Friday, November 8, 2013
To Better Know a Hero: Thor
Forsooth! Verily, Thor doth star in a new film, in theaters now! Before seeing thy film, feast thy eyes on these runes to vanquish thine ignorance about the mighty Thor!
Journey Into Mystery #83, August 1962
Nicknames and Aliases
Dr. Don Blake, Sigurd Jarlson, Eric Masterson, Jake Olson, Siegfried, Siegmund.
Powers and Abilities
Thor possesses super-human strength, speed, endurance, durability and longevity thanks to his godly nature. He is also a skilled warrior.
Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels
Pride, nurses, blonds
For a time, after being cursed by Hela, Thor also wore armor which held together his broken body.
Friends and Allies
Odin, Jane Foster, Sif, Balder, the Warriors Three, Hercules, the Avengers.
Foes and Antagonists
Loki, Hela, Enchantress, the Destroyer, Absorbing Man, the Odinsleep, Grey Gargoyle, the Wrecking Crew, clones, the 90s.
Movies and Appearance
Thor was part of the Marvel Super Heroes animated series in the 60s, receiving thirteen episodes devoted to him. Since then, he has made guest appearances in most of Marvel's major animation ventures. He also guest-starred in the live action Incredible Hulk Returns TV movie, played by Eric Allan Kramer.
More recently, Thor was featured on Cartoon Network's Super Hero Squad Show and was a regular on Disney's late, lamented Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon (he remains a fixture of that show's inferior predecessor, Avengers Assemble).
And of course, Thor, played by Captain Kirk's dad, has now starred in two feature films of his own, as well as the live action blockbuster Avengers film.
Cast out of Asgard and given mortal form by Odin to learn humility, Dr. Don Blake was eventually drawn to Norway where he discovered a walking stick that, when struck, transformed him into the mighty Thor!
Thor #364-366 Thor is transformed by Loki into a frog, and the story doesn't just not suck, but is actually tons of fun.
Though Thor often gets compared to DC's Superman, being the benchmark for power in their respective superhero universes, Thor actually has much more in common with DC (nee Fawcett's) Captain Marvel, that of a mortal who transforms into a god-like hero. Like Captain Marvel (who manifests whenever Billy Batson shouts "Shazam!"), Marvel's take on Thor has often featured one otherwise normal person or another transforming into Thor. Stan Lee first hit on this idea when he created the super-heroic Thor in the 1960s: by having the lame Dr. Don Blake transform into the powerful Thor, he created a supremely powerful character while keeping the door open for the kind of comic book shenanigans that were required when writing comics during the Silver Age: a character torn between two worlds, struggling to balance his real identity with the super-heroic one, and all the romantic entanglements that follow. Though the character has since shed the Don Blake secret identity and currently exists as a whole character in and of himself, he will, from time to time, become entangled with a mortal guise (usually whenever a writer wants to tell more "down to earth" stories with a godlike main character).
As a kid, long before I started reading comic books, I was obsessed with Greek and Norse mythology. While my love of mythology was a big influence on my love of superhero comics in general, it also gave me a special fondness for Thor specifically, as his adventures tended to feature depictions of characters and events I'd read about in books on Norse mythology.
It also helps that Thor is one of the more traditionally "comic book-y" characters, prone to outrageously fun, high energy, over-the-top adventures, all punctuated by that unique faux-Shakespearean dialogue and some of the best sound effects in comics.