Love and Thunder, Ragnarok, and The Mighty Thor #362

With Thor: Love and Thunder in theaters now, it should be safe to take a look at one of the iconic comics that inspired key elements of the God of Thunder’s previous adventure. With that said, please note that the below article does contain spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok (2017), so beware.

Cover of The Mighty Thor Issue #362, by the great Walter Simonson

In the early 1990s, I sold my comic book collection to get cash for college. Of the hundred or so comics I owned, I kept maybe a dozen that I simply couldn’t part with. These weren’t particularly valuable, and since I didn’t encase my comics in carbonite or whatever it was that hardcore collectors did, my remaining books have faded and creased over time. Worse, over the years, after many moves across the country and, on a couple of occasions, to other countries, I’ve lost half of those comics, so that now I have six remaining.

One of these is The Mighty Thor #362, which I bought new from a grocery store in 1985. I loved this comic, written and drawn by Walter Simonson, and the issue that preceded it (I am pretty aggravated that I cannot find my copy of issue #361). In short, in these two issues Thor descends into Hel (the land of the dead) with the army of Asgard to rescue the souls of innocent people abducted from Earth by Hela, the Goddess of Death. It’s a storyline packed with action and in a very real way forged the image of Chris Hemsworth’s version of the character (more on that in a second).

Let’s go ahead and fast forward to 2017. Thor: Ragnarok was released in November, and while I hadn’t read a comic book in over 25 years at that point, I loved the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was ready to give this latest Thor blockbuster a try, despite how quirky it looked. And like many people, I absolutely loved the movie. It was fun and at times intense and even a little poignant. But what grabbed me was how this movie just happened to base key elements on one of the few comic books that I still owned and cherished.

Ragnarok and The Mighty Thor #362 (and maybe Love and Thunder!)

Let’s take a look at what Thor: Ragnarok  pulled from the comic: first, the match up is Thor vs Hela. And while the location of the story isn’t the same, much of the action is clearly inspired from the comic.

We have to start though in Issue #361.  In the climax of that issue, Thor battles Hela, and she uses a power she calls the Hand of Glory that not only wounds Thor, but it also disfigures his face to the point he makes a mask to cover it.  In the movie, Hela uses a sword to destroy Thor’s eye. So not as flashy but the vibe is definitely there.

Ouch

And while Thor’s wound in the movie served to make him resemble Odin, the comic Thor’s wound prepared him to look like the mythological Thor, meaning he would grow a beard to cover the mess Hela made of his face. It was from that point on that Thor went from baby face hero to the bearded Thor that we all know today. So it is this comic that gave us the bearded hero that Chris Hemsworth has brought to life. Thank you, Walt Simonson!

Unlike in the movie, which centers its climax around the battle with Hela, Thor defeats her in issue #361 and #362 tells of the desperate attempt to escape from Hel. It’s here where Director Taika Waititi masterfully depicts one of the most emotional moments ever recorded in a comic book: the last stand of Skurge the Executioner against the armies of Hel. 

In the comic, Skurge had been abandoned by the Enchantress, his mistress and love, and realized his life as a servant of a villain was in vain. He decides to buy time for Thor, Baldur, and the army of Asgard to escape from Hela’s hordes at the cost of his own life. And he does so by taking up an M16 in each hand.


 He battles wave after wave of ghouls, and holy heck does Waititi replicate this imagery masterfully, even down to Skurge battling atop a pile of his enemies.


I will say that Skurge’s sacrifice is done well in the movie, but the comic’s depiction is even more powerful.

There are other elements likely inspired by Simonson’s story, from the exaggerated shapes and horns of the helmets of the Asgardians and Hela’s minions

to the battle against Fenrir (called Garm in the comic, and Thor quickly beats him instead of Hulk).  


Of course, Damper Three isn’t the first to point out that this comic helped shape Ragnarok. In fact, when the movie was released, sites like Gamespot.com laid out in much greater detail the myriad comics that inspired the vision, tone, and ultimate story. But it was electrifying for me that of all the comics I bought, sold, and traded in the 1980s, my gut wanted me to keep this particular one. Now millions have since gotten to experience part of the enjoyment I got from it. It makes me wonder if Thor: Love and Thunder hearkens back to this storyline in any way.

 

Maybe, maybe

Have you ever read The Mighty Thor comic, or (better yet) Issues #361-362? And let us know with a comment what comic SHOULD shape future MCU movies.

If you liked this article, check our some of our other pop culture posts:

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        Godzilla vs. Kong: Do You Like Your Monster Gorilla Rare or Well Done?

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