Journey Into Mystery annual #1
Issue(s): Journey Into Mystery annual #1
Thor and Loki are exploring Jotunheim, land of the Storm Giants, when they encounter a pair of giants preparing to "menace Olympus anew", "after all these centuries".
Thor of course attacks the giants while Loki slinks off, and Thor accidentally falls through the portal, landing in Olympus.
His arrogance gets him into trouble almost immediately. Here he is in a strange country, amongst what he knows to be other immortals like him, and yet he insists on being the first to cross a bridge (Thor's lack of humility may be used as a counter-argument to my placement of this issue - see below for more on that - but it could just also be standard manners for when Gods encounter each other. Or it could just be the Silver Age.).
From there, Hercules and Thor duke it out for eight pages...
...until Zeus shows up to break things up.
Zeus then tells the two that they both fought honorably, and he sends Thor home.
When Thor is back in Jotunheim, he says that his memory of the encounter is already fading, and yet by the end of the issue he's still clearly able to remember everything.
And later issues will reference this story without any hint of a memory lapse. The memory lapse could have been a ploy to avoid the untrustworthy Loki from learning anything about Olympus.
A fun fight issue and of course the introduction of Hercules, a longtime Avenger and all-around awesome guy.It's also worth noting that so far in the Marvel universe, the Norse pantheon seemed to be the only one that actually existed, but with this issue we learn that the Greek gods (at least) also exist (although see the "imaginary story" note below). Since it's his first appearance, Hercules goes all-out in the self-promotion department, sticking a big H on his ankles as well as his belt.
I guess i should also mention that while Zeus' Greek name is used, the spelling for Hercules is his Latin version, and not Herakles. That seems to be a common discrepancy even outside of Marvel comics.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening blurb for this issue says:
Month after month, we have received an avalanche of mail demanding that we pit the mightiest immortals of all time in hand-to-hand combat Though neither history nor legend record such a battle, if ever the son of Odin had fought the son of Zeus, the matchless imaginations of Lee and Kirby visualize a battle to stagger the senses and dazzle the eyes! A battle which might have been fought, then swept away in the whirlpool of time! A battle such as this...!!
That almost makes this issue sound like an "imaginary story", and indeed that's how the original Marvel Index writes off this book, instead pointing us to Thor annual #5 for the first official meeting of the Asgardians and Olympians. But we know the events of this issue did "happen", since they are referenced in several future issues. I think it's better to read the above text in a meta sense; obviously ALL of Marvel's comics are the products of their creators' imaginations.
So with that, the question becomes "When did it happen?". The MCP treat this as a Tales of Asgard, and it certainly fits in that period, with Thor and Loki riding around the Nine Realms on horseback "eager for adventure". The problem with that placement (aside from the fact that if that's when it takes place it doesn't have a place in my collection unless/until i start adding pre-Golden Age stories) is that when Thor encounters a Hercules imposter in Avengers #10, he makes no comment. Now obviously we could come up with a reason for that (anything from bad memories to the fact that maybe Thor just keeps his thoughts to himself, or just write it off as art "error"), but since there's nothing in this issue that dictates placement, i'd rather place it after Avengers #10. It fits pretty well near publication date; Journey Into Mystery #111 ends with Loki free in Asgard, with Thor distrustful of him but not treating him like an outright villain. And that's similar to their relationship here.
I'll also suggest that the Storm Giant's comment that they're ready to re-invade Olympus "after all these centuries" could be used to bolster my placement.
There's probably something, somewhere, that contradicts this placement, but think carefully before you tell me about it because it means i'll have to delete this entry!
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Milestones featuring Venom & Hercules
So then Thor goes through to meet...himself in Olympus? I think you mean Herc. (or is Thor confused too cause of meeting weird "clean-shaven guy" that Immortus made him face that was called Hercules too? Heh...not brazen enough like this Herc)
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 26, 2014 4:46 PM
Fixed it. Thanks, fnord!
Posted by: fnord12 | September 26, 2014 6:11 PM
You're thanking yourself? Are you suffering from MPD?
Posted by: Michael | September 26, 2014 6:56 PM
Never, mind- I get the joke now. That will teach me to respond before reading carefully.
Posted by: Michael | September 27, 2014 2:22 PM
I never particularly liked Hercules. But it never really feels like a Thor-Hercules fight until someone gets hit with Manhattan.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 27, 2014 12:23 PM
Hercules' design is based on bodybuilding legend Steve Reeves' portrayal of the character in several Italian films rather than the classic version that wears a dead lion and no pants.
I imagine most modern readers have seen (if they have seen) these films via Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 14, 2015 11:25 AM
all I'll says is that I agree with the MCP on placement. I've always like Marvel's version of Hercules. He is a good mixture of real heroism and arrogant bluster.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 30, 2016 6:26 PM
I thought the story was a bit too simple for an annual, oh well....
Posted by: Roy Mattson | May 29, 2017 5:48 PM
Comments are now closed.
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