First Published: June 2005
Contents: Journey Into Mystery #113 (February 1965) to #125 (February 1966); Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 (1965); Thor #126 (March 1966) to #136 (January 1967); and Thor Annual #2 (September 1966)
Key Creator Credits: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Key First Appearances: Absorbing Man, Destroyer, Warriors Three (Fandrall, Hogun, and Volstagg), Olympus, Hercules, Zeus, Hippolyta, Pluto, Ares, Artemis, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Cerberus, Tana Nile, Ego the Living Planet, Recorder #211, Count Tagar, High Evolutionary, New Men, Knights of Wundagore, Dr. Keith Kincaid
Story Continues From: Essential Thor Vol. 1
Story Continues In: Essential Thor Vol. 3
Overview: Take a journey into mystery, by following the Rainbow Bridge to the fabled world of Asgard, led by the all-father Odin, and represented by the prince to the throne, Thor, god of thunder and protector of Earth.
In the continuation of the Norse god’s adventures, Thor faces off against stronger foes, such as the Grey Gargoyle and the Absorbing Man. Thor is tested to his limits as the Asgardian Destroyer is let loose. Loki’s schemes get more nefarious in his attempts to steal the throne of Asgard away from Odin, only to be thwarted by Thor.
The Norse gods cross paths with the Greek gods, as Hercules, Prince of Power, faces off against Thor in a memorable introduction. Hercules and the other Greeks would appear many times in this volume, and the popularity of Hercules would lead to his inclusion in the Avengers title.
Finally, the scope of Thor and his book expands as he takes a journey into space, where he encounters one of his greatest challenges to date when Thor faces off against Ego, the Living Planet! Following his return to Earth, Thor meets the High Evolutionary on the peak of Wundagore Mountain, which will be a thorn in the side of many Marvel heroes for years to come.
The Tales of Asgard stories continue throughout this volume, giving the reader insights and backstory into many of the supporting characters in the Asgardian mythos.
What makes this Essential?: This is a much better volume of Thor stories than the first volume. While I don’t believe Lee & Kirby hit their creative peak with Thor until volume 3, we see the seeds of grandeur starting to show in the stories. The introduction of Hercules, Zeus, and the Olympian pantheon creates counterparts to the Norse gods and gives Thor a friendly rival to go up against. Add in the introduction of the Warriors Three, the Absorbing Man, and Ego the Living Planet, and this could be considered a better starting point for a new Thor reader.
If you like this volume, try: the Incredible Hercules series from 2008-2010. Following the events of the World War Hulk storyline, Hercules took over the Incredible Hulk title, with it being renamed in issue #113. Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, the story is a humorous look into the adventures of the Greek demigod partnered with Amadeus Cho, a teenage super-genius. Hercules finds himself caught up in awkward situations, usually due to his womanizing ways or by the actions of his rival Ares. These issues have been collected in hardcover and trade paperback collections and should be easy to track down.