Days of Thunder – August 1963: Journey Into Mystery #95

The Mighty Thor! Faces the Menace of… “The Demon Duplicators!”

Plot: Stan Lee/ Script: R. Berns/ Art: Joe Sinott

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Another fever-dream of an issue, this one starts with Thor popping by Asgard to help Odin stop a drought. It is fairly clear in this issue that Thor has regained his pre-Blake memories. Maybe he regained them when his chromosomatic gland was tinkered with,  or maybe he has slowly been remembering his life as a god over the past year.  It is not explained.

After starting a week-long thunderstorm on Asgard, Thor returns to Earth where the might of Thor is needed at a scientists’ convention. Doctor Blake, in addition to being a general practitioner, genius surgeon, world-traveling philanthropist, and Thor, is also apparently a genius inventor, as previously hinted at in issue #93. Blake has invented an android that is not only self-aware, but capable of solving the world’s most complicated math problem and strong enough that it cannot be harmed by Thor’s hammer.

Thor and Dr. Zaxton, a physicist acquaintance of Blake’s, are showing off this new wonder, positing it as the first in an army of invincible ultra-intelligent androids. Forget poor benuked China, every nation on Earth must be in a panic to develop an-anti-Thor contingency. The demonstration ends when Zaxton accidentally sets the android to explode.  Naturually, Thor hurls him into the air where he safely explodes.

Later, Zaxton visits Blake, informing him that he has invented a small hand-held device that can create perfect duplicates of things from thin air. Zaxton is not satisfied with his mind-bogglingly amazing invention, he wants to also be able to duplicate life, specifically human life. Blake finds the idea of human duplication immoral but when Zaxton reveals that Nurse Foster has been kidnapped for hostage reasons, he agrees to help Zaxton.

A few hours later, they have succeeded, and while Zaxton is making a bunch of duplicates of a cat, Blake switches into Thor, only to be caught changing by Zaxton. Zaxton makes a duplicate of Thor, and reveals that his machine secretly creates duplicates with the exact opposite personalities of the original.

So Thor has to battle a Reverse Duplicate Thor, who quickly ends up with a second hammer, all the while dealing with additional complications caused by Zaxton’s duplication ray. At one point he creates a dozen duplicates of an airliner.

Eventually, er, the duplicate’s unworthiness to hold a duplicate hammer causes him to fade from existence?  I think that is what happens.  Meanwhile Zaxton creates a reverse duplicate of himself and then drops the duplication device off of a parapet and falls to his death trying to grab it. Thor decides to allow the reverse Zaxton to take over the original’s life, but nothing is revealed about the fate of all the duplicates of the people on the duplicated airliners. I bet that led to some complicated and tragic drama.

Thor hides the Zaxton corpse and then saves Nurse Foster.

First Appearance: Dr. Zaxton, Dr. Blake’s Green Android,Reverse Duplicate Thor

Days of Thunder – July 1963: Journey Into Mystery #94

The Mighty Thor! “Thor and Loki Attack the Human Race!”

Plot: Stan Lee/ Script: P. Berns/ Art: J Sinnott

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This is easily the greatest issue of Thor to date. While Thor is averting a rouge U.S. nuclear missile that Loki has magically hijacked, Loki uses his last ounce of magic to divert Thor’s attention just as his hammer is returning to him. The result is that the hammer strikes Thor’s head in the chromosomatic gland, the gland that determines and changes personality. This must be a gland that only gods have, because last I checked, humans ain’t got that shit.

With his chromosomatic gland altered, Thor’s nature becomes like Loki’s.  He heads to Asgard, punching Heimdall as he passes, so he can free his brother. Once free, Loki tells Odin that he and Thor intend to rule Asgard and that the two of them will cause terrible havoc on Odin’s beloved Earth, until Odin cedes his rule to his sons.

And then they straight up Mars Attacks Earth for three pages of a 14 page story. Thor smashes monuments with his hammer and with his weather, while Loki brings the Sphinx to life and reawakens dinosaurs in museums. And though the text does not really suggest it, it is hard not to see this as Loki’s greatest wish: His brother standing alongside him as they challenge Odin and cause chaos.

But all good things must end and Odin and the gods of Asgard, posing as U.N. experts on Norse gods, trick Thor and Loki and drop Thor’s hammer on Thor’s chromosomatic gland, reverting his personality. Once again, the day is saved by Odin.

Thor captures Loki and addresses the U.N., promising to use the combined supernatural powers of Asgard to repair all the damage caused by he and Loki. Mind you, this is one month after he nuked China. If I was planet Earth, I would be so very very scared of Thor.

First Appearance: The chromosomatic gland

Days of Thunder – June 1963: Journey Into Mystery #93

The Mighty Thor! Versus “The Mysterious Radio-Active Man!”

Plot: Stan Lee/ Script R. Benrs/ Art: Jack Kirby/ Inking: Dick Ayers

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At the start of this issue, Doctor Don Blake is out of town again. This time, Thor is helping the people of India fight the Red Chinese. Amongst his many anti-communists feats, Thor chains four Chinese tanks to his hammer than hurls the hammer along with the trailing tanks to a nearby Indian Army camp in a feat described by a caption box as “Stupendously epic.” It is almost as good as the time he used peanuts to capture pigeon-Loki.

Meanwhile, in Peking, Chairman Mao is understandably freaked out by the fact that a genuine thunder god seems to be single-handedly waging war against Communist China.  One of the CPC’s scientists, Chen Lu, has devised a counter-measure, which he tests on himself, not trusting anyone else. He becomes the Radio-Active Man, an amazing reservoir of radioactive power. Up and atom!

The Chinese government sends him to New York City.  Upon arriving, he challenges Thor to a duel on live television.

After performing a life-saving miracle surgery, Blake changes into Thor and meets the Radio-Active Man, where he is startled to discover that this villain can deflect not only his hammer but his lightning bolts (which he can now apparently shoot from his hands without tapping his hammer on the ground.).

Complicating matters further is the fact that the Radio-Active Man will apparently go off like an H-Bomb if he takes any serious damage. Also, he can hypnotize people with his radiation. So he hypnotizes Thor, making him toss his hammer into the Hudson River. Sixty seconds later Thor reverts to Blake, which as usual breaks the hypnosis.

Blake returns to his office where he invents a machine that can scan for his hammer within a 10 mile radius. Having found it, he swims to the bottom of the bay to retrieve it.  He then creates a giant tornado that sends the Radio-Active Man back to China, nuking it in the process.  I repeat:  In this issue,  Thor nukes China.

First Appearance: Mao Zedong, The Radio-Active Man

Days of Thunder – May 1963 Journey Into Mystery #92

 

The Mighty Thor! “The Day Loki Stole Thor’s Magic Hammer”

Plot Stan Lee/ Script by R. Berns (Robert Bernstein)/ Art by Joe Sinnott

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Thor is starring in a film about himself, currently being filmed in Norway.  Having a real god play himself lets the production company do absolutely amazing stunts.  At one point in the course of filming he throws his hammer but shockingly, it does not return to him!

The reason the hammer does not return is that in Asgard, Loki is bound by chains made of the same Uru metal as Thor’s hammer and Loki has magnetized them, pulling Thor’s hammer all the way from Earth, smashing the chains and freeing the trickster, now proclaiming himself to be a God of Evil, not just mere mischief.

Thor petitions Odin for help yet again, and is transported to Asgard, where the 60 second rule does not apply. Also, we learn that time freezes when Odin appears on Earth.

Odin has an emergency meeting of all the gods to discuss Thor losing his hammer. They conclude it must be on Asgard, although they do not explain how they have come that conclusion.  They also report that they are all much too busy to help Thor look for it.

As Thor searches for his hammer by wandering aimlessly around Asgard, Loki attacks him with enchanted trees, but Thor fashions a giant mallet out of other trees with which to smash his foes. Loki burns this mallet and then transforms clouds into snarling dragons to attack his brother. Thor gouges a new hammer out of stone with his fingers to fight the dragons. Thor really likes hammers.

It turns out that the stone Thor used to carved his new makeshift hammer contained Uru, and so it flies straight to the magnetized chains while Thor follows.   Thus, Thor gets his favorite hammer back.

Meanwhile Odin Heimdall and Fricka stumble upon Loki and re-capture him.

First Appearance: Neri handmaiden to Fricka, Fricka

Days of Thunder – April 1963: Journey Into Mystery #91

The Mighty Thor! Battles… “Sandu, Master of the Supernatural”

Plot — Stan Lee, Script — Larry Lieber, Art — Joe Sinnott, Lettering — Terry Szenics

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Loki gives super mental powers a minor psychic named Sandu, most notably telekinisis. Sandu starts stealing banks and jewelry stores, whole buildings at a time, taking the valuables and ditching the buildings on the moon.

Emboldened by his early successes, Sandu lifts the United Nations Building and threatens to kill everybody inside if they do no make him absolute ruler of Earth, which leads to the following delightful exchange:

“We haven’t the power to do that!”
“The man is mad! Humor him!”

Thor tries to stop Sandu, but the psychic ties him in chains, and drops a building on him. Thor once again begs Odin for some help. Odin sends some Valkyries to return to Thor his Belt of Strength. Two ethereal Valkyries wrap the belt around Thor, which gives him a major stat boost.

Sandu teleports Thor’s hammer to another dimension. There, Sandu tries so hard to lift Thor’s hammer, that he gives himself a mental short circuit, returning both hammer and villain to Earth.

For some reason, Thor does not keep the belt, and the Valkyries return to Asgard with it.

First Appearance: Sandu, Valkyries, Thor’s Belt of Strength

Days of Thunder – March 1963: Journey Into Mystery #90

The Mighty Thor! “Trapped by the Carbon-Copy Man!”

Plot — Stan Lee, Script — by Larry Lieber,  Art — Al Hartley, Lettering — Terry Szenics

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Artist Jack Kirby is off the book for a while, and his absence is felt.

Doctor Blake has finally decided to tell Nurse Foster how he feels and also that he sometimes turns into a thunder god. But before he can, Odin appears before him, commanding that he never reveal his dual identity to any mortal.

While limping around feeling sad about this, Doctor Blake notices that all sorts of crazy things are happening such as cars driving on sidewalks.  It all seems to be happening due to civic authority giving strange orders. Even crazier, Nurse Foster quits the practice because Doctor Blake is too nice! Thor decides to visit his good friend, Mayor Harris to clear up this mystery, but Harris tries to have Thor arrested.

Confused, Thor has an idea: he will send his mind back in time and space to when Odin gave him advice, something we mortals call “remembering.” What he remembers is Odin teaching Thor about Occam’s Razor, which is a pretty strange thing for the Norse Allfather of the Gods to be teaching. Of course, it is even stranger that Thor should be able to remember Odin’s counsel at all, given that his memories should all be that of Doctor Don Blake. Thor and Blake seem to be growing into distinct personae as time passes.

To Thor’s way of thinking,  the simplest explanation for the nuttiness is that everyone he knows has been replaced by doppelgangers. Which, after he stumbles upon the spaceship belonging to a group of shape-changing invaders from the planet Xarta, he discovers is correct. The Xartan leader, Ugarth tell Thor that they have been capturing and replacing people in key jobs throughout the city, even though the only two human captives they seem to have are Mayor Harris and Nurse Foster.

Thor fights a bunch of Xartans, eventually hurling Ugarth into space (where he presumably dies?). Remaining on Earth is Ugarth’s son Zano, and a bunch of other Xartans. Thor tells them all to turn into trees, which they do, which apparently makes them dumb as trees. They must have been pretty dumb to begin with.

First Appearance: Ugarth of Xarta, Zano of Xarta, Mayor Harris

Days of Thunder – February 1963: Journey Into Mystery #89

Plot: Stan Lee, Script: L. D. Lieber, Art: Jack Kirby, Inking: Dick Ayers Lettering: Ray Holloway

The Mighty Thor! The Thunder God and the Thug!

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This issue starts with some hilarious business wherein Thor steals a mannequin, dresses it as himself and then hurls it into the sea as part of an elaborate ruse to allow him to sneak into his office window undetected. Back in his office and back in human form, Doctor Blake pines after Nurse Foster while she pines after Thor. She imagines ironing his cape, cutting his hair, and, er, polishing his hammer.

All this daydreaming is interrupted when gangsters kidnap Dr. Blake, taking him to their hideout so that he can treat their injured boss, Thug Thatcher. Blake does treat the gangster,  and eventually extricates himself from this mess by telepathically messaging Odin in Asgard, who responds by shooting a force wave down to Earth, striking the gangster holding Blake’s cane.

Blake transforms into Thor, but Thug Thatcher escapes and ends up holding Nurse Foster hostage, the third time in six issues someone has done so to Jane. Thor takes out Thug Thatcher by distracting him with ventriloquism, and then kicking his hammer straight at Thatcher’s gun.

Thor captures all the male mobsters, but the one female in the gang, Thatcher’s girlfriend Ruby, is spared that fate. Instead, he uses his mental link with Odin to convince him to use his Odin powers to erase all memory of the man she loves from her memory, thus freeing her to attach herself to someone less mobstery. Thor and Odin may need to take Professor Xavier’s Ethics of Telepathy classes.

First Appearance: Thug Thatcher, Ruby

Days of Thunder – January 1963: Journey Into Mystery #88

Plot: Stan Lee, Script: L. D. Lieber, Art: Jack Kirby, Inks by Dick Ayers, Lettering: Art Simek

The Mighty Thor! Starring in: “The Vengeance of Loki!”

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Our tale starts in Asgard, where a seething Loki has been using his magics to spy on Thor, thus discovering Thor’s secrets.  Armed with this knowledge,  Loki escapes to Earth and confronts Thor.

Using Nurse Foster as bait, Loki maneuvers Thor into dropping his hammer, and one he does, Loki envelops the hammer in a force-field, thus causing Thor to revert to Don Blake with no way to become Thor again.

Loki goes on a mischief rampage throughout Earth, at one point screwing with a Russian bomb test, because even Loki hates communists. Eventually Blake uses the old-create-a-fake-Thor-plastic-replica-so-the-villain-drops-the-force-field-to-check-thus-allowing-the-hero-to-grab-the-hammer trick.

To escape, Loki turns into a pigeon and hides amongst other pigeons that are milling about. Not about to let Loki escape, Thor uses his superhuman speed to run to a peanut vendor, run back and hurl the peanuts at the pigeons so that the one pigeon that doesn’t love peanuts reveals himself and is thus captured and returned to Asgard. Thor’s peanut plan is easily the greatest thing to happen in this book so far.

Days of Thunder – December 1962: Journey Into Mystery #87

The Mighty Thor! “Prisoner of the Reds”

Plot: Stan Lee, Script: Larry Lieber, Art: by Jack Kirby, Inks: Dick Ayers Lettering: Art Simek

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The Russians are kidnapping American scientists and faking their defections so Don Blake goes undercover to rescue them in a largely uneventful story that does feature Thor falling into a tank full of man-eating sharks.

The highlight of this issue comes when a Russian soldier shouts “He carries a hammer, like our hammer and sickle emblem! Is he one of us??

Sean Connery as James Bond 007 in Ian Fleming’s “Diamonds are Forever”

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The previous film ended with George Lazenby as Bond crying over his dead wife.  Lazenby is out and Connery is back in, but that wife-murder seems like an event that needs addressing.   And so the film starts with a montage of Bond torturing people in order to find Blofeld. The sequence is played broad, culminating in Bond ripping the bikini top off of a woman and strangling her with it, which is meant to be hilarious, not cruel and ugly. It is clear from the start that Bond-as-Human has been written off as a failed experiment. The filmmakers have returned to Bond-as-Hideous-Monster.  The problem is, the makers of the film seem to be chuckling along with his boys-will-be-boys antics.

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While Bond searches, Blofeld is arranging to create a surgically modified doppelganger of himself, a man that appears identical to him in all ways. Of course, Blofeld is now played by Charles Grey, a man with no neck, no facial scar, and plenty of hair, and who previously played a murdered good guy in You Only Live Twice. Maybe that guy was secretly a Blofeld doppelganger all along.

Before Blofeld can make his duplicate, Bond arrives and gleefully drowns him in some sludge. Blofeld’s kitty cat cries in distress. And it appears that anticlimatically, that is that. Bond has had his revenge and can move on from the previous film. At no point in this intro sequence is Tracy referenced.

The credits are super weird, prominently featuring Blofeld’s cat and of course diamonds. The song is good, sung by a returning Shirley Bassey, but it sounds weird to my 21st century ear due to the lack of Kanye West. Also, man, we have clearly left the 60’s behind and are now stuck in the 70’s.  By which I mean every aspect of this movie looks garish and ugly.

After the credits, we witness a diamond smuggling operation go bad. Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint are a pair of bizarre homosexual assassins who have started killing everyone involved in a particular operation. The filmmakers clearly think the notion of gay killers to be a self-evidently hilarious one.

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Bond has been tasked to investigate an increase in diamond smuggling which seems pretty penny ante for 007. He is sent to Holland to pose as a smuggler. There, he meets the eye-rollingly named Tiffany Case. Somehow that stupid pun name bothers me more than “Pussy Galore” or any of the others.

Bond kills the dude that he is pretending to be while Case watches, and then he swaps the corpse’s wallet for his own. She finds the only piece of ID the man has: James Bond’s Playboy Club membership card. “Oh my God! You just killed James Bond!” James Bond is so famous of an operative, random smugglers in Holland know of him.

Bond’s investigation leads him to Vegas on the same plane as Kidd and Wint. There are all sorts of unfocused, poorly-paced shenanigans that we are given no reason to care about, including a near-miss live cremation and a trip to the circus. At one point, gangsters throw a girl Bond has brought back to his room out of a window so that Case can sleep with him.

Bond’s goals during these antics are completely opaque. He seems to have no plan others than fuck with some random diamond smugglers and fuck some random women and see what happens. One thing that happens is that Bond seems to stumble upon the site where the moon landing was faked, leading to a protracted chase scene with Bond in a stupid-looking moon buggy.

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Eventually, Bond concludes that a millionaire named Willard Whyte is the key bad guy, although I honestly cannot follow why. Felix Leiter (yet again recast: this time older and grouchy) has not been convinced that Whyte is a criminal, so Bond sneaks into Whyte’s office at the top of a hotel/casino.  Er, or actually he sneaks into Whyte’s ridiculous super-bathroom, complete with telephone, closed-circut television, and computer.

Upon leaving the bathroom, what Bond discovers is Blofeld, alive and well and still Charles Grey. Actually there are two of them. One is a doppelganger but it is unclear which one is real! Apparently Bond murdered a duplicate earlier?

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Blofeld has been posing as Whyte although he looks like what we are apparently asked to believe he as always looked like, despite having access to ridiculously sophisticated face-change technology and despite being the most wanted criminal in the world. Instead he just apparently likes to make lots of copies of himself.

The Blofelds gloat that Bond cannot take action because he would not know which one of the two to kill. Bond responds by kicking Blofeld’s cat and shooting the Blofeld it runs toward in the head. It seems like a clever (albeit cruel) solution but after the the surviving Blofeld draws his gun on Bond a doppelganger cat saunters into the room.

Screenwriting nerds like to talk about “save the cat” moments, which are scenes where the hero performs an action that establishes the noble nature of the hero who might otherwise be unsympathetic to the audience. James Bond goes a different route.  The best scene in this movie is the one where the hero kicks a cat as part of gambit that fails.

Rather than shoot Bond, Blofeld gasses and delivers him to Kidd and Wint who take his body out to the desert and stick him in a large pipe while he sleeps. Bond survives this because it is not a death trap. It is an inconvenience.

Back in his hotel, Bond uses a Q-supplied voice change device to trick Blofeld via phone into revealing the location of the real Willard Whyte.  He turns out to be in his own summer home.

Bond arrives at the summer home to discover Bambi and Thumper, two female killer acrobats who clearly love their job. They kick Bond’s ass right up to the moment where Bond beats them in an act of truly pathetic filmmaking. The acrobats have the upper hand right until the end of the fight when they just sort of relent because Bond needs to win the fight, completely unearned. Bond wins because he is the white imperial alpha male. Bambi and Thumper lose not because they screw up or are outfought, but because the universe in which they live cannot allow them to live.

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Bond finds the real Willard Whyte who is, I guess, a good guy. While he attends to Whyte, Blofeld escapes the casino, dressed in drag for no good reason, while Q uses a gadget to cheat at the slots for no relevant plot reason.  This is not a movie concerned with reasons.

One hour and thirty five minutes into this film, the real plot of the movie, which up until now has ostensibly been about diamond smuggling is revealed. Blofeld has used Whyte’s resources and many many smuggled diamonds to construct a diamond-powered orbital death ray, capable of destroying all the world’s nuclear armament. Rather than ransoming the world, Blofeld is opting to auction nuclear supremacy to the highest bidder.

It is worth noting that there has been no reference to SPECTRE in the past two films.  Blofeld is now portrayed as a lone mastermind, with resources to be sure, but nothing approaching the scope of the organization he ran for the first five films, with no word of what happened to it. He also has lost his penchant for shooting unexpected people.   He’s been reduced to little more than a neckless jerk in a Nehru jacket.

Bond parachutes into Blofeld’s pretty sweet oil rig secret base and immediately surrenders to Blofeld’s men, because most of his endgame plans start with being captured by an enemy who doesn’t want to kill him but instead wants to hang out and gloat. Tiffany Case is lounging on the deck of the oil platform, for no adequately explored reason.

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Case, played by Jill St. John, has been a pretty large presence in this film, even though she has no real motivations, no real competencies, and randomly shifting alliances.  Despite all of this, St. John is easily the most likeable person in this movie, which peversely makes her seem even more out of place in this bleak, unpleasant film.  Her character has negligible effect on the plot and no real reason to be in the film.  She exists to wear ugly revealing clothing and have sex with Bond.

On the oil rig, there is a bit of nonsense where Bond and Case both swap out the tape that contains the codes that control the death ray activation codes with a fake, canceling out eachother’s efforts. In a real movie, the audience would be led to believe that they had failed to successfully swap them but that there had actually been a double-bluff. But in Diamonds Are Forever, the scheme just flat out fails.

A bunch of helicopters proceed to attack the base. Felix is onboard, so I guess they are CIA? Blofeld tries to escape in what appears to be a tiny submarine, but Bond lifts it with a crane and just starts fucking with the villain like a high school bully, swinging and banging the sub all around.  After a bunch of that, he and Case jump off of the rig shortly before the helicopters destroy it and also presumably Blofeld. The bit of business with the tapes was completely unnecessary, all that was needed was tho blow up Blofeld’s base with helicopters.

Later, as Bond and Case relax on a cruise ship, the two homosexual killers arrive posing as waiters. Kidd and Wint serve them a meal including a pastry with a bomb inside it, which Wint oh so cleverly calls “la bombe surprise.” Bond recognizes Wint’s terrible aftershave and and thus is able to ever so subtly defeat his gay assailants by setting one aflame and literally shoving a bomb up the ass of the other. This is the classy note that the film ends on.

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This movie is utter garbage. The plot is incoherent and stupid and the filmmaking is consistently lazy. It is a mean spirited and ugly film that leaves the viewer feeling like they need a bath afterward. Even the set dressing and costuming are unattractive and grungy.

This is Connery’s last canonical Bond appearance and I am ready to see him go.  The Bond of this film is a monster again, but he’s no longer the cool ruthless bastard of Dr. No or From Russia With Love anymore. He’s just a petty bully who gets to be cruel and smirk because the world is built to give him whatever he wants.

Days of Thunder – November 1962: Journey Into Mystery #86

Thor the Mighty  “On the Trail of the Tomorrow Man”

Plot: Stan Lee, Script: Larry Lieber, Art: Jack Kirby, Inks: Dick Ayers

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Three hundred years in the future, (only 248 years from 2014) war and violence have been transcended as humanity has moved on to a world free from all conflict. But one human, Zarrko, is not content with contentment. And so he constructs a time machine so that he may travel back to the 20th century to steal a nuke, with which he can conquer the pacifist world of the 2262.

Meanwhile, in 1962, Thor is helping the United States army build better weapons. This is probably at the same army base where the Incredible Hulk was unleashed upon the world. I think Thunderbolt Ross is in a panel.

Today, they are testing something a cobalt bomb, which Wikipedia informs me is a nuclear weapon designed to salt the earth with particularly horrible nuclear fallout. This test involves blowing it up while Thor stands next to it so they can see what happens to him. Before the army can nuke Thor, Zarrko appears out of nowhere, snatches the bomb and before Thor can stop him, disappears again.

As an army scientist puts it: “He faded from sight,… as though moving into another segment of time! And since there was no Time-Travel in the past, he must have come from the future!”

Thor, that is to say Doctor Don Blake in the guise of Thor, petitions Odin for help. He asks the Lord of Asgard to give him the power to journey into the future. Odin (who has two eyes, by the way) is confused, because Thor seems to have forgotten that time travel is a power that Thor already has. All he has to do is spin his hammer so fast that he enters the dimension of time. Which he then does.

Thor arrives one month after Zarrko, who has already used the only weapon on the planet to enslave the entire world. Guards attack Thor because they are afraid of the only weapon on Earth, despite the fact that they have no weapons and Thor is holding a weapon.

Thor fights his way through Zarrko’s defenses, and when Zarrko sees which way things are going, he tries to use the bomb to destroy the world. Thor catches it, in the process injuring Zarrko so badly that he loses all memory of being evil. Thor returns to 1962, giving back to the U.S. Army a doomsday device capable of destroying the world.

First Appearance: Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man, Thor’s ability to travel through time

Days of Thunder – October 1962: Journey Into Mystery #85

Thor the Mighty “Trapped by Loki, The God of Mischief!”

Plot by Stan Lee, Script by Larry Lieber, Art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers

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We now turn to Asgard, citadel of the Norse gods, connected to Earth by the rainbow bridge Bifrost, where Loki, god of mischief and brother to Thor has been imprisoned in a tree for some time. Loki uses cunning to escape and his first order of business is to sow discord while seeking vengeance on his brother, Thor.

Using the mental link that Loki shares with Thor’s hammer, Loki determines that Thor is on Earth, and heads there himself, in the guise of a human, where he proceeds to cause random mischief Mxyzptlk-style. This, as he planned, does draw out Thor.

Thor, only having the memories of Don Blake, only sort-of knows why Loki is mad at him, based on what he knows of Norse mythology. Loki soon has Thor hypnotized into doing his bidding, but is furious that Thor will not give away his hammer, as per the will of Odin. So Loki tricks Thor into giving the hammer to an illusory Thor, before tasking the hypnotized hero with setting free all the animals in a zoo.

Fortunately for the zoo, after sixty seconds of non-hammer-touching, Blake reverts to human, which dispels the hypnosis. Thor retrieves his hammer from a crowd of people failing to be worthy of lifting it, and then tussles with Loki all over New York City.

Finally, Thor knocks Loki into some water, having remembered that according to legend, Loki’s powers do not work in water. Thor then takes the still-damp, Loki, ties him to the hammer, and hurls the hammer all the way to Asgard, where it arrives, somehow detaches from Loki, dumping him in front of a bunch of Asguardians, and returns to New York just before the minute time limit would have expired.

First Appearance: Loki, Heimdall, Odin, Balder, Tyr, Asgard, Bifrost, Loki’s mental link with Thor’s Hammer, Loki’s weakness to water

Captain America: The Winter Soldier as retold by Riley (age 6)

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On Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury gets shot by the Winter Soldier but can Steve save Nick? Later, Steve is frozen but he is unfrozen and he fights Hydra but then he gets in a big fight. Later, Steve finds out that Hydra is up to no good. So Steve goes with his friends and they fight Hydra and then Steve finds out that his friend Bucky was brainwashed.

When they are on the Hydra ship they fight the boss of Hydra and they find some magic objects and take them back to their place and Steve remembers that Bucky was the person who fell off the mountain. But when Hydra found him, they brainwashed him and Steve was very angry. But when Steve is frozen, the Fantastic Four and their son Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue Richards, help Steve get unfrozen. And then he finds his friends and Steve lost the USB drive by the candy center. He helps his friends and frees Bucky and they also convince Hydra to join the good team.

Days of Thunder – September 1962: Journey Into Mystery #84

The Mighty Thor vs. The Executioner

Plot by Stan Lee, Script by Larry Lieber, Art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers

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Doctor Don Blake returns to his private practice in the states, where he pines over his nurse, a woman by the name of Jane Foster. He believes that she could never love a man as lame as him. In reality, she is totally in love with him, and spends her days wishing that he could act like less of a pussy.

Soon, Blake again leaves the country, this time with Nurse Foster. They are part of an effort to provide medical aid to the tiny war-torn South American nation of San Diablo. San Diablo has been overthrown by communists and is now led by a warlord only known as “The Executioner”, who wars against the democratic resistance.

Naturally The Executioner is too communist to want the peasants to live, and so he orders that fighter planes destroy the ship containing the doctors. Naturally, Thor intercedes, smashing the shit out of planes with his hammer. Jane is mighty impressed. Blake continues to fight the commies on land both as himself and as Thor, until Jane is captured and used as a hostage. Blake turns himself in to save her, at which point The Executioner takes his stick and orders that Blake die by firing squad.

Jane offers to marry The Executioner in exchange for Blake’s life, and act that riles up Blake enough to get him to goad the warlord into beating the doctor with his own walking stick. This of course allows him to grab the stick, make the switch right in front of Jane, The Executioner and a firing squad, but the blinding flash that accompanies the change provides sufficient cover to muddle the issue.

Thor fights some more commies, and then the democratic faction shows up, and then Thor stamps his hammer four times, which is apparently the setting for volcano eruption, and then the rebels shoot The Executioner to death.

Blake and Foster help the refugees, and prepare to head home to America. Jane though balloons about what a wuss that Blake is, never mind the fact that he went into a war-torn land on an errand of mercy, and twice confronted a warlord to protect her. Jane Foster: Total asshole.

First Appearance: Nurse Jane Foster, The Executioner

Days of Thunder – August 1962: Journey Into Mystery #83

Thor The Mighty! and “The Stone Men from Saturn”

Plot by Stan Lee, Script by Larry Lieber, Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

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The first Mighty Marvel adventure to feature Thor was a straightforward tale. A lame American physician named Doctor Don Blake is visiting Norway, when the country is invaded by green rock-skinned invaders from the planet Saturn. Pursued by the invaders, Blake hides in a cave, where he discovers a secret chamber that contains naught but a gnarled wooden stick.

Still trapped in the cave and fearing capture by the aliens, Blake strikes the stick against a boulder in frustration. Upon doing so, he is transformed into a tall, muscular, becaped man, with long flowing hair and a helmet with wings on it. The stick has become a hammer bearing the following inscription:

“WHOSOEVER HOLDS THIS HAMMER, IF HE BE WORTHY, SHALL POSSESS THE POWER OF… THOR”.

Blake, startled to discover that he has been transformed into a Nordic thunder deity, begins experimenting. He soon discovers all sorts of complicated rules governing the hammer. If he goes sixty seconds without holding the hammer, he reverts to human form (wearing, for some reason, different clothes than he was wearing pre-transformation). He can create rain or snow, his hammer will return to him like a boomerang, and he can hurl it with so much force it will pull him through the air. The hammer does specific things when you stamp it on the ground as follows:

One stamp – Switch to human, or vice versa

Two stamps – Create storms

Three stamps – End storms

Blake uses his new abilities to beat the crap out of some Saturninans and their Mechano-Monster. They flee, assuming the Earth to be filled with muscular hammer-wielding defenders. Blake reverts to human, taking his new super-artifact with him by rite of finders keepers.

First Appearance: Doctor Donald Blake, Thor, Mighty Uru Hammer, Stone Men from Saturn

Ian Flemings’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” starring George Lazenby

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This is a strange beast of a movie, the first proper Bond film without Sean Connery.  While today we expect a new Bond every few goes, in 1969 this was a new and scary prospect.  Everything had to be reconsidered for this installment.

This film starts with familiar faces M and Moneypenny discussing the fact that Bond has gone missing. We then cut to Bond driving, but it is cleverly shot in such a way that we don’t yet see his face. He drives to a beach, where he spots a woman in the scope of a rifle that he keeps in his glove box. The woman is walking into the sea, the most dreamy of suicides.

Bond rushes to stop her. He carries her to the beach, and after reviving her, we at last see his face as he greets the woman. “Good morning. My name is Bond, James Bond.” Before this conversation can go any further, they are beset by three armed men, there for the lady. While Bond beats up the men, the woman runs away to her car, getting the hell out of there. Upon realizing he has been ditched, Bond quips “This never happened to the other fella.”

The whole open is pretty clever about telling us that they know that we know that this is new territory. It is playful, and it shows a self-awareness that I don’t consider typical for the franchise. This is not to say that it entirely works; the seemingly random suicide is confusing when the focus should be on the confusion of  what is up with the new guy.

The credits still have the standard gross naked lady silhouettes, but it also presents a montage of characters from the previous films, serving as an insecure reminder that this movie is still part of the larger series.  There are no lyrics to the opening score this time.  It’s pure John Barry and the John Barry orchestra. I dig the theme, it’s moody and decadent.

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After the credits, Bond follows the suicide lady to a hotel and its attached casino. He plays some baccarat, where he finds and assists suicide lady, who is named Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo, “Tracy” to her friends.

The Contessa seems to have a deathwish, which Bond keeps thwarting.  First, Bond covers her stake when she purposely loses a bet she cannot pay. Then he fights a dude in her room. Then, when he finds her in his room, she draws a gun on him.

Bond is unflapped by this display, after all she is only a woman. He disarms her, and then grills her for information. He slaps her hard when he doesn’t like an answer. “I can be a lot more persuasive than that,” he leers. Yuck. She explains that all she wants to do is sleep with Bond in order to settle her debt to him. Again, yuck.

When Bond wakes up after boning her, she is gone, having left the money she owed him on the nightstand. This does manage to make the sex less creepy.

Twenty minutes into the film and there is no villainous plot, no clear goal for the hero to pursue. When Bond gets held up at gunpoint again, I’m left to wonder what a James Bond movie with no villain would look like. What if the entire film was just a steady, aimless progression of sex, fights, car chases, and baccarat without a SPECTRE plot? Would the audience enjoy that? Would James Bond?

At any rate, Bond has been summoned by a European gangster named Draco. This guy is very hospitable as far as kidnappers go. He is also the Contessa’s father, and he has a proposition for Bond.

Draco has decided that he wants Bond to marry Tracy. As he puts it, “What she needs is a man to dominate her. To make love to her enough to make her love him.”  Vile as this notion is, as we have seen with Pussy Galore, it is sort of Bond’s specialty.

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Bond offers Draco a deal: He will marry Tracy if Draco can provide Bond with the location of Blofeld. Seriously, what the fuck?

Having made his deal, Bond slinks into the office, tossing a hat to remind us that he is James Bond. “Same old James, only more so!” Moneypenny exclaims as he grabs her ass. Bond’s flirting with Moneypenny seems to have turned cruel. It has degraded from two-way playful banter, to nothing more than an asshole leading-on a lovestruck fool who could do better.

In M’s office we learn that Bond has spent the past two years trying and failing to find Blofeld, and now he’s being pulled off of the case. Enraged, he resigns.  M ignores the resignation and gives Bond two weeks leave with which to find Blofeld.

Draco arranges for Bond and Tracy to re-meet. She is instantly suspicious and correctly assumes that her father has offered information to Bond in exchange for marrying her. She compels her father to provide that information freely to Bond, without obligation, and then she storms off.

Bond chases her, they embrace and have a montage depicting a lengthy courtship. Well, lengthy for Bond. The film has become an actual romance. This is a weird new place for a James Bond film.  I don’t believe sociopathic Sean Connery could have ever gone here.

Bond does eventually get to buisness and follow Draco’s lead. He does some spy shit, although for Lazenby, spy shit seems pretty laid back. Part of spying seems to be sitting around reading Playboy while a machine cracks a safe.

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What Bond discovers is confusing. Blofeld wants to con his way into becoming nobility and has been talking to a heraldry expert hoping to sell himself as “Count Bleuchamp.”   Bond decides to pose as this heraldry expert, Sir Hillary Bray, to get close to Blofeld.

This ruse gets Bond invited to Blofeld’s non-profit allergy clinic on the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps.  I’m not an expert in allergy clinics, but I don’t think most of them are on the top of mountains.  Or that they are normally full of armed guards.   Or that all the bedroom doors only open from the outside.  Also, at this particular clinic, all the clients are beautiful young women.

Once Bond arrives, he puts on a kilt. I do not know why.  Bond is not cool in this movie.  We’ve abandoned the style of the 60’s and entered the hideousness of the 70’s and James Bond in a kilt is the transition point.

Bond, in disguise as Hillary, is comically dull. He plays the character as gay, as unmasculine as possible.  It is supposed to be funny, but it seems a strange choice to make the new Bond spend a lot of time being as un-Bondlike as possible.

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Bond-as-Hillary eventually gets to meet Blofeld-as-Bleuchamp.  Blofeld has also been recast, this time played by with jovial menace by Telly Savalas.  Somehow, in the time between last film and this one, Blofeld has lost his wicked facial scar.

The two meet and neither show any sign of recognizing each other, despite having tried to kill each other at the end of the previous film. This almost makes meta-sense, as both men were played by different actors, neither of which look or act anything like the actor currently playing a character pretending not to be that character.

But no, really. Why doesn’t Blofeld recognize Bond? Since the film has gone to lengths to assure us that this is the same world as that of the previous films, it doesn’t make sense.  The best way to square this might be the fan notion that this is in fact a different “James Bond.” The idea that “James Bond” is a fake name given to successive agents within the film universe is fairly silly, and clearly nothing the filmmakers ever intended, but it seems to make more sense than what we’ve actually been presented with in this film.

At any rate, later that night, Bond breaks out of his room to bang a couple girls with allergies. So much for his romance with Tracy. By sleeping with these ladies, Bond learns that Blofeld is hypnotizing these women into not having allergies.

Blofeld eventually captures Bond, revealing that while he may not have recognized Bond as being a person that he had previously met and tried to kill, he saw right through his disguise as an expert in heraldry. So he might as well tell Bond his plan.

Blofeld is going to sterilize all life on Earth if a ransom is not paid. He will accomplish this by using hypnotized allergy-cured young women armed with cosmetic sets of death. I’m a guy that likes to use “dumb” as a superlative, and this is amongst the dumbest supervillain plots I have ever witnessed.  Unfortunately, there is no panache to the procedings. There is no sense that this is a sublimely ridiculous thing. It is played dully straight.

Things improve somewhat when the villains chase Bond down the mountain on skis. Bond spends the next 35 minutes of the movie trying to escape from Blofeld, which should be way too long, but actually really works well. First he climbs across a cable car cable, then he skis down the mountain, then he fights his way to a crowd. Attempting to blend in to the crowd, an ice skater abruptly stops in front of him.

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It is Tracy! Between the directing and the performance, it genuinely feels wonderful to see her at this moment. This is the first time a James Bond movie has caused me to feel genuine emotion, and I’d like to think it is the same for the character, that this is the first time James Bond has felt an emotion other than bloodlust or horniness.

Tracy gets him to her car, and amazingly, the pursuit continues, now a car chase. She drives like an action hero, driving apparently being the one non-sexual action trope a woman of this time and genre are allowed to do as well as men.

They hide in a barn. Bond declares his love and asks Tracy to marry him. He declares his intent to quit his job because “an agent shouldn’t care about anything but himself.”  And he means it.

Lazenby Bond is an actual human being. It is horribly disorienting. Tracy, performed by Diana Rigg of Avengers fame, is great. She completely sells herself as the one woman worthy of Bond’s love, but the esteem of James Bond should not hold any value at all. The core of the earlier Bond films has been that Bond is a monstrous sociopath.

The producers seem to have decided that if the franchise is going to outlive Connery, they need to explore new dimensions of Bond, flesh him out as a real character. It feels completely wrong, but it is a fascinating misfire.

In the morning, Blofeld and his goons chase Bond and Tracy some more, on skis again. There is a shocking, gruesome death as a henchman is pulped by a snow machine into pink mist, followed by a spectacular avalanche. Bond is left for dead as if he weren’t James Bond, while Tracy is captured by Blofeld.

Blofeld has decided to seduce Tracy for some reason. Probably because she is a countess, right? But that is never spelled out. Meanwhile, the U.N. Has decided to accede to Blofeld’s demands. Bond decides “fuck that” and calls Draco to form up a posse.

Bond and his gangster friends assault the mountain base with a helicopter in a truly great action piece while Tracy murders the hell out of some henchmen. Tracy is the first woman in one of these movies that seems to have the respect of the filmmakers. Which is sad, given that the two most important men in her life traded her like a commodity.

The gang blows up the base,  and Draco cold-cocks Tracy so they can escape without Bond. Meanwhile, Bond and Blofeld escape on foot, leading to Bond pursuing his quarry in a bobsled chase that is truly dumb. Blofeld is defeated in a way that appears non-fatal, but Bond seems to assume him dead.

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Some time later, Bond and Tracy get married. M, Moneypenny and Q are in attendance. Amidst the festivities there is a moment between Moneypenny and Bond where it is clear that Miss Moneypenny’s heart has been broken. And Bond gets it. All Bond can do is throw his hat at her one last time, and drive off. There is weight and honesty in this scene completely unbefitting of a Bond film. It is oddly affecting.

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So Bond and Tracy drive off, bantering like two newlyweds deeply in love, when Blofeld drives by and shoots Tracy dead.  In shock, Bond cradles his wife’s lifeless body in his arms and cries. The End.

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Holy shit. That’s a hell of an ending, dark, moving, and daringly unsatisfying (and problematic case of refrigerator syndrome).  I love it, and it makes me wish this movie had really gone for it. Against all logic, the love story angle worked, largely through the talent of Rigg. They came close to making a real, grounded James Bond movie. Unfortunately, the whole allergy-hypnotized women plot and other cartoonishness undercut the serious stuff they were doing.

This was Lazenby’s only appearance as Bond. His Bond is not at all cool.  He isn’t an unstoppable kill monster.  He’s just a guy in a film that tries to be more than it is able to be.  This wasn’t a great movie but it tried to do something different with Bond, and I like that, even if it didn’t work at all.