That Time Thor Beat Up Thanos and Everyone Wept – Thor #21-#25 Review

There are certain things that really shouldn’t happen. Elephants shouldn’t fly. Baseball players shouldn’t cry. Humans shouldn’t eat mushrooms willingly (it’s a fungus y’all, come on).

Perhaps more importantly than any of the above, Thor should NOT beat Thanos in a standalone knockdown dragout brouhaha. And of course that’s exactly what happens in Dan Jurgens and John Romita Jr’s early 2000’s Thor #21-#25.

Here’s the thing: I’m more than ok with Marvel heroes overachieving. Should Spider-Man really be able to walk away the victor in an issue with Loki, god of mischief? Not really. But it happens, and I get it – Spidey’s the hero, and he’ll generally pull out a victory through some combination of guile and fortuitous luck.

But Thanos losing a one-on-one fight? Thanos! In essentially his first story arc, the Mad Titan imprisons Kronos, aka CHRONOS, aka the cosmic embodiment of the life force.

Thanos is a Boss

No big deal, just Thanos imprisoning cosmic entities

So let’s get one thing out of the way real quick: while it’s not a huge stretch to imagine Thor holding his own in any fight (especially one where Odin and some weird Troll dude send him magic armor and weapons), this is Thanos we’re talking about. Any story that ends with Thanos beaten the same way Thor might beat the Absorbing Man is seriously problematic.

Wait, is this the worst Thanos story?

A little while back, I stated that Thanos Rising, the ongoing Infinity prelude from Jason Aaron & Simone Bianchi, is the worst Thanos comic of all time.

A reader was quick to point out that this Thanos appearance in Thor #21-#25 was so appalling it was retconned twice – once by Peter David and once by Thanos-creator Jim Starlin.

While Starlin’s decision to wipe out any Thanos story he didn’t write is kind of an awesome power move (what’s mine is mine y’all!), Thanos actually isn’t all that poorly written by Dan Jurgens here.

Thor #21 was published in March of 2000, and as such this series really feels its age. There’s a period of comics transitioning from the late 90’s on through the early millennium that feel and look extremely dated, and this Thor story arc is no exception. There’s a lot of story time given to a Thor alter ago I had never heard of (Jake Olson anyone?), and Mangog gets prime real estate as a stud Thor villain.

Mangog eating Thor

You can’t unsee that.

End of the day, it’s not a particularly essential Thor story, and frankly, unless you’re really interested in the complete Thanos reading arc, I’d pass on the run.

But – that doesn’t mean this is a terrible incarnation of Thanos. Yes, I have problems with Thor’s ultimate beatdown of the cosmic destroyer (and you should too), but Thanos’ goal is very much in line with his character.

In short, Thanos is collecting cosmic artifacts – the Chalice of Tears and the Map of All-Ending – in an effort to destroy the universe. If Thanos had a weekly to-do list up on his fridge, you know what it would say?

1) Collect cosmic artifacts

2) Destroy the universe

3) Milk?

So again, I have to think Starlin’s no-doubt retcon of Thanos from this story (he claims the Thanos in this Thor arc was a clone) has more to do with the ending than much of anything else.

Could I have done without Thanos making the weird, horribly ill-explained future lady cry? Yes. Yes, I absolutely could have done without that creepy foray into tear-rape. Nonetheless, it’s classic Thanos – manipulating someone into performing the exact act he needs without using much of his own force.

Thanos makes girls cry

Remember: No crying in baseball.

I can’t recommend Thor #21-#25 to anyone other than Thanos obsessives, but as it stands, I have to declare this is not the worst Thanos story I have ever read. It’s up there, yeah, but mostly this is a ridiculous romp through a middling Thor story arc. Thanos Rising can rest safely in the knowledge that its incomparable evil stands tall.


  1. says

    I read Thor Vs Thanos and thought it was fantastic. Very Mellodramatic but all the characters do behave like their descriptions; Thor is rambling in old english throughout and Thanos is ticking things off his Armageddon to-do list.
    Having said that i do consider your point that this is THANOS we’re talking about but the deux ex machina used to help Thor is hilarious and fits really well since he is a diety afterall but gets a some magic armour and a robot to intervene.

    i read Thanos Rising recently too and i thoroughly enjoyed it. I get the impression this is to give a new if not clearer interpretation of who Thanos is, especially to new readers. I personally felt i was being introduced to him in a new way and that i felt i knew him much deeper. This bodes well for Infinity when it hits because it has the origin of the villain laid out-we know where he is coming from.

    This was a funny and thoughtful look at some great comics. Thanks for an enjoyable read.
    Perhaps you’ll be interested in my mini series of stories that i’m turning into a comic very soon. It’s called Tridents. The other one is called Robin Hood Blood and Arrows. Be sure to check it out

  2. Mitch says

    I find Thanos greatly over powered, how can a Titan yes powerful achieve that type of strength to take on Thor and Hulk. Thor is a God, Hulk is a rage monster and Thanos race are Humans mutated to be super humans or if a Mutant was given the Super Soldier Formula is what Titans really are.

    I find Thanos is over done he can do about anything with really no plausible reason to be able to do so unlike Thor who is a God and is part of the universe compared to Thanos who just got it from Augments that seem way to over to be plausible.

    If that’s the case why hasn’t Loki upgraded himself he has realistically far more resources let alone natural abilities to achieve greater power than Thanos could ever achieve.

    • says

      I think part of the explanation for Thanos’ insane power is that he’s not only a Titan, but a mutant/deviant Titan. So take a mutant on Super Soldier Formula and then augment that by a once-in-a-generation genetic enhancement.

      Ironically, Marvel tried to explain his origins, but it was in the awful Thanos Rising series. I think I’d agree that I could go with some more explanation why he’s as powerful as he is.

      • Dale says

        Don’t forget when he was revived by death he was also empowered by her also. But yeah as to how he can control cosmic energy and be physically as strong as hulk or thor even before this I dunno. He’s also somehow telepathically invincible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *