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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lee and Kirby take a while to get the god of thunder right
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...
Published on October 25, 2003 by Amazon Customer

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Must... finish... book...
ESSENTIAL THOR VOLUME 1 is a very affordable way to get acquainted with The Mighty Thor. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a struggle for me to finish it. Collecting Journey Into Mystery # 83 - 112, it features the earliest appearances of Marvel Comics' god of thunder. While Marvel gets credit for reinvigorating the comic industry's Silver Age with excellent titles like...
Published on August 21, 2008 by Babytoxie


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Must... finish... book..., August 21, 2008
By 
Babytoxie (Dallas, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essential Thor, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (Paperback)
ESSENTIAL THOR VOLUME 1 is a very affordable way to get acquainted with The Mighty Thor. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a struggle for me to finish it. Collecting Journey Into Mystery # 83 - 112, it features the earliest appearances of Marvel Comics' god of thunder. While Marvel gets credit for reinvigorating the comic industry's Silver Age with excellent titles like Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, Thor was an awkward entry in their line-up of titles. His early appearances in JIM are written more like the dull, formulaic stories that were appearing from DC at the time, where the hero jumps from issue to issue taking on the threat of the month (be it aliens, gangsters, "Reds", or an amazingly uninspired supervillain), with no real focus on a continuing storyline or character development. Writer Stan Lee does the reader a favor by introducing Thor's father, Odin, and half-brother, Loki, and finally steps things up with the addition of "Tales of Asgard", a regular back-up feature that fleshed out the history of Thor, familiarizing the reader with the Norse myths from which he is derived. These are excellent stories that introduce additional mythological characters such as Heimdall, Hela, and Surtur. Tales of Asgard begins to eclipse the regular Thor feature, to the point that more Asgardians, such as Balder, the Enchantress, and the Executioner, eventually are incorporated into the regular stories, to great effect. Unfortunately, with so much potential in these early issues, we still don't learn the answers to the big questions of Thor's origin, such as why the enchanted hammer Mjolnir was disguised as a cane and hidden in a cave, or why Dr. Donald Blake should be considered worthy to wield the power of a god. In addition, you'll have to put up with some of Stan Lee's signature hand-wringing romantic melodrama between Blake and his nurse, Jane Foster. Oh well, nobody said this was going to be easy.

The art quality is all over the place. Jack Kirby provides action-packed pencils for the majority of the stories, but his work is often marred by inept inkers, to the point that it doesn't even remotely resemble his style. But once Chic Stone comes on board, all is right with the world of Thor. This volume is worth the hassle, just to get to the next volume of stories, where the series really kicks into high-gear. You'll be glad you tried it!
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Time!, March 16, 2001
This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lee and Kirby take a while to get the god of thunder right, October 25, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
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 (who ended up being renamed Jane Foster), 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. However, all of that begins to change in the third story when Loki, god of mischief, shows up and starts living up to his name.

Loki's arrival is crucial in Thor's transformation, not only because it is the beginning of taking the Norse mythology angle seriously (and the Thor comics would provide a scholarly fidelity to the subject), but also because the god of mischief became Thor's major foe. The opposition was ideal because unlike Thor's human opponents, such as the Cobra and Mr. Hyde, Loki could keep coming back for more issue after issue, either directly or through a proxy. Loki only arrived on earth after sneaking by Heimdall, the warder of the rainbow bridge called Bifrost, and once that door was open Odin, Balder and the rest of the Norse gods and goddesses were close behind.

Unfortunately the Tales of Asgard fillers are uniformly superior to the main adventures in "Journey of Mystery." Part of it is that they were written by Lee and drawn by Kirby, unlike the other stories (Lee and Kirby actually do less than half of the actual writing and drawing in this collection), and part of it was that they stuck to the ancient Norse legends about the gods. The other flaw was that they stuck with Don Blake and his romance with Nurse Jane, even while Odin went off on his "no son of mine is going to marry a mortal" rant. Eventually we will get around to the Lady Sif, but that is still a long ways off. For now, the more these early issues focus on Thor, Loki and the rest of the Asgardians, the better the stories. The rest require us to believe mere mortals and various meta-humans have a chance against an actual thunder god. But we still are not up to the glory days of the charcter, which is why the next volume of "The Essential Thor" is way past due.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about time!!!, July 22, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
I would first like to say that Marvel Comics should have done these reprints a long time ago. But better late than never. These inexpensive reprints are very good to own as you can read them without worrying about the condition of the comic book. And while the Marvel Masterworks are cool to own as hardbacks, they are a bit pricey for someone who just wants to read the comic books reprinted. This review really goes for all of the Essential paperbacks that marvel is putting out but this is one I have waited a long time to read because Thor has always been one of my favorite characters. If you enjoy this one then please check out the others. One more thing. For those complaining about the paper quality I would say that you can spend a few thousand dollars for the originals if you want. If so go ahead. But as for me I will enjoy these cool reading copies.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Early tales of the Thunder God, March 2, 2006
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This review is from: Essential Thor, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (Paperback)
In certain ways, the Sixties were a simpler time. Sure, there were things like Vietnam, the civil rights movement and assorted assassinations to make things complicated, but at least with comic books, it was a gentler era. Although the storytelling might have been constrained by the Comics Code, there were still the opportunities to tell good tales. Stan Lee, one of the principal creative forces of the period, put together a lot of good stories. Unfortunately, while The Mighty Thor is not bad, it is also not Lee's best writing of the period.

The Essential Thor #1 covers the earliest Thor stories, back in the days when the magazine was officially named Journey into Mystery. Donald Blake, a vacationing doctor, stumbles upon a stick that, when struck against the ground, transforms him into the god Thor. Within the issues covered, Thor battles such adversaries as the Cobra, Mr. Hyde, the Enchantress, the Executioner and assorted aliens, but his chief adversary is his step-brother, Loki. In addition to the main stories, we are also provided tales of the Norse Gods in the land of Asgard.

While plot-wise, these stories are all decent, they suffer from characters who are relatively bland or ill-defined. I've noticed that the Lee's strongest writing in this era is with the Fantastic Four and Spiderman, where not only are the characters more interesting, but there is a decent supporting cast as well. Here, there are few supporting characters. Love interest Jane Foster is a stereotypical comic book woman of the era; she pines after Thor, faints a lot and is in constant danger. Outside of villains, the only other recurring character of note is Odin, Thor's very powerful father. Odin's behavior is erratic; although described as having great wisdom, he is constantly being duped by Loki.

The character of Thor himself is problematic. While it is clear that Thor and Blake share the same identity (this is not a Jekyll-and-Hyde thing), it is rather hazy as to who is the true version: is it Don Blake, who (like Spiderman), came across a super power, or is it Thor, who merely adopts Blake as a mild-mannered alter ego (like the early Superman disguising himself as Clark Kent)? This is rather inconsistently dealt with, and in fact, there are no real answers within this volume.

I know that I may be overanalyzing this material; after all, these are just comics, aren't they? Yet, I can compare this to other works of the same time (like the previously mentioned FF and Spiderman) and find this to be an inferior work: not bad, but not great: a high three-stars at best. While many will find this entertaining, I cannot recommend this as a first choice in the Essentials series. Instead, I would look elsewhere and come to this book later.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Thor worthwhile but just a prelude..., November 8, 2001
By 
George R Breen (Alpharetta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
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. Like the very first Fantastic Fours, this series started out sort of mediocre and then later developed into one of the best series of comics of all time. The Tales of Asgard secondary stories are probably the best thing about this volume - they started off strong, relying on minimalist dialogue and true Kirby power right off the bat. Looking forward to Volume II.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He lived at home until he was thirty, worked for his father, July 2, 2002
This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
...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. Her early fantasies of Thor are likewise domestic, thinking how she would give him a haircut, press his cape, and polish his hammer (!!!!!!!!) Is it a coincidence that Jane is a *nurse* and her last name is *foster*? Or that Odin should insist of coming between them! ("Paging, Dr. Wertham, we need a Freudian on aisle 5!")
These are the first 30 issues of Thor's appearance in "Journey into Mystery", by the end of the book the comic is "journey into mystery with THE MIGHTY THOR" and well on its way to becoming just simply THE MIGHTY THOR. Can't wait for Vol II!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great anthology of a long running character, March 31, 2001
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This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
I discovered THOR in the early seventies just prior to issue 200 so i missed a lot of the early stories. Thor has become my favorite since the eric masterson stories of the 90's and I have been trying to collect as many old issues as I can to catch up on all I missed. This anthology is a great addition to my collection. A wonderful collection of stories and a historical document in some ways as it is interesting to see how far the artwork and interpretation of these familiar characters has evolved. It is amazing how complicated these stories were for the time they were written and how much care went into developing this character and supporting cast at a time when comics were considered disposable entertainment. I enjoy reading these stories written by great storytellers who cared and respected their readers as much as any literary novelist...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ESSENTIAL THOR, June 9, 2001
By 
J. Gates (Fort Lauderdale, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essential Thor Vol. 1 (Paperback)
ESSENTIAL THOR REPRINTS JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #83-112. MANY OF THE ISSUES CONTAIN THE LEGENDARY TANDEM OF STAN LEE(WRITER) AND JACK KIRBY(ARTIST). THE ADVERSARIES WHO FACE THOR ARE POWERFUL AND ENTERTAINING, SUCH AS ZARRKO, THE TOMORROW MAN. THE STORYLINES INVOLVING THOR/DR. DON BLAKE AND HIS NURSE JANE FOSTER ARE COMPELLING. ALSO, THE BACK-UP STORIES OF "TALES OF ASGARD" ARE AN ADDED TREAT. PRESENTING THE BOOK IN BLACK AND WHITE FOCUSES THE READER'S ATTENTION ON THE ART. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven stories and artwork, April 28, 2007
By 
TacoGuy (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Essential Thor, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) (Paperback)
This Essential volume of Thor is significant because it contains his first appearances in Marvel Comics. However, I was a tad disappointed with some of the stories, and the fact that artist Jack Kirby was missing from a few issues. At this early stage, the Thor character was not really developed yet, and many of the villains were rather uninteresting.
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Essential Thor, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)
Essential Thor, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) by Stan Lee (Paperback - February 16, 2011)
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