Interest in Marvel Comics' Thor is surging. The comics are good again and the new movie from director Kenneth Branagh films next year. But Marvel isn’t the only publisher to adapt the character of Thor from Norse mythology. Here's a round up of the various incarnations of the legendary Thunder God found in comics.
One of the better non-Marvel versions of Thor. All the various pantheons of gods meet for dinner in a way that only a gifted writer like Neil Gaiman can pull it off. It’s got some Thor dialogue that’s funnier than Hell, including a loutish joke about bedroom antics with the punchline, "You think you're Thor? I'm tho thore I won't be able to walk for a week!"
This red-bearded, ‘roided up, muscle-bound barbarian-godling is more bluff and bluster than anything else, appearing in Rob Liefeld’s corner of the Image Universe – (Supreme, Youngblood). Supreme, a Superman wannabe, beats this Thor up and steals his mystic hammer. This guy’s not so tough.
Artist/writer Erik Larsen also did a take on Thor for his corner of the Image Universe, getting him back to his mythological roots, what with his red beard and all. Larsen also made Thor a villain in his long-running Savage Dragon series, giving ol’ Fin-head a run for his money.
Believing the Elementals heralded in a new age of heroes, Thor (who speaks in a pseudo-English accent instead of a pseudo-Shakespearean English dialect – don’t ask) dons a modern-day costume that is “skintight and gaudy” and attempts to join the Elementals. Mystified by many modern-day luxuries, Thor claims to hate TV, but secretly enjoys it. However, he cannot separate fact from fiction, believing Col. Steve Austin (a.k.a. the Six Million Dollar Man) is real. Imagine the field day Loki would have with this twit.
A big fan of Norse mythology, but not really a fan of Marvel’s Thor (per his web-site), writer Christopher Golden did his own take on Thor. After being imprisoned for a century, Thor is freed and learns his ancient enemies are living among humanity, disguised as Colombian drug dealers, right-wing politicians, and corrupt CEOs. Y’know, that explains a lot.
It’s the end of the world and the bad guys have taken over, leaving a small band of heroes to stand up to them. Likely, they have the Man with the Hammer, right? Wrong! Thor, who refused to listen to Lord Odin and return to Valhalla, gets lobotomized and beats Astonishman to death, playing a strong role in this short-lived yet well-done series.
Michael Avon Oeming (who is no stranger to Marvel’s Thor) takes his love for Norse mythology and gives us Hammer of the Gods. A young hero Modi is vested with fantastic strength as the living embodiment of the hammer Mjolnir. However he's forbidden from holding a weapon lest he lose his mortal soul. Angry that the Norse gods have turned their back on the common folks who worship them, Modi takes his fight to the halls of Asgard and aims to bring down Thorr himself.
This epic comic series debuted this year from Image Comics. Writers Shaun LaPacek and Ian Keiser and artist Matrix flip the script on Norse Mythology, casting Loki as the hero in a centuries-old struggle. Now in modern times, Loki seeks redemption from his past misdeeds and opposes Odin and Thor in their bid for world conquest.
At the end of the day, if you're looking for Thor knockoffs, the biggest group is in the pages of Marvel Comics themselves. We could list out a dozen of them, but here are two of our favorites:
Eric Masterson was just a divorced architect who found himself involved with Thor. He was not only able to lift Mjolnir, but was merged with Thor, eventually became his own version of Thor, then finally became Thunderstrike (more like “Blunderstrike”), complete with his own magic hammer. This blue-collar “everyman” version of Thor even graduated to his own monthly series, which every character seemed to get in the crap-tacular 1990s.
When Asgard was in need of a new ruler, Loki hoped to prevent Thor from attending the ceremony by turning him into a frog. However, he may have been in a frog’s body, but he was still Thor and still worthy enough to lift his mystic hammer. Thus, he was transformed into a giant Frog of Thunder. Seem hokey? Under someone else, maybe. But in the capable hands of the great Walter Simonson, this is considered a high mark in his revered run on Thor and was just a fun story.
It was also an idea too good to simply discard, it turns out. See, one of Thor's frog allies, Puddlegulp, was later revealed to be a cursed human named Simon Walterson. Puddlegulp found a sliver of Mjolnir that Thor left behind and was transformed into the new hero Throg in the pages of Pet Avengers.