Greetings from the Odinson,
In 1962, Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby changed the course of Comics History when they refit the Atomic Age anthology, Journey into Mystery, for the new era of comics and began chronicling the adventures of The Mighty Thor! Over the course of nearly 200 issues, these creative legends introduced readers to a world of science fiction and fantasy, might and magic, gods and monsters, and super science and sorcery, as they laid the foundation for all other Thor runs to expound upon and flourish.
Over the next 6-plus decades, the trials and tribulations and the triumphs and tragedies of the God of Thunder have been orchestrated by some of the greatest names this industry has ever assembled. In the decade after Kirby left the title, the great John Buscema would do a magnificent job on the art for the majority of the 1970s. From 1987 to 1993, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz had the unenviable task of following the greatest Thor run in history and like true champions delivered a solid and memorable outing. And, from 2007-2009, J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel had a too short, character redefining run that set the stage for the future of the Son of Odin.
And, of course, there is the Crème de la crème when it comes to Thor runs – Walt Simonson. The GREAT Walt Simonson. From 1983 to 1987, for nearly four straight glorious years, Simonson not only delivered the best run in Thor History, but he also produced one of the greatest runs in Comics History. Alongside Chris Claremont’s X-Men, Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans, and Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko’s creation of the Marvel Age, the Odinson puts Simonson’s Thor run on his Mount Rushmore of great comic runs.
But I have talked about all that before. This week, the Odinson wishes to turn his attention to what I feel is the most underappreciated run in the thunder god’s history.
The Epic (and Highly Underrated) Dan Jurgens Thor Run
Fans of writer/artist Dan Jurgens know the significant contributions he has made to comics over the years and especially the value of his page-turning Thor epic. Unfortunately, over the years, in casual conversations in the comic shops and on social media, it is rare people bring up Jurgen’s Thor run when talking about the great Thor runs in history. And that’s a shame.
When Jurgens took over Thor, the thunder god’s title had been canceled and on the shelf for nearly two years. Dan Jurgens stepped in with a clear vision and took the Scion of Asgard on an incredible journey. He made the adventures of Thor a can’t miss monthly event the likes of which the character had not seen in many years.
His epic 6-year run can be broken down into four distinct chapters. When read as a whole, this story tells a character-driven tale of a hero’s journey with all the glories, missteps, and pathos one should expect when reading about a larger-than-life character like Thor.
And it all started with something up to that point nobody had ever seen before – The Mighty Thor #1.
Chapter 1: Heroes Return
In the wake of Onslaught and Heroes Reborn, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s First Family return to the Marvel Universe. Upon Thor’s return, he immediately finds himself in a fight to the death against the one opponent he has never truly conquered, the Destroyer! In the battle that follows, a brave young paramedic named Jake Olson is killed while saving lives. To atone for this tragedy, Thor’s immortal essence is bonded with Olson.
To his dismay, Thor discovers fabled Asgard in ruins and he is confronted by Perrikus the god of power who shatters Thor’s hammer with a single blow! A race of Dark Gods has declared war on all other pantheons. Thor calls the mightiest warriors he knows, Hercules and the Destroyer, to his side and they storm the gates and wage a battle against these Dark Gods that shakes the pillars of heaven.
After the secrets of Thor’s mysterious new benefactor, Marnot, are revealed, a showdown with the unstoppable Juggernaut, and the Enchanters Saga, Thor embarks on a galaxy-spanning quest against the most dangerous adversary the Marvel Universe has to offer.
Chapter 2: Clash with the Titan
A new power called the Designate is born and her fate could either destroy the cosmos or usher in a bright future. Guess which way the Mad Titan wants things to go. When Thanos recruits the invincible Mangog to his cause, Thor, even with Firelord and Recorder by his side, quickly finds himself against insurmountable odds. Thor vs. Thanos is easily one of the greatest hero/villain showdowns in the history of comics. This was truly a clash of titans. And no retcon, even one by the Mad Titan’s creator the great Jim Starlin, will ever diminish the greatness of this tale.
So Sayeth the Odinson!
Chapter 3: The Death of Odin
Thor takes the Designate under his wing to guide her as she discovers and learns to harness her powers and abilities. She even honors her mighty mentor by taking the name Thor Girl. After catching up with his old sparring partners Crusher Creel, the Wrecking Crew, and Kurse, and a stupendous showdown with the Shi’ar superman Gladiator, Thor does not have a moment’s rest as the fiery monster, Surtur, returns!
The last time this demonic titan attacked, it took the combined might of Thor, Hercules, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the armies of Asgard and Valhalla, Beta Ray Bill, Loki, and Odin, who, in the end, had to make the ultimate sacrifice, to defeat him (see Ragnarok n Roll).
By the end of this epic war, Surtur and Odin are no more. It is time for a new king to be crowned.
Chapter 4: The Reign of King Thor
The concluding chapter to Dan Jurgen’s great run goes in such an original and unexpected direction. Thor is now the ruler of Asgard and with that comes all the responsibilities, obligations, drama, and burdens of the thrown. Also, along with the crown, comes the power! The Odinforce is bequeath to Thor and he takes his place as the nigh omnipotent ruler of the gods.
There are four distinct arcs within this arc that tell the whole tale.
Lord of Asgard – Here Jurgens explores how Thor and the Marvel Universe, the heroes, the citizens and governments of Earth, and even the other pantheons of immortals, reacts to the new power and status the thunder god has been granted. And when the Lord of Asgard decides to take a more active role in the affairs of mortals, who can tell him no?
As Thor’s influence over the people of the world grows and his ideas for the world grow more ambitious, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man arrives with bad tidings for the days to come.
Power tends to corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Spiral – The weight of ultimate power begins to take its toll on the Lord of Asgard. As the rolls of the other cast members, including Jake Olson, the gods of Asgard, and the Designate, begin to take shape, the future becomes less and less certain. As Thor’s influence over the mortal world grows, former enemies become allies, but do Loki the Prince of Lies and Amora the Enchantress truly have their king’s best interest in mind or are they ever scheming.
The answer: A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.
This chapter closes with the US Government declaring war on Asgard and the death of a major character. And Thor is unworthy to wield Mjolnir. But who needs a hammer when you have ultimate power, right?
The Reigning – The story shifts seventeen years into the future. New York City and Asgard were destroyed in the war between men and gods. Thor now rules planet Earth and plans to lead mankind to a bright future, whether they want to follow or not. Dan Jurgens holds no punches as he explores the ramifications of ultimate power, the dangers of pride, the blindness of arrogance, and the fall of a once great champion for truth and justice.
Seriously, this chapter is very Days of Future Past like. It even includes the ill-fated final stand of Earth’s last heroes, a group that includes Captain America, Doctor Strange, Thing, and the Hulk as they make one last ditch effort to topple a mad god.
But a new hope rises as the son of Thor, Magni, proves himself worthy!
Gods and Men – All the thunder god has wrought begins to crumble around him. His son Magni, now worthy to wield Mjolnir, attempts to redeem his father’s legacy. Meanwhile, a great and deadly power awakens. Desak the Destroyer of Gods is coming!
Dan Jurgen’s epic run on the Mighty Thor comes to an immensely satisfying and earned climax, and it leaves the reader pondering the question: What would you be willing to sacrifice to set the wrong things right?
Bravo, Mr. Jurgens! A++
I only touched on the highlights. There is no way the Odinson could do this epic run justice with the small amount of space allotted here. I do hope I showed why this Thor run is underrated and why it should be celebrated amongst the best Thor runs ever.
Even though he created Booster Gold, one of the most unique and entertaining characters of the Modern Age of comics, and he was highly instrumental and drew the historic Death of Superman, the Odinson feels Dan Jurgens has never really received the high praise he deserves for his huge contributions to our beloved medium.
And his epic, unique, and highly underrated run on The Mighty Thor is yet another reason to sing his praise.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE. Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE