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1963-01-01 00:01:10
Previous:
Strange Tales #103 (Human Torch)
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1963/Box 1/Silver Age
Next:
Strange Tales #104 (Human Torch)

Journey Into Mystery #85-92

Issue(s): Journey Into Mystery #85, Journey Into Mystery #86, Journey Into Mystery #87, Journey Into Mystery #88, Journey Into Mystery #89, Journey Into Mystery #90, Journey Into Mystery #91, Journey Into Mystery #92
Published Date: Oct 62 - May 63

Review/plot:
These early Thor stories just aren't very good.

# 85 "Trapped By Loki, The God of Mischief"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Jack Kirby - Pencils
Dick Ayers - Inks
A real missed opportunity. It starts off in Asgard, which we see for the first time. Loki manipulates Heimdall into freeing him from the tree he has been trapped in...

...and immediately sets out to Earth to get his vengeance on Thor for trapping him. Thor is now merged with Don Blake, where, even in Thor-form, he has been shown to have Blake's memories and personality. When Loki first appears to Thor, Blake recognizes him, but only from having read the Norse myths. (Oh, and Thor has the ability to emit anti-matter particles, which restores people that Loki magically converted into "negatives".)

Loki hypnotizes Thor and tricks him into getting rid of his hammer. After 60 seconds, Thor converts back into Blake, canceling the hypnosis. After transforming back into Thor, he captures Loki - who tried to escape on a flock of pigeons -

...and hurls him back into Asgard with his hammer, dropping him off in front of Odin, Balder, and Tyr.

A much better story would have been Blake coming to grips with the fact that he shares a body with a real Asgardian God, and the fact that the other Asgardian Gods still exist.

BTW, Jane Foster thinks Loki is "dashing".

# 86 "On The Trail of the Tomorrow Man!"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Jack Kirby - Pencils
Dick Ayers - Inks
The space between this issue and the last is ripe for an Untold Tales of Thor story. Last issue, Thor learned that Loki and the other Asgardians actually exist. This issue, after a Kang-prototype (in a utopian future where there is no more war, a bored scientist uses a time machine to travel to the past to steal weapons that he uses to dominate his own time) steals a cobalt bomb that Thor was going to help test by standing near it while it exploded...

...Thor beseeches Odin to let him time travel into the future of man.

Odin reminds Thor that his hammer has the ability to travel through time (which is unfortunate). Also, Thor has super-breath (which is unfortunate). Thor's battle with Zarkos in the future is pretty OK, with a clever little misdirection ploy on Thor's part where Thor gets one of the locals to dress up like him and a dramatic scene (since it is the first - i'm sure these will become tedious over time) where Thor is in the middle of a tough fight with some robots and he loses his hammer and has to get it back in 60 seconds. Back in his own time, Jane wishes that she could work for Thor instead of colorless Dr. Blake. I guess those romantic thoughts she had for him back in #83 are long forgotten now that Thor is in the picture.

Per a discussion on the Marvel Chronology Project message board, the right-most general in the top scan for this issue looks remarkably like General "Thunderbolt" Ross from Hulk, and it's especially interesting since the testing is taking place in the New Mexican desert. This issue, with a November 1962 cover date, was printed before any official cross-over between titles (excepting FF/Strange Tales) let alone a true shared universe concept, but it's fun to think that it's Ross.

# 87 "Prisoner of the Reds!"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Jack Kirby - Pencils
Dick Ayers - Inks
Thor beards evil commies in their lair...

...and from the looks of things could have taken down the entire Soviet Union but decides to "let them punish each other for their defeat!" Jane's crush on Thor turns to unhealthy obsession.

Thor has a bizarre array of super-powers in these early issues.

# 88 "The Vengeance of Loki!"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Jack Kirby - Pencils
Dick Ayers - Inks

Loki had been watching Thor last issue when he escaped from the commies' "electronically treated" chains by changing back into Don Blake, so now he knows the secret. He turns into a snake and slithers past Heimdall's guard and traps Thor's hammer under a forcefield, forcing Thor to remain as Don Blake.

He then goes on a mischief-rampage, turning people into "blanks" (instead of negatives this time)...

...turning cars into ice cream, etc. Don Blake tricks Loki into thinking that Thor has already gotten his hammer back, and when Loki lowers the forcefield to see (earlier, the forcefield was transparent, but now it's not. It was a plot-driven spell, i guess.) Blake grabs it, turns back into Thor, and administers the whoop-ass. Then he flies to Asgard to drop off Loki, although Odin admits that he knows not what to do with him. This is the first time we have seen Thor in Asgard since he's been merged with Don Blake, but no comment is made of this. Odin says that he is most pleased to see his favorite son again. Come to think of it, no wonder Loki turned out so rotten.

# 89 "The Thunder-God and the Thug!"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Jack Kirby - Pencils
Dick Ayers - Inks
This story takes place directly after the last issue - it starts with Thor flying home from Asgard and people commenting on the fight between Loki and Thor. I think that's a first. Even issues that reference events from the previous issue have been rare (but are starting to become more common).

After dressing up a mannequin to look like Thor so that he can sneak back into his office (why couldn't he have just transformed in an alley or something?)...

...Don Blake gets back to work while Jane daydreams about polishing Thor's hammer.

A criminal leader injured in a shootout with cops sends his thugs to tie up Jane and bring Don to help him. They take his cane, preventing him from turning into Thor.

But even without Thor's body, Blake still has Thor's brain (!?) and he uses it to contact Odin and beg for help. Odin zaps the thug holding the cane, and Blake grabs it and turns into Thor. Thor then beats up a bunch of thugs. In later issues, Odin is generally antagonistic towards Thor's efforts on Earth. In these early issues, he's directly intervening on his behalf.

The main thug, named Thug Thatcher, and his girlfriend Ruby, will appear again during Walt Simonson's run.

# 90 "Trapped by the Carbon Copy Man!"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Al Hartley - Pencils
Al Hartley - Inks
Don Blake tries to tell Jane that he is Thor and he loves her, but Odin's big head appears, telling him it is forbidden to tell anyone about his true identity.

Then alien doppelgangers try to take over the Earth but Thor stops them.

Stop me if this sounds familiar, but after Thor defeats these shape-shifting aliens, he forces them to shape-shift into trees, whereupon they lose their ability to remember how to change back.

# 91 "Sandu, Master of the Supernatural!"
Stan Lee - Plot
Larry Lieber - Script
Joe Sinnott - Pencils
Joe Sinnott - Inks
Loki powers up a magician to fight Thor.

Thor wins, in part because Odin sends Valkyries to bring Thor his Belt of Strength...

...and also because the magician wastes time trying to pick up Thor's hammer. You have to wonder, between this story and #88, where Loki almost won but got tricked or because his proxy was a little too slow - why doesn't he just try again with the exact same ploy but not get tricked this time?

# 92 "The Day Loki Stole Thor's Magic Hammer"
Stan Lee - Plot
Robert Bernstein - Script
Joe Sinnott - Pencils
Joe Sinnott - Inks
Once again, thugs show up in Don Blake's office and force him to fix their boss who was injured in a shootout with the police. But he turns into Thor and takes them out.

Thor takes care to turn back into Blake before Jane catches him - but based on #90 when Thor wanted to tell Jane his identity but Odin wouldn't let him, i'd like to see him coming up with deliberately lame excuses or being careless so that she could figure it out on his own. I mean, the criminal boss in #88 came really close to putting two and two together; i don't see why Jane couldn't. Anyway, Thor goes off to star in a movie about vikings (!)...

...and Loki somehow makes Mjolnir come flying into Asgard to break Loki's chains (he is chained to an uru rock. Last issue he was free to move about, so he must have done something to piss Odin off since then, or maybe they figured out that he was behind the Sandu plot. Having lost his hammer, Thor appeals to Odin, who brings him to Asgard where Thor can remain as Thor indefinitely, hammer or no hammer. Thor fights his way through some animated trees and dragons, creating makeshift hammers along the way, first out of wood and by tracing his super-strong fingers in a hammer-shape on a stone cliff, literally carving a hammer out of stone with his hand!

And it's not just regular stone, it's Uru. Then he finds his real hammer and discovers that Loki is free, and Odin and Fricka and Heimdall lock him up again.

Quality Rating: D

Historical Significance Rating: 6 - first Asgard, first Loki

Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A

References: N/A

Cross-over: N/A

Continuity Implant? N

Reprinted In: Essential Thor vol. 1

Inbound References (9): show

Characters Appearing: Col. Edward Harrison, Fricka, Heimdall, Jane Foster, Loki, Odin, Ruby (Thug Thatcher's girlfriend), Sandu, Thor, Thug Thatcher, Tyr, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man

Previous:
Strange Tales #103 (Human Torch)
Up:
Main
1963/Box 1/Silver Age
Next:
Strange Tales #104 (Human Torch)

Comments

Unlike the other Norse gods in that issue, Tyr doesn't show up agian for a long time(if ever).

Robert Bernstein was mostly known for writing Superman at DC.

The early Thor issues are awful, but at some point Thor becomes Marvel's best series in the Silver Age. The switchover occurs around the challenge of the gods issue where Thor and Loki compete in Asgard. After that, the quality of the stories is astounding.

"BTW, Jane Foster thinks Loki is dashing."

Jane - the world's first Loki Tumblr fangirl. :P


"Stop me if this sounds familiar, but after Thor defeats these shape-shifting aliens, he forces them to shape-shift into trees, whereupon they lose their ability to remember how to change back."

Considering the eventual fate of the Skrulls that Reed tricked into becoming cows, I'm horrified to think what might happen if/when a current writer remembers these guys existed and tells a story of how they were all cut down and turned into lumber that was used to build a shape-shifting house or something.

Luckily they were brought back in X-Factor- follow the link to X-Factor 30-33.


 
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