Those Who Have Been Worthy: Marvel's Many Mighty Thors

Fri, July 18th, 2014 at 6:58am PDT

Comic Books
Marc Buxton, Contributing Writer
69

The heavens are thundering with the news that there will soon be a new Thor protecting the Nine Realms!

Earlier this week, Marvel announced that as of October, a new, female Thor will make her presence known in the Marvel Universe, replacing Thor Odinson as the wielder of mystical hammer Mjolnir when he is stripped of his power due to a yet to be revealed dark deed. Like any major character shift in comics, the concept has seen some detractors online, but the majority of the reactions CBR has seen finds many fans indicating their thoughts that the prospect of this gender-swapped Thor is truly intriguing.

As part of its All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, Marvel has spent the last few years dedicating itself to expanding the role and increasing the profile of its female heroes. This new Thor joins the ranks of Elektra, Storm, Black Widow, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel a series headliner, and the answer to who she is and where she comes from is sure to intrigue fans as writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman's story unfolds later this year.

RELATED: Jason Aaron Explains "Thor's" New, Female God of Thunder

"This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR," Aaron said when his new hero was announced. "This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before." As the speculation rages on as to whom this new Thor is, CBR News takes a look back at some other noble heroes, both male and female, who have proven themselves worthy enough to lift the hammer and wield the power of Thor! (For our purposes, we're going to skip any member of Thor's family, like Odin, who has lifted Mjolnir, along with any robots or mechanical constructs that have artificially achieved the feat.) So gather around and hear our tale, mortals, of those that were worthy of wielding the mighty Mjolnir.

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Eric Masterson
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor" #408 (1989) by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz

It's hard to believe such a pivotal moment in Thor history happened because of a C-level villain. Eric Masterson was an architect injured as a result of one of Thor's many battles on Midgard. Thor helped Eric, and the mortal and god became friends. With his godly new pal, Masterson journeyed to another realm known as the Black Galaxy and was again injured, this time by the aforementioned minor villain, Mongoose. Thor begged Odin to save his new friend's life, so the Father of Asgard merged his son with the mortal Masterson, giving Thor a new mortal identity. When Loki and Ulik the Troll kidnapped Eric's son Kevin, Thor seemingly killed Loki in battle and was exiled to another galaxy for the crime of deicide.

Now fully in control of the Thor body, when the architect transformed into the god, he would retain his mortal thoughts and decidedly non-Asgardian speech patterns. Masterson wielded Mjolnir bravely, even joining the Avengers for a time, until Thor returned. Both heroes were manipulated by the Enchantress to fight, a battler Thor won -- but Odin forged a mace (called Thunderstrike) for Eric, who had more than proved himself worthy to wield the powers of the gods. As Thunderstrike, Eric became a pony-tailed, earring-wearing force for good and carried his own title for a healthy part of the '90s. Masterson was many things -- a hero, an Avenger, a father -- and though he may now be looked at as nothing more than a footnote of the excessive '90s, he was one of the very few everyday mortals who was once worthy enough to call himself Thor.

Thor Girl
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor" vol. 2, #22 (August 2000) by Dan Jurgens and John Romita, Jr.

The mysterious Thor revealed on "The View," is not the first heroic woman to take up this particular mantle. No, that distinction goes to the hero known as Thor Girl. Though never actually gifted with the power of Mjolnir, Thor Girl proved herself worthy of bearing the name of the God of Thunder.

In another galaxy, a girl named Tarene was born, destined to become The Designate, a being of great power. When Thanos destroyed her home world, she teamed with Thor to stop the Mad Titan. Inspired by the Norse deity, she used her considerable cosmic power to give herself Asgardian-like abilities, taking the name Thor Girl, which would be a bit like Supergirl calling herself Superman Girl, but let's just go with it. What is important is that the universe gained a hero inspired by Thor, a golden hammer-wielding champion who followed in the Thunder God's footsteps. She bravely fought Loki, Surtur and Gladiator before losing her cosmic power and settling on Earth.

She may no longer be a cosmic being, but she still had the power of Thor and the power of her golden hammer, appearing in recent years as part of the Avengers: Initiative team as well as seeing some action in "Civil War" and "Secret Invasion." One has to wonder, how will Thor Girl feel about this newly revealed female Thor?

Superman
First wielded the power of Thor in "JLA/Avengers" #4 (2004) By Kurt Busiek and George Perez

It takes a being of the purest heart and the most incorruptible spirit to lift Mjolnir, and what hero is purer than the super hero that started it all? The epic first -- and only -- meeting between the JLA and the Avengers saw Superman do battle, wielding the hammer of Thor in one hand and Captain America's shield in the other. All drawn by George Perez! It just doesn't get better than that.

Superman didn't hold the power of Thor for long, but the moment he did was the deciding factor in the teams' battle against the galactic threat of Krona. Out of context, the story of how and why Superman had Thor's hammer is very difficult to explain, but the visual of a battered Superman bursting with Thor's Asgardian power was one of the coolest moments in the history of modern age super hero comics, and one, given the current state of Marvel-DC relations, we are unlikely to see again.

Steve Rogers
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor" #390 (1988) by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz

All of the moral attributes that enabled Superman to utilize the power of Mjolnir, Steve Rogers also shares, even when he lost faith in his country and his government and given up the identity of Captain America. The hero of World War II instead donned a black costume and simply called himself The Captain. This new branding sowed the seeds of distrust with fellow Avenger Tony Stark, who was experiencing his own drama at the time, and Thor was unsure of who to side with. As the three were fighting against the Legions of Set, Thor was overwhelmed by the serpent god's hordes and became separated from Mjolnir. When Rogers came to his aid, not with a shield, but by picking up the fallen Mjolnir and smiting the minions of Set, the patriotic hero proved his worth. The Captain's morality could no longer be in question as only the purest of heart can lift the mystical hammer. The issue ends with both Thor and Rogers holding Mjolnir, brothers in arms and unified in their pure heroic spirit.

Beta Ray Bill
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor" #337 by Walter Simonson

"I have the power! The stick was the hammer! And now I... I can feel the power of the demon himself added to my own! Power enough to shake this planet to its foundation!" These were the words spoken by the horse-faced alien known as Beta Ray Bill, perhaps the most unlikely of hammer bearers, as he first was endowed with the Asgardian might of Thor. Investigating a mysterious alien ship approaching Earth, Thor confronted Bill, the ship's pilot. Bill thought Thor was a demon sent to destroy his ship, and Thor thought Bill was just the latest in a long line of alien invaders (blame the Skrulls). During the struggle, Thor was separated from Mjolnir and reverted to his human form of Donald Blake. At this point, S.H.I.E.L.D. joined the fray, and Bill sought out Thor's weapon in order to fend off the new threat. When he found Blake's crude walking stick, he slammed it into a wall in frustration -- and was imbued with the power of Thor!

At the time, this was one of the greatest shocks to ever appear in a Thor comic. Here was a monstrous looking alien, who appeared to be a threat to Thor and Earth, but in reality, he was one of the bravest and most pure beings in the galaxy. Eventually, Beta Ray Bill would be gifted with his own magical Uru hammer, the mighty Stormbringer, and become a fan-favorite character for Marvel, one that plenty of readers are hoping to one day see on film.

Throg
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor #364 (1986) by Walter Simonson

Yes, at one point, Thor was transformed into a leaping amphibian by Loki. As a frog, Thor joined with a brave band of frogs who were locked in a prolonged conflict with a group of evil rats in New York's Central Park. During a particularly violent battle, a sliver of Mjolnir splintered from the magic hammer...

...and was found by a frog named Puddlegulp. Still with us? Puddlegulp was himself a transformed mortal named Simon Walterson, who was trapped in the form of a frog due to a witch's curse. Puddlegulp lifted the sliver -- and was found worthy. In a crash of thunder, he was transformed into Throg, Frog of Thunder. As Throg, Puddlegulp is a member of the Pet Avengers, defending the animal kingdom from evil rats and other threats. Throg might be the strangest of Thor's iterations, but he certainly ranks among the bravest.

Storm
First wielded the power of Thor in "Uncanny X-Men" Annual #9 (1985) by Chris Claremont and Art Adams

While she already possessed the mutant ability to command the awesome power of thunder and lightning, there was a time when Storm of the X-Men nearly possessed the power of Thor. With her gentle heart, fierce sense of fairness and dedication to her extended family of mutants, there is little doubt that Storm would be worthy of Thor's power if the opportunity presented itself, which it actually did at one point, despite Loki's machinations. After being transported to Asgard with the X-Men, Storm was gifted by Loki with a magic hammer named Stormcaster, and fans got a brief glimpse of the goddess of thunder. When she realized she was being manipulated, Storm cast Loki's "gift" away and abandoned her new powers.

Years later, in "X-Men: To Serve and Protect" #3 (2011), Stormcaster appeared on Earth and called to Storm. When the X-Man gave into temptation and lifted Loki's trick hammer, she fell under the sway of the god of mischief. Thor arrived up to help Storm, and she broke Loki's hold on her. She then grasped Mjolnir, using the hammer to shatter Stormcaster, thus proving herself fully worthy of the power of Thor.

Wonder Woman
First wielded the power of Thor in "DC Versus Marvel" #3 (1996) by Ron Marz and Dan Jurgens

Fans may be surprised to learn that prior to this week's announcement, there was another female hero, one with just as deep a connection to the gods of old as Thor, who once wielded Mjolnir -- none other than Princess Diana, better known as DC Comics' Wonder Woman. That's right, Superman isn't the only DC legend to hoist the fabled hammer. In "DC Versus Marvel" the greatest heroes of both worlds did battle to decide the fate of their respective universes. Wonder Woman was paired up with Storm and the two duked it out, with the fans deciding who would win each battle. Of course, the X-Men books were the most popular titles in comics at the time, so pretty much any DC hero paired against a mutant was doomed to lose, but that didn't stop Wonder Woman from trying. Before the fight began, Wonder Woman found Mjolnir, lifting it and transforming into an Asgardian/Grecian mash-up for the ages. It was awesome, though all too brief, as Wonder Woman decided it wouldn't be fair to take on Storm with such an advantage. Wonder Woman dropped Mjolnir and proceeded to lose to Storm, but for one brief spark of time, Diana proved that, even though she was part of Thor's distinguished competition, she was indeed worthy.

Future Thor, Dargo Ktor
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor" #384 (1987) by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz

The creative team of DeFalco and Frenz placed the power of Mjolnir into more hands than any other, though not all their creations fought side by side with Thor in the present. Dargo Ktor wielded the hammer of Thor in the far future -- the year 2587, to be exact -- in a world where the old beliefs had become fairy tales and corporations ruled. In this future, there is a Cult of Thor, who went about the Arthurian task of finding someone able to lift Mjolnir. Though Dargo believed it all to be nonsense, when a corporate band of killers (led by a disguised Loki) attacked the rebellious cult, Dargo desperately reached for a weapon, and you can guess what happens next. Dargo is mostly forgotten by today's audience, but for a brief time he brought a pretty cool sci-fi element to the Thor mythos. He even joined a group called the Thor Corps, along with Beta Ray Bill and Thunderstrike, proving that past, present or future, there will always be those who are worthy.

Thor 2099
First wielded the power of Thor in "X-Men 2099" #5 (1994) by John Francis Moore and Ron Lim

The Thor of 2099, a Thorite priest named Cecil McAdam was neither worthy nor did he lift Mjolnir, but he did become another future version of Thor, albeit through convoluted means. The evil Avatarr granted a group of Thorists, a future religion defined by its cult-like devotion to Thor, the powers of the gods. Complete with his own hi-tech hammer, McAdam finds himself brainwashed by Avatarr into believing he is a true god. This angry new Thor was defeated by the heroes of 2099, but the real Mjolnir was never found. That is, until a revived Steve Rogers (yes, he was once again placed in suspended animation) discovers his friend's missing hammer and becomes the new Thor. When 2099 fans last saw Mjolnir, Rogers had given it to the Spidey of 2099 for safekeeping. Hey, might that little tidbit come into play in the new "Spider-Man 2099" series?

Red Norvell
First wielded the power of Thor in "Thor" #273 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema

Roger "Red" Norvell was a member of a documentary film crew brought to Asgard by Loki on the eve of Ragnarök. While in the Golden Realm, Red fell in love with Lady Sif, and when she rebuffed his advances, Loki offered him Thor's Iron Gloves and Belt of Strength and encouraged him to go against Thor in combat. Driven insane by his new powers, Red accidentally killed his co-worker while attacking Thor, at which point Sif swept Red to another dimension and taught him the error of his ways.

Little did anyone know, the entire event, even Loki's part, was manipulated by Odin, who wanted to create a stand-in for his son should Ragnarök occur, which is exactly what happened. Thor was fated to die during Ragnarök, but after his time meditating on his misdeeds, a lucid Red bravely sacrificed himself in Thor's stead.

Later, Odin restored Red to life, presenting him his own hammer, Crusher. Red is assumed to still be a champion of Asgard and a man who briefly, if wrongly, called himself Thor before finally proving himself worthy of the name.

Earth X Thor
First wielded the power of Thor in "Earth X" #0 (1999) by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross and John Paul Leon

We considered avoiding all alternate universe Thors in this piece, but the "Earth X" Thor is just too close to the topic at hand -- the new, female Thor -- to ignore. In the alternate reality of Earth X, Odin transformed his son into a woman to teach Thor a lesson in humility. In other words, it was a way for Odin to tell Thor to start treating women with respect. Over the course of the "Earth X" epic, Thor being a woman did not have much impact on the overall narrative. X or Y chromosomes, Thor was still Thor and acted like the champion he/she had always been.

And The Rest!

And since we're mentioning some alternate universe Thors, let's roll call Jane Foster, who became the hero known as Thordis in “What If?” Volume 1 #10 (1978) by Don Glut and Rick Hoburg; Rogue, who absorbed the worthiness to lift Mjolnir from Thor in “What If?” Volume 2 #66 (1994) by Simon Furman and John Royle; and believe it or not, the world’s most famous barbarian Conan hefted the hammer in the pages of “What If?” #39 by Alan Zelenetz and Ron Wilson!

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