The Mighty Thor wasn’t the first comic book I ever read (that was an issue of the Fantastic Four), but Marvel Comics’ Thor was the probably the first comic book character to completely fascinate me. For that reason, I will always have a very soft spot right in the middle of my heart for him.
I remember being a kid of about eight or so making, what I thought at the time was, a pretty good replica of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir… it was really just a heavy rock that was clumsily tied to the end of a stick. I ran around pretending I was Thor all the time until one day I let some other kid use Mjolnir. The other kid was swinging that hammer around, he pretended to throw it at me, and the rock flew off the end of the home-made hammer and hit me in the side of the head. Actually, the rock would fly off all the time, I’d just tie it back on.. but I’m the only one who it ever injured. I think it even knocked me out for a second. I shouldn’t have let that other kid use it, because only the worthy can wield Mjolnir!
In Norse mythology, as recorded and told in the Icelandic Edda, Thor is the Norse god of Thunder. He is the red-headed son of Odin and Jord, and is married to the fertility goddess Sif. In addition to his hammer, Thor also wore a magic belt that made him stronger, and iron gloves that would allow him to handle Mjöllnir. Thor is constantly warring with the frost giants, dark elves, and dwarves. Thor rides through the sky in his chariot, which is pulled by his two goats “Gap-tooth” and “Tooth-grinder”. When lightning flashes, you could bet that Thor had just thrown his hammer. Thor’s death is foretold in the myth of Ragnarök, when he and the world serpent Jörmungandr destroy one another.
In 1962, when Marvel Comics was just starting to get a foothold in pop culture, Stan Lee, Larry Leiber, and Jack Kirby adopted the myth of Thor and made him into a superhero. I’ve heard that those creators at Marvel Comics wanted to make a superhero that was as powerful and noble as Superman. Even though Marvel’s version of Thor was blonde, many of the comic’s supporting characters and adventures did come right out of the original mythology. Here is what Stan Lee had to say about creating Thor:
“I was looking for something different and bigger than anything else. And I figured what could be bigger than a god? Well, people were pretty much into the Roman and the Greek gods by then, and I thought the Norse gods might be good. And I liked the sound of the name Thor and Asgaard and the Twilight of the Gods’ Ragnarok and all of that.
“I wanted him to be the son of Odin, who is the King of the Gods, like Jupiter. And I wanted him to have an evil brother, Loki. And just like the Fantastic Four were always fighting Dr. Doom, and Spider-Man was usually fighting the Green Goblin, I figured Loki would be the big villain. He’s Thor’s half brother. He’s jealous of Thor. He has enchantment powers. So in a way he’s a good foe. Thor has strength, but Loki is like a magician and can do all kind of things. So that seemed good to me.”
I started reading reprints of the original Thor stories in the ’70s. They were pretty cool, although I didn’t like Thor’s alter ego Dr. Donald Blake all that much. I began collecting the Thor comics in the early ’80s and I had pretty much all of the issues written by Walt Simonson, which is considered by some to be the best Thor stories written for comics. Unfortunately, I misplaced all of my back issues somewhere when I was moving around so much in my late teens and early twenties. I did manage to keep track of Thor issue #300. I love that issue and kept it close. Partly because the Celestials appear in the story, but mainly because the Destroyer plays such a big role! Gotta love the DESTROYER!
On May 6th, the movie that is based on the comic book character will come out. I have no idea if it’ll be a good movie or not, but it is going to be a movie I am sure to see. Probably more than once. I’ll be the guy wearing my Thor baseball cap, my Thor tshirt, and I might even bring my own hammer… that damn rock tied to the end of a stick!