X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Here is an archive of all the past top five lists I’ve one over the years.
Today, I spotlight the top five Thor battles.
Thor has had a few notable battles with the Hulk, although they always seem to sort of pull back from just having the two REALLY go at it, presumably so that we don’t have to deal with a general “Who would win?” type of solution. In the second volume of the Ultimates, Ultimate Thor took on the entire team when they thought he was nuts and it was a heck of a battle. When Thor returned after Civil War, he and Iron Man had an epic fight drawn by Olivier Coipel.
I’ve actually changed my mind. I went back and forth over the #5 spot and I think I picked the wrong one. So now JUST missing the top five is…
Thor vs. Iron Man and Captain America
The three-part crossover “Standoff” involved Dan Jurgens’ Thor run where Thor became the Allfather of Asgard and Asgard began floating around Earth. The country of Slokovia started having churches worshiping Thor. The government wiped out the church, bringing Thor to attack to country in retaliation. Iron Man was sent in by the United States government to stop Thor. Captain America went in with the U.S. army to try to act as a peacekeeper between Thor and Iron Man. Iron Man built a “Thorbuster” armor and the two went toe-to-toe for a while. Slokovia is near Latveria and Doctor Doom wormed his way into the conflict, trying to goad the former friends into battling (Doom gave the Slokovian army weapons). Thor and Iron Man DO battle and after Cap manages to calm Thor down, Doom strikes by making it look like the Slokovians are attacking Thor. Thor is enraged and when Cap intervenes, Thor actually DENTS Cap’s shield!
Luckily, Cap eventually manages to get Thor to see reason and the conflict ends with a detente, with just the friendship between the three men possibly strained to the point of breakage. Alan Davis drew the whole story. He’a amazing.
and now the new #5 is…
5. Thor vs. Hercules
This fight started for some silly reason (I think Hercules might have been flirting with Jane Foster or something like that) but when Thor and Hercules actually got into it, Jack Kirby just went NUTS!
Check out this splash page!!
Holy crap! That’s awesome!
At one point, Hercules drops a freaking BUILDING on Thor!
4. Thor vs. Beta Ray Bill
Beta Ray Bill was a member of a race of people called the Korbinites, a people who were driven to near extinction when their galaxy was ravaged by the evil Asgardian creature Surtur. When Bill’s spaceship enters Earth’s orbit, Thor is sent by SHIELD to investigate. Bill’s ship detects Thor as being related to Surtur (they’re both Norse) and attacks.
Bill fights Thor pretty well, and in the melee, Thor loses his hammer and reverts back to Don Blake. Bill picks up Blake’s cane and accidentally taps it, becoming a version of Thor!
Odin then determines Bill and Thor should fight for who gets to be the wielder of Mjolnir. They have a brutal battle that ends with both being knocked unconscious – Bill wins by being the first to regain consciousness (due to his alien DNA he recovers easier in the circumstances they found themselves in – they were in Bill’s neck of the woods).
While he does not make Bill Thor, per se, Odin does create a brand NEW magic hammer just for Bill called Stormbreaker.
Bill has basically been an alien version of Thor from that point on. Walt Simonson (writer/artist on Thor at the time) felt Beta Ray Bill would be just the fresh start the book needed, so he featured Bill in his first storyline on Thor, #337-339. Fans quickly responded favorably to the off-beat new character.
3. Thor vs. Silver Surfer
For years, this was probably THE most famous Marvel comic book battle. Heck, I believe it was included in a trade collection Marvel did in the late 70s (when they did very few collections) called Marvel’s Greatest Superhero Battles.
In this issue by Stan Lee and John Buscema (inked by Sal!), Loki is looking for someone he can use to attack Thor. He considers Hulk, Hercules and the Thing, but ends up on the Silver Surfer. After first attacking the Surfer to test his mettle (nice pun, no?), Loki convinces the Surfer that Thor is an evil lout who is threatening the safety of Asgard – in exchange for the Surfer defeating him, Loki will grant Surfer the ability to leave Earth (where Galactus had stuck Surfer back in Fantastic Four #50) and travel in Asgard.
Surfer agrees, and travels to Asgard, where Thor tries to convince him he’s not a bad guy. But after some machinations by Loki (boy, is Loki good or what?), Surfer attacks Thor – and soon finds that he has more power than normal, as Loki has poured some of his own power into the Surfer.
The battle is fierce, but ultimately, Surfer is convinced Thor is not a bad guy and the battle ends.
Loki then sends Surfer back to his Earthly prison.
2. Thor vs. the Midgard Serpent
In Norse mythology, Thor is destined to fight the Midgard Serpent (also known as Jormungand) and kill it, but die himself soon afterwards.
In the comics, Thor’s battle with Jormungand is basically the climax of Walt Simonson’s epic run on the title, although there are two issues afterward that serve as the ending of the run.
The dramatic battle happens after Jormungand disguises itself as Fin Fang Foom, and finally, we get to Thor #381, which is the last issue of Thor written and drawn by Simonson (he was not even the regular artist on the title at this point, Sal Buscema was, but he came back for one last issue).
The entire issue detailing the fight is done in full page splash pages.
It is epic and it is amazing, and when it is all over, the impossibly strong dragon is dead, and Thor seemingly is, as well (of course, things aren’t always as they seem).
1. Thor, Odin and Loki vs. Surtur
If you feel that this should be discounted since Thor is not solo, feel free to do so and just bump Thor’s first battle with Hercules into the top five and everything else up one spot.
All throughout the early issues of Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, we keep seeing someone (seemingly a blacksmith) forging a sword. Every time the sword is clanged on to continue the forging, we see a big “DOOM!” sound effect, showing that whatever this sword is, it is bad news for Thor. This continues for a number of issues (always for one page per issue) until slowly we learn that it is the gigantic demon Surtur, and we see that he is raising an army of dark elves to attack Asgard.
And again, we learn this slowly but surely over a number of issues, one page per issue.
Finally, in Thor #349, Surtur shows up on Asgard, and so begins an amazingly epic battle that involves Earth AND Asgard, and ends up ultimately with Odin, Thor and Loki being forced to team-up against their common foe, Surtur.
The defeat of Surtur would also result in a major status quo change in the Thor title, and one of the coolest panels of the 1980s….
Simonson’s art was extremely powerful throughout the story, adding the dynamic grand quality that the epic battles required. And it’s impressive as all heck that Surtur’s attack begins in #349, but it doesn’t feel dragged out, due to a whole ton of other little attacks and obstacles in between.
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!
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