Hiya folks! It’s nice to meet you! The name’s Taylor, and when I was asked to contribute here at Outright Geekery, I thought long and hard about what to write about. But they say that it’s for the best to write about what you love, and I love few things as much as I love good super hero throwdowns. And with Thor: The Dark World now in theaters, and Jason Aaron doing great things in his epic run on Thor: God of Thunder, what better time could there be to showcase one my favorite characters, the Mighty Thor, Prince of Asgard? So without further ado, let’s get my picks for Thor’s greatest battles in this installment of Top o’ the Lot!
Actually, let me take the ado a little bit further to clarify that I’m only going to be listing battles that Thor fought on his own. As such, this excludes the times he fought alongside the Avengers.
-Thor vs Iron Man from Thor #3
Shortly after Thor was brought back from the dead in 2007, J. Michael Straczynski gave us this gem of a fight early on in his run on the relaunched Thor. Hot off the heels of his actions during the Civil War event, Iron Man tracks down Thor in New Orleans to deliver an ultimatum: Thor must either register with the US government, or be considered an enemy combatant. To give some context, this is the first time that Thor and Iron Man have seen each other since Iron Man had begun to fight and arrest many of Thor’s old friends (most notably Captain America), and had created a clone of Thor (later dubbed Ragnarok) in order to help him in these endeavors. Needless to say, Thor was not pleased. His reaction is well summed up by the following pages…
The reason I like this fight so much is that it gives us a great example of the sheer power of the Odinson unleashed, not just in terms of swinging hammers and lightning bolts, but in the stalwart conviction with which he battles (much to Iron Man’s woe). Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the action is drawn by the hyper-talented Olivier Coipel. It’s kept from cracking my Top 5, though, by the one-sided nature of the fight. I mean, you’d have to be pretty generous to call this a “battle,” considering that it takes Thor all of 2 hits and a lightning bolt to reduce Iron Man’s armor to a useless shell. Still, it was fun while it lasted.
-Thor vs The Hulk in Hulk #300
What kind of list would this be if I didn’t mention at least one bout between Marvel’s two premiere powerhouses? After all, this is a rivalry that’s been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, with constant debate over whether Thor is the mightiest of the Nine Realms or if Hulk is the strongest there is. While we may never establish a definitive answer to this question, at least we can appreciate that we’ve been given a number of good fights. The one that stands out the most to me, though, is the centerpiece fight in Hulk #300 by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema.
Having been driven into a mindless rage by the nefarious entity Nightmare, the Hulk begins Issue #300 on a seemingly unstoppable rampage through the city of New York. After smashing his way through every hero who tried to stand in his way, the Hulk is finally confronted by the Avengers. But when even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are picked off one by one as well, it ultimately becomes clear that only Thor can stand up to the Hulk. What do you say we just let Sal Buscema take it from here?
As anyone blessed with the gift of sight could tell you, Buscema does a masterful job depicting the battle. The characters are both fierce and imposing as we see both Thor and the storms he conjures match the Hulk’s savagery. Yet the thing that makes the fight truly memorable, I think, was the way the issue built up to this moment. From the get-go, the Hulk has been running roughshod over stronger and stronger opponents; by the time the Thunder God steps up to the plate, the Jade Giant has already cast aside SHIELD agents, the Human Torch, Power Fist and Iron Man, and a whole team of well-coordinated Avengers. The tension reaches a high-point and indeed the Hulk seems nigh-unstoppable before Thor is finally able to give the monster pause. Watching the fight that ensues gives the reader a very satisfying payoff to all the build up.
Why, then, with all this going for it, did this fight not crack my Top 5? Well, after Thor and the Hulk trade blows for a few pages, the fight ends when this happens…
So, yeah, after all that, Thor and the Hulk’s awesome fight is brought to an abrupt end when Sorcerer Supreme and occasional Deus Ex Machina Doctor Strange shows up and magicks the Hulk out of our plane of existence. This was just a bit too anticlimactic for me to include this fight on my list.
#5: Thor vs The Midgard Serpent in Thor #380
Now, I’m fairly certain that it’s a crime against all that is good and decent in the world to talk about the greatest moments in Thor’s history without mentioning the great Walt Simonson. Fortunately, we have no such crime being committed here, because we’re starting off our list with Thor’s epic fight with Jormungand, the World Serpent!
At an earlier juncture in his fabled run with the character, Simonson had Thor run afoul of Hela, Goddess of the Dead, leading her to curse the Odinson with bones that were as brittle as glass and an eternal life with which to suffer the consequences. But not wanting to let something as trifling as a Death Goddess’ curse to keep him from fighting the good fight, Thor took to wearing enchanted armor to offset his new-found fragility. Furthermore, he determined that it was a good time to face the Midgard Serpent, the very beast that was destined to kill Thor at the end of time, hoping that while he was effectively immortal, he could undo that bit of prophecy, even if the rest of his curse gave him an enormous disadvantage.
It is under this premise that Simonson treats us to a tour-de-force of artistic brilliance. Drawn completely in full-page and double-page spreads, the battle has an epic scope that is rarely achieved in comics or any other medium. With the heavy influence from the original Norse mythology that it has, this story has a primal, archetypal appeal to it, as we see Thor set out to conquer impossible odds, to slay a creature dauntingly larger than himself when one clean hit would leave the Thunder God broken for all eternity. Really, words don’t do it justice, so let’s just take a look.
Yes, that was Thor facing down a monster that makes Godzilla look like an iguana. Yes, that was Thor smashing his way out of the monster’s mouth through its teeth. And yes, Walt Simonson’s work on Thor cannot be praised enough.
#4: Thor vs Hercules in The Incredible Hercules #136
Things can be awesome for a number of different reasons. Sometimes, things are awesome because they are inspiring. Sometimes, because they are beautiful. And sometimes, things are awesome because they are simply hilarious. The battle between Thor and Hercules in The Incredible Hercules #136 by Greg Pak and Reilly Brown is the latter kind of awesome. Having been duped by Malekith the Accursed into impersonating Thor, Hercules finds himself in a tight spot when he becomes the leader of an army of dark elves committed to returning his “rightful” lands to him (it’s complicated). Fortunately, Thor arrives disguised as Hercules to defeat “Thor” and disband the dark elves’ legions.
What follows is a highly memorable and entertaining brawl between two longtime rival gods. Not only is the premise of the fight endearingly ridiculous, it’s also filled with clever banter and strong visuals. And just for good measure, Pak makes sure that even the sound effects contain jokes, with such fare as “GODDDATHUNDAAA,” SUKKKAPUNCH,” “THORRRRULZ,” and perhaps most memorably…
Ultimately, Hercules convinces Thor that he needs to fight like the real Hercules, which leads to this showstopping finale…
All in all, this is the sort of fun I’m glad to see in my comics, at least every now and then.
#3: Thor vs Superman in JLA/Avengers #2
While perhaps not as prominently argued as the Thor vs Hulk debate, another great fan feud has been the one between Thor and Superman. Seeing as Thor and Supes are major league heavy hitters from the comic industry’s most prominent publishers, there’s a natural fascination surrounding the issue as to who would kick whose ass in a fight. After all, this debate transcends mere character preferences and incorporates the rivalry between DC and Marvel. But while the whole rival company angle gives the hypothetical fight a certain mystique, it also means that there aren’t many opportunities to see the characters actually duke it out in the pages of a comic book. And so it was until Kurt Busiek and George Perez gave us the epic company crossover JLA/Avengers!
Having been made to compete against each other in the multiverse’s deadliest scavenger hunt, the JLA and the Avengers have been battling across each other’s universes to collect items such as the Infinity Gauntlet and Kyle Rayner’s Power Battery. At the end of the search, with the JLA up 6 items to 5, both teams gather in full with everything on the line in the Savage Land to claim the Cosmic Cube. It is here that Superman and Thor, the most powerful members on either team, finally have the one-on-one fight we’ve all been waiting for.
And so, as their teammates wage a hectic battle around them, Superman and Thor trade blows and verbal stings, crushing the forest around them. And though the battle was fierce, the Last Son of Krypton finally outlasts Thor and wins the day.
This fight makes the #3 spot on the list for a few reasons. First of all, we have the peerless artwork of George Perez, who really was the perfect choice for this book; not only does he have familiarity and comfort in drawing the A-list characters of bothpublishers, but no one draws gigantic, sprawling fights as well as he does. And once again, we have to appreciate the build-up to this moment. After all, this is the first time the two had met since both teams’ core members had gathered in Metropolis and THIS had happened…
Since this small sneak preview, Thor and Superman never find themselves in the same place at the same time until we reach the end of the contest and the stakes couldn’t be higher. With the chaos swirling around them, we get the fight we had been promised.
And you know what? I have to admire that Kurt Busiek had the guts to declare a winner. All too often, these types of crossover fights end with the characters coming to their senses, with some outside power forcing the fight to end prematurely, or some other sort of cop-out. But for this fight that had been argued for decades in comic shops across the world, Busiek saw it through to the end, and that scores major points in my book.
#2: Thor vs Bor in Thor #600
Coming in at #2, we have Thor’s battle with his resurrected grandfather, Bor, in an issue-long slobber-knocker which serves as the climax to Loki’s plan to banish Thor from Asgard and to J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the title with Olivier Coipel. After a long and arduous plot involving time travel, ghostly disguises and gender-swapping, Loki finally springs his trap by restoring Bor, the ancient King of Asgard, to present day New York, but not without cursing him to make him perceive everything around him as a threat. It is in this state that Thor finds him. So, naturally, a fight ensues between two of the greatest warriors Asgard has ever produced.
The fight continues in this way with Thor and his grandfather trading blows for several pages, evenly matched as they battle. As things continue, however, the situation continues to escalate as both combatants try everything they can to defeat their opponent. Thor even calls in the Avengers, whom he was estranged from at the time, to help subdue Bor. Thor was so estranged, in fact, that he hadn’t realized that Norman Osborn had control of the sanctioned Avengers team at that time.
Needless to say, Thor was not amused.
As things look increasingly desperate with Thor, Bor, and the Dark Avengers all fighting each other at once in a three-way standoff, Bor pulls out all the stops and unleashes the unrestrained power of the Odinforce (or Borforce, I guess).
Realizing that Bor had to be stopped before he destroyed all of Midgard, Thor girds himself to do what needs to be done, leading to this awe-inspiring final blow.
And so it was that Thor was forced to slay his opponent, striking so hard that Mjolnir itself was shattered by the impact. It is then that Loki shows up to inform Thor that his opponent was none other than the first King of Asgard, meaning that Thor is guilty of regicide, the penalty for which is exile.
Sorry for flooding the screen with half the fight on this one, but this is the type of fight that needs to be seen rather than described. As I said earlier, this issue is wall-to-wall action with almost no let-up at all. The pacing is beautifully handled as the fight leads up to a crescendo at the very end. And all of the action is brought to life by the very capable Olivier Coipel, which is always a point in any books favor. Add all of it up, and you have a duel between viking gods that is truly for the ages.
#1: Thor, Thor, and Thor vs Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: God of Thunder #009
I have to confess that when I determined the order of this list, I was slightly apprehensive about where this bout was going to appear. I say this because I’m paranoid about being a slave to the moment; after all, Jason Aaron’s run is still ongoing at the time of writing, with the issue in question having come out just a few short months ago. But the more I thought on it, the more I realized that this fight couldn’t possibly be anything less than #1, its relative youth be damned.
I’m talking of course about the slice of brilliance that is the bout between the Thors of three eras and the genocidal mad man known as the God Butcher.
If you never checked out Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s sublime work on the God Butcher and Godbomb story arches (and shame on you if you didn’t), this confrontation comes after 8 issues of Thor chasing down Gorr the God Butcher, a vengeful mortal wielding a terrible power, waging a one-man war against all gods everywhere, and holding a grudge against Thor for a fight they waged centuries ago. Thor’s chase ultimately leads him across the veil of time to the far future, where he meets his future self, King Thor, an All-Father of Asgard who had endured Gorr’s 900 year siege on the Realm Eternal. From here, the two Thunder Gods travel to Gorr’s throneworld, where they come across the Thor of the viking era, a brash warrior not yet worthy of Mjolnir who had been plucked from the timestream to serve as Gorr’s slave.
With the stage set in this way, Aaron and Ribic give a virtuoso performance, a near perfect blending of strong writing and stunning art that I just cannot adequately describe with what weak words I can muster. This issue is one you just have to read for yourself. And thanks to Youtuber Fernando072295, you can enjoy it for yourself right now.
This fight demonstrates masterful work from Ribic. The way he plays with light and shadows, his ability to convey both subtle emotion and dynamic action (often at the same time), and his ability to convey the otherworldly nature of a fight between divine beings are all beyond reproach. Even if this issue had no words, and you just flipped through the artwork, it would still be a standout comic book. Fortunately, though, Jason Aaron’s words are every bit as strong as Ribic’s art. Aaron provides us with three unique Thors, depicting them in such a way that we see that they are three vastly different people, while still understanding how they could have been or will become one another.
Really, though, the best thing about this issue is how they embrace being over-the-freaking-top. We have our four combatants zipping back and forth between planets in a battle that spans light-years. We have Young Thor riding into battle on a star shark. We have a dark leviathan fueled by the blood of a million gods, swallowing our heroes whole. We have the Gods of Thunder furiously attacking their foe even as they plunge into the heart of a sun. And in the end, we have the sinking despair of hopelessness as the defeated Thors rain down from the heavens (spoiler warning: they get their second wind).
So yeah, it’s an awesome fight. It is not only my favorite Thor fight, but it might just be my favorite super hero fight ever.
That’s my list! Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to get your opinion! Please let me know how I can get better, and thanks for reading!