The Marvel Comics superhero Thor debuted in the science fiction/fantasy anthology title Journey into Mystery #83 (cover-date Aug. 1962), and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby. A different version of the mythological Thor had appeared previously in Venus #12-13 (Feb.-April 1951). Lee in 2002 described Thor's genesis early in the Marvel pantheon, following the creation of the Hulk:
How do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends... Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs. ...Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor ... to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn't have time. ...and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby...
Subsequent stories of the 13-page feature "The Mighty Thor" continued to be plotted by Lee, and were variously scripted by Lieber or by Robert Bernstein, working under the pseudonym "R. Berns". Various artists penciled the feature, including Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott, Don Heck, and Al Hartley. With Journey into Mystery #101 (Feb. 1964), the series began a long and definitive run by writer and co-plotter Lee and penciler and co-plotter Kirby that lasted until the by-then-retitled Thor #179 (Aug. 1970).
Lee and Kirby included Thor in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) as a founding member of the superhero team. The character has since appeared in every subsequent volume of the series.
The five-page featurette "Tales of Asgard" was added in Journey into Mystery #97 (Oct. 1963), followed by "The Mighty Thor" becoming the dominant cover logo with issue #104 (May 1964). The feature itself expanded to 18 pages in #105, which eliminated the remaining anthological story from each issue; it was reduced to 16 pages five issues later. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "the adventures of Thor were gradually transformed from stories about a strange-looking superhero into a spectacular saga." Artist Chic Stone, who inked several early Thor stories, observed that "Kirby could just lead you through all these different worlds. The readers would follow him anywhere."
Journey into Mystery was retitled Thor (per the indicia, or The Mighty Thor per most covers) with issue #126 (March 1966). "Tales of Asgard" was replaced by a five-page featurette starring the Inhumans from #146–152 (Nov. 1967 – May 1968), after which featurettes were dropped and the Thor stories expanded to Marvel's then-standard 20-page length. Marvel filed for a trademark for "The Mighty Thor" in 1967 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the registration in 1970.
After Kirby left the title, Neal Adams penciled issues #180-181 (Sept.-Oct. 1970). John Buscema then became the regular artist the following issue. Buscema continued to draw the book almost without interruption until #278 (Dec. 1978). Lee stopped scripting soon after Kirby left, and during Buscema's long stint on the book, the stories were mostly written by Gerry Conway, Len Wein, or Roy Thomas. Thomas continued to write the book after Buscema's departure, working much of the time with the artist Keith Pollard; during this period Thomas integrated many elements of traditional Norse mythology into the title, with specific stories translated into comics form. Following Thomas's tenure, Thor had a changing creative team.
In the mid-1970s, Marvel considered giving the character a second series as a black-and-white magazine published as part of its Curtis Magazines line. A story written by Steve Englehart for the aborted project appeared in Thor Annual #5 (1976). A black-and-white Thor story appeared in Marvel Preview #10 (Winter 1977).
Walt Simonson took over both writing and art as of #337 (Nov. 1983). His stories placed a greater emphasis on the character's mythological origins. Simonson's run as writer-artist lasted until #367 (May 1986), although he continued to write – and occasionally draw – the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987). Simonson's run, which introduced the character Beta Ray Bill, was regarded as a popular and critical success. Simonson's later stories were drawn by Sal Buscema, who describes Simonson's stories as "very stimulating. It was a pleasure working on his plots, because they were a lot of fun to illustrate. He had a lot of great ideas, and he took Thor in a totally new direction." Asked why he was leaving Thor, Simonson said that he felt the series was due for a change in creative direction, and that he wanted to reduce his work load for a time. After Simonson's departure, Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, Tom DeFalco, became the writer. Working primarily with artist Ron Frenz, DeFalco stayed on the book until #459 (Feb. 1993).
As a consequence of the "Heroes Reborn" crossover story arc of the 1990s, Thor was removed from mainstream Marvel continuity and with other Marvel characters re-imagined in an alternate universe for one year. The Thor title reverted to Journey into Mystery with issue #503 (Nov. 1996), and ran four different, sequential features ("The Lost Gods"; "Master of Kung Fu"; "Black Widow" and "Hannibal King") before ceasing publication with #521 (June 1998).
When the character was returned to the mainstream Marvel Universe, Thor was relaunched with Thor vol. 2, #1 (July 1998). As of issue #36, the title used dual numbering in a tribute to the original Thor series, and the caption box for said issue became #36 / #538 (June 2001). The title ran until issue #85 / #587, dated December 2004. Dan Jurgens wrote the first 79 issues, with Daniel Berman and Michael Avon Oeming completing the series.
The third volume debuted as Thor #1 (Sept. 2007), initially written by J. Michael Straczynski and penciled by Olivier Coipel. Beginning with what would have been vol. 3, #13 (January 2009), the third volume reverted to issue #600, reflecting the total number of published issues from all three volumes. Kieron Gillen took over from Straczynski in Thor #604 with artists Billy Tan, Richard Elson and Dougie Braithwaite, with his final storyline finishing in issue #614. Afterward, Matt Fraction took over the series with issue #615, after having been announced as starting in Thor #610 and #611.
To coincide with the Thor film, Marvel launched a number of new series starring the character in mid-2010. These included Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, Thor: First Thunder by Bryan J. L. Glass and Tan Eng Huat, Thor: For Asgard by Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi, and Iron Man/Thor by the writing duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
In April 2011, Thor once again reverted to its original title of Journey into Mystery with issue #622, reuniting writer Gillen and artist Braithwaite in a series of stories starring Thor's adopted brother, Loki. An ongoing series, titled The Mighty Thor, launched the same month with writer Fraction and artist Coipel. The series ended with issue #22 in October 2012.