Skip to content

Great Comics Logos: Thor

2011 February 18
by Matt

The Mighty Thor has had a number of logos (and that’s just the Marvel version), more than one of them looking pretty cool. But I think recognition has to go to the design which followed Walter Simonson’s arrival on the series as writer/artist.

'The Mighty Thor' logo c.1987

Thor logo from cover of issue #378

Given that Simonson’s “run” on The Mighty Thor arguably remains the high-water mark for the series out of most of a half-century of (nearly) continuous publication, one might reasonably suspect a “halo effect” around anything associated with the title from those years in the mid 1980s.

Yet I believe that even judged aside from Simonson’s writing and drawing, that era’s Thor logo represented a significant advance which, independent of but like Simonson’s stories, has basically set the bar ever since.

Thor didn’t get a logo of his own on the cover until a few years into his series, which had continued to appear as Journey into Mystery for some time after his first appearance. And, when he finally got his name on the cover… meh.

Sometimes the logos from those early days are classics, like Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. Other times they have a charming “retro” kitschiness which gets them an occasional “throwback” appearance, like X-Men or the Avengers.

And then there’s the original Thor logo. It just really isn’t very good. Jagged-edged letters are one thing, but this logo look like someone’s taken a bite out of it. Why…? The world may never know, particularly as Thor’s original logo has probably had fewer reappearances, since Beta Ray Bill smashed it to pieces, than just about any other from the first “wave” of Marvel heroes in the 60s. No one seems to really miss it.

Whereas the Simonson-era logo not only stuck around a good while, but reappeared in the late 90s and clearly inspired the current logo. I go back and forth about which version looks better, to me, but as with the Doom 2099 logos they both seem basically like variations on a theme, established by the older logo way back on the second Simonson issue.

The Thor logo looks good. Why? An interesting question. Thor’s known for his hammer, so arguably something more blocky would seem natural. But that seems like it would come across as too massive, too slab-like; such an approach is fine for the Hulk or the Thing but Thor is often a blur of motion compared to those behemoths. Both the swashbuckling adventure tone of his series and the majesty and legend of tales of the gods, themselves, seem to want more refined, curvilinear shapes.

These are still sturdy letterforms, though. (Admittedly, having only four letters in the title helps.) Despite eschewing a blocky, stone appearance, the Thor logo looks carved or engraved somehow. Carved from wood, perhaps, like the ships of his Viking followers of old, or perhaps just hinting of the curved shapes of what we often think of as “Celtic” metalwork. (Especially next to the lettering of “the mighty” above the Simonson-era logo.)

And, again in spite of a decidedly different shape, the logo’s letter “T” still looks more than a little like a big ol’ hammer; you could easily imagine grabbing that thing and pounding some giant or supervillain square on the noggin’. The Mighty Thor and this logo say thee nay, villain.

So, credit where it’s due; the Thor logo may not be showily clever or, in the big picture, represent stunning innovation. But it’s definitely good design.

Comments are closed.