Jason Aaron’s landmark Thor run is a great achievement in comics which will likely be remembered in the same breath as Walter Simonson’s, J. Michael Straczynski’s & Olivier Coipel’s, and Stan Lee’s & Jack Kirby’s original stories! With Marvel teasing the end of the death of Jane Foster Thor and a creative reset on the horizon with Marvel’s ‘A Fresh Start’ initiative, we’re taking a look back at Aaron’s wild run on the property. Today, we are counting down the finest issues in his beloved run and celebrating the incredible artistic talent making the stories possible, including artists Russell Dauterman, Esad Ribic and more!
5. The Mighty Thor #20
Aaron’s Thor run has had a wild, tremendous sense of creativity, as well as bold ideas and directions. The creation and idea of The War Thor seemed to signal that the creator may have gone too far–but after diving into the issue, I was never as happy as I was to be wrong!
The idea of another Thunder God entering the Marvel Universe seemed like something worthy of an eye roll, but the contents of the issue itself proved otherwise as Volstagg’s time during the War of Realms started to get tragic. A Thor is a defender of Asgard but a Thor’s duties to the people amid the vicious nature of war are often overlooked. Volstagg’s role as one of the Warrior’s Three is a privileged one and when the hero looks directly into the repercussions of war, Aaron has a dreadfully tragic and appropriate response. Numerous creators have failed to capitalize on the finer points of Volstagg’s personality and have accidentally made him too light, but this storyline and the proceeding issues prove to give the give character depth past what comics creators normally get the chance to explore.
As with each and every issue on this list, the art is fantastic, with two of Marvel’s Young Guns tackling the issue. Valerio Schiti draws the Volstagg bits and series regular Russell Dauterman contributes to the rest of the book. Over the past couple years at the publisher, Thor’s artistic talents has been an embarrassment of riches with Schiti’s fierce depiction of Volstagg’s demise and the beautiful, difficult relationship between Foster and the Odinson expertly depicted by Dauterman. Again, the level of quality Thor manages to achieve each month is staggering.
4. Thor: God of Thunder #10-11
One serial killer, two great issues and three Thors. Thor: God of Thunder #10-11 is the epic climax to the ‘Godbomb’ storyline spanning the first year of the title. While Foster’s tenure as Thor has been something truly special, ‘Godbomb’ was another tremendous high for the series that cannot be ignored. Aaron’s dedication to the greatness of the son of Odin wonderfully plays off the numerous relationships between the different heroes. Getting to know each iteration of the hero and watching them come together to take on the ultimate mad-man is a chilling read, but the way Aaron built up to the story over the past ten months ensured the story was loaded with a consistent greatness.
Esad Ribic’s time on the book also can not be overlooked either, as the creator made sure each page felt like a beautifully epic labor of love. After going back and giving Gorr a proper origin, this installment of the series is made all the more tragic. Aaron is not just telling a great superhero story filled with fascinating elements of Norse mythology, but he also adds the time-displaced intrigue with the different heroes that continues through the run and toys with the idea of a literal bomb engineered to murder gods. The creator’s bombastic ideas and the refined beauty of Ribic’s art lead to another fantastic entry into a wonderful, defining run proving the awesome versatility of the character. Similar to the ‘Ragnarok and Roll’ storyline of Simonson’s tenure on Thor, ‘Godbomb’ is an exceptional illustration of why long-form, serialized stories are such a wonderful asset to comics.
3. Thor #8
The introduction of a brand new Thor was exciting. Trying to decipher who the hero was had Marvel fans reeling in anticipation. The introduction of the new Thor’s identity as Jane Foster struck just the right chord and the issue celebration of the female heroes of the Marvel Universe was the best coming out party readers could have asked for!
Thor #8 was the moment artist Russell Dauterman’s talent really blossomed on this series, showcasing that he had the raw ability to become one of the best creators currently working at the publisher. Even though the series had been running for eight issues, readers didn’t understand the inherent stakes of the comic or the premise of the series. This surprise was perfectly paced and discovering what Foster’s time as Thor was actually about turned the next chapter of the series into one of the saddest and emotionally potent titles on store shelves. The last couple pages revealing the identity and condition of Foster is so perfectly executed from an artistic and scripting standpoint. Foster returns to her human form as her armor slowly disintegrates and the narration becomes suitably epic.
Aaron also didn’t pull this plot thread out of thin air, either, as the storyline had been seeded in prior issues and with other creators. The climactic Destroyer fight was enough to make this issue great, but it is the final moments and tragic answer to a fascinating mystery that makes the story one of the strongest issues Marvel has crafted in the past couple of years.
2. The Mighty Thor #700
Thor #700 is an issue that reads as Aaron’s love letter to the character as a whole. Dauterman’s impressive pencils hit an all-time artistic high, with Odinson’s pages laced with a polished, but fierce sense of kinetic energy and movement that combines the cinematic Universe design of the character with the look traditionally used in the comics. Aaron furthers the storyline of the Odinson while drawing a comparison to the recent struggle of She-Hulk’s battle with PTSD from Civil War II and Foster’s own struggle with mortality.
This installment of Thor has everything, including another look at The War Thor and the various trio of Thor’s introduced earlier on in the run and a ton of different artists who have contributed to the work over the past few years like Das Pastoras, Daniel Acuna and so much more alongside some other notable creators such as Becky Cloonan who are new to the series. The greatness culminates in a splash page that shows the future of the property. It is one of the finest pieces of art Dauterman has ever illustrated. In a run full of consistent greatness, this story hit another series high. Readers even get to see the return of beloved Thor artist Walter Simonson!
This issue is also the return of Throg. Need I say more?
1. Thor: God of Thunder #12
This issue of the series flew far under the radar, but features everything you need to know about Marvel’s God of Thunder. Aaron showcases Thor’s perfect day– where he is loved as the son of Thor and stops to do one good deed after another. Then, Aaron stops to show Jane Foster’s gradually decaying state and the effect it has had on Thor’s emotions. I dare you to pick up the issue and close it with a dry eye. This issue’s script showcase Thor’s impressive and beautiful relationships with the people of Midgard off-panel in a chillingly beautiful manner. A sequence in a prison is one of the most incredible acts of kindness a Thor has ever contributed to Earth.
“Why the hell couldn’t I have met a God like you…when I was still young and foolish?”
Nic Klein’s pencils are heartachingly beautiful, making sure each human who interacts with Thor looks beautiful and is excited to see the hero. Klein’s work on the series shows an artist able to perfectly show the differences between in physicality between the different people in the story. Klein also beautifully blends the sci-fi within Thor’s history and shows get a chance to draw another Thor in the issue as well. Everything about Aaron’s long run on the character is present in this issue with Foster’s surprise appearance to the foreshadowing of an upcoming story-arc. I’m not sure a writer could even fathom planning stories years in the future, but that’s exactly what Aaron has done in the hauntingly beautiful Thor: God of Thunder #12. It’s my favorite Thor issue ever written.
As sad as I am for Death of the Mighty Thor, I’m glad to have been able to read each installment of the series as it has been published monthly. Many superhero comics aspire to be as good as this batch of issues, but few achieve such a beautiful, consistent level of greatness–don’t miss out on this run!