The Mighty Thor, Vol. 1 by Walter Simonson
Published by Marvel
Released August 27, 2013
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My local public library has a wonderful collection of comic books and graphic novels, which I am forever thankful for. Although I subscribe to Marvel Unlimited (which I consider a must-have for Marvel fans), sometimes I still prefer to read single story arcs in a physical format. Plus, when I check out these collections from my library, they’re usually story arcs that I hadn’t heard of before.
Although I’ve read plenty of Avengers comics and am familiar with Thor through those, I haven’t really spent much time on Thor’s solo stories. When I saw that my library had a bunch of his stories from the late sixties, I decided to pick up the first volume to see if I would like it.
Comic books that were written in the 50s to late 70s tend to be a little cheesy, which is not a bad thing. Sometimes I like cheesy. This collection, which comprises The Mighty Thor #337-345 does not skimp on that cheesiness. For example, we’re introduced to a new character named Beta Ray Bill, and he looks like this:
Beta Ray Bill is an alien on a mission to find a new planet for his people, who are being killed by a mysterious group of space demons. During this mission, he ventured close to Earth, where S.H.I.E.L.D. spotted his ship and became concerned. Nick Fury sent Thor to investigate, and they ended up fighting one another. During the fight, Thor transforms back into his human form, Donald Blake, just for a moment, but that moment is enough for Beta Ray Bill to defeat Thor and take Mjolnir, Thor’s magical hammer.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but volume one of this series focuses on Beta Ray Bill and Thor trying to figure out where these space demons came from and how to fight them.
As you can probably gather from the two stars I rated this book, I wasn’t a huge fan. Generally, Thor isn’t one of my favorite Marvel characters in the comic books. He’s fine, but I’ve never read a series or story just because he was in it. I’ve also never been a fan of Thor during the phase when he had a human form, who was named Donald Blake.
If you’re not familiar with Donald Blake, in Marvel’s early days of writing the character and backstory of Thor, Odin turned Thor into Donald Blake to teach him humility. Mjolnir, his hammer, was turned into a cane while he was Donald Blake, and if he needed to transform into Thor, he would just forcefully tap his cane. Thankfully, for the most part, Marvel has done away with this backstory, which is fine by me. I always found it silly. One of the aspects of this collection I did like was that it’s essentially the end of Donald Blake, who you can see below:
I’m not sure I’ve read anything by Walter Simonson before this collection, and I was definitely not familiar with the name. Simonson did both the art and the writing for this series, and his art is colorful and detailed. His art actually holds up quite well when compared to Marvel’s current aesthetics. Here’s an example, plus a couple of bonuses: first, seeing Thor trying to look like an NYC hipster in the 60s with a ponytail, and a confusing Superman/Clark Kent cameo:
The story was fine, the art was good, but it took me almost four days to finish reading this collection, which is absurd. I was bored for the majority of it. Usually, with a collection this small, I can finish it in an hour. I was disappointed because I feel like I should have loved it. After all, I love Norse mythology (even though Marvel’s Thor is a very, very loose representation of those myths), there’s a dragon, and lots of magical, flying fights. And there’s spaceships and stuff! All of the components for a really exciting story is there, but none of it really connected for me, and I couldn’t get over how silly I found Beta Ray Bill to be.
Have you read any of Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor? What were your thoughts?