A similar deity to the germanic god Thor / Thunor / Donar was worshiped in the Scandinavian bronze age (around 1800-500 BC). However, some records of Thor came from the Roman historian Tacitus (98 AD). Tacitus identified Hercules with the Germanic god Thor because they were both strong and brave, had similar mythological role, as well as physical appearance, and similar weapons (club and hammer).
In the Migration Period Thor was identified with Jupiter because both were gods of thunder, lightning, rain, wind, sky and weather.
In the Viking Age Thor was the most famous and adored God. Thor had wide range of other powers: he controlled harvests, fertility, sent dreams to men, he could heal wounds, he could change his shape, he increased his stature, he relived his goats after death, he created constellations and stars and he could determine the fate (örlög). His worshippers prayed to him for strength in battle, successful in hunt, successful sea voyages, successful in fishing, success at marriage, in times of famine, in times of plagues, for sanctification, for protection, in Norse wrestling known as Glíma, he protected children, he protected the community, for oaths and for revenge.
The myths say that Thor could bring storms blowing his beard. The historian Saxo Grammaticus (13th century) said that Thor was so strong that neither gods nor men could compete against him. Snorri Sturluson (13th century) reported that Thor was born strong and powerful, that he was the strongest of gods and men, and that he could defeating all living beings.
Thor might smite anything as hard as he desired with the hammer Mjöllnir, and the hammer would never break, and if he hurled it at anything he would never lose his target, and it always return to his hands. If Thor desired, the hammer could become so small that he could keep it in his shirt. It had, however, one fault, it was rather short in the handle (Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál). While the Prose Edda says that Thor needs the iron gloves to handle the hammer (Thor wore iron gloves because the handle of hammer was too short), another ancient source says that Thor carries with him only his hammer and chariot goats, indicating that he did not need gloves or belt. No kind of armour withstood his onset, no man could receive his stroke and live. Whatsoever his blow fended off it crushed; neither shield nor helm endured the weight of its dint; no greatness of body or of strength could serve (Gesta Danorum book three).
Thor defeated all berserks, giants, trolls, and many beasts he fought. Thor was an expert swimmer and wrestler. He appeared immediately every time he was summoned. Þjálfi and Röskva were the servants of Thor.
Thor riding in heaven with his chariot and the skies found themselves burning because of Thor, and the ground all low was battered with hail. The Earth split apart, mountains shook and rocks smashed, and heaven above burned.
Thor received the dead farmers and slaves in his kingdom Thrudvang and his hall is called Bilskírnir, in that hall are five hundred rooms and forty. That is the greatest house that men know of.
Name: Thor. Also Tor, Donar, Oku-Thor, Thunor, Atli, Ásabragr, Vingthor, Ása-Thor, Hofregin, Véurr, Björn, Eindriði, Ennilangr, Rymr, Rauða Skeggi, Sönnungr, Þróttöfligr, Þrúðvaldr Goða and many others.
Symbols: The main symbol of Thor was a stylized hammer which has turned up in many archaeological digs in silver, iron and other metals. Thor was also noted for his Belt of Strength which when put on doubled his strength, his iron gloves which let him hold his hammer even after raising it to red hot leaves in battle and his chariot which was drawn by two goats Tanngnjostr (Teeth-Grinder) & Tanngrisnir (Teeth-Barer.)
Usual Image: Thor was thought of as a large mature man with red hair and beard (which gave off sparks when he was angry) he was said to have a wide forehead and fierce eyes.
Area Of Control: strength, power, thunder, magic, lightning, courage, runes, war, fertility and weather.
Holy Books: The Edda, as well as poems and sagas.
Holy Days: Thursday (Thor's Day). This day was sacred to the Germanic peoples.
Place Of Worship: Temples, forests and household altar.
Relatives: Odin (father), Jord (mother & Earth Goddess), Sif (wife), Jarnsaxa (mistress), Magni & Modi (sons), Thrud (daughter).
Synodeities: Marduk (Babylonian), Quetzalcoatl (Aztec), Lei Kung (Chinese), Indra (East Indian), Raiden (Japanese), Zeus / Jupiter and Hercules (Greek-Roman.)
Then and now, Thor was one of the most popular Gods of the Norse pantheon. Though called the son of Odin, there are other accounts that claimed he was older than Odin.
This may have been because of his popularity. Of all the Norse Gods and Goddesses his followers numbered the most, while there were few, if any members of the cult of Odin, he being considered to remote and frankly treacherous, there were thousands of followers and priests of the God of Thunder.
Thor it seems was a god of the people, much as Hercules was to the Greeks, Quetzalcoatl was to the Aztecs, or Gilgamesh was to his people.
Today of course, in comics at least, most people know of Thor through the Marvel comic books version, being the most popular.
However, as a public domain character, other versions have been used in comics.
In DC Comics, the figure of Thor has be used several times: in the late 50s Thor appeared in the pages of Batman Comics where the dynamic duo encountered him as a one shot Bat-Villain; until it turned out that he was just a little guy who turned into Thor by holding his hammer which was made from a glowing meteor tied to a stick; Another character claiming being Thor appeared in Adventure comics in an story wrote by Jack Kirby, who would create the Marvel version of the character later. Kirby also wrote another Thor story for Tales of the Unexpected. Also a parodic version of Thor appeared for two issues of the Inferior Five in the 60s. The most stable version of Thor from DC started to appear after the event War of the Gods, a version of the character who would reapper in Neil Gaiman' Sandman comics. But since the reappearance in Jack Kirby's Fourth World, Thor has keep a definitive identity appearing in several DC titles, even if occasionally.
A Thor who gained superpowers from a lightning stroke appeared in Weird Comics for 5 issues in the 40s. Other versions of Thor have appeared in the late 50s in Tsampiyon Komiks in the Philippine a series was run detailing the story of the human who adventures were the basic for the myth that would become Thor; In the comic Elementals from Comico, another Thor, who had been living hidden in the moon, revealed than World War 2 was the Ragnarok feared by the nordic pantheon; in Donald Duck comics, David Brin's The Life Eaters, Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon, Fawcett's Whiz Comics, Peter Madsen's Valhalla, and from Argentina, El Cazador de Aventuras, the story of the Ragnarok and a few comics from Amryl, showing that not all comics book Thor’s are blonde, from Marvel, or even always heroes.