Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America head on a trip to Hel!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

The past decade has presented plenty of trials and tribulations for the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Heroes have fought heroes, teams have split down the middle, companions have turned on one another—all leaving wounds still healing to this day.

In the pages of 2010’s AVENGERS PRIME, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alan Davis brought together three heroes—each with complicated histories and relationships with the others: Thor, Steve Rogers, and Iron Man.

Avengers: Prime (2010) #1

Avengers: Prime (2010) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In the immediate aftermath of Siege—and a deadly Norman Osborn attack—the trio of Avengers stood amidst the rubble of Asgard in Broxton, Oklahoma. An argument between Stark and Rogers quickly broke out, leading to a brief fight, before a portal opened up and transported the group away, scattering them to different locations across the Nine Realms.

After surviving on their own, the three reunited to learn the new reality of their situation: Hela had taken control of the realms and summoned them to her for slaughter. As the heroes attempted to discover more about their unexpected journey, Hela schemed to make Mjolnir hers. To do that, she called forth Bor—father of Odin—to try and break the connection between Thor and his hammer. Unfortunately for her, that plan failed.

Avengers: Prime (2010) #2

Avengers: Prime (2010) #2

What is Marvel Unlimited?

As a final battle brewed, Hela revealed that she possessed the Twilight Sword, which gave her the increased power she needed to commit these acts and even create a new world of her own devising. With armies now raised, Hela clashed with Thor, Steve, and Tony in a war of epic proportions. Hela even used Thor’s long-dead enemies in the fight.

Thor engaged Hela in a one-on-one battle, pitting Mjolnir against the Twilight Sword, leaving his foe quickly defeated. Then, grabbing hold of the Twilight Sword, he used its vast powers to return the Nine Realms to their previous states—before Hela gained control.

Avengers: Prime (2010) #3

Avengers: Prime (2010) #3

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The communal relationship of the three great heroes’—strained by infighting in recent years—took a restorative step forward.

Ragnarok and Roll

This week, fans finally feast their eyes on “Thor: Ragnarok”! Hela, played by Cate Blanchett on the big screen, first appeared in 1964’s JOURNEY INTO MYSTER #102. The Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation debuted in the “Tales of Asgard” back-up story, wherein a young Thor asked the Three Fates if he’d ever wield Mjolnir. They told him he would, but he’d “have to meet death first!”

Later, with Sif kidnapped, Thor found the power to lift the hammer and go after her—and in the process, he came face to face with Hela for the first time. He offered his own soul to her in place of Sif’s. Taken aback by the attempted sacrifice, Hela allowed them both to leave.

Later meetings between the God of Thunder and the Goddess of Death would prove to be much less cordial.

Read More

The twilight of the Gods comes to Asgard!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

After years of successfully fighting off the end of all things—also known as Ragnarok—Thor and his Asgardian allies finally fell to Loki’s forces in the 2004 Avengers Disassembled tie-in THOR #80#85, by writer Michael Avon Oeming and artist Andrea Di Vito.

Thor (1998) #80

Thor (1998) #80

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The key to the God of Thunder’s demise arrived when Loki discovered the mold that formed Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, eons before. Not only did the God of Mischief use the mold to forge himself a piece of deadly weaponry, he outfitted his entire army with similar pieces.

Loki also made allegiances with Fenris, Ulik the Troll, and Surtur as a means to present the Odinson with as formidable a fighting force as he’d ever witnessed. And Loki’s contingent proved their might; their first battle with the heroes of Asgard left Mjolnir shattered, Sif maimed, and Enchantress dead. Thor himself nearly met his demise in the skirmish, though lived to fight another day.

Gathering the survivors of his realm, Thor retreated with his people across the wastes of Asgard, having lost the power of flight. When Fenris and Dunrok the Demolisher attacked a weakened Thor, Beta Ray Bill made a crucial arrival to his comrade’s side, helping to expel the evil duo. Bill’s reappearance gave Thor a lieutenant with the ability to lead the group as he sought greater wisdom on how the war might be won.

Thor (1998) #85

Thor (1998) #85

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The Odinson then communed with Those Who Sit Above in Shadow—the Gods of Gods who live off the cycle of life and death. In his consultation, he learned magic that even his brother couldn’t repel.

When Thor returned to the battlefield, he defeated Loki with his newfound abilities, using his power to end the Shadow Gods’ cycle of life and death…to end Ragnarok.

Ragnarok and Roll

In the aftermath of this epic tale, Thor went into a hibernation of existence for nearly two years. Readers thought the God of Thunder returned during Civil War, but that turned out to be a hybrid clone-robot created by Reed Richards in an attempt to calm the super hero battle.

In FANTASTIC FOUR #536, Mjolnir mysteriously appeared on Earth, seemingly watched over by a doctor named Don Blake. Blake managed to contact Thor and convinced him to return to the land of the living. The God agreed—and eventually rebuilt Asgard above Broxton, Oklahoma, where it floated until Norman Osborn led his infamous attack on the kingdom during Siege.

Read More

The Odinson and a mindless Hulk throw down in NYC!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

Thor and Hulk have always had a tumultuous relationship.

In the short time they served on the Avengers together, the two didn’t get along too well…though, since then, they’ve adopted a healthy—though sometimes begrudging—respect for each other.

We can’t wait to see what happens when these two titans meet each other in “Thor: Ragnarok,” but until then, let’s scope out one of their most epic battles—in 1984’s INCREDIBLE HULK #300 by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema.

Incredible Hulk (1962) #300

Incredible Hulk (1962) #300

What is Marvel Unlimited?

At the time, Bruce Banner thought he’d done away with the Hulk’s rage-filled personality. However, when Nightmare decided to torment Doctor Strange, the green guy came back as Banner decided to change into the Jade Giant to stop the villain’s dark schemes.

The issue began with The Hulk rampaging across New York City. In response, the U.S. government deemed it appropriate to use any means to take him down—including the use of chemical fire bombs dropped by S.H.I.E.L.D. ships.

The chaos forced a few local New York heroes to respond to the situation as well—Daredevil saved a child from the reverberating danger, Spider-Man caught a couple of plummeting pilots as they fell from the sky, and Doctor Strange escaped Nightmare to search for an alternate dimension in which The Hulk might be contained.

Meanwhile, The Human Torch, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Avengers tried to handle the problem with a more confrontational approach. While none stood a chance against The Hulk, Thor stood tall and matched the might of the Giant. Despite summoning lightning and hurling Mjolnir in the battle, Thor realized that the only way to finally stop The Hulk would be the most drastic measure of all—to kill him.

The battle raged, and the two combatants flung fists and nearby cars as the fight seemed like it’d never end. As the war of attrition seemed most hopeless, however, Doctor Strange reemerged to enact his other-dimensional contingency—and sent The Hulk to another space and time.

Ragnarok and Roll

For an equally epic—though more recent—Thor and Hulk throw down, check out the 2011 event Fear Itself, in which Bruce Banner’s alter ego picked up one a personality-warping hammer and transformed into Nul: Breaker of Worlds. And joining The Hulk with an evil new ego was The Thing—who became Angrir: Breaker of Souls. In FEAR ITSELF #5, Nul and Angrir confronted Thor in a hammer-shattering encounter for the ages.

Next time: the Asgardians face Rangarok once again in Mike Avon Oeming and Andrea Di Vito’s THOR #80#85!

Read More

Thor, Loki, and Odin fight off the fire demon and the coming of Ragnarok!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

From issue #337 to #367, the legendary Walt Simonson wrote and drew THOR on his own. In that time, he revolutionized the character, expanded the mythos, and built upon the foundation Stan Lee and Jack Kirby built for the series.

One of Simonson’s best-remembered arcs arrived in THOR issues #340 to #353. Now known as “The Surtur Saga,” the year-long arc took its time to grow before exploding into a grand conclusion that left both Asgard and Midgard shaking in the aftermath.

Thor (1966) #340

Thor (1966) #340

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In the early issues, the only glimpses readers got of the fiery demon called Surtur came in the form of a shadowy individual pounding a sword on an anvil, sending resounding “DOOM” sound effects across the page. But the more Surtur worked, the more evil creatures woke up inside Earth, waiting for a call to action.

As he worked on this sword, which he named Twilight, Surtur sent the likes of Malekith to Midgard. Thor battled the Dark Elf there for the first time, allowing Surtur to rally his troops for their impending attack.

Odin sensed these brewing troubles and tasked the Warriors Three with gathering a force to fight for Asgard—and ordered that his own armor be prepared. A smart choice, as Surtur broke through the dimensional barrier to the realm at the end of THOR #348.

Thor (1966) #348

Thor (1966) #348

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Thor then returned to Asgard alongside Beta Ray Bill and Sif. After discovering that Surtur planned on using Earth as a stepping stone to get to them, all in the Norse force—except Odin and Heimdall—traveled to battle the monster on Midgard, in Manhattan. Joined by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, Thor and his allies unwittingly played into Surtur’s plan to get to Asgard, kill Odin, and use the Flame of Destruction to bring about Ragnarok—the end of all things.

Suddenly understanding the plan, Thor left his compatriots to fight Surtur’s forces on Asgard, arriving just in time to save his friend Heimdall. Despite this early success, the Odinson failed to stop Surtur from destroying part of the Rainbow Bridge.

Armed with the Scepter Supreme, King Odin joined the fight. He stood firm against the demon, but Surtur’s power grew as he got closer to the Fire of Destruction. Summoning the power of the Cask of Ancient Winters, the flame beast froze Odin before placing Twilight in the Fire of Destruction!

The story reached its climax in the pages of THOR #353, when the previously absent Loki appeared to reveal that Surtur had placed his sword in an illusion, not the real Fire of Destruction. After their allies on Earth regained the Cask, Odin found himself freed and joined his sons in battle.

Thor (1966) #353

Thor (1966) #353

What is Marvel Unlimited?

As the heroes on Midgard defeated Surtur’s demons, distracting their dark leader, Thor threw Mjolnir at Twilight, disengaging the sword’s power. Seeing an opening, Odin grew to Surtur’s size and battled his foe hand-to-hand. As they grappled, Odin ordered Loki and Thor to blast the ground at their feet, sacrificing himself, sending both he and Surtur into Muspelheim.

Quiet fell across Asgard—as the realm stood safe, but without its King.

Ragnarok and Roll

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby chronicled some of the background to this story in the “Tales of Asgard” back-ups featured in the first “Thor Lore” stories! Surtur debuted in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #97, appearing in a panel that read, “At the world’s end sat Surtur, the demon of fire, who waited, with his flaming sword, for the end of the world, when he might go forth to destroy gods and men alike!”

In issue #99, Odin battled Surtur, trapping the demon in Earth’s core. The prophetess Volla then showed Thor and his compatriots what Ragnarok would look like and the part Surtur would play in bringing it about.

In honor of the battle between Thor and the Jade Giant in “Thor: Ragnaraok,” we’ll check out INCREDIBLE HULK #300 next week!

Read More

Lee and Kirby detail the history of Thor, Loki, and Odin!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby conjured up a fascinating mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and super hero elements when they debuted Thor in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #83 back in 1962. As the series progressed—eventually becoming THOR with issue #126—they built a compelling lore based on both existing mythology and their own wild imaginations. And before long, readers knew all about Asgard, the Rainbow Bridge, Midgard, trolls, giants, and dozens of other cosmic beings.

Thor (1966) #126

Thor (1966) #126

  • Published: March 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Thor continued his modern day adventures in both his own book and in AVENGERS, but Lee and Kirby also took time to establish even more history in their “Tales of Asgard” installments. Originally published as back-up stories in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY and THOR, the “Tales of Asgard” came together in a 2009 six issue reprint series called THOR: TALES OF ASGARD BY STAN LEE AND JACK KIRBY—complete with brand-new colors by Matt Milla.

These adventures dug deep exploring Asgardian mythology, including the birth of Ymir the Frost Giant and the first appearance of Aesir Buri as he emerged mystically from the ice. Buri fathered Borr, who later sired Odin, whose adventures filled many pages.

The “Tales of Asgard” back-ups also explored the early relationship between Thor and Loki; the now-common dynamic of Thor mistakenly trusting his less-than-honest half-brother goes back a long time.

These shorter offerings—which would eventually turn into multi-issue epics themselves—also revealed the history of other characters like Heimdall, the Warriors Three, Balder the Brave, and even Loki.

Ragnarok and Roll

The concept of the gods seeing their twilight has existed for ages, but Stan and Jack tackled it in THOR #127. The prophetess Volla explained to Thor, Loki, Odin, and other warriors that chaos would reign in Asgard, that Loki would join the enemy, and that the Bifrost Bridge would be destroyed. The seer continued conveying her vision into the next issue, where they witnessed the death of gods—and their rebirth eons in the future. When the visions ceased, Loki protested the role predicted for him, but Odin still had him locked up in an effort to avoid Ragnarok…for a time.

Thor (1966) #127

Thor (1966) #127

  • Published: April 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Next week, the Odinson and his allies face off against the fiery fury of a god in The Surtur Saga!

 

Read More