Hail and well met! Let us tarry here that I might regale thee with the antics and adventures of Thor, son of the All-Father Odin*.
Wait, no, don’t go—I promise not to write like that the whole time!
If you ask me, the Thor movies have gotten a bum rap for being goofy. And look—they are, but they can not hold a candle to Walter Simonson’s classic run on the character. This is the run that gave us Throg—Frog Thor (not to be confused with Throgg the Troll, who shows up in this first arc) and Beta-Ray Bill, Thor’s most worthy rival-turned-ally. (If either of these developments became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would explode in excitement.)
These issues are, in fact, the first appearance of Beta-Ray Bill, the alien cyborg with the soul of a poet and face of a horse**. After mistaking Thor for a member of the demon horde that has been plaguing his people, Bill finds himself able to wield Mjolnir, and the pair teams up to save Bill’s Korbinite kinsmen. It’s honestly a pretty straight-forward story from the ‘80s, although there are a few longer-burn plot lines peppered throughout these issues.
Simonson’s success on Thor comes as much from his art as his writing. I actually tracked down this run (and then let it gather dust on my shelf, because I am a monster) after reading and loving a brief Indestructible Hulk arc that he wrote and drew. His Mighty Thor is bold and bombastic, with an aesthetic that seems like it would be at home on any number of metal album covers from the same era. The edition I own has “remastered colors”—not having read it in any other form, I’m not sure what that entails, but the color work is vivid and absolutely pops.
This arc of Thor is goofy, old-school-inspired fun. It is the start of one of those classic runs that is inextricably in the DNA of the character now. (If you don’t believe me, The Unworthy Thor, which is going on now, is a team-up between Thor and Bill, complete with appearances from Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, Thor’s flying space goats who pull his chariot through the universe when he absolutely has to get somewhere on time.) I don’t think it’s going to blow anyone away, but if you are in the market for an older comic that has held up well against the ravages of time, this is as solid an option as there is to consider.
*Son of Bor, son of Buri, and Lord of Asgard.
**Is Beta-Ray Bill actually a horse, you ask? I say thee, NEIGH!
- The Mighty Thor by Walter Simonson, Vol. 1 (#337-345)
- Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson, Vol. 1 (#336-348)
- Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus (#337-355, #357-369, #371-382; Balder the Brave #1-4)
Writer/Artist: Walter Simonson | Remastered Coloring: Steve Oliff & Olyoptics | Letterer: John Workman | Covers: Walter Simonson & Steve Oliff | Editor: Mark Gruenwald