The hype around Thor: Ragnarok on the interwebs is getting real – and if the early reviews are any indication, Taika Waititi’s take on Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) Thor is shaping up to be the best one yet. But how do you get primed for the expanded ‘Thorverse’ we are about to witness in Thor: Ragnarok? One that is full of alien planets like Sakaar, alien beings like The Eternals and all sorts of Gods, guns, tech and magic?
Don’t worry here’s our curated list of top Thor comics (both old and new) to read before you witness the twilight of the Gods on the silver screen. So, let’s get you started on your bragging rights:
1. Planet Hulk
Sorry, I cheated. The first one on the list isn’t a Thor comic but a Hulk storyline – and one of its best too. The movie trailers have indicated two things so far – Hulk, Thor’s ‘friend from work’ is a pivotal character and a lot of the movie takes place away from Earth – on the planet Sakaar.
The Planet Hulk storyline deals with exactly that. The story begins with Marvel universe’s biggies (The Illuminati) like Iron Man, Professor X, Black Bolt and Namor deciding that the Hulk is too grave a threat to remain on Earth. They betray him and send him away from Earth – and he manages to find himself on Planet Sakaar – a gladiatorial alien planet.
Hulk makes his mark in the Arena and becomes friends with The Warbound, a rag tag bunch of warriors from varied races, kidnapped and brought to Sakaar. As the storyline expands into a fantasy space epic – with revolutions, love and betrayals – we see something that wasn’t seen before in Bruce Banner’s story arc. For one the very rare times, it’s the Hulk who decides that he’s finally found a home and a place where he can belong.
Come to Planet Hulk for the action – stay for the feels!
2. Thor: The Eternals Saga Vol. 1
Thor comics traditionally have been straight-laced, fight filled binges across time, myth and space. That has given writers the leverage to throw whatever characters their imaginations could come up with onto the pages. The Eternals Saga with Thor (Volume 1) is just that, and a must read, so that you get a glimpse into the expanded world of Thor.
The plotline is straightforward. Thor meets, fights and then sporadically befriends powerful alien and humanoid races such as the Eternals, the Deviants, the Olympians and the Celestials.
We have already seen glimpses of these races in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The Eternals Saga lets you expand your knowledge of the larger MCU spaceverse – and of course get bragging rights in the theatre as you condescendingly look upon your friends and laugh at them for not ‘getting the reference.’
3. Thor by J Michael Straczynski Vol. 1
This modern compilation is my personal favourite – J Michael Straczynski’s reintroduction of Thor picks up post the comic book events of the ‘Disassembled’, ‘Ragnarok’ and ‘Civil War’. After Thor breaks the cycle of Ragnarok, he is awakened from his Odin sleep like state by something that draws him back to Earth.
What begins next is a quintessential small-town America story that blends into an old God’s journey to find his place and his people, in a world that he doesn’t recognize anymore.
Come to this graphic novel for a defining Thor story and stay for the iconic scene of Thor putting the fear of God into Iron Man for betraying him and his friends during Civil War.
4. Thor God of Thunder Vol. 1 – The God Butcher (2013)
While this volume doesn’t often feature in the top Thor comic lists – it remains one of my favourites. As the title suggests, the plot follows Thor as he tries to chase down the ‘God Butcher’ who is leaving Gods across pantheons and worlds, butchered in his wake.
My personal favourite part of this volume is the way it weaves Thor’s battle across time and space and his growth as a person and a God. We encounter three versions of Thor – the arrogant one from the time of the Vikings, the Thor we all love from the present day and a battle-weary yet stubborn Old God from millennia into the future. This volume is contemplative, violent and imaginative – a perfect gateway to the Thor mythology.
5. Ultimate Thor Vol. 1
If you’ve read your fair share of comic books, then you’d know that alternate universes, characters and chronologies are all in a day’s work for comic books. In the mid 2000s Mark Millar (writer of Kingsman) set out an alternate, modern and grimier version of the Marvel universe in The Ultimates (basically, their version of The Avengers).
It’s set in a world that is closest to the world we live in today – grey, violent and political. Ultimate Thor traces the story of Thor – as the world tries to figure out if he is truly the God of Thunder or a madman with a powerful weapon and superhuman strength.
Why read the Ultimate version of Thor? Because a lot of the cinematic universe visually and conceptually borrows heavily from the Ultimate universe – including the fact that Samuel L. Jackson looks like Nick Fury or vice versa.
So, that was the top 5 – but now let’s also quickly round up the rest of the must reads:
Thor: Tales of Asgard Vol. 1, which takes you through the best of classic Thor stories
Siege, a follow up to the Civil War and Dark Reign, in which we see the Asgardians fight and nearly lose against the forces of Norman Osborn, his Dark Avengers and The Sentry
Avengers Disassembled: Thor, captures the story of Thor as he attempts to break the cycle of Ragnarok and the story ties up directly with the Avengers’ break-up in the early 2000s
Thor Vs. Thanos: An old school space adventure which weaves in characters and magic items from across Norse mythology. In this one, watch Thor go toe-to-toe with Thanos alone, with fate of the universe hanging in the balance.
The Mighty Thor – Ragnarok: Old school, fun and all about Thor and the impending Ragnarok.
So now that we have you prepared for Ragnarok, let us know what’s your favourite Thor comic or graphic novel in the comments below!