Thor is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in publications published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on the god Thor of Norse mythology. He has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and has been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in each of the four volumes. The character has also appeared in associated Marvel merchandise including animated television series, clothing, toys, trading cards, video games, and movies.
The film Thor, based on the character and comic, was released in 2011, with Kenneth Branagh as director and Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor. Hemsworth reappears as Thor in The Avengers, and Thor 2 is set for release in 2013.
The Marvel Comics superhero Thor debuted in the science fiction/fantasy anthology title Journey into Mystery #83 (cover-date Aug. 1962), created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby. Lee in 2002 described Thor's genesis early in the Marvel pantheon, following the creation of the Hulk:
"[H]ow do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends... Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs. ...Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor ... to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn't have time. ...and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby..."
Subsequent stories of the 13-page feature "The Mighty Thor" continued to be plotted by Lee, and were variously scripted by Lieber or by Robert Bernstein, working under the pseudonym "R. Berns". Various artists penciled the feature, including Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott, Don Heck, and Al Hartley. With Journey into Mystery #101 (Feb. 1964), the series began a long and definitive run by writer and co-plotter Lee and penciler and co-plotter Kirby that lasted until the by-then-retitled Thor (also called The Mighty Thor) #179 (Aug. 1970).
The five-page featurette "Tales of Asgard" was added in Journey into Mystery #97 (Oct. 1963), followed by "The Mighty Thor" becoming the dominant cover logo with issue #104 (May 1964). The feature itself expanded to 18 pages in #105, which eliminated the remaining anthological story from each issue; it was reduced to 16 pages five issues later.
Journey into Mystery was retitled Thor (per the indicia, or The Mighty Thor per most covers) with issue #126 (March 1966). "Tales of Asgard" was replaced by a five-page featurette starring the Inhumans from #146–152 (Nov. 1967 – May 1968), after which featurettes were dropped and the Thor stories expanded to Marvel's then-standard 20-page length.
After Kirby left the title, Neal Adams penciled issues #180-181 (Sept.-Oct. 1970). John Buscema then became the regular artist the following issue. Buscema continued to draw the book almost without interruption until #278 (Dec. 1978). Lee stopped scripting soon after Kirby left, and during Buscema's long stint on the book, the stories were mostly written by Gerry Conway, Len Wein, or Roy Thomas. Thomas continued to write the book after Buscema's departure, working much of the time with the artist Keith Pollard; during this period Thomas integrated many elements of traditional Norse mythology into the title, with specific stories translated into comics form. Following Thomas's tenure, Thor had a changing creative team.
Walt Simonson took over both writing and art as of #337 (Nov. 1983). Simonson's run as writer-artist lasted until #367 (May 1986), although he continued to write – and occasionally draw – the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987). Simonson's run, which introduced the character Beta Ray Bill, was regarded as a popular and critical success.
After Simonson's departure, Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, Tom DeFalco, became the writer. Working primarily with artist Ron Frenz, DeFalco stayed on the book until #459 (Feb. 1993).
As a consequence of the "Heroes Reborn" crossover story arc of the 1990s, Thor was removed from mainstream Marvel continuity and with other Marvel characters re-imagined in an alternate universe for one year. The Thor title reverted to Journey into Mystery with issue #503 (Nov. 1996), and ran four different, sequential features ("The Lost Gods"; "Master of Kung Fu"; "Black Widow" and "Hannibal King") before ceasing publication with #521 (June 1998).
When the character was returned to the mainstream Marvel Universe, Thor was relaunched with Thor vol. 2, #1 (July 1998). As of issue #36, the title used dual numbering in a tribute to the original Thor series, and the caption box for said issue became #36 / #538 (June 2001). The title ran until issue #85 / #587, dated December 2004. Dan Jurgens wrote the first 79 issues, with Daniel Berman and Michael Avon Oeming completing the series.
The third volume debuted as Thor #1 (Sept. 2007), initially written by J. Michael Straczynski and penciled by Olivier Coipel. Beginning with what would have been vol. 3, #13 (January 2009), the third volume reverted to issue #600, reflecting the total number of published issues from all three volumes. Kieron Gillen took over from Straczynski in Thor #604 with artists Billy Tan, Richard Elson and Dougie Braithwaite, with his final storyline finishing in issue #614. Afterward, Matt Fraction took over Thor in issue #615, after having been announced as starting in Thor #610 and #611.
To coincide with the Thor film, Marvel launched a number of new series starring the character in mid-2010. These included Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, Thor: First Thunder by Bryan J. L. Glass and Tan Eng Huat, Thor: For Asgard by Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi, and Iron Man/Thor by writing duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
In April 2011, Thor once again reverted to its original title of Journey into Mystery with issue #622, reuniting writer Gillen and artist Braithwaite in a series of stories starring Thor's adopted brother, Loki. A new ongoing series, officially titled The Mighty Thor, kicked off the same month with writer Fraction and artist Coipel.
Fictional character biography
Thor's father Odin decided his son needed to be taught humility and consequently placed Thor (without memories of godhood) into the body and memories of an existing, partially disabled human medical student, Donald Blake. After becoming a doctor and on vacation in Norway, Blake witnessed the arrival of an alien scouting party. Blake fled into a cave after they heard him and began to pursue him. After discovering Thor's disguised hammer Mjolnir, and striking it against a rock, he transformed into the thunder god.
Defeating the aliens, Thor shared a double life with his alter ego: treating the ill in a private practice with nurse - and eventual love - Jane Foster and defending humanity from evil. Thor's presence on Earth almost immediately attracted the attention of his adoptive brother and arch-foe Loki; who returned repeatedly to Earth in a bid to destroy Thor. Loki was also responsible for the emergence of three of Thor's principal foes: the Absorbing Man; the Wrecker, and the Destroyer. On one occasion, Loki's tactics were accidentally beneficial - although successful in using an illusion of the Hulk to draw Thor into battle, it resulted in the formation of the superhero team the Avengers, of which Thor was a founding and longstanding member.
Thor's other early foes included the Red Army; Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man; the Radioactive Man; the Lava Man; the Cobra; Mister Hyde; the Enchantress and the Executioner and the Grey Gargoyle.
Falling in love with Jane Foster, Thor disobeyed his father and refused to return to Asgard, an act for which he was punished on several occasions. Thor's natural affinity for Earth was eventually revealed to be due to the fact that he was the son of the Elder Goddess Gaea. Although Thor initially regarded himself as a "superhero" like his teammates in the Avengers, Loki's machinations drew Thor into increasingly epic adventures, such as teaming with father Odin and Asgardian ally Balder against fire demon Surtur and Skagg the Storm Giant, and defeating an increasingly powerful Absorbing Man and proving his innocence in the "Trial of the Gods". This necessitates an extended leave of absence from the Avengers.
Thor also encountered Greek God Hercules, who became a loyal friend. Thor also saved Hercules from fellow Olympian Pluto; stopped the advance of Ego the Living Planet; rescued Jane Foster from the High Evolutionary and defeated his flawed creation, the Man-Beast. Odin finally relented and allowed Thor to love Jane Foster, on the proviso she pass a trial. Foster, however, panicked and Thor intervened. Although Foster failed the test, Odin returned her to Earth where she was given another chance at love, while a heartbroken Thor was introduced to Asgardian warrior Sif. Thor battled the Asgardian troll Ulik for the first time when he attempted to steal Mjolnir; defeated Avengers foe Kang the Conqueror and the alien Super-Skrull and with Odin and his Asgardian allies engaged in a battle to the death with the Enchanters Three.
Despite repeated attempts by Loki to destroy Thor with a series of past and new foes, Thor was victorious, and even avoids being claimed by Asgardian death goddess Hela. The thunder god returned to Asgard to prevent Mangog from drawing the Odinsword and ending the universe; learned the origin of the cosmic entity Galactus (and encountered Ego once again); and stopped the child-like Him (who would eventually become Adam Warlock) from kidnapping Sif.
Thor battled Surtur once again when the fire demon attempted to storm Asgard (with Loki temporarily seizing power courtesy of the Odin Ring); encountered the entity the Stranger and his pawn the Abomination and overpowered an outmatched Doctor Doom. Thor only returned to Earth sporadically, forced to deal with a constant wave of Asgardian (e.g., Mangog; Ulik); godly (e.g. Pluto