Thor #1 doubles down on the notion that the world will always need a Thor, but that a Thor will always need his (or her) hammer. That’s a problem for Thor Odinson, who is currently missing his hammer, Mjolnir, the ancient Asgardian weapon that was hurled into the sun (along with the Mangog) by his predecessor, Jane Foster, the Mighty Thor. The issue follows up on Thor Odinson’s demand to meet with the dwarves of Nidavellir from the end of Mighty Thor #706 to build hammers -- so many hammers. True to his word, there are hammers to spare in Thor #1, and the bludgeon he currently wields sounds truly, undeniably badass.
That hammer is the Hulk-Smiter. It’s perhaps not as traditional or eloquent a name as Mjolnir, but it’s a good one, nonetheless, that serves to reference years and years of scuffles between the two most powerful Avengers -- Thor and the Incredible Hulk. Historically, Thor and Hulk have squared off many, many times, with neither hero ever really coming out on top. The rivalry even made its way to the big screen with Thor: Ragnarok, which dove deep into the relationship between the two godlike Avengers, both of whom make up for their lack of brains with a terrifying amount of brawn.
The introduction of the Hulk-Smiter feels like a timely one, as the Incredible Hulk has received a significant upgrade into the Immortal Hulk, a force as unstoppable as he is unkillable. The issue even gives a sneak peek at how powerful a weapon like Hulk-Smiter could be, as Thor uses another hammer to easily take on the Juggernaut, one of the most durable villains in all of the Marvel Universe, whose name can barely be uttered by comics fans without appending “the unstoppable” to it. With the Hulk more terrifying than ever, the introduction of the Hulk-Smiter could be alluding to a showdown between Thor and his old frenemy.
Of course, there’s no telling just how effective Hulk-Smiter would be should push come to pummel. After all, it still comes from a batch of hammers that included another, nameless hammer that broke to pieces when it connected with Cain Marko’s armored face. It’s one thing to call a mythical hammer woven with Asgardian spells “Hulk-Smiter” and another thing completely for said hammer to actually smite a Hulk. That hammer is all Thor has going for him at the moment, though, as the rest of the dwarf-made hammers all perished when he dealt with Juggernaut and his disciples of Cyttorak.
History is also not on the side of Hulk-Smiter, unfortunately. The hammer joins a long line of weapons that were built to deal with one thing and one thing alone: An Incredible Hulk gone out of control. Each of those weapons was built painstakingly for that one purpose, some even by the Hulk’s alter ego, Bruce Banner. None of them have proven to be terribly effective at their goal.