The trailer for Thor: Ragnarok just dropped and it is creating a buzz that the first two Thor movies never approached. it seems that director Taika Waititi is giving us a gem of a film that is looking to put the Thor franchise in the upper echelon of comic book films. In all the excitement let’s take a look at some comic books that inspired or tie into the upcoming film.
An ancient Asgardian deity known as the Serpent surfaces on Earth and brings with him 8 hammers of hammer that rival that of Mjolnir. These hammers possess the chosen beings and pit them against the superheroes of the world. Thor, Cap, and Stark must band together along with Earth’s mightiest heroes to combat the chosen behind each of the enchanted hammers; which include powerhouses like the Juggernaut, the Thing, and even the Hulk. The story culminates with a showdown the mighty Thor and the Serpent.
Back in 2004 there was an arc titled Thor: Ragnarok which detailed the end of Asgard and the death of all Asgardians. As much as I’d love to recommend the series that’s (loosely) the inspiration behind the upcoming film, I can’t. The story is simply not very good. Instead look up a fun and action packed event called Fear Itself. Matt Fraction showcases a combative event on a worldwide scale as heroes scramble to take on the possessed beings. Stuart Immonen shows off art that is as good as any event in Marvel’s history. The series has some of the greatest moments in modern comic history and is a worthy addition to the pantheon of Marvel stories.
A council of Earth’s superhero leaders decide to solve the problem of the Hulk by jettisoning him to a quiet and peaceful planet. Naturally, this decision did not sit well with Banner. In a fit of rage, the Hulk damages the navigational systems and his ship gets sucked through a wormhole. Instead of paradise Hulk finds himself on Sakaar, a planet ravaged by war and slavery. Hulk must channel his inner Spartacus to survive a gladiator ring and to liberate a planet from tyranny. Also, he smashes lots of stuff.
Planet Hulk is one of Marvel’s best single series events in both sales and critical acclaim. It is also one of the inspirations behind Thor: Ragnarok; as the gladiator armor the Hulk wears is taken straight from the pages. Greg Pak’s masterpiece is one of the staples of modern comic book lore.
Contest of Champions
Cosmic beings in the fringes of outer space are often bored and one of the ways to relieve that boredom is to arrange a contest between heroes and villains throughout the multiverse. The Collector and his brother the Grandmaster collect champions like Iron Man and Venom and pit them against each other in galactic wagers. You never know who’s going to scouted next in the multiverse’s greatest showdown. What good is immense cosmic power if you don’t use it to amuse yourself?
This 2015 miniseries isn’t the first time we see the Grandmaster being all Grandmaster-y and it certainly won’t be the last.Contest of Champions isn’t winning any Eisner’s but it is a fun battle book. The story gets creative in which characters it pulls out and how they use their powers. Use this story as a good sense of how petty beings like the Grandmaster are and how his presence and personality might impact the story of Thor: Ragnarok.
In the aftermath of the Asgardian Siege (another great Thor-centric event) the relationships of the Avengers are shattered and Asgard has fallen. Despite rising tensions, Thor, Cap, and Iron Man must ban together to survive an out of this world adventure and reestablish the balance of the Nine Realms. Eventually, the trio must face off against Hela, the goddess of death, in Hel.
This comic provides a rare opportunity to see Hela in action and she really shines in her role as ruler of Hel. She does not disappoint as a big bad at peak power and we’re looking forward to Cate Blanchett’s portrayal. This series also gave readers their favorite avengers back on a team after years apart. Avengers Prime is a classic story written by Bendis with art from the legendary Alan Davis; it’s an underrated gem.