Writer: Stan Lee / Artist: Jack Kirby (and others)
Who is the Strongest Avenger? What say you? Well that’s what this comic is about. Stan Lee was obviously getting lots of fan mail back in the day (published in January 1965) demanding an answer to this question.
And in typical comic fashion…the answer is….”who knows??” Or in my opinion…it’s the hammer. Let me explain.
The comic is basically a flashback told from the perspective of Thor who is trying to help a dispute among some people as to who is stronger; Hulk or Thor. Thor tells of his last run-in with the Hulk and his desire to beat Hulk in a fair fight. Thor does the honorable thing and requests Odin to disable his hammer (Mjolnir) for a short time so he can battle without the hammer, and turning into his mortal altar-ego. This way he can use his brute strength only.
Thor is allowed five minutes of fight time without his hammer. This then leads to a game of “keep away” as Hulk attempts to take Thor’s hammer and destroy it. Since the hammer is now inert anyone can pick it up, even Hulk, and potentially smash it to pieces.
Both characters get in a good hit or two, but ultimately a conclusion is not made as the terrain they are battling on becomes unstable leading to Thor losing track of the Hulk. At this point his five minutes are up and Thor is re-activated again.
This issue solidify’s my opinion that Thor is really only as strong as his weapon and without it he does not pose a huge threat. (A major plot in Avengers 3 is his need for a new weapon after Hela destroyed his hammer in Ragnarok – until his new weapon was secured he wasn’t an issue for Thanos) Though one could argue Hulk did not stick around to finish his fight with Thor, hence he was scared of being defeated.
In any case I think Hulk is strongest since his strength is imbued from within and gains in power as he becomes angry. Thor is reliant on his weapon…and as has been observed…weapons can be taken away.
The story ends with Thor unable to make the claim he is the strongest.
This issue was a fun read and the art was nice. Definitely worth checking out. In addition to the Hulk Vs Thor story is a side story titled ‘Tales of Asgard: The Coming of Loki’. The brief synopsis being this tells of Odin discovering and deciding to adopt Loki as his own.
On Ebay, at time of this writing, this issue sells for anywhere around $50 – $400 depending on condition and if it’s graded.