Thor debuted in Journey Into Mystery 83, cover-dated August 1962.  This was, of course, the very early days of modern Marvel.  The Fantastic Four had only 5 issues under their belts, and the Incredible Hulk had just 2.  JIM was a monthly title (FF and Hulk were bi-monthlies), so Thor was actually the first super-hero headliner to appear every month, beating out Ant-Man by a month.  Spider-Man also debuted in Aug '62, but would have to wait 7 months to get his own magazine.

Of all the Silver Age Marvel books, JIM/Thor seems to get a lot less love and respect than other creations.  That may be because Thor is not really a creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as it is their adaptation of the Thor of Norse myths.  There is one aspect of Marvel's Thor that is possibly borrowed from the Fawcett Captain Marvel, and in some of the early stories, Thor comes across as a poor man's Superman.

In the first year or so, Stan sometimes was credited as the writer, sometimes only the plotter.  It's debatable how much he did or didn't do - it always will be, I suppose - but one thing for sure, he very obviously didn't do the dialogue every issue.  Jack did the pencils on JIM 83-89, 93, and 97, and then was the regular penciller every month starting with 101.  Jack also did the backup feature, Tales of Asgard, starting in JIM 97, a very significant - and excellent - strip on its own.

Inspired by the Baron, I'm going to re-read the Thor stories starting with JIM 83 and give you my thoughts.  I may stop at Kirby's last issue, or I may keep going, I haven't really decided yet.  Like Bob, I'm going to try to be succinct, even though it's not my strong suit - I'm sure I'll be long winded from time to time.  I'm looking forward to what you guys think of these stories as well.

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Certainly some of Kirby's best work.

Sadly we're getting close to the end. A seemingly unbeatable foe with a magic jinni! We really needed a title set in this time period. Give Thor some enemies to fight that could actually challenge him without destroying Earth territory and citizens.Today there'd probably be no problem, but we no longer have Jack.

The first time I read the Tales of Asgard story in # 137, I didn't realize "Jinni" was a homophone counterpart of "genie". In my mind it sounded similar to my own name (John / Jinni), or "gin-ee" versus "gee-nee". This issue was a facepalm moment when I realized "oh yeah, the Jinni IS a genie".

In my opinion, this was the best of the Tales of Asgard stories, and possibly the best Thor story to date.

I was confused by this story as a lad, because Hogun certainly looks Mongol, but djinns are found in the myths of the Mideast. Throw in Xanadu (Zanadu), which is Chinese, and I wasn't sure what Hogun was supposed to be.

As an adult, though, I've read quite a bit more and think he really is supposed to be Mongol. While Aladdin and his djinn are indeed a Mideastern story, Aladdin himself comes from "one of the cities in China." And while Xanadu is the Chinese city we now call Shangdu, it was the summer palace of Kublai Khan, who was Mongol. 

Another distracting bit is that the visual inspiration for Hogun was Charles Bronson! Fandral, of course, was based on Errol Flynn, while Volstagg is based on Shakespeare's Falstaff with a bit of consonant shift. I don't remember where I read all that, but I believe it to be true.

Captain Comics said:

I was confused by this story as a lad, because Hogun certainly looks Mongol, but djinns are found in the myths of the Mideast. Throw in Xanadu (Zanadu), which is Chinese, and I wasn't sure what Hogun was supposed to be.
As an adult, though, I've read quite a bit more and think he really is supposed to be Mongol. While Aladdin and his djinn are indeed a Mideastern story, Aladdin himself comes from "one of the cities in China." And while Xanadu is the Chinese city we now call Shangdu, it was the summer palace of Kublai Khan, who was Mongol.

Of course, these characters are Asgardian and really had no relationship to Midgard, so their origins are not necessarily going to sync with our ethnicities.

Another distracting bit is that the visual inspiration for Hogun was Charles Bronson! Fandral, of course, was based on Errol Flynn, while Volstagg is based on Shakespeare's Falstaff with a bit of consonant shift. I don't remember where I read all that, but I believe it to be true.

I don't remember where I read it, but that's what I heard, too.

Richard Willis said:

Captain Comics said:

Another distracting bit is that the visual inspiration for Hogun was Charles Bronson! Fandral, of course, was based on Errol Flynn, while Volstagg is based on Shakespeare's Falstaff with a bit of consonant shift. I don't remember where I read all that, but I believe it to be true.

I don't remember where I read it, but that's what I heard, too.

You are correct, sirs!

http://twomorrows.com/comicbookartist/articles/02stanroy.html

From Comic Book Artist #2: A Conversation Between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas

Stan: Certainly 90% of the "Tales of Asgard" stories were Jack's plots, and they were great! He knew more about Norse mythology than I ever did (or at least he enjoyed making it up!). I was busy enough just putting in the copy after he drew it.

Roy: I was always curious about those three buddies, Hogun, Fandral, and of course enormous Volstagg. Were those characters your idea or Jack's? That's one of those ideas that I could see either you or Jack making up.

Stan: I made those up. I specifically remember that I did them because I wanted a Falstaff-type guy, a guy like Errol Flynn, and then I wanted a guy like Charles Bronson who was dire and gloomy, riddled with angst. Those three were mine.

Stan wanted to revive this old group on comics that would have had rewards and stuff. Should it be brought back?

Making the Warriors Three regulars in the modern Thor storyline helped make that better, IMO.  Admittedly, even before then, as Lee & Kirby shifted away from the standard baddie of the month (or 2-part story) to stories that involved more mythology and science-fiction elements Thor made a remarkable transformation from almost unreadable dreck to one of Marvel's top titles, along with Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four.  Adding Fandral, Hogun & Volstagg to the mix allowed for some humor in the series as well as just about transforming Thor into a quasi-team book, with a strong mix of dysfunctional family dynamics with big, powerful but not always quite so wise daddy Odin and bad brother Loki appearing quite frequently.  Sure, the main focus was still on Thor, but for me adding all those other characters as regulars made the series that much more fun to read.  

Also, while upon initially reading them I thought it was a bit of cheat in the few stories wherein the day is saved when Odin wakes up and waves his scepter or whatever, it now strikes me as a bit amusing that even someone as immensely powerful as Thor still had to occasionally rely on his even more powerful dad, with whom he didn't always get along and who was often very disagreeable, but still they loved one another.

Thor needed some supporting characters who would actually be with him or near enough to interact with him as he battles the current threats. Even if she knew who he was, Jane Foster wouldn't have lasted five minutes. Iron Man also improved dramatically after Pepper and Happy showed up.

Another aspect I preferred of the later Thor stories, although still in the Jane Foster era, was when Stan & Jack finally did away with the riff on the Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent triangle shenanigans by having Thor reveal to Jane that Donald Blake was his mortal form.  Of course, Jane lasted only a little over another year as a main character for the remainder of the Silver Age, not to come back for an extended stay until well into the Bronze Age.  I don't think Jane really fit in with the sort of stories Kirby wanted to tell (by that point in the mag, my feeling is that Kirby was doing the primary plotting rather than Lee), but Sif, as imagined by Kirby, would very much fit.  The mythic Sif wasn't really depicted as a warrior woman, at least not in any of the accounts that I've read, but then Lee & Kirby had already strayed quite a bit from the myths, even in making Loki Thor's adopted brother rather than Odin's blood brother as in having made a pact, made a cut in their wrists and pressed them together to "share" blood.  At least, that's what I recall reading in one of the collections of Norse myths, although I forget why Odin thought it was a good idea at the time to make such a pact with Loki.

I think Jane would have had to end up sort of like she is now. Instead of just making her able to fly, Odin would have needed to give her weird powers, or at least fighting skills like Sif. Of course it would have worked better if they were going by Thor actually being a normal guy and not the real thing.

The real Thor would have no doubt appeared eventually, and probably have turned out to be a jerk that Blake Thor would have to get rid.

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