22 Jan 2019 12:35 AM +00:00 UTC

10 Best Thor Stories Of All Time

Based on the legendary God of Thunder from Norse mythology, Thor Odinson was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber, making his first appearance in the pages of Journey into Mystery #83 in August 1962. Now, 55 years later, the Mjolnir-swinging Asgardian is poised to star in his third solo superhero blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, which storms its way into theaters November 3.

In preparation for the upcoming film, we here at Epicstream have compiled a list of what we believe are the absolute greatest stories starring the God of Thunder, from his classic Silver Age tales to the modern Jane Foster iteration of the character. With that being said, grab your winged helmet, your cape, and your enchanted hammer, because these are the 10 best Thor stories of all time:

  1. Whom the Gods Would Destroy

    Creative Team: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

    From Odin punishing Thor to Thor/Jane Foster romance to a clash between Thor and Hercules, everything about Whom the Gods Would Destroy is pure Silver Age goodness. The drama begins to unfold when Thor reveals his secret identity to Jane, which doesn’t sit right with the God of Thunder’s Asgardian purist father. As punishment for his Midgard entanglements, Odin drains his son of half his power, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t during Thor’s epic battle with the Olympian Hercules. Naturally, Thor loses the skirmish, leaving him both humbled and humiliated while Hercules basks in his newfound celebrity status. It’s quintessential Stan and Jack, quintessential Silver Age, and a must-read for any Thor fan.

  2. Ages of Thunder

    Creative Team: Matt Fraction, Patrick Zircher, Mike Allred, Doug Braithwaite, Daniel Brereton, Miguel Sepulveda

    Ages of Thunder is actually a collection of four Matt Fraction-penned one-shots: Ages of Thunder, Reign of Blood, Man of War, and Thor God-Size Special. However, while the final issue is a fun love letter to Walt Simonson’s acclaimed Thor run, the real highlight is the first three, which present readers with a younger, more arrogant Thor, whose petulant, spoiled attitude brings about the full wrath of an enraged All-Father. It’s always fun to get a retelling of Norse mythology with Marvel’s versions of the gods, and Fraction’s characterization of the God of Thunder really harkens back to the spirit of the old Scandinavian tales.

  3. Skurge’s Last Stand

    Creative Team: Walt Simonson

    This one-and-done story takes place in 1985’s Thor #362, with Thor and his Asgardian brethren on the run from Hela’s evil forces after traveling to Hel to save the lives of innocent humans. However, upon reaching the Helgate, the group realizes that someone must stay and defend Gjallerbru to allow the others to escape. Enter Skurge the Executioner – the D-list villain who hadn’t really done anything of note in the past, yet went on to make the ultimate sacrifice and become a legend. This was the Skurge’s Hodor moment, as he held the bridge against Hel’s demons much like Game of Thrones’ loveable giant held the door against the wights, and the result was one of the greatest single issues of Thor to ever be published.

  4. The Goddess of Thunder

    Creative Team: Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Jorge Molina

    After being deemed unworthy to wield his trusty magical hammer following the events of Original Sin, the mantle of Thor is passed from the God of Thunder to a mysterious new Goddess of Thunder, who retrieves Mjolnir from the moon to put an end to an invasion by the Frost Giants. Jason Aaron replacing the Odinson with Jane Foster is arguably the biggest shakeup to Thor’s status quo of all time, and while the true identity of Mjolnir’s worthy new woman wielder isn’t revealed in this volume, Aaron manages to create more than enough intrigue with his inventive storytelling to hook readers in for the long-haul. That so many longtime readers were willing to embrace such a drastic change to one of Marvel’s most iconic characters is a true testament to this story’s merit, so even if you were hesitant in the past, you really owe it to yourself to give The Goddess of Thunder another chance.

  5. The God Butcher/Godbomb

    Creative Team: Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Jackson Butch Guice

    While this is technically two volumes, The God Butcher and Godbomb work together to form one truly epic Thor story, tying heavily into the events of Original Sin, The Unworthy Thor, and everything that’s transpired in Jason Aaron’s Jane Foster Thor run. This 11-issue tale introduces the devastating villain Gorr the God Butcher, as well as three versions of Thor from various timelines: The cocky, young Thor, the modern, Avenger-era Thor, and the wise, old All-Father-esque Thor. Gorr is perhaps the greatest Thor villain in recent memory, and for that reason alone, this story a highly worthwhile read. However, it’s the lasting ramifications of The God Butcher and Godbomb – many of which are still playing out today – that make this absolutely essential for anyone who claims to be a fan of the God of Thunder. 

  6. The Midgard Serpent

    Creative Team: Walt Simonson

    Comprised entirely of splash pages, The Midgard Serpent is one of Walt Simonson’s most ambitious and visually memorable single-issue Thor stories, which is quite fitting considering this one came towards the end of his legendary run on the title. As the name implies, this story sees the God of Thunder go toe-to-toe with the deadly Midgard Serpent, and if that wasn’t enough, his bone structure has been weakened by a curse from Hel, making Thor’s unlikely odds of success that much more unlikely. Granted, the Asgardian is eventually able to best the beast, but Simonson’s dynamic storytelling, coupled with the book’s unique composition, which was practically unheard of at the time, keep you on the edge of your seat with the turn of each and every page.

  7. The Mighty Thor Disassembled

    Creative Team: Michael Oeming, Andrea Di Vito

    The people of Asgard managed to cheat death by surviving a perpetual cycle of world-ending prophecies, but in The Mighty Thor Disassembled, the universe seeks to remedy this by eliminating the Asgardians and finally fulfilling Ragnarok (the end of the world in Norse mythology). The story ends in a decidedly climactic fashion, with the God of Thunder allowing himself to be destroyed (in actuality, he went into a state of hibernation) to put an end to the cycle once and for all. To say that the ramifications were huge would be a massive understatement. Believed to be missing in action by his fellow Avengers, Thor would essentially be off the table for several years following the events of Disassembled, making this one of the most truly dramatic Thor stories in the character’s history.

  8. The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill

    Creative Team: Walt Simonson

    Aside from the God of Thunder, himself, there are few characters in the Thor mythos that are more beloved than Beta Ray Bill. That being said, Walt Simonson’s first arc on the title – The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill – holds a very special place in the hearts of fans, as this is where the horse-faced alien makes his triumphant debut, not only besting the Mighty Thor in battle but proving himself worthy enough to wield Mjolnir, making him the first non-Asgardian to lift the magical Uru-forged weapon. Still, even though Bill gets the better of Thor, the two both demonstrate tremendous honor, prompting Odin to create a hammer just for Bill called Stormbreaker, which is fairly powerful in its own right. Bill would remain a strong presence in much of Simonson’s Thor run, but it’s The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill that ultimately propelled him to the upper echelons of fan popularity. 

  9. Thor Vol. 3

    Creative Team: J. Michael Straczynski, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales

    After being out of commission for three years following the events of The Mighty Thor Disassembled, the God of Thunder returned in a big way, gathering the remaining Ragnarok survivors who had taken refuge in human bodies, as well as confronting Iron Man for his less-than-heroic behavior during Civil War. And not only does this mark the return of Thor, but also Asgard, which is rebuilt above the rural Oklahoma town of Broxton. JMS’ introductory Thor arc sparked a massive resurgence in the God of Thunder’s popularity, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Walt Simonson’s tenure on the title, providing new readers with a perfect jumping-on point and longtime fans with a refreshing, yet familiar take on the Asgardian Avenger.

  10. The Surtur Saga

    Creative Team: Walt Simonson

    Walt Simonson’s name has been a recurring theme on this list, and for good reason: Simonson is to Thor what Frank Miller is to Daredevil or what Chris Claremont is to X-Men. That being said, it should come as little surprise that the number one spot goes to yet another Simonson story, and The Surtur Saga is far and away his best work on the title. After spending several years meticulously planting seeds, this incredible story finally blooms with the emergence of the evil Surtur, whose very presence threatens the fate of both Asgard and Midgard. This leads to an iconic (and rare) team-up between Thor, Loki, and Odin, the latter of whom sacrifices himself to defeat the trio’s common enemy. The Surtur Saga isn’t just the best in Walt Simonson Thor, or even the best in Bronze Age Thor – this is the overall best Thor story of all time.

    What do you think? Do you agree with our ranking? Let us know in the comments section!