It has been a while since I read one of the Thor volumes from this series. These were some of Thor’s best adventures as Stan Lee and the other really knew how to write the character. This was back when Thor was easily one of the heavy weights of the Marvel Universe and you could make a strong case for him being the strongest Marvel character to have his own series. The collection also brings some mini comics from when Thor was younger, which are fun to read and add to the overall experience. This is certainly one of the better Masterwork volumes out there.
This volume has a few story arcs within it and a lot of one shot stories as well. The first few involve a mysterious group of aliens from another galaxy. One of them appears on Earth and claims it as her own. The cops humor the alien for a while since they don’t know that the Earth has been trapped with an energy ring and is being taken out of Orbit. Thor proves to be stronger than the aliens had anticipated and they agree to spare the Earth if Thor can defeat Ego The Living Planet. While Thor does not need to agree to the deal, he accepts the challenge and looks forward to the fight.
This was a fun way to start off the collection as the aliens may not have been very powerful physically, but they had some lethal abilities. Thor was the first being to ever overpower their mental attacks and their ability to harness limitless durability and strength availed them not against The Thunderer. Ego was also a powerful antagonist, but Thor bested him in combat and Ego ended up retreating. After his adventures against those foes, Thor helped the High Evolutionary defeat the Man-Beast. The Man-Beast was reasonably powerful, but no matter how far human genetics go, the result will still be mortal.
One of the one shot comics had Odin give Jane Foster some tests to see if she was worthy to be an immortal. Once Odin gave her a glimpse of her abilities and sent the lady to face a monster, Jane Foster was not able to succeed. Jane looked really bad in this issue and while the situation was a little overwhelming, I would have expected her to have dealt with the situation a little more effectively. If she was as strong a character as she is now, I don’t doubt that she would have conquered the beast.
Later on, another comic had Loki take over the Destroyer armor and attack Asgard. It was a king sized special and the fights that ensued were a lot of fun. Seeing Thor go fist to fist against the Destroyer armor was enjoyable and the Destroyer was certainly a powerful opponent. Surprisingly, I think that this was the only comic where Loki got to appear. Considering how much of a big Thor villain he is, I assume that this is quite rare. Finally, we had a one shot comic where Kang accidentally unleashed one of his super robots on the Earth. Thor briefly engages in combat with the man, but then Kang runs off. Thor essentially sent him to Limbo, but we never got to see a proper fight between them.
Aside from the opening arc, the main saga in this collection deals with Ulik The Troll. The Trolls decide to invade Asgard so Ulik kidnaps Sif to lure Thor to Midgard. While Thor is away, the rest of the trolls plan on taking over Asgard. Odin is still there so the kingdom won’t fall so easily and Thor’s wrath has been stirred so Ulik may end up regretting his decision by the time the fight is over. This saga certainly had a lot of action and made for a good read.
The Thor Masterworks are certainly a step up from the rest of the Marvel comics from these days. The main title that keeps up would be Spider Man and it makes for a close battle. One of the main reasons why I have always liked the old Thor comics is due to the dialogue. It’s all very grand and majestic, fitting for Asgardians. The way that the characters all talk is very refined and many feats are included here as well. Thor gets hit with planet leveling punches and karate chops that strike as hard as cosmic tornadoes. It’s great to see these feats just be tossed about and Thor was always able to keep up with his foes.
Thor certainly looks very good and he never backs down from a fight. He’s a very likable main character and you can always count on him being honorable while in combat. You’ll find yourself rooting for him from early on and he never falters. Having an immortal as the main lead is also a nice contrast from the many humans and meta humans. Thor has lived for thousands of years at this point so he has reason to be so confident. If no being has managed to best him yet, why should that change now?
This collection showed Lady Sif’s first appearance in the Marvel Universe. Jane Foster had just been written out of the comic and the writers did a good job of making Lady Sif more likable than Jane in every way. Lady Sif was always ready for a fight and she was very competitive. I do have to question the fact that Thor completely forgot about her since that seems to be impossible, but I suppose that the writers had no idea on how to suddenly add a new Asgardian into the mix. I suppose that the reason for why she had never appeared before could have been worse. While she is certainly not as strong as Thor, Sif takes down many trolls and proves herself as an Asgardian warrior. She instantly became one of the better supporting characters.
Ulik The Troll also debuts here and it’s amazing to see how much stronger he was back in these days. Nowadays, the writers like to treat him like a joke, but he was originally a foe to be feared. His raw power was nearly equal to that of Thor’s own and he nearly bested the warrior the first time that they fought. Ulik is not really my kind of villain, but he was a serious threat and made for a good opponent of Thor’s. You could say that he was similar to Doomsday or Abomination back then when compared to the hero of the story.
Odin is actually reasonable in this comic. Typically, he can come across as rather rude or simply unaware of what is going on, but he is likable here. Odin ends up joining the fight against the trolls and finally says that he approves of Jane and Thor’s relationship. He ends up being a decent guy when it counts, which was nice. I don’t think that he lived up to the hype as he nearly lost to the trolls, but he never actually lost so I can’t say that he was disappointing either.
The Warrior’s Three were decent characters. My favorite member is certainly Volstagg though. Each and every one of his lines are genuinely funny and he really makes the adventures more enjoyable. His two partners are good as they keep up the banter, but the dialogue wouldn’t be possible without Volstagg. He’s easily one of the best Thor characters of all time and he’s a blast and a half to read about. The mini comics often involved them teaming up with Thor. The collection ends with the group about to fight Mogul to avenge Hogun’s clan. The mini comics are typically very short, but we still get many nice action scenes with them. It’s an example of a backup story that does help to make the main one even better.
As always, the art does not disappoint. The classic Marvel style has always been a lot of fun and it is so easy to read. You don’t have to worry about any of the panels being unclear because the staff worked hard on each and every panel. You can feel the level of detail present here as soon as you start reading and it pays off for the fight scenes as well as normal talking moments. This is a style that is lost to us and it’s not all bad as I really like the modern day art as well, but seeing some of this nowadays would still be pretty great.
Overall, This is a great volume of Thor comics. It’s a little over 200 pages so it’s a fairly long read. I believe that it brings 10 Thor issues and one of the annuals. There is a lot of action to be found here and the characters are all well written. I haven’t met a Marvel comic with bad writing from this period and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. There’s a cliffhanger that revolved around Galactus getting ready to fight Ego, but I guess it must have been resolved in a different comic. It’s too bad since that sounded like a good fight. If you are looking for a comic to see the true Thor as he was meant to be seen, I can think of no better way to start than to jump into this series. This is certainly one of the best Thor runs and you will be hooked on the story from start to finish.