Warning: SPOILERS for Thor #14
It's a question so obvious, a story so necessary, Thor fans may have never even thought to ask it. Everyone knows the God of Thunder is one of the few truly "worthy" enough to lift his hammer, Mjolnir... but when did he actually become worthy, for the very first time?
It seems a moment that every comic book fan should know, and thankfully, it has now been revealed in Marvel Comics canon. And not only is it as terrific and legendary as fans would hope, but it actually pays off a story years in the making (even if fans didn't realize it was being told). But to see the moment Odin's son truly became the Thor we know and love, fans will need to prepare themselves for an unexpected twist. Not only does the story involve time travel, it also reveals that the first hammer Thor lifted... wasn't his own.
As a bit of backstory, readers are encouraged to seek out Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic's Thor: God of Thunder series, in which the hero is united with both his older and younger selves. The ancient All-Father Thor... and the Young Thor, God of Vikings. The trio offered Thor (and readers) a glimpse of the ancient King he would someday become, and the youthful, boastful, battle-hungry boy he had once been. The boy who, try as he might, faced only one challenge he couldn't overcome: lifting Mjolnir.
It's this younger version of Thor who makes his return in Marvel's massive War of The Realms, called upon by the modern day Thor to aid him in battle. With his parents Odin and Freyja held hostage by the villain Malekith, Thor is warned that only he may come to save them, or they will be instantly killed. Realizing a loophole in that enchantment, Thor sends his friends through time to recruit old King Thor once again, along with the young Prince of Asgard. And when he's called upon, the young Thor has (for appearances) given up ever being worthy of the "miserable little uru turd."
Taking his famous, pre-Mjolnir axe Jarnbjorn into battle instead, the young Thor gathers with his fellow gods of thunder. This "Thor Corps," as the Odinson calls it, is the only chance his parents have of being saved, and the War of The Realms ending in his victory. Where he carries a burden, his younger self is focused on pretending like he doesn't care about proving himself as "worthy" as the Thors who stand beside him (Odinson, Jane Foster, and the future All-Father). And once the fight escalates, the unproven Thor is forced to stand aside... until he hears his mother's screams.
With his trap outsmarted, Malekith scramble the dark soldiers loyal to him, turning this showdown into a free for all. But as this "Storm of Thors" come to realize that any wound inflicted on their youngest version causes pain in his future selves, Young Thor takes cover. Before he can even muster up the energy to play off this shame as an inconvenience, or claim that he wasn't really trying to lift King Thor's dropped hammer and save the day moments earlier, the young hero catches sight of his mother, Freyja, moments from being consumed by a dark monster. As he flies to her defense, he finds what he was lacking:
I hear the cries of my other. And my father too, I suppose. And my mind... goes red. And suddenly I no longer give a damn whether I die and take every other Thor along with me. My only thoughts are for the one parent who's always shown me love and compassion over the years. Even when I didn't deserve it. Especially when I didn't deserve it. I think of her and I am moving instinctual ly, punching her monstrous attacker over and over. With all the power in my fists. Yet something... Feels different somehow. In some way... that I can't quite put my finger on.
Thor succeeds in defending the All-Mother, and vanquishing the hideous symbiote beast bent on eating her alive. But what feels different about the victory is the weapon Thor chooses to achieve it. As it turns out, when his mother was threatened, it wasn't Jarnbjorn that Thor instinctively reached for...
Yes, the first time that Thor lifted Mjolnir, confirming himself to be truly worthy of its power, he was pulled forward through time to wield the more powerful Mjolnir re-forged by his older self... pulled back through time billions of years, in addition. To make this scene even more mindbending, the Young Thor holds Mjolnir aloft for the very first time... before the present day Thor actually re-forges it. Those facts may raise some existential questions surrounding the very notion of Mjolnir's inscription... deeming the Young Thor worthy only after he was shown proof that, deep down, he really was.
But more importantly, taking away all the context and specifics of the battle at hand, it was Thor's love for his mother that finally held the key to unlocking his true character. Only when her life was threatened did he place it above his own, and fly into battle having made the choice to die if necessary. To that point (in much the same way as the first Thor movie in the MCU) Thor sought only the glory of warfare and battle, even answering the call through time for the potential of increasing his fame and renown.
The true sign of Thor's maturation, either signaled or caused by the raising of Mjolnir, is his decision to immediately return it to his older self. Still clinging to his youthful bravado and pride, Thor plays the moment off as anything but a deep validation, and the moment he always dreamed might come. But fans know the truth, and are safe to assume that after wielding Mjolnir for the first time in this battle, he didn't wait long after returning home to claim the Mjolnir of his own time. And just as the modern Thor became the one-eyed, Destroyer-armed King of Asgard he met from his own future, the Young Thor also relies upon the War of The Realms to bridge the gap between the God he was, and the hero he will become.
Thor #14 is available at your local comic shop, and direct from Marvel Comics.