Who wants to learn what Thor was up to before he gained Odin’s power and moved Asgard to the sky above New York?

General Information

Title: Essential Thor Vol. 1
Credited To: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Friends
Original Publication Date: 2001 reprint of material first published in
1962-1965, 1987
ISBN: 0-7851-0761-4
Cover Price: $14.95 US, $21.95 Can
Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Premise

Dr. Don Blake obtains the ability to transform himself into the Mighty
Thor.

The Issues

This collects the “Thor” and “Tales of Asgard” segments from “Tales to
Astonish” issues 83-112. I’ll list the stories in each section
separately.

Thor portions:
83: Origin story, and the Stone Men from Saturn
84: Thor is captured by someone called the Executioner. He’s not the
same Executioner as the one that appears later in this volume, or in
the Hulk volumes.
85: The first appearance of Loki.
86: First appearance of Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man.
87: Thor is captured by communists.
88: Loki returns and hypnotizes Jane Foster to do his bidding.
89: Thor has to outwit a mob boss.
90: Thor faces off against the Carbon Copy man to protect Earth from
shape shifting aliens.
91: Loki manipulates a magician named Sandu to face Thor.
92: Loki separates Thor from his hammer, and tries to defeat him.
93: Thor faces the mind-controlling Radioactive Man.
94: Loki reverses Thor’s personality, and they try to take over the
world.
95: A man with a duplication ray makes Thor fight himself.
96: Merlin awakens from a deep sleep, and tries to take over the
world.
97: Loki creates a Lava Man to face Thor.
98: The Cobra first appears.
99-100: A scientist creates a potion inspired by the story of Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde.
101-102: Loki restores Zarrko’s memory.
103: Loki asks the Enchantress and the Executioner to eliminate Jane
Foster.

104: Loki unleashes Skagg the Storm Giant and Surtur the Fire Demon on
Earth.
105-106: The Cobra and Mr. Hyde join forces.
107: Thor faces the Grey Gargoyle.
108: Loki takes Jane Foster hostage.
109: Thor faces off against Magneto.
110-111: Loki posts bail for Cobra and Mr. Hyde, and doubles their
power so that they might eliminate Thor.
112: Thor tells some fans about a fight he had against the Hulk.

Tales of Asgard Portions:
97: The birth of the gods, and the creation of Yggdrasill.
98: Odin battles Ymir, King of the Ice Giants.
99: Odin battles Surtur, the fire demon.
100: Young Thor retrieves stolen property from the Storm Giants.
101: Thor holds off an invasion of Asgard.
102: Balder’s sister Sif is to be sacrificed to Death.
103: The birth of the human race.
104: Heimdall’s selection as Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge.
105: An invaders sneaks past Heimdall.
106: Biography of Balder the Brave.
107: Loki tries to kill Balder.

108: Thor is trapped by the Trolls.
109: Thor is banished from Asgard, and Arkin uses that moment to win
the favour of Knorda, queen of the mountain giants.
110: Odin is defeated in battle by mortals.
111: Thor battles Sigurd, who gains his strength from the ground.
112: Odin adopts Loki.

High Point

Loki. He’s a great villain, who is more concerned with the end of
Thor than with who actually ends him.

Low Point

In the early issues, a number of people see Don Blake disappear in a
flash of light, only to find Thor standing there seconds later, and
yet none of them figure out that Thor has a secret identity. That’s
incredibly unlikely.

The Scores

The hero was fairly original, as is the villain Loki.
However, the other villains in this could just as easily been pulled
from the first few issues of the Fantastic Four. I give it 4 out of
6.

The artwork in a lot of these issues suffers due to poor
reproduction. The inks are faded on many pages, making things hard to
read and follow. Other issues just look like they were rushed to the
press, and have sparse or missing backgrounds. I give it 3 out of 6.

The stories were often repetitive. Thor is so powerful that
most of the battles come down to some villain getting between him and
his hammer, forcing him to worry about the sixty second time limit
before he turns back into Don Blake. Still, anything with Loki
usually came out very well. I give it 4 out of 6.



The characterization was very good. We really understand
Loki, and we see that Thor, while noble, is prone to the anger and
vengeance that Norse myth assigned him. Thor was created so that
Marvel would have a character as powerful as DC’s Superman, but I
don’t think Superman would have done nothing and watched a man die,
even if he had threatened Lois Lane, yet that’s exactly what Thor did
in one of these issues. This is one of the more interesting heroes of
this era. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced varied greatly with the
issues. Some of them, such as the first one, almost made me groan out
loud. Others, such as the one I mentioned above, held my attention
completely. On average, I’d have to give it a 4 out of 6.

The flow is as flawed in Stan Lee’s issues as it is in the
issues written by his brother Larry Lieber. People talk far too much
in battle, but not as much as Spider-Man. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, this is an enjoyable collection, and it features one
of the more distinct heroes of this time in Marvel comics. I’d
certainly like to see a second volume of this essential. I give it 4
out of 6.

In total, Essential Thor Vol. 1 receives 27 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

It’s been a while since we recapped the existing Essential volumes, so
here’s a list, complete with links to the ones that have been
reviewed. (We’ve now reviewed 16 of the 32 volumes.)

Essential Ant-Man Vol. 1
Essential Avengers Vol. 1
Essential Avengers Vol. 2
Essential Avengers Vol. 3
Essential Captain America Vol. 1
Essential Captain America Vol. 2
Essential Conan Vol. 1
Essential Daredevil Vol. 1
Essential Dr. Strange Vol. 1
Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1
Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 2
Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 3
Essential Howard the Duck Vol. 1
Essential Hulk Vol. 1
Essential Hulk Vol. 2
Essential Iron Man Vol. 1
Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 1
Essential Silver Surfer Vol. 1
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 2
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 3
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 4
Essential Spider-Man Vol. 5
Essential Thor Vol. 1
Essential Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1
Essential Wolverine Vol. 1
Essential Wolverine Vol. 2
Essential Wolverine Vol. 3
Essential X-Men Vol. 1
Essential X-Men Vol. 2
Essential X-Men Vol. 3
Essential X-Men Vol. 4