Replacement Heroes: Thor

Replacement Heroes: Thor

Thor #600, the home of the newest version of Thor

We’ve been running through looks at who’s filled in for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man, and now, by frequent request, we do now address the replacement status of the Odinson! Whether you realize it or not, Thor has been a frequent host to replacement shuffle. The Mighty One claims replacement by mortals, aliens, and even amphibians. To get you in the mood, might I suggest playing “Twilight of the Thunder God” by Swedish Viking-metal kings Amon Amarth in the background? And once again, please note that these are some of the notable replacements, and the piece does not aspire to be a complete list. All right? Have at thee, then!

Thor #276

Red Norvell: The first is actually one of my favorites. I got these issues (Thor #276-278) at a flea market at the Vigo County Fairgrounds somewhere around 1980 or 1981. The story appealed to me for three reasons: 1) I was into Norse mythology, and thought it was cool that they would use a redhead here, as Thor was traditionally depicted as having red hair; 2) Even then, I was amused that Thor and Wonder Woman would have been replaced by redheads at roughly the same time; and 3) The Midgard Serpent and Ragnarok! (Okay, like I said, 1981 makes me about eight, and I hadn’t totally caught on to the, shall we say, frequency of Ragnarok).

Nevertheless, the Red Norvell story was swell. Norvell was part of a crew that had been allowed into Asgard to shoot a documentary (much cooler than Super Size Me from the sound of it). Red falls for Sif, and Loki rigs it so that Red gets his hands on some artifacts that allow him to usurp Thor’s power and abscond with Sif. Everything falls apart, making Asgard race toward Ragnarok. Red winds up standing in for Thor to battle the Midgard Serpent, and buys the farm. Turns out that most of Ragnarok was an Odin-powered illusion; Odin was hoping to replace Thor and break the chain of prophecy dictating that Thor and the Serpent kill one another in the final battle. With A Thor dead, Odin was hoping that regular Thor could avoid that fate and turn the tide when Ragnarok did come. Thor’s Dad, not always the nicest.

Red actually returned years later while Thor and Odin were having another bout of estrangement. He helped save the Asgardians during a protracted campaign against Seth and the Dark Gods, even as Thor was caught in the midst of Onslaught and unable to help. At this point, we’re not sure what impact the “Disassembled Rangnarok” had on Red; maybe he’s hanging around, ready to fill the Thunder God slot now that Thor’s been banished again.

Sigurd

Sigurd Jarlson: Not really a replacement for Thor, but really a replacement for Thor’s most famous human identity, Dr. Donald Blake. When Odin imparted the ability to switch between the god and mortal forms from Thor to Beta Ray Bill, Thor essentially gave up the Dr. Blake half and had one body, all the time. Nick Fury helped him concoct a cover identity: Sigurd Jarlson, construction worker. Basically, this was Thor’s Clark Kent; he’d put on normal clothes and glasses. The Jarlson identity didn’t stick around for a hugely long time, but he was there long enough to get a place-counter in the original Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game from TSR. But I digress, as we just mentioned the guy that’s one of the most famous replacements . . .

Beta Ray Bill

Beta Ray Bill: Fan-favorite Beta Ray Bill has a fairly complicated backstory, so we’ll abbreviate it here: What If Thor Looked Like a Horse? Not enough? Well, then . . .

Beta Ray Bill is a member of the Korbinite race; his people suffered great loss at the hands of Surtur, giant underworld fire god of Muspelheim, and one of the eternal enemies of Asgard. As the survivors made their way toward Earth, they encountered Thor. Reading him to be of the same mystical fiber as Surtur, Bill (a genetically engineered champion) attacked. Eventually, Bill demonstrated his mettle and worth by being able to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Odin and Thor were both impressed by the alien’s nobility and drive. Odin gave Bill his own powerset, complete with his own hammer, Stormbreaker. Bill would join the Asgardians and heroes of Earth in a battle with Surtur, and would often fight alongside, or in place of, Thor as needed. During the recent “Disassmbled Ragnarok” and Secret Invasion, Bill teamed up with Thor again. Bill also recently helped out Omega Flight in their battle against the Great Beasts.

Actually, I predict that Bill will get his own article here at Newsarama in the near future.

The cover's text? An old, old joke... The cover's text? An old, old joke...

Frog Thor: Thor #363 thru #366 features one of the great fun bits of Walt Simonson’s frankly awesome run on the character. Thor’s not so much replaced as, well, turned into a frog. As the ongoing machinations of Loki have the Asgardians running in all directions, Thor is stuck on Earth in frog form, adventuring in the sewers and hanging out with the Frogs of Central Park. Eventually, he gets his webbed fingers back on Mjolnir and . . . well, stays a frog. But with a giant thunder god hammer. While the curse would be broken and Thor would revert to himself, this remains one of the peaks of mad invention of this cycle. In fact, there’s going to be a whole new Frog Thor in the pages of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers.

Thunderstrike

Eric Masterson: A friend of Sigurd Jarlson, Masterson became the human half of Thor. This transpired after Masterson was able to lift Mjolnir and save Thor’s life; Masterson was nearly killed, but Thor saved him by merging with him, facilitating their trafficking in the same “body-switching” that occurred with Thor and Donald Blake. At one point, Thor killed Loki and was, for a change of pace, exiled from Earth. Masterson was allowed to take Thor’s power and be Thor on Earth. When Loki got better, Masterson had a role in making it so that the actual Thor could come back to Earth. Masterson, for his service to Asgard and Earth, was given the mace Thunderstrike (a name he also took for his heroic code-name). He was later killed battling Seth.

Jake Olson: Another stand-in for Donald Blake, Olson was a paramedic that became Thor’s human half upon the Thunder God’s return from the Onslaught affair. After serving for a while in this capacity, he was released from duty by Odin.

Clor!: Officially now called Ragnarok, Clor was the cybernetic clone of Thor created by Skrullowjacket (er, the Skrull-disguised Hank Pym) during the Civil War. He killed Bill Foster (Giant-Man/Goliath) during one battle, but later had his fake-Asgardian ass handed back to him by Hercules. Most recently, the damaged “Ragnarok” attacked the Initiative and battled the New-New Warriors (Justice’s offshoot team, kinda like Spinal Tap’s early incarnation as the New Originals). Baron Von Blitzschlag revealed the clone’s nature to him, as well as explaining the new location of Asgard; the angry clone took off, no doubt to get beat down by the real Thor in the near future.

New Thor!: Not so much a replacement as a refinement. This is the current Thor, the version that got a new number one after all was said and done in Civil War. (Granted, they’ve gone back to the old numbering again, but hey!) Still, this Thor has some new bits (new costume, modified speech), some old traits (Don Blake, banished again), and a much darker Marvel Universe to explore.

Dargo Ktor: Not properly an exact replacement for Thor, Dargo Ktor nevertheless wound up wielding Mjolnir in the future of Earth 8170. He has teamed up with Thor, Thunderstrike, and Beta Ray Bill in a grouping referred to as “The Thor Corps”.

And that’s a look at a few of the heroes that have hefted the hammer. Thoughts on your favorites or other versions of the Mighty One?

Related:

Replacement Heroes: Spider-Man

Replacement Heroes: Wonder Woman

Replacement Heroes: Superman

Replacement Heroes: Batman

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