Want To Bone Up On Your ‘Thor’? Start With These Four Books

Thor: The Dark World hits theaters tomorrow… well, tonight, technically. And you may be more into the movies than the comics, but you’d like to know a little more about Thor and his buddies. Here’s an overview of some of Thor’s best moments, and where to find them.

It can be intimidating; there are over 600 individual issues in Thor’s main book, and that’s not including any specials, miniseries, side characters, and adventures on superteams like the Avengers. The good news is that you don’t have to read all 600; here are a handful we’ve picked out that you can pick up and read before you hit the theater this weekend.

Walter Simonson took over Thor in 1983, and for three years went on a epic tear that made the book a fan favorite. Simonson, who handled both the writing and the art, put a heavy focus on Thor’s mythological background, and he wasn’t shy about having fun with the character; just for giggles, he turned Thor into a frog for three issues. Simonson’s take on the character was simultaneously bombastic, witty, and heartfelt, and by the time he wrapped up his thirty issue run, he was Thor to many fans.

And to the movies as well; a lot of what you’ll see in Thor: The Dark World comes more or less straight from Simonson’s run. Malekith and Kurse, the main antagonists, both come from this run and the plot is, with revision, more or less similar to some of Simonson’s work.

He’s come back over the years; in fact he contributed sporadic issues to the main book until #382. You can find most of his run, collected or as individual issues, on Comixology, or collected under Thor: Masterworks in pretty much any bookshop that carries comics.

<!–pagetitle:Thor: God Of Thunder–>

The current run of the book, and probably one of the best comics Marvel is putting out right now. Jason Aaron, the writer, is doing a good job of balancing the more ridiculous aspects of Asgard in the Marvel U with a serious plotline that has personal as well as world-threatening stakes. Also, the latest issue had a Light Elf with a gun. You can’t go wrong with an armed Elf. As it’s widely in print, it’s still available digitally and in collections.

<!–pagetitle:Journey Into Mystery #101 – #179–>

Later retitled The Mighty Thor for obvious reasons, this is really where it all started. Stan Lee wrote and Jack Kirby drew the first definitive run of the character. That said, there’s less of a throughline than you might think at first, so it’s pretty easy to dip in and read. Lee, whatever his faults, knew the value of dramatic exposition.

Collections of this run can be annoyingly difficult to find: Marvel’s never been great with keeping its entire library in print, and Thor can get the short end of this stick. Your best resource will probably be Marvel Unlimited, which is essentially Marvel’s reading library, and has most of these books.

<!–pagetitle:Thor: The Mighty Avenger–>

Sadly shortlived with only eight issues, this one makes the list for two reasons. One, Roger Langridge, the writer, is the one who got the closest to the tone of the first movie. And, two, Chris Samnee and Langridge are a killer team that makes this a personal favorite. It’s a lighthearted throwback to the Lee/Kirby days, but more knowing and humorous. You can find all the issues online, or buy the collections from your comics shop, which are still in print.

Any favorites? Let us know in the comments!