Collects Thor (vol. 1) issues 154-174
Writer: Stan Lee
Artists: Jack Kirby with various inkers
Note: I read the Finnish edition which contains issues 158-170 and the rest from Marvel Unlimited.
In these stories Thor, often accompanied by other, less powerful companions, battles and defeats foes who are first called invincible. The stories are truly epic in scope; taking us to Asgard, deep space, and to other realms, too. The stories focus on fighting except for a few sub-plots. Here, Lee and Kirby are laying on the foundations of the modern Marvel Universe. The stories are enjoyable as old-school epic adventure comics.
The collection starts with a four issue story “To Wake the Mangog”. Mangog is the last of his race who has the power of billion billion creatures. Odin destroyed his race and imprisoned Mangog but now Ulik the troll sets him free. Ulik hoped to get someone who he could command but he was wrong. Mangog rampages on his way to Asgard and people fear him. Ragnarok looms!
Meanwhile, Odin has fallen into the Odinsleep and since Thor is on Earth, Loki takes the throne. Unfortunately for Asgard, Loki is more interested in trapping Thor than defending Asgard. Also, Karnilla the Norn Queen confesses her love for Balder the Brave but he spurns her. So, Karnilla swears to kill Balder.
After that story arc comes a couple of issues with less excitement: an issue which recounts how Donald Blake found the hammer of Thor. He wonders which one of them is real, Donald or Thor. Interestingly enough, when Donald falls asleep he can go to Asgard as Thor.
In the next issue, Odin answers the Donald/Thor dilemma and we see some of Thor’s history, when he was younger and more impulsive. Odin also explains why Thor is now also Blake.
And then: Galactus, the devourer of planets! Recorder 211 is an android who was created to record events and recount them back to his creators on Rigel. He comes to warn Asgard about a terrible threat. Of course, Thor leaves to face the threat which turns out to be Galactus. In a two-part story Thor, Recorder, and survivors from planets which Galactus has eaten battle Galactus. On the balance is the fate of Ego, the Living Planet.
After that battle, Thor encounters various other threats, even the early incarnation of a being who will be known as Adam Warlock. For a brief while, Thor has to leave Earth and the Warriors Three are left to defend it with Balder. Fandral, Volstaff, and Hogun are always entertaining, although their comedic scenes are too brief.
The collection ends with a couple of one issue stories. This clearly limits the story too much.
For the most part, Thor’s supporting characters are entertaining. However, they don’t develop really and there are far fewer female characters than males. Poor Sif is just a plot device, used to spur Thor to action. But to be honest, so are pretty much all characters; but at least the Warriors Three get to fight and have a few amusing scenes before they get into trouble and Thor has to rescue them.
For the most part I enjoyed this collection.