After six years illustrating The Mighty Thor, Jack Kirby abruptly ended his association with Marvel Comics after issue #179 and would draw Thor no more. Jack Kirby created the visual design of Thor and much of his supporting world and cast. In his partnership with Stan Lee he was more than just an illustrator, he was a co-plotter, and toward the end of their run, flat-out plotter.
After Kirby leaves, many other fine artists will give their own take on Thor just as Joe Sinott and Don Heck drew Thor for a good stretch before Kirby became the book’s regular artist. However, for my money, Kirby’s Thor is the definitive Thor.
With The Mighty Thor, Kirby and Lee started with a Captain Marvel knockoff superhero story that slowly evolved into mythic romance and ultimately became a magnificent Cosmic Sword and Sorcery Epic unlike any other story before or since. The final year of Kirby was pretty weak, due partially to an editorial edict forbidding ongoing stories and due largely to Kirby’s clear listlessness. However, before that rough patch were some all-time great stories: the anti-noblility of Ulik the troll, the doomed love between Balder and Karnilla, the revelation of Blake’s true nature. These pages were also the home of some amazing battles: Thor and Hercules, Ego and Galactus, all of Asgard against the Mangog.
It was a hell of a ride and would leave oncoming artist John Buscema with some big shoes to fill.