Issue(s): Thor #158, Thor #159
Actually, most of issue #158 is a reprint of JIM #83, except the final panel where Thor's name was misspelled in the original is replaced with a little blurb swearing to the authenticity of the tale.
After the reprint, a few more pages of Blake describing how he met the other gods and was amazed by them.
The rest of the issue features Don Blake agonizing over the types of questions i listed above.
In the next issue, after performing surgery, Blake lies down for a nap and has a dream or a vision where he visits Asgard as Thor.
In the vision he goes to ask (the awesomely drawn) Odin for information.
Odin already knows what Thor wants to ask. Then Blake wakes up and finds himself in the presence of Odin.
Odin shows Blake some scenes from Thor's past, where Thor was extremely arrogant and prideful, in one instance breaking a treaty with the giants of Niffelheim and nearly starting a war.
In order to teach Thor humility, Odin sent Thor to Earth, and when Thor arrived, he was Don Blake, appearing for the first time at "the State College of Medicine".
So the answer is that Blake was a personality constructed by Odin. Thor was away from Asgard for a period of time as long as it would take Blake to get through med school and eventually make his way to the cave in Norway.
By living with a handicap, treating the sick, and walking among the weak, Thor, as Blake, learned the humility that Odin desired him to learn.
Blake realizes, among other things, that this is why he could never marry Jane Foster.
It seems it might have saved them some father/son strife if Odin had mentioned this to Thor a bit sooner, but Odin says that he could not have shared this information with Thor until now.
This is a major turning point for the book, but it's not as much of one as i'd like it to be. After this revelation, now that the lesson in humility is complete, there really shouldn't be any reason for Thor to return to his Donald Blake persona.
But even so, it's a nice clear revelation, and an interesting change of pace after the Mangog epic.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this before Thor's appearance in Avengers #58.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The "lesson in humility" bit also doesn't gel with the Tales of Asgard back-ups, where Thor's depicted as a boy scout.
Posted by: Paul | August 18, 2013 10:48 PM
I think this is one of the few cases where the retcon overruled the original intent. Regardless of how "good" Thor was in pre JtM tales prior to this, every depiction of him after this seems to stick with the "recklessness forces Odin to make him learn humility" bit, even if nearly all of the Thor depictions don't even use Donald Blake anymore.
Though they should have kept the "Thorr" typo.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 19, 2014 4:30 PM
No matter what Thor does or how humble he becomes, it will never be enough for Omni-control-freak Odin. He's blind to his own glaring lack of humility and projects it onto others.
An all-too typical skyfather, Odin is a hot mess of flattering self-image and subconscious denial. He won't figure it out 'til the Twilight is descending and it's far too late, as the Norns foretell in the Nibelung Ring stories. Odin's (Wotan's) pride inevitably leads to the biggest fall of all: Ragnarok.
Dramatic irony from Lee & Kirby.
Posted by: James Holt | October 6, 2016 12:29 PM
Imagine if Billy Batson had continued in Fawcett long enough to have this issue regarding Captain Marvel, where he visits the Wizard Shazam and finds out...
Posted by: Flying Tiger Comics | March 11, 2017 1:52 AM
Captain Marvel: "You made me think I was a 12 year old boy? Dude. Uncool."
Posted by: FF3 | March 11, 2017 7:37 PM
I think it's a fantastic character development and as it was a bit of an organic retcon, it was handled quite well. I recently attended a lecture where the woman speaking explained that FDR was someone who came from wealth and privilege and such, not that he was an arrogant tyrant before, but when he contracted Polio at age 39 and became unable to use his legs, his sense of empathy and compassion grew. This makes me think of how fnord summed it up- walking with a handicap, serving the poor, healing the sick- yes, one thinks that builds character. So this worked out quite well in regards to validating the origin story.
Posted by: Wis | November 3, 2017 7:55 PM
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