The Transparent Fox:
Journey Into Mystery #104-106
Issue(s): Journey Into Mystery #104, Journey Into Mystery #105, Journey Into Mystery #106
Review/plot: We start with Loki berating the Enchantress and the Executioner for failing to defeat Thor in the last arc.
But Loki's got lots of irons in the fire. He's still manipulating Odin who is mad at Thor for loving Jane.
He convinces Odin to head out to Earth and confront Thor directly. Odin leaves Loki in charge. As soon as Odin heads off, Loki sits on the throne and releases Skagg the storm giant and Surtur the fire demon.
Heimdall sees them and sends Balder to alert Odin (this is Balder's first proper appearance, not counting a silhouette in JIM #85 and a brief Tales of Asgard appearance in JIM #102).
Odin sends all the people on Earth into another dimension (!)...
...and he, Balder, and Thor battle the two mega bad guys.
Surtur is only human sized in this appearance. Thor leaves him stuck to an asteroid in deep space, which is, interestingly, where Surtur will launch the horde of demons that sets off Ragnarok in Walt Simonson's run many years later.
After the tough fight, Odin decides that it's not the right time to talk about Jane Foster. But luckily, Odin finally figures out that Loki is a nutcase that needs to be locked up, so he sends him to the trolls.
Next, after an Avengers meeting (i love that they have these regular formal meetings, and i love this time it happens in Thor's book just to show how it's all connected (and to promote the Avengers, ofc))...
...Thor flies off and winds up in a fight with the Cobra. The Cobra hides in an apartment that turns out to belong to Calvin Zabo - Mr. Hyde.
The two of them form a lasting partnership (although it's a very abusive relationship because Hyde has a bit of a temper) and go against Thor. They locate Thor using a crazy device that lets them view events that have recently occurred in the past, and they trace him back to Don Blake's office. Luckily they don't actually see him transform into Blake, and they don't make the connection.
It's a really rough, two-issue fight...
...and at one point Thor gets turned into Don Blake with his walking stick stuck in a mechanical device. Don has to 'betray' Thor in order to change back, which Jane Foster hears about on television and gets mad about. But it's really about getting his cane back; i love this scene with the Cobra having to snake his way through the device. He ultimately fails to retrieve the stick and Hyde simply smashes it open to get the stick.
Thor does win the fight, and both Cobra and Hyde go to jail.
Tales of Asgard: The story of how Heimdall got his job guarding the rainbow bridge...
...a story about when Heimdall once didn't see an air sprite fly past him but warned Odin anyway...
...and a story of how Baldur got his invulnerability.
Per min's comments, here's some pictures of the awesomely-dressed Nedra from the Tales of Asgard back-up in #105.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Thor vol. 1
Inbound References (2): showBalder, Captain America, Cobra, Enchantress, Executioner, Heimdall, Henry Pym, Iron Man, Jane Foster, Loki, Mr. Hyde, Odin, Skagg, Surtur, Thor, Wasp
"Skag" was also 1960s slang for heroin.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 9:56 PM
Odin is such a chump. how many times is he going to let Loki trick him with these obvious ploys?
so, when the Cobra tries to sneak up on Zabo, Zabo says "Someone behind me! It can only be an enemy!". sometimes fnord12 comes up behind me. now i know i should just turn around and start swinging.
the Heimdall getting picked to guard the Rainbow Bridge story is weird in that Heimdall "reveals" his abilities to hear and see everything as if nobody was aware of this previously. is Heimdall the new guy or has he been keeping his skills a secret all this time?
let's face it, we all love it when Kirby draws Asgardians and all of their enemies because of the awesome costumes he dresses them in. in the "When Heimdall Failed" story, Kirby's got Queen Nedra in the most awesome fur head thing. and he dresses her in these fuzzy booties that look like slipper mops to me.
the last Tales of Asgard story is another weird one where Odin has a bunch of his warriors try to kill Baldur whilst secretly making sure those attempts fail. he reveals it at the end after each of the warriors have begged Odin to not have to kill Baldur. then it's all "Ha Ha! That's great! Odin, you're the best!". i think Odin just enjoyed the power of making them all do something they really didn't want to. crazy old man.
Posted by: min | June 24, 2012 4:04 PM
Probably would bump it up a Significance Number for Surtr's first modern appearance (outside Tales of Asgard) and, as you mentioned, essentially setting up for the Surtwar 20 years later.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 10, 2013 4:30 PM
I'm curious where the JIM scans come from, since they have so much more a glossy look than the other issues in this period.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 23, 2014 3:03 PM
I believe they are from the Masterworks reprints. (You may already know my scans are from, er, online copies so that i can save time on reviews instead of scanning my own. I actually have the Essentials for these.)
Posted by: fnord12 | December 23, 2014 3:38 PM
Thanks for the answer fnord.
The interesting thing is how much might have been changed in the Masterworks. I just read the first X-Men Masterworks and when Jean first appeared she mentions her telekinesis, while in your scan it's "teleportation."
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 24, 2014 9:01 AM
This story is pretty much the nail in the coffin for Hyde and Cobra as Thor villains; the end of #106 shows that Thor can take Hyde out in less than a minute without using any of his more exotic powers, and the Cobra is...well, the Cobra. The next time they turn up, they get their powers doubled...and still lose. It's little wonder they moved over to>daredevil and Captain America afterwards.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 16, 2015 11:36 PM
It seems to me that the story from JIM #104 belongs with the previous grouping of JIM issues as its events appear to follow very soon after the previous tale without the whole Hulk-FF-Lava men excursion with the Avengers.
Very enjoyable site to visit as I am reading through some early Masterworks collections this spring!
Posted by: Michael Grabowski | April 15, 2017 2:26 AM
Since he has an original copy of #103, I suspect he does it this way to avoid cutting up his Essential Thor more than he already has. You'll see this happen sometimes where he has a long run of comics in a trade and even though they should be broken up in places or some issues should go with other entries from a strict chronological perspective, he'll keep them together unless it's absolutely necessary to split them.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 15, 2017 4:36 AM
The story in issues 104 builds on the mythology presented in the Tales of Asgard backups in issues 98 and 99, but there are some strange inconsistencies. The backups have Odin in olden days trap Ymir within a circle of flame, and trap Surtur within the depths of the Earth. (Surtur, somewhat pathetically, sends Odin a winged horse to try and buy his freedom, but Odin already had two winged horses in the Ymir story. You need to put in more effort when shopping for the Allfather.)
#104's present-day story sees Loki free Surtur from within the Earth - well enough - and frees from the circle of fire Skagg, a storm giant who's never appeared before, and who Odin promptly kills. Why did he get swapped with Ymir? And as the review points out, Surtur is man-sized in #104, but he was his typical huge self in #99.
Posted by: Mortificator | September 24, 2017 2:52 AM
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