of his fears were put aside after they are attacked by the minions of Seth, God of Death, in the issue…

So for awhile, Thor was merged with a human named Eric Masterson, in order to save Eric’s life. Well, in Thor #432 (by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Al Milgrom), Thor finally breaks down and just flat out kills Loki. Heimdall (then acting head of Asgard as Odin was in one of his perennial “Everyone thinks he’s dead” situations) punishes Thor by exiling him…somewhere mysteriously. That leaves Eric separated and yet still alive…and with the walking stick that he had used to disguise Mjolnir…

In the following issue (after a little makeover on his “look” as Thor), Eric reflects on the fact that he’s able to life the hammer…

In DC vs. Marvel #2 (in a scene written by Peter David and drawn by Claudio Castellini and Paul Neary), the various heroes of each universe are pitted against each other. In #2, Thor barely defeats Captain Marvel, but in the process, loses his hammer. Look who picks it up…

In a scene in #3 (by Ron Marz, Dan Jurgens and Joe Rubinstein), she is ready to face Storm of the X-Men but chooses to fight Storm withOUT the extra powers…

(she, of course, then loses to Storm)

Finally, in JLA/Avengers #4 (by Kurt Busiek and George Perez), in the final battle against the big bad and all of his cronies, the combined Avengers and Justice League find themselves stuck in a quagmire. Thor then makes a decision to help find a way to win…

However, after the battle is won, Busiek throws in a little twist…

I find it hard to believe that Superman couldn’t life it normally, but there you have it!


Such a can of worms, this.

Anyway, you forgot 2099: Manifest Destiny, where Miguel O’Hara also lifts the hammer. Not a very good use of Mjolnir, but still cannon AFAIK.

I believe Mr. Hyde used an atomic crane (or something like that) to pick up the hammer in Journey Into Mystery #105. Guess the machine was deemed worthy. ;-)

Hasn’t it been stated that under certain circunstances Mjolnir may be moved by machines?

Which reminds me, Iron Man managed to carry it for a little while in space in an issue of Avengers (in 1974 IIRC) during the civil war of the Zodiac. He thought to himself that the lack of gravity made it possible.

Then, of course, they reentered atmosphere and his armor glove was trapped by Mjolnir’s weight.

If you’re going to count Superman and Wonder Woman, than you shouldn’t forgot such other extra-canonical instances as Conan, Rogue, and Alex Power, and Thor’s son Woden… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mjolnir_%28comics%29#Other_wielders

And Thor’s grandfather, from that tale by Walt Simonson and Sal Buscema!

Correction: great-grandfather, as noted in the Wikipedia article.

Fantastic stuff! Can’t go past Beta Ray Bill for the greatest of the guest grabbers!

Not going to presume anybody “forgot” any wielders, but I was rather surprised this Christmas to find an omnipotent Wonder Man wielding the hammer in an issue of Marvel Comics Presesnts! Can only imagine there are even more hidden gems than that one. Hope to see them in future articles!

@Mike- that doesn’t count- since the Enchantress had transferred Thor’s powers (and some of his life force) to Simon. It’s not Simon being worthy- it’s the hammer reacting to Simon possessing some of Thor’s life force.

Luis wrote:
Iron Man managed to carry it for a little while in space in an issue of Avengers (in 1974 IIRC) during the civil war of the Zodiac. He thought to himself that the lack of gravity made it possible.

Interesting. Note in the panels with Beta Ray Bill, Don Blake says the enchantment turning him from Thor only happened because they were close to Earth. Perhaps it doesn’t work in deep space?

Nothing gets Brevoort in a huff quite like this.

He goes in circles that in order to wield it you have to be worthy as thought of by Odin, which basically means you have to be Thor.

I don’t think everyone should be able to do it but I don’t want to ever see a world where Cap can’t.

What, no Red Hulk scene from Hulk #5? Hee.

I always took that last JLA/Avengers panel as being an attempt to explain away ALL the occasions other folks had lifted Mjolnir (except Beta Ray Bill I guess, seeing as there was an entire story built around that one)

@Matt D:

“I don’t think everyone should be able to do it but I don’t want to ever see a world where Cap can’t.”

I wish they did away with that, personally. Captain Americas as a quasi-sacred figure is a very problematic character. Particularly seeing what a piece his Ultimate counterpart is.

@Mike Blake- in Thor 334, Thor is able to use Mjolnir to supercharge a quinjet to travel through space without turning back into Blake.

Am I really going to have to repeat each time that I do this that I’m listing five examples and just five examples? And thus, nothing is being “forgotten?”

You know, besides the part where I mention every time that I do this that I’m listing five examples?

Not going to presume anybody “forgot” any wielders,

Thank you.

Maybe you should work the number five into the title somewhere, Brian. That might eliminate some confusion, since I doubt everyone reads the intros.

I loved both of those DC/Marvel moments so much. DC vs. Marvel wasn’t even a particularly good series, but I was elated with that WW moment. I mean, if anyone‘s going to be deemed worthy, she’s a damn good choice.

What always bothered me is that Ben Grimm couldn’t lift the hammer in one of the JMS issues of the Fantastic Four just after he had been to Heaven during Mark Waid’s classic run. So Heaven has slacker requirements for being deemed worthy than Odin? That’s pretty hardcore.

Deadpool lifted it in a Priest story. That annoyed some readers. Then there was Red Hulk, didn’t he lift it with the excuse that they were in space, and thus it was “weightless”?

Billy . . . I think that was a copy of Mjolnir that Loki made for Wade. I’d like to forget most of the Priest run. Don’t get me wrong . . . great writer, but the status quo was effed up.

I forget her name . . . the daughter of Captain America and Rogue wielded it while Baldur (son of Thor & Enchantress) couldn’t in the final issue of What If?, where the characters in Secret Wars never left Battleworld.

Does holding onto the strap count? In the “Prince of Power” mini, Amadeus Cho sidestepped the hammer, grabbed onto the strap, and hooked snakes onto it. Then when Thor was dealing with that, Amadeus beat him with little mercy with his adamentine mace. Because Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak were writing this, the sound effects were “BORK BORK BORK!!”* Good times

* I think the “O” was a character with the slash through the circle. Just wanted to cover the bases.

Cap also lifted Thor’s hammer very nonchalantly in Fear Itself #7.

I don’t think Superman could lift the hammer under normal circumstances (for a superhero universe anyway) because, while he has the worthy down to a T he actually has a huge amount of self doubt and restraint (as a rule anyway) this, for me, precludes him from ever QUITE being worthy. He’s not a determined ‘warrior’ or in Masterson’s case ‘fighter’ in the sense the other where.

Red Hulk didn’t technically lift it, he held onto it while it was in Thor’s hand or something like that. It’s a subtle loophole.

I always felt that the scene in the Avenger’s movie where Cap and Thor are fighting side by side would have been a perfect moment to show Cap lift the hammer.

The film had already shown that the Hulk couldn’t lift it, establishing that strength is not the only thing required. At some poitn Cap could have just quickly picked up the hammer and tossed it to Thor, with a brief reaction shot of Thor’s surprised face while Cap rushes back in to the fight completely unaware of what he had just done.

I wanted that to happen so bad, I felt like they had such an obvious set up for it.

Peter Parker can lift it, as he did in Secret Wars.

@Snell….Thank you for pointing out those alternate realities of the other Hammer lifters, including the one from THOR & THE WARRIORS FOUR (The All Ages Mini starring the Power Pack).

nice picks for was going to mention wonder woman did lift the hammer only to give it up to fight storm fairly as for superman not being able to lift it . easy its proably due to mljoir being magic and super man has a weakness to magic

@AC Rempt: I wouldn’t say Heaven has slacker requirements for admission than Mjolnir has for lifting… just different. Thor may be worthy of lifting of Mjolnir but pretty sure that if Thor dies he ain’t going to Heaven. With the Ten Commandments alone, he’s: put other gods before Yahweh; while he hasn’t taken that particular God’s name in vain, he does yell out “Od’s Blood” enough that were he Christian, he’d probably have troubles with this one; no Sabbaths for Thor… he probably doesn’t even take his own day off; “Honor thy father and mothe”r? Lot’s of documentation of Thor breaking that one… almost as much “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. I don’t think he’s carved any idols, committed adultery or stolen or coveted stuff, however. He’s also guilty of many of the deadly sins, starting with Pride and counting through Gluttony, Lust, Wrath…

The aforementioned moment with Alex Power lifting Mjolnir was so cool, especially because there was actually some character development leading up to it.

I always wondered about Red Norvell’s place on this list. If I recall, Odin was the one who allowed him to lift Mjolnir so that he could create a decoy Thor. So while he wielded Mjolnir, Bill is still the first to use it because he was worthy as per the inscription.

@Matty Macomber: Due to an odd twist of how Marvel’s afterlife is currently laid out, Thor would end up in Hel, and since Hela is subletting part of Mephisto’s realm, Hel is now technically in Hell. They actually used the resulting confusion over the names in an arc in New Mutants.

@AC Rempt, Maty Macomber: it seems to me that being worthy of lifting Mjolnir has little relation with being worthy of any Heaven. Mjolnir, after all, is a mighty weapon. You wouldn’t give it to a little child, or to anyone who has self-control issues. Being worthy of heaven is something else entirely.

@Doug: Thor would probably end up in Valhala, don’t’cha think?

@Luis Dantas: True, but I was thinking of when Hela came to collect Odin’s soul upon his “death” against Surtur, so I’m not sure if Thor would go automatically to Valhalla or if there would be some procedural stuff beforehand.

Comment on the Wonder Woman/Superman point: I don’t think that Superman is a “warrior”. It has nothing to do with him being vulnerable to magic – as WW notes, the whole question of who is “worthy” is highly subjective. The hammer is designed to be lifted by a warrior figure. Thus, Cap, BR Bill and Diana herself easily qualify. Superman is known for his refusal to kill, a limitation that none of these others subscribe to.

On the WW/Storm battle: it’s easy to see this was determined by readers’ votes. in a fair fight, WW would easily beat Storm (and I like Storm).

Oh, someone else who has lifted Thor’s hammer – good old Mephisto! In fact, if I recall, he reduced it to slag before reconstituting it (though that may have been an illusion).

This reminds me…I really need to pick up more DeFalco/Frenz stuff from Thor…it’s cheap and all of the stuff from them I have, I enjoy…

Wonder Woman is incorrect, or at least ill-informed.

It is a pet peeve of mine; how do you determine worthiness? By having some sort of arbitration, if possible guided by objective criteria, of course. It is not an insoluble dilemma even if we accept her statement that it is an “awfully subjective” call at face value. People determine worthiness all the time, with tools such as SATs, judges, manager reports, you name it. It is odd that Wonder Woman of all people, someone who is supposed to be familiar both with warrior cultures and magical items, goes all “that can’t be” at Mjolnir. But then, “living contradiction” is Wonder Woman’s nickname. She is the supposed powerhouse who has a hard time beating freaking Cheetah.

By the same token, Superman’s moral code (at least, that of Silver Age Superman) would make him the supreme fit to Mjolnir. I suppose mythological Odin would disagree, but Marvel Odin wouldn’t. If anything, Captain America is a far more questionable choice than Superman.

Having Cap lift the hammer was an awesome moment. It cemented the Cap/Thor friendship at a time when Cap and Iron Man had suffered their worst falling out up to that point. These are all great stories, but Cap and Thor’s handshake has always stuck with me.

Two thoughts…

1) Not sure anyone has noted this, but for the record (IIRC) it was at least strongly implied, eventually, that Eric Masterson was only able to lift Thor’s hammer because he still had Thor’s spirit trapped inside of him at the time. And that, in its absence, he wouldn’t have budged the thing.

2) I’ve always, personally, imagined that the “Thor’s hammer cannot be lifted except by those worthy” must have a practical limit which presumably cannot be greater than Odin’s own power. Arguably it would be rather less than the total of his power, but even if we allow for it being magic, logically the hammer should still be able to be lifted by anyone who can direct more force toward lifting it than Odin can direct toward resisting them. This is short list, admittedly, but I would suspect that Galactus, e.g., or The Beyonder (at least in his original interpretation) ought to be able to pick the thing up, worthiness or no.

In the last line in the article: “I find it hard to believe that Superman couldn’t life it normally, but there you have it!”, is it suppose to be “…couldn’t lift it normally…”?

I always wondered if the writers thought Wonder Woman was a cert to win against Storm so tried the hammer idea. Once the votes were in, they then needed a way to let the X-Man win against a thunder goddess. Hence, the “I dont need this” get out.

Why are only some characters transformed into Thor-like clothing upon lifting the hammer?

@Kevin B:

Why are only some characters transformed into Thor-like clothing upon lifting the hammer?

My No-Prize attempt is to say that the clothing change is part of the enchantment given to Mjolnir by Odin. It is usually dependent on having the stick being striken on a solid surface to change it into its true form; just lifting it is usually not enough to trigger the transformation.

The one exception that comes to mind is Wonder Woman. Maybe she unconsciously keeps too strong a image of faux-Nordic associations to Mjolnir when she touches it, accidentally triggering that part of the enchantment. Or maybe, since this version of her is essentially enchanted clay, her body is unusually receptive to transformation spells.

Granted, one must assume that she was having nasty dominatrix thoughts at that moment. But hey, she is a heroine who saved the world several times. She has earned the right to be a bad, bad girl just for a moment.

Little else annoys me like that WW v Storm battle. The voting idea threw up some idiotic wins but none as unjust as that.

Not even Lobo losing to Wolverine?

Personally, I feel that Wonder Woman wasn’t all that powerful before Byrne. If Storm can take down a Sentinel while Diana has trouble with Cheetah, then sure, Diana’s toast.

Yeah, if you care about comments, Brian, just make it a Top 5 or a Random 5 and number them.

@Luis Dantas: Fighting the Cheetah is not the same thing as fighting Storm. Storm typically does distance energy attacks. Cheetah fights close quarters and is savage with her claws. Wonder Woman would have problems with both but comparing Storm’s ability to take down an electricity powered Sentinel with her lightning bolts to hand-to-hand combat with a werewoman doesn’t make much sense. To be honest, I find Wonder Woman’s difficulties. with Cheetah a bit of a stretch. I’m a little more ok with her losing to Storm, but it really was a bit of fan-service to underplay her gods-given speed, flight, and agility, not to mention her years of experience battling more powerful energy-manipulators.

Agreed, Lobo losing to Wolverine was MUCH more unbelievable than the WW vs. Storm fight. The writer probably agreed since he had the entire fight hidden behind a bar.

I figured that Wonder Woman refusing to use the hammer was meant as a way of placating WW fans. She lost, but she lost after passing up an advantage that was within her rights to use.

And you get the general “She’s worthy, when even Superman isn’t” bragging rights.

I’m curious how Marvel VS DC would have looked if the votes had gone the other way. Not saying WW needs Mjolnir to beat Storm, but I’m curious if she had won the vote how that would have turned out.

That was done mid-90’s (I was so damn excited by it) and I think the X-Men were still cleaning house every month. Run the exact same contest again and I don’t think Storm would stand a chance.

“Maybe you should work the number five into the title somewhere, Brian. That might eliminate some confusion, since I doubt everyone reads the intros.”

Obviously 5 Believers?

I don’t understand. Why are there only five?

Didn’t the Hulk once *break* that crazy hammer? Thor reforged it in a steel mill. There was even a follow-up story years later involving a chip left over at the mill and found by one of the workers.

Off topic, but I think the worst loss of Marvel vs DC was Cap losing to Batman. Of course Bats is great and badass, and if the contest involved detective skills he’d win of course. But Captain America the Avenger generally fights and wins against opponents way above his own class: FF-level foes, space people, evil robots and more, while Batman’s rogues are generally more street-level fighters, and let’s face it, a lot of them are skinny dweebs (Joker, Riddler, Scarecrow) or little guys like Penguin or Ventriloquist. No way Bane would ever break Cap’s back!

I’m just sayin’!

Speaking of Storm…

While she hasn’t wielded Thor’s hammer, she did get one in that New Mutants Annual followup. Art Adams’ Norse Storm was rockin’. :)

@Michael Roux – Because Brian is busy. He posts like three incredibly well-researched articles a day. I don’t think the poor guy has the time to literally find every single instance in all of comics history of each one of these patterns.

I was the perfect age for “Marvel Vs. DC” when it came out. It was pretty much the biggest thing that ever happened in my pre-teen life at the time. I especially remember being just blown away by Claudio Castellini’s art. I always meant to find some of his other stuff but never got around to it.

I don’t understand. Why are there only five?

The feature is all about patterns. Just one example doesn’t really show a pattern, nor does two. I think five is a safe number to say “it is a pattern,” and once I’ve established that it is a pattern, that’s the bit right there. “Here’s a pattern. To demonstrate that it is, indeed, a pattern, I’ll show you five examples of it.” Some times those five examples are the ONLY five examples. Other times, such as this one, there are more.

Anyone else see this week’s Big Bang Theory? Reminded me a bit of this thread.

Anyone else see this week’s Big Bang Theory? Reminded me a bit of this thread.

Right? I feel like I should make a Guide to the rules of lifting Thor’s hammer. :)

Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but Cap has actually lifted the hammer TWICE. The other time was in Asgard when he and Thor were fighting the Enchanters Three, who had taken over. Thor’s hammer was in their throne room and Thor charged them to distract them while Cap maneuvered around behind them, grabbed it, and back-whacked them with it.

Matty- Is Marvel heaven a Judeo Christian heaven? I don’t recall precisely where in the Bible Jack Kirby figured.


You’re doing a very unfair comparison. If you pick Cap’s fights against high superpowed individuals and Batman’s fights against his regular rogues gallery, you’ll always find Cap more impressive. If you swap places and see all the times Batman has defeated the likes of Superman or Darkseid and only count the times when Cap has defeated the likes of Red Skull or Baron Zemo you’d realize how faux your argument is.

And please, Bane would easily break Cap’s back. Heck, he would have done it if not for Cap’s boomerang shield in Marvel vs DC.

I loved that comic, and I still think the stupidest thing in it was Wolverine beating Lobo. Not only it’s fricking impossible, considering Lobo is inmortal and has better regeneration abilities than Wolverine, not to mention the strenght level of Superman and zero ethics, but it’s obvious, like Matty Macomber mentions, that even the writers couldn’t figure out a plausible way for it to happen, since they had to hide the entire fight off-panel.

Heck, I think if they had left one more panel they would have revealed that the Wolverine getting up behind the bar was actually only the torso, being used as a puppet by Lobo.

@David Serchay

That’s the first thing that came to mind while reading this thread.

Bane would have a tough fight against Cap (easier against 616 Cap than Ult Cap). Cap and Bats are generally considered about equal as fighters and heroes. Cap is at peak human because of the SS syrum, Bats due to his decade of extensive training and physical preparation.

@Anonymous616 Spider-man lifted it in Secret Wars? What?

@Wraith it does bring up the question of what truly powerful being could do. He didn’t lift it, but the Molecule Man was able to manipulate the hammer, the Silver Surfer’s board, and Cap’s shield. Commenting on how weird they were constructed.

Which brings me to my point, I never liked Cap being able to lift it. Not because I find “America problematic” like some on here, but because all the way back to the Marvel Handbook besides being worthy you also needed to be super strong. Because being the weapon of a god it was really heavy. So you had to be worthy AND have super strength (or as others have pointed out, the fix in because you had the essence of Thor in you). Which makes sense if it’s a mystical metal that has the mass to destroy things. DeFalco just changed that for no particular reason.

I didn’t have a problem with Batman winning. They even made it so if they fought 100 times it would probably end 50-50. I figured they were the two unbeatable guys, so it was kind of a hard one to write. Though what they did write was lame…got hit in the head with a batarang…fight over. Really, most of the fights were so squeezed in it was disappointingly short and poorly staged. I figure Cap is physically superior in every way. Batman wasn’t on ice so he’s trained as much or more. And Batman would fight dirty where as Cap (particularly then) wouldn’t. So it would even out. The old idea that if they were naked in a locked room Cap would win every time, but add gadgets, prep, and environment and it becomes much more even.

Re: Costume change.

I won’t speak for *every* example, but Captain America’s lack of change makes sense in that he never really ‘accepted’ it.
Steve says “I’ve never felt such power… but this hammer rightfully belongs to Thor.”

Superman’s lack of change is easy, he wasn’t allowed full access to the hammer’s power.

Personally I’d love to see Captain Amerithor. :-) Perhaps a topic for the Line is Drawn? “Draw another hero taking the power and mantle of Thor”

I’d also point out to the Captain America haters that it wasn’t ‘Captain America’ who lifted Mjolnir. It was *Steve Rogers*. One of the points of that entire storyline (and most all the times it’s been Steve-not-Cap) is that it isn’t the uniform that makes Captain America a hero, it’s Steve Rogers that makes Captain America a hero.

When Cap lifts it in the one of the future Avengers movies (because it will inevitably happen), I wonder if they’ll have his appearance change at all.

Mario Di Giacomo

February 11, 2013 at 7:12 am

I’ve seen several references online to an unknown EMT lifting the hammer when Thor was injured and putting it on the stretcher beside him, but I’ve never found the actual story. Anyone know it?

No Deadpool LAME

No one going to mention BRB reciting exactly the right thing to say when one takes hold of a weapon and finds a mysterious energy transforming his body into a more powerful but basically identical version of himself: I HAVE THE POWER. He-Man had debuted on TV only a couple months previously, so it probably wasn’t a played-out joke at the time.

I always figured Mjolnir, like Stormbringer, was intelligent and had a nasty sense of humor, letting various people pick it up just to mess with Thor. “Throw me at Man-Thing, will you? This time, let’s see how you explain Willie Lumpkin.”

Just a note: DC Vs. Marvel and JLA/Avengers are both officially canon. So Supes and Wonder Woman were note “extra-canonical”.

what about that time that Black widow lifted the hammer?

@Brian Cronin,

So enjoyable all the time!

Glad you left out the Thor Corp. Similar to a lot of things, it seemed to be a good idea at the time.

I proudly proclaim that I possess all the issues listed save Beta Rey Bill. Missed it by a month!

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