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Essential Thor - Volume 1 [Paperback]

Stan Lee , Jack Kirby
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 16 2011 Essential Thor (Book 1)
Relive meek Dr. Donald Blake's transformation into the legendary God of Thunder in this collection of the Mighty Thor's earliest classic adventures! With his mystical hammer Mjolnir at his side, Thor sets out to bring justice to Earth.


Journey Into Mystery #83-112

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Time! March 16 2001
These "Essential" collections are a welcome change from those fancy archival-type reprints that often contained poor reproductions and errors. These black & white paperbacks have at least as many problems, but not enough to keep them from being enjoyable light reading, which is exactly what they're supposed to be.
Take Thor. I wouldn't buy an expensive hardback collection of Early Thor stuff; the character isn't a favorite of mine, and he had a pretty weak start to boot. But for this price, why not?
And I had a lot of fun immersing myself in early/mid-'60s Marvel, one of my favorite eras. Thor's look and powers were pretty much set from the start, but the book's theme, supporting players, and villains had a way to go.
The Carbon Copy man? Communist Agents? Petty thugs? The only stellar villain who shows up in the early issues is Loki, The Norse God of mischief, and even he initially pulls silly stunts like turning all the cars in New York into candy.
But Loki was the start of the series' emphasis on Thor's Norse heritage, which would become a mix of myth and Jack Kirby's psychedelic imagination. After awhile, "Tales of Asgard" becomes the book's back-up series and Thor's strained relations with his father Odin (who resents his son's earth-bound love interest) becomes the primary emphasis of the main feature.
Even Thor's earthly villains seem to improve. Mr. Hyde and Cobra, two unremarkable villains, show up several times, but each story is noticably better than the last.
Anybody who likes the Marvel Thor or just likes old Marvels should enjoy this.
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By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Volume 1 of "The Essential Thor" provides the stories of the Thunder God that appeared in "Journey Into Mystery" #83-112, including the five-page "Tales of Asgard" that started appearing in issue #97. In the Sixties I did not start reading Thor until the comic had taken on his name, so this was the first time I had read most of these stories, although I did pick up the "Tales of Asgard" collection that Marvel put out way back when. In retrospect it is hard to ignore that the original conception of this particular superhero was rather lame. However, once Stan Lee, Larry Leiber and Jack Kirby began to take the Norse mythology aspects of the character more seriously, the dynamic of these stories changed considerably.
The initial story is that Dr. Don Blake, an American physician vactioning in Europe, is fleeing from Stone Men from Saturn who have landed in their spaceship when he stumbles into a cave and discovers an ancient cane. When he strikes the cane against an immoveable boulder it transforms into a hammer and Blake becomes the legendary god of Thunder. The hammer has an inscription, in English no less, proclaiming "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of...THOR (yes, the inscription even includes the elipses).
Don Blake, with his bum leg, and his secret affection for his pretty young nurse, Jane Nelson, is set up in the mold of mild mannered Clark Kent and bookworm Peter Parker, where he is two-thirds of a love triangle all by himself (and his alter-ego). On the one hand the first couple of issues clearly give Thor the powers of the Norse thunder god--he not only calls forth rain and thunderstorms, but makes a volcano erupts--but the stories do not deal explicitly with whether he is indeed a deity.
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...and his mother thought he was god!"
In Spiderman, Marvel played with the idea of the hero as everyman. To bring the Superhero down to earth. In "the Mighty Thor" they elevated the superhero as mythological figure. In so doing they exploited the vulnerabilities, the "fatal flaws" of pagan heroes. In a sense "Thor" is an extrapolation on the question posed by George Carlin: "Does Superman have 'super-anxieties' as well as super-powers?" With Thor the answer is a resounding "YES"!
We see the gradual evolution of the comic, moving from one-shot adventures--rather formulaically ending with Nurse Jane Foster, asking why Don Blake can't be more like Thor, and Blake replying some variation of "we can't all be heroes"--and moving away from somewhat contrived situations (How many times can Thor/Blake thoughtlessly drop his hammer/cane?) towards more 2 and three part adventures with the love triangle (quartet?) between Jane, Don/Thor, and Odin the driving theme. We see Thor gradually adopt the *faux* Elizabethan idiom we've come to know and love: from just in discourse with Odin, to when he in Asgard,
until it's all the time.
While Thor will develope a gallery of stock villians (most of them stereo-typic "mad scientists"), Thor's great advesaries will be other gods, and his own internal torment. But that will come later. Interestingly enough the idea of a double is used quite frequently in the early issues. Does this reflect the tentativeness of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby over who/what Thor was supposed to be?
The romance with Jane Foster is interesting is itself interesting. In issue 84 she's calle Jane *Nelson*, much later when she's mentioned she's become Foster. He relationship with Don Blake is distinctly maternal, doting over him as though he were a helpless child.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great condition
Published 2 months ago by shla
4.0 out of 5 stars Un classique!
Pour le prix il est évident que ce volume en vaut la peine. Il y a beaucoup de temps de lecture et pour ceux qui aiment Marvel c'est un indispensable. Read more
Published on April 11 2009 by Simon Leduc
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beginnings Of A Classic Comic Book
Although some of the comics in the middle of this essential tome miss the mark, it's the bookend collaborative efforts of Lee & Kirby that make this collection a must for any... Read more
Published on March 9 2003 by a fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Thor Vol 1
After the first couple of pages, you don't even notice it's in black and white. The artwork is fantastic. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2002 by Randy C. Abramovitz
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Thor worthwhile but just a prelude...
Essential Thor Vol. I is worth having if for no other reason than it shows what this classic Lee/Kirby character was up to before he really built up a head of steam. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2001 by George R Breen
4.0 out of 5 stars He could take supes in 30 seconds!
Marvels third most powerful super-hero (Pheonix #1,Silver Surfer#2) has his earliest stories re-told in this issue(a steal at twice the price!). Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2001 by jeffrey allen reed
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about time!!!
I would first like to say that Marvel Comics should have done these reprints a long time ago. But better late than never. Read more
Published on July 22 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars unmentionably ugly
Surely no one buys these things to read them; comics, especially old ones like this, exist as an outlet for the drawings. Read more
Published on June 15 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars ESSENTIAL THOR
Published on June 9 2001 by J. Gates
5.0 out of 5 stars Great anthology of a long running character
I discovered THOR in the early seventies just prior to issue 200 so i missed a lot of the early stories. Read more
Published on March 31 2001 by GaryShawn
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