Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "thor"

The Not Gods of Asgard

There was a somewhat interesting part in the movie, Thor: The Dark World in regards to the deity of the Asgardian characters according to Paul Asay at Plugged In


Thor, Odin, Loki et al are, of course, plucked from Norse mythology. They are sometimes referred to as deities, and Loki tells his father that he wanted to rule Earth like a beneficent god. Odin, however, rebukes Loki's claim on the divine.

"We are not gods," he tells Loki. "We're born. We live. We die. Just like humans do."

"Give or take 5,000 years," Loki amends with a smirk.


This is a significant quote and it was also interesting to note that the introduction to the last season of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes introduced Thor as "The prince of thunder."

In many ways, the statement by Odin in the movie seems a lot more consistent with how Marvel has dealt with Asgardians in general. They exist and they're powerful but they can be killed. Never is it suggested that the Asgardians are worthy of worship. Respect, sure, worship no. They're powerful aliens when you come down it.

That stands in contrast to Wonder Woman in the DC Universe where the Greek pantheon exists, speaks to people, and commands the worship of Amazonians, and at points, Wonder Woman even makes veiled criticism of patriarchal religions in some of the more modern comics.

For my part, I'm a lot more comfortable with how Marvel is dealing with introducing mythological characters into their storyline and the movies.
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Published on November 10, 2013 08:09 Tags: asgard, thor

Movie Review: Thor: Dark World

In Thor: The Dark World, Thor at last returns to Earth when Jane Foster's in trouble. Thor finds she's been infected by the Aether, a powerful world destroying force that could allow the Malekith, the ruler of Dark Elves to bring all nine realms into darkness. The war takes a personal toll for Thor, who comes with a plan to defeat Malekith. However, the plan requires he defy his father and obtain Loki's help.

While Marvel films set on Earth have a similar feel to them, everything is different in Asgard. It just has a whole different fantasy feel to it and they really make it work with this great back story.

Marvel really struck the right balance with the tone. There are some serious moments in this story, and the relationships between the characters are real and interesting.

However, the movie manages to have this while not becoming too dark and brooding. Marvel movies tend to take certain things very seriously such as friendship, loyalty, and heroism without taking itself too serious. Thor is an awesome hero who is just fun to watch, particularly in the last battle against Malekith.

The one thing that bothered me is that the movie left many unresolved threads. I hope they're resolved in Thor 3 and not in Avengers 2 as Asgard and Ultron shouldn't really mix.

Overall, this was a good movie but not a great one. It's not Casablanca, Citizen Kane, or even Superman: The Movie. It won't make anyone all time lists for anything. It won't be one critics will think a lot about in 20 years, but it'll survive because it's great entertainment. Like a Charlie Chan movie or an episode of Little House on the Prairie, it knows what you want and gives it to you well.
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Published on February 11, 2014 18:03 Tags: dark-world, thor

Female Thor: It's Another Marvel Comics Gimmick

o, the Internet is all abuzz about the announcement by Marvel that there’s going to be a female Thor.1

Due to the media coverage, there’s quite a bit of confusion and misinformation out there. A few key issues are worth clarifying.

1) Thor is not getting a sex change. The person who is Thor will still be around with his gender intact, but the powers of Thor will be wielded by a woman.

When it comes to the confusion, the media is at fault for reporting this “story,” because it’s a pure PR gimmick as anyone who follows the comic book world knows. The average person has a view that most heroes are defined by one person: Peter Parker is Spider-man, Bruce Wayne is Batman, Steve Rogers is Captain America, and Tony Stark is Iron Man. However at different times, Ben Reilly was Spider-man, Bucky Barnes was Captain America, Dick Grayson was Batman, and Jim Rhodes was Iron Man. Comic companies like to imagine that a costumed identity can be passed on. Usually, the character people associate with the identity end up returning, as will no doubt be the case with Thor.

Thor is an odd case. While we can imagine a female Captain America, Thor is not an androgynous name. Marvel does have some precedent to justify this, going back to a What If? alternate universe story for the 1970s as well as both the Young Avenger movies, and the MC2 Universe featuring teenage girls wielding Thor-like powers.

2) This will have no impact whatsoever on the upcoming Avengers movie. The movies and the comics exist in separate universes, though it’s probably fair to wonder if this will all be resolved by the time the movie comes out.

3) Why is Marvel doing this? Because gimmicks are Marvel's Twenty-first century substitute for writing good stories that people want to read. Through stories like Civil War, One More Day, Avengers v. X-men, Shadowlands, and the entire Superior Spider-man saga, Marvel has made a habit of telling stories that may violate the characters they're writing but will attract controversy and interest and sell books. Thor is vulnerable to this because the title's sales are weak. In June, Thor: God of Thunder #23 ranked #55 with less than 40,000 sales.

They especially like it if they can start a book off with a new Issue 1. Marvel will have collectors rush to grab it in the hopes that it'll someday be worth something and will lead to a bump in sales. That's why they did a new Issue 1 for Daredevil after 36 issues, for the Incredible Hulk after 20 issues, and Captain Marvel after 17.

As if to emphasize this strategy, the day after word of the female Thor came out, it was announced that the #71 ranked Captain America will feature African-American superhero Sam Wilson as the new Captain America.

Marvel especially likes it when they can start a book off with a new Issue 1. Marvel will have collectors rush to grab it in the hopes that it’ll someday be worth something and will lead to a bump in sales. That’s why they did a new Issue 1 for Daredevil after 36 issues, for the Incredible Hulk after 20 issues, and Captain Marvel after 17.

Like Superior Spider-Man, this is a gimmick that will run until Marvel feels sales slipping, then they’ll go back to the original Thor.

The other thing that drives this is the same thing that drives the, "They should make the next Doctor a woman," calls. It's a belief that women really want to see all male heroes supplanted and have women as the Doctor or as Thor. However, Doctor Who showrunner Stephen Moffat said of the decision not to have a female Doctor, "Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women."

Having a woman take over the lead in an existing TV show or a comic represents an attempt to grow market share among women that’s seen as less risky than investing the time and marketing budget to create a brand for a new character, but there’s little evidence women are really interested in female characters that are derivative substitutes for male characters. While a female Thor may be a great gimmick, what is more likely to excite readers and viewers are unique and well-written female characters.

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Published on July 16, 2014 17:12 Tags: comics, marvel-comics, thor

Book Review: Mighty Thor Masterworks, Volume 1

Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor - Volume 1 Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor - Volume 1 by Stan Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects the first eighteen Thor stories which appeared in the anthology series Journey Into Mystery Issue 83-100. Overall, these are impressive stories with great art by Jack Kirby. Kirby brings Thor and all these amazing Asgardian characters to life with some of his best work for Marvel in the 1960s.

Having read the first adventures of a variety of Marvel heroes, it seems to me that these early Thor Adventures are the most DC-like creation Stan Lee came up with. Throughout most of these stories, Thor is much more iconic than he is human, a lot more like Superman than Spider-man.

The romantic relationship stuff might have been the only thing that was Marvelesque because the general template of Don Blake's relationship to Jean Foster was the same as Peter Parker to Betty Brant, Matt Murdoch to Karen Page, and Tony Stark to Pepper Potts.

However, the villains really work well and provide some of the books' strongest moments. Loki (and his dupes) are perfect foils for Thor and they're in a lot of stories. This book also sees the first appearance of Mister Hyde and the Radioactive Man. The writers also wrote, "Tales of Asgard" which gave Marvel adaptations of Norse legends which was helpful since Norse mythology was not nearly as well known as the Greek or Roman

Overall, this book was a lot of fun. It doesn't rise to the level of emotional engagement of the best Marvel books and it's not quite as fun as DC's most entertaining books, but it's still a very enjoyable read with great art and a good concept for a character.



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Published on September 04, 2014 22:13 Tags: comics, marvel-comics, thor

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks, The Mighty Thor, Volume 2

Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor - Volume 2 Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor - Volume 2 by Stan Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Journey Into Mystery #101-110 containing the further adventures of Thor.

The positives of this collection include its solid line of guest villains and heroes. There are a couple of Avengers cameos, plus guest a guest appearance by Doctor Strange. In addition, the rogue's gallery includes appearances by the Enchantress and Executioner, Mr. Hyde and Corba, plus Magneto, and of course Loki remains that very unique comic book archfoe who is in almost every issue.

The Tales of Asgard feature remains interesting and includes looks at Balder the Brave, Heimdall, and more. They're short but fun reads.

The biggest downside of the book is that it overfocuses on Thor's relationship with Jane Foster which was forbidden by Odin. The relationship was similar to the Spider-man-Betty Brant and Daredevil-Karen Page relationships at the same time only Thor is far more petulent about it. His rampage through the city in Journey Into Mystery #101 makes Daredevil's decision to battle Captain America at Madison Square Garden look sane by comparison.

Also, Odin becomes a somewhat annoying character. His decision to deny Jane Foster immortality in the last collection made a lot of sense, but he's far too gullible in this one as well as just way too petty and prone to amazingly dumb decisions. Conversely, this isn't what Odin's like in Tales of Asgard. I can't help but wonder if this was how Kirby and Lee viewed God in general, which would explain why neither were/are religious.

The final insult is that the book ends on a cliffhanger. Really, would it have been that much trouble to include Issue 111?

Still, despite the problems, this book's positives outweigh its negatives. There are some great battles and the book does begin to get better towards the end and Thor storming the gates of Asgard in Issue 110 is an amazing story drawn in typical Jack Kirby style.



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Published on December 03, 2014 17:14 Tags: thor

Book Review: Marvel Masterworks, Mighty Thor, Volume 3

Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor, Vol. 3 Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor, Vol. 3 by Stan Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Thor stories from Journey Into Mystery #111-#120 and Annual #1

The Thor stories begin by finishing a story involving Cobra and Mister Hyde from the previous book. Then in Issue #112 we learn of one of Thor's battles against the Hulk in an awkward way as he happens to be flying by and overhear a group of young people talking and explains a private (undocumented battle he had with the Hulk in Avengers #3. It's really cheesy. Issue 113 has him deciding to give up being Thor but then the return of the Grey Gargoyle changes his mind.

The book then enters a very long interconnected storyline running from Issues 114-120 involving he and Loki engaging in, "The Trial of the Gods" and it's aftermath. It really is a very intricate storyline that has one story running through it but a lot of twists and turns along the way including Loki forced to try and save Thor.

Clearly, Lee and Kirby were enjoying playing around with Norse mythology. This is true in the main Thor titles and also in the Tales of Asgard shorts which Marvelizes a lot of Asgardian legends, most of them center around younger versions of Thor and Loki, playing to the popularity of Loki as a villian (although there is one explaining the "true" version of Little Red Riding Hood.)

Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 features a battle between Thor and Hercules when Thor crosses into Olympus. The story is your standard, "two heroes stumble onto each other and fight story," but it helps that it's drawn by Jack Kirby who provides superb art on every page of the book. The Annual also features a map of Asgard with a map pointing to a shopping center. (Yea! Verily.)

My biggest complaint is that the book ends in awkward places with both the Thor stories and Tales of Asgard at a high tension "to be continued" place. But to be fair, it may have been hard to find a good stopping place on this one. As is, this is a very fun and creative book and I look forward to more.




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Published on October 30, 2015 19:14 Tags: silver-age, stan-lee, thor

Book Review: Essential Thor, Volume 2

Essential Thor, Vol. 2 Essential Thor, Vol. 2 by Stan Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Thor becomes a far better book in this collection which collects Issues 113-125 and Annual #1 of Journey into Mystery, and the title this is renamed Thor for Issues 126-136, and Annual 2.

Issue 113 has him deciding to give up being Thor but then the return of the Grey Gargoyle changes his mind.

The book then enters a very long interconnected storyline running from Issues 114-122 involving he and Loki engaging in, "The Trial of the Gods" and it's aftermath. It really is a very intricate storyline that has one story running through it but a lot of twists and turns along the way including Loki forced to try and save Thor.


Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 features a battle between Thor and Hercules when Thor crosses into Olympus. The story is your standard, "two heroes stumble onto each other and fight story," but it helps that it's drawn by Jack Kirby who provides superb art on every page of the book. The Annual also features a map of Asgard with a map pointing to a shopping center. (Yea! Verily.)

Hercules begins a return in Issue 124 and is tricked into a deal with Lord Vulcan of the Underworld, battles Thor again, and actually defeats Thor when Odin halves a power because of Thor's continuing love for Jane Foster. Then Thor has to rescue Hercules from the Underworld. This all goes through Issue 130.

Issue 131-135 is my favorite part of the book as Lee and Kirby take Thor into space to fight epic space monsters. Reading it, it's the most brilliantly obvious thing that could be done with the character. He's not Spider-man and shouldn't be primarily focused on street level threats. Thor in space is epic and includes the introduction of Ego, the living planet.

Issue 136 shows a potential resolution to the Jane Foster plot. It's far more reasonable and sensible than last time Odin dealt with it as Jane given immortality and has to deal with the consequences of it.

In addition to the main Thor plot, each issue features a Tale of Asgard. Clearly, Lee and Kirby were enjoying playing around with Norse mythology. This is true in the main Thor titles and also in the Tales of Asgard shorts which Marvelizes a lot of Asgardian legends, most of them center around younger versions of Thor and Loki, playing to the popularity of Loki as a villain (although there is one explaining the "true" version of Little Red Riding Hood.) The stories are often serialized giving them a kind of old style Prince Valiant feel to them. In addition to these serialized stories, Annual #2 is essentially a big tale from Asgard battle which indicates how popular these were.

Overall, this book is very good as Lee and Kirby turn Thor into a truly epic and memorable character.





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Published on January 05, 2017 18:36 Tags: silver-age, thor

Book Review: Essential Thor, Vol. 3

Essential Thor, Vol. 3 Essential Thor, Vol. 3 by Stan Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects 30 issues of Thor from Issue 137-166. It's a massive volume given that these are Silver Age issues with back up "Tales of Asgard" including the first few issues and full 20 page stories in the last few issues.

Thor takes a few steps forward and a few steps back. In the first half of the book, the war against the Trolls is okay, but then Thor is depowered by Odin so he's only got his strength for---reasons. The stated reason eventually is Thor's lack of humility but he really hadn't shown a lack of humility. Unlike Odin's earlier reactions to Thor's desire for Jane Foster, Odin's actions in this book are entirely arbitrary and capricious. While that might reflect general view of God or any gods, in the context of Thor, it really betrays the character.

The depowered Thor meets up with the Crime Circus, a perfectly okay foe for the early days of Daredevil and Spider-man, but not really a worthy foe for Thor in the late Silver age.

In addition, the Tales of Asgard began to wear thinner. There was less to say and it was with good reason, Thor stopped carrying these back up stories.

Then the book got very good in its seconds half as Thor had to deal with the potential coming of Ragnorak. It was an epic multi-issue story bringing together so many together and so much action, it was just tremendous.

Then the book featured Thor, Galactus, and Ego the Living Planet in conflict. Here, the superb nature of Jack Kirby's art work shines through as we're given some epic threads and moments.

Finally, we get a chapter in the Adam Warlock saga, though at this time, the character was simply known as "Him."

This is also very good stuff. The other big positive of the book is that with Jane Foster out of the picture, Sif is Thor's love interest and she's a more interesting character and also can contribute to the action. She makes even the lesser stories better.

Overall, this isn't quite as good as Volume 2, but when the book is good, it makes up for the weaker stories in the first part of the volume.



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Published on June 21, 2017 15:58 Tags: thor

Book Review: Essential Thor, Volume 5

Essential Thor, Vol. 5 Essential Thor, Vol. 5 by Gerry Conway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects 25 months of Thor written by George Conway with art chores mostly by John Buscema. This itself is a bit interesting because of many of Marvel's 1970's Titles were constantly changing up creative teams, but this has a firm sense of continuity.

The stories mostly occur in Asgard, other mystical lands, and outer space. Even when he's on Earth, he's not really too much into traditional superhero fare. The closest he comes is the Absorbing Man who has some strong mystical powers at this point.

Also, unlike during most of the Stan Lee era, Thor is not alone. He's accompanied by an entourage including the Warriors Three, and at times Balder, and also Lady Sif, and later in the book he's joined by Odin once Odin gets over the issue that led him to (again) exile Thor over some disagreement.

If your like big epic mythic cosmic space opera, this collection is for you. It's goofy and out there, but a pretty fun run of Thor stories for the most part.



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Published on March 07, 2021 23:40 Tags: bronze-age, thor

Book Review: Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 1

Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 1 Thor by Walter Simonson Vol. 1 by Walt Simonson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Walt Simonson's early run on Thor manages to do a couple of seemingly contradictory things. On one hand, the book shakes up the title character's status quo with the introduction of Beta Ray Bill and changes in the enchantment of Thor's Hammer and secret identity. At the same time, there's obvious love and affection for what Lee and Kirby did in the 1960s. The book manages to feature some truly epic and magical cosmic battles with great concepts drawing and occasional full-page spreads that are very much evocative of what Kirby did on the book.

Overall, there's a great energy and excitement about what's coming back. Overall, a smashing start to Simonson's run.



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Published on June 08, 2021 22:38 Tags: thor, walt-simonson

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
...more
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