Days of Thunder – June 1964 Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #105

The Mighty Thor! “The Cobra and Mr. Hyde!”

Written By: Happy Stan Lee, Drawn By: Healthy Jack Kirby, Inked By: Husky Chic Stone, Lettered By: Hasty Art Simek

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Jane Foster has had it with waiting for Don to make a move. She lets him know that she is going out dancing with some guy named Paul. Spurred by competition, Blake once again considers renouncing his Thor aspect to live a mortal life with Jane. He decides to lock up his walking stick for a day, as a test case.

Jane Foster, out on her date and wearing an ugly hat, decides that Paul sucks. She would rather do dull office work with Dr. Blake than be out with anyone else.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hyde and The Cobra, Thor’s two lamest enemies, decide to team up to find Thor. Hyde has invented a Time Reversal Ray, a machine that shows where a person targeted with it has been. They use this machine to learn that there is some connection between Thor and Doctor Donald Blake, which of course, Hyde already knew. Ah well.

They attack a caneless Blake at the office.  Naturally, Blake has to find a way to access his cane so that he can turn into Thor to defend Jane.   This involves tricking Hyde into ripping open the case that holds Don’s cane and striking it on the ground himself.  Thus do we learn what happens when someone other than Doctor Donald Blake strikes the walking stick on the ground: It turns into the Uru hammer, and falls to the floor in the hands of the unworthy. At the same time, Doctor Blake turns into Thor. This is an eyebrow-raising thing. What if somebody as worthy as Blake had used the stick? Would they have become Thor or is Thor somehow imprinted upon Blake now?

At any rate, Thor and Cobra and Hyde fight a whole bunch, taking the fight to a “Heavy Machinery Show”. It is at the show that the Cobra theorizes that the lifting restriction only applies to humans. He discovers that machines, even human controlled-machines, are capable of lifting Thor’s hammer. He grabs Thor’s hammer with an atomic-powered hydraulic hoist, depositing it within its storage compartment, out of Thor’s grasp.  To be continued.

First Appearance: Paul

Days of Thunder – May 1964 Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #104 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods “Heimdall, Guardian of the Mystic Rainbow Bridge!”

A tale told in splendor by: Stan Lee A drama drawn in glory by: Jack Kirby Inked by: Don Heck Lettering: Art Simek

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This it the story of Heimdall’s audition to become Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard. Odin is considering three candidates. In addition to Heimdall, there is Agnar the Fierce who has the strongest lungs in Asgard enabling him to blow the massive Dragon Horn of Asgard,  and there is Gotrun the Agile who is, well, agile.

Heimdall argues that he is right candidate for the position due to his amazing senses. He is Heimdall the All-Seeing and All-Hearing.   He can look across not only space but also time. He showcases his ability to hear the tiniest plant growing in the heart of the hidden hills. It is for these abilities that Odin names him Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge forever.

First Appearance: Agnar the Fierce, Gotrun the Agile, The Dragon Horn of Asgard

Days of Thunder – May 1964: Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #104

The Mighty Thor “Giants Walk the Earth!”
This is a tale so powerful in concept, so dramatic in scope, that only the inspired talent of Stan Lee could have written it… Only the gifted hand of Jack Kirby could have Illustrated it!! Inked by: Chic Stone Lettered by S. Rosen Possibly one of the ten all-time epics you will never ever forget!!

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Odin is cosmically pissed off. Thor continues to love the mortal Jane Foster in defiance of his father.   Odin tells Loki that the only emotion that he cannot control… is love. Presumably he means that he cannot control it in Asgardians, because of course he can control it in mortals, such as he did with Ruby in Journey Into Mystery #89.

At Loki’s urging, Odin travels to Earth so that he may assert his authority. While he is gone, he grants Loki some of his power, so that the trickster god can rule Asgard in Odin’s absence. It seems Loki’s crimes have now been forgiven by his father.

While Odin sets out to discipline his heroic son, the villainous one uses his newly acquired power to free Surtur, the Fire Demon and Skagg, the Storm Giant from their prisons. Surtur’s story we know, Skagg seems to be some poor giant bastard who met the exact same fate as Ymir, the Ice Giant. The trickster intends for these creatures to kill Odin so that Loki can keep the throne of Asgard forever.

Loki’s machinations do not go unobserved. Heimdall, Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, sees and hears the villain’s deeds, and dispatches Balder the Brave to Earth so that he may warn Odin. Balder teams up with Thor and they fill in Odin about the danger before Odin can say his piece about Foster.

Odin uses his power to transport the entire human race to a dimension “beyond the ken of the moral mind,” so that the battle that is to come can happen without mortal interference or awareness. This appears to be more of a mental trick than a physical one, but as described, the feat defies comprehension. Presumably this is all linked to the previously established fact (JiM #92) that time stands still when Odin appears on Earth.

With the humans out of the way, the three gods cut loose, battling their two foes Tales-Of-Asgard style. Skagg is re-encircled, while Surtur is thrown into space by Thor, becoming trapped in the magnetic field of an asteroid in another galaxy.

With their foes defeated, Thor is told by his father to return to Asgard with him, as reward for his deeds in this battle, and presumably also to put some distance between him and that acursed mortal woman. Thor refuses, for Earth is his home and the home of the woman that he loves. Odin leaves to punish Loki, frustratedly declaiming “We have settled nothing!”

First Appearance: Skagg the Storm Giant

Days of Thunder – April 1964: Journey Into Mystery #103 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “Thor’s Mission to Mirmir!”
Masterfully Written By: Stan Lee Magnificently Illustrated By: Jack Kirby Majestically Inked by Chic Stone Meritoriously Lettered By: Art Simek

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The Tales of Asgard stories have some unique Jack Kirby art. Every page is either a splash page or a grid of four giant panels.  This odd style choice gives the stories a wonderful epic tone.  It also probably let Kirby crank out the art a lot faster, but the end result looks gorgeous.

A pre-Blake, post-Hammer Young Thor goes on a mission to Mirmir. He is given a tiny pocket-sized ship by Sindri, King of the Dwarves, the race of folk who forge all of the enchanted weapons of Asgard. The ship, named Skipbladnir, can grow and magically take Thor to any place in the universe.

On his quest Thor faces the sort of obstacles one expects on this sort of heroic quest: hostile terrain, dragons, giant boar gods. Eventually he meets King Mirmir himself, who gives the godling a branch of Yggrdasill, the Tree of Life. The branch is used to drip some magic water onto some trees on Earth, now called Midgard, The trees turn into the first humans, Aske and Embla.

First Appearance: King Sindri, Skipbladnir, Skord the Flying Dragon, Gullin Mightiest of the Boar Gods, King Mirmir, Aske, Embla, Humanity

Days of Thunder – April 1964: Journey Into Mystery #103

The Mighty Thor! Menaced By “The Enchantress and The Executioner”

Written By: Stan Lee Master of Fantasy/ Illustrated By: Jack Kirby, Master of Picto-Drama/ Inked By Chic Stone Lettered by S. Rosen

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Odin is determined to drive Jane Foster from Thor’s heart and Loki is happy to help. The two of them hatch a plan to convince an Asgardian named The Enchantress to seduce Thor away from Foster. It seems that the cruelty and ambition in her scheming heart rivals that of Loki.

One shopping trip later, The Enchantress is ready to throw herself at Doctor Donald Blake, as per Loki’s request, not knowing that he is Thor.  He recognizes her, as he seems to now have all of Thor’s memories, but she plants a smooch on him just as Nurse Foster walks in.  Jane storms out in jealousy as Blake limps after her in vain.

The Enchantress realizes that Blake only has eyes for Foster, so she  concludes that Jane Foster must not be allowed to live. She returns to Asgard and enlists a demigod named The Executioner with the task of assassinating Nurse Foster.

Meanwhile, Blake is so freaked out by Nurse Foster’s jealousy that Thor tries to get the police commissioner to issue an all-points alarm to help him find her. This is one day after he rampaged through the city bellowing his contempt for mortals.

The Executioner finds Jane and uses his axe to cut through space and time, hurling Nurse Foster into Limbo, the half-world between Earth and Asgard. Thor arrives too late. He and the Executioner fight a bunch before they make a deal: If the Executioner frees Jane, Thor will give the villain his hammer.

Of course, after Jane is freed, the Execution discovers that he cannot lift the hammer. As he tries, the Enchantress arrives. Outraged that he released Nurse Foster, she begins to turn the Executioner into a tree. Panicked, the Executioner lets Thor have his hammer back so that he may confront the Enchantress. Thor uses the hammer to create a whirlwind that blows both adversaries back to Asgard.

Afterward, Don Blake finds Jane and they make some degree of amends. This fills Odin’s heart with an “indescribable rage”. The final panel of this story depicts Odin shouting with his arms raised above his head “By Asgard! My son may not love a mortal! Thor may not defy his father Odin! The time for words is past! Now I must act!!” Aw shit!

First Appearance: The Enchantress, The Executioner

Days of Thunder – March 1964: Journey Into Mystery #102 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “Death Comes to Thor”

Written By: Stan Lee/ Illustrated By: Jack Kirby/ Inked By: Paul Reinman/ Lettered by Art Simek

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This month’s installment begins with a note from the editors informing the readers that due to the popularity of the feature, “Tales of Asgard” has won a permanent place among the Marvel roster of fabulous features. Hooray!

This is another Boyhood of Thor story.  Young Thor seeks the three Fates, who tell him that he can win Odin’s enchanted hammer but he will have to meet death first. Thor is not well-versed in misleading fortune wording, and so he believes this means that he must die in order to receive Odin’s hammer, a fate he is determined to face with courage.

Later, Thor is brooding over his fortune while attempting to lift the hammer, when Balder the Innocent staggers in, wounded. He tells Thor that Storm Giants have kidnapped his sister, Sif. That is all Thor needs to hear, and he charges off to save Sif.

The young godling fights his way into the castle of Rugga, a king who desires immortality more than anything. Rugga doesn’t want a fight, and he explains to Thor that he made a deal with Hela, the goddess of death, to  exchange Sif for immortality. It is unclear from the text if this means that she is a living prisoner, or if Rugga killed her. Either way, having completed his deal, Rugga is happy to point Thor toward Hela.

Thor finds Hela in her domain. With her is Sif, a blond damseley sort,  bound at the wrists, with flowers in her hair.  I’m still not clear if she is meant to be dead or not.  She does not speak in this story.

Thor begs Hela to spare innocent Sif. He offers his life in exchange for the girl’s.   This offer impresses Hela, so much that she lets them both go.   Having completed this adventure in naked androcentrism, Thor has finally gained enough worth to lift the magic hammer.

First Appearance: Sif, Rugga, The Fates

Days of Thunder – March 1964: Journey Into Mystery #102

The Mighty Thor! “Slave of Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man”

Cunningly Conceived by: Stan Lee/ Daringly Drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Ingeniously Inked by: Chic Stone/ Lovingly Lettered by: Art Simek

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As per his agreement last issue, Thor follows Zarrko into the future, as his willing slave. Now that Zarrko has defeated Thor with his robot and has made the thunder god his pawn, he no longer has any need for his robot. He commands Thor to sow chaos throughout the 23rd century. Unwilling to break his oath, Thor does.

They are beset by Techni-Guards who sure appear to be armed with ray guys, despite the one thing that everyone know about the 23rd century is that there are no weapons of any sort. Stan Lee earns himself a pre-emptive No-Prize by having Zarkko helpfully cover for Kirby, explaining that “Those instruments you hold are not really weapons! They are meant only to control defective machines!”

Thor is ordered to subdue the guards. His solution is to hold his hammer in just the right way to catch the sun’s rays, thus putting the guards in a hypnotic trance. Zarrko is mollified.

Soon, Zarrko and Thor stand before the powerful, all-male World Council, the men who make the laws which the machines carry out. They demand to be shown the Master Machine, the single AI that controls all the world’s devices. The weaponless men of the World Council attack Thor with a giant Robot Octopus.

After Thor defeats the robot, a councilman tells them where to find the Master Machine. Thor helps Zarrko defeat the Master Machine’s defenses and gain control of all the world’s technology. Thor just single-handedly conquered Earth on behalf of a supervillain.

Once control of the entire planet actually is actually gained by Zarrko, Thor is released from the terms of his oath. Thor turns on Zarrko, but Zarrko has control of the Master Machine, and threatens to use that power to kill millions of humans. Thor defeats Zarrko by gently rubbing his hammer head along the ground, picking up vast amounts of natural energy, which he directs toward the Master Machine, who uses that energy to turn on its new would-be master.

Zarrko is arrested, and Thor uses his hammer to return to the 20th century by swinging it at exactly twice the speed of light, which he can do while still at half-strength. When he returns, hopefully, he will be smart enough to tell no one that he has overthrown a planet.

First Appearance: The World Council, The Master Machine

Days of Thunder – February 1964: Journey Into Mystery #101 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “The Invasion of Asgard!”
Written By: Stan Lee/ Drawn By: Jack Kirby/ Inked By: G. Bell/ Lettered By: Art Simek

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One day, when Thor was a boy, all the forces of evil combine forces to attack Asgard.   Young Thor wants to fight them, in order to prove his worth and thus earn the ability to lift Odin’s mighty Uru hammer, but Heimdall, guardian of the rainbow bridge to Asgard, shoos him away.

However, Loki has “found” a hole in one of the walls defending Asgard.  He leaves Thor to defend it, earning his brother’s thanks. Of course, Loki himself has created the hole, and he hopes that all the forces of evil combined would be enough to kill Thor.

Thor ends up fighting one big group including The Norn Hag riding Ulfrin the Dragon, Skoll and Hati, the Wolf Gods, The merciless Rime Giants, the last of the Ice Giants, and Geirrodur the Troll. This proves to be too much for Thor to handle, and he is soon overwhelmed and it seems he is to be turned into a tree.

Before he can be fully treed, the combined forces of Asgard arrive and enter the fight. The evil ones are so disheartened by the fury of their foes, they retreat. Thor is bummed by his failure to defeat all the forces of evil single-handedly, but the gods reassure him that he did enough. Thor can now lift his father’s hammer slightly higher than he could before.

First Appearance: Ulfrin the Dragon, Skoll and Hati, the Wolf Gods, Geirrodur the Troll, The Rime Giants

Days of Thunder – February 1964: Journey Into Mystery #101

The Mighty Thor “The Return of Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man!”

Written by: Stan Lee/ Drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Inked by: G. Bell/ Lettered by S. Rosen

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After last issue, Thor is pissed! Stomping through the streets of New York, oblivious to damage he is causing, he is so angry, he has let the facade of hero drop. “Mortals! How like chattering Monkeys you are!!… Thor has had enough of you! I have lost interest in your puny, petty lives!”

The Avengers arrive, concerned that one of their own is rampaging through the city like a monster, just as Thor smashes a random motorist’s truck with his hammer. Thor yells at them, telling them to go mind their business. Iron Man convinces the others that Thor should be left alone, because I guess if you are an Avenger you get to smash whatever you want with a hammer, and Tony Stark will buy off the victims.

Meanwhile in Asgard, Loki convinces Odin that Thor being pissed, despite being ordered to forget Nurse Foster counts as disobedience. Odin angrily halves Thor’s power and banishes him from Asgard until such time as he gives up all thoughts of Jane.

Having successfully weakened his brother, Loki seeks the Norn Hag, commanding her to show him the Well of Centuries. He uses the Well to restore the memory of Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man.

Renewed, Zarrko uses his future technology to create an unstoppable robot. His plan is to take his powerful robot back to the 20th century, use it to steal weapons so that he can return to the 23rd century and use those weapons to take over the world.

Upon arriving in the past, the giant robot causes a ruckus, eventually attracting the attention of Doctor Don Blake who is just happy to have something to fight. However, with his powers halved, the robot kicks Thor’s butt.

Zarrko tells Thor that unless the thunder god agrees to come to the 23rd century and do Zarrko’s bidding, the robot will raze the 20th century planet of all life. Thor agrees to those terms. Odin, who has been watching from Asgard is disgusted with this act of surrender.

To be continued.

First Appearance: The Norn Hag, The Well of Centuries

Days of Thunder – January 1964: Journey Into Mystery #100 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods!: The Boyhood of Thor! “The Storm Giants”
Written by: Stan Lee Drawn by: Jack Kriby Inked by: Paul Reinman Lettered by Art Simek

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Young Thor and Young Loki spy two Storm Giants stealing the Golden Apples of Iduna. They follow the Giants home in order to steal them back. Once inside the giant castle, Loki pushes Thor out from their hiding spot to draw the Giants’ attention. While Thor faces off his towering foes, Loki finds the apples atop Agnar, King of the Eagles, and prisoner of the Storm Giants. Loki tries to leave his brother behind but Thor jumps onto the Eagle as they fly away. Loki is a completely unpleasant shit.

Back at home, Thor grapples with Odin’s Uru hammer. His father proudly announces “After each deed of valor, my son Thor, you are able to lift my hammer a little higher!” Thor is proving his worth one good-deed at a time.

First Appearance: The Storm Giants, Agnar, King of the Eagles, Golden Apples of Iduna.

Days of Thunder – January 1964: Journey Into Mystery #100

The Mighty Thor! The Master Plan of Mr. Hyde!”
Written by Stan Lee/ Illustrated by Don Heck

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Don takes Nurse Foster out to dinner for her birthday when they are abducted by Mr. Hyde. The villain ties up Blake with a bomb that only Hyde can defuse, while taking Nurse Foster with him, intending to make her his queen.

After they leave, Blake is able to reach his cane, transform into Thor, and escape. Thor catches up with the villain as he attempts to steal a Polaris submarine. Thor and Hyde fight while Jane tries to stymie Thor, believing that if anything happens to Hyde, Doctor Blake will be killed by Hyde’s bomb. She hides his hammer at one point, and jumps in the way of Hyde at another. Thor stops Hyde despite Jane’s interference, but Hyde escapes.

Meanwhile, Odin was watching the fight and he is outraged that Thor wanted Odin to make immortal this woman who was working with an evil-doer. He appears before Thor to chew him out, leaving his son to rage against the heavens.

Oh, and I guess last issue that Thor that robbed a bank was Hyde in disguise.

Days of Thunder – December 1963: Journey Into Mystery #99 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods: Surtur the Fire Demon!

Presented with Pride by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!

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Odin hears of an alliance between the Trolls and Surtur. In response, Odin invades the land of the Trolls, defies the Troll King and whups on a lot of Trolls.  We learn that Odin is the only force in the universe powerful enough to shatter the grip of a Troll. Odin plunges his sword into the ground, drawing limitless power. Cowed, the Trolls betray Surtur.

Odin and Surtur face off in a sea of flame. Surtur changes his hands into mighty serpents, but Odin uses the power of his sword to smash Surtur in the face with some icy planets. Surtur runs away, burrowing deep into the planet Earth. Odin creates Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, and runs across it to the Earth, where his uses his sword once again, this time to make the Earth begin spinning around the Sun, the force of which traps Surtur in the center of the planet.

Hoping to appease Odin, Surtur gifts the godking with a pegasus, which flies through the mouth of a spouting volcano. Maybe one day Odin will forgive Surtur. In the meantime, he’s keeping the horse.

Days of Thunder – December 1963: Journey Into Mystery #99

The Mighty Thor! Battles… “The Mysterious Mister Hyde!”
Written by: Stan Lee/ Illustrated by: Don Heck

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Thor spends more time petitioning Odin for permission  to marry Nurse Foster and is again denied. Odin is outraged at the very notion of Thor marrying a mortal.  Rather than accept this,  Thor has a counter-proposal: Odin use his power to make Jane an immortal, just as Don Blake became an immoral by wielding Thor’s hammer.

Odin holds this notion in low regard but tells Thor that if Jane can prove herself to be noble, unselfish, fearless, and possessing virtues far in excess of those which the ordinary Earthbound human possesses, Odin will re-listen to Thor’s petition. Despite it being clear that Odin does not believe Jane to ever be able to pass such a test, Thor returns to Earth happy, filled with hope.

Meanwhile, A man named Calvin Zabo has invented a serum that can turn him into a superhuman brute of a man. Taken to calling himself Mister Hyde, Zabo has decided to rob the famous neurosurgeon, Donald Blake, and as Blake enters his office upon returning from Asgard, he finds Zabo terrorizing Nurse Foster.

Zabo tosses Blake out a window, and there is a great action sequence as Blake tries to strike his cane upon the side of the building before hitting the ground. He does so, turning into Thor, but by the time he returns to the Office, Zabo is gone.

The next day Thor robs a bank. To be continued.

First Appearance: Mister Hyde

Days of Thunder – November 1963: Journey Into Mystery #98 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Gods!: Odin Battles Ymir, King of the Ice Giants

Written by: Stan Lee/ Drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Inked by: Don Heck/ Lettered by: Art Simek

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This is the story of Odin’s victory over the Frost Giants. Odin kills a bunch of giants, first with meteor bolts, then by splitting a mountain in two with his sword so that the giants fall into Surtur’ domain, where they become the prisoners of Surtur’s demons.

Finally, Odin faces Ymir, King of the Ice Giants. Odin does not kill him, but traps him eternally in a ring of fire. I bet that never comes back to haunt him.

Days of Thunder – November 1963 Journey Into Mystery #98

The Mighty Thor! “Challenged by the Human Cobra!”

Written by: Stan Lee/ Illustrated by: Don Heck/ Lettered by: Art Simek

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After Thor throws a violent temper tantrum over Jane Foster leaving the practice and being forbidden to pursue her, he ends up fighting The Cobra. The Cobra is just like Spider-Man only with snakes. And also, a villain. And also terrible.

The Cobra has Snake-strength conferred by a radioactive snake bite, but most of the rest of his gimmicks seem to be manufactured. He has Cobra Darts, capsules of Cobra Gas, and an unbreakable Cobra-Cord.

The Cobra somehow wanders into Doctor Andrews practice, and I am now starting to think that maybe it is  Nurse Foster who is the weirdness magnet, as she once again finds herself hostage to a random villain. Doctor Andrews cowers in fear while Thor saves Jane.

The Cobra escapes in the fracas, but hopefully he is too stupid to return any time soon. Meanwhile, disgusted with Andrews, Nurse Foster returns to Doctor Blake’s employ, which seems a wasted opportunity for melodrama. Even more frustrating is the fact that no one refers to Doctor Andrews by his first name at any time in this issue.

First Appearance: The Cobra

Days of Thunder – October 1963: Journey Into Mystery #97: Tales of Asgard

Tales of… Asgard! Home of the Mighty Norse Gods

Written By: Stan Lee/ Drawn By: Jack Kirby/ Inked By: George Roussos (credited as G. Bell)/ Lettered By: Art Simek

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Starting with this issue, in addition to the Thor main feature, Journey Into Mystery features a Tales of Asgard backup short. Some would say that this is the real start of Lee and Kirby’s Thor.

This month’s installment is an exposition dump. The Norse gods are known as the Aesir. At the end of the world from where they come sits Surtur, a demon with a flaming sword waiting for the end of all things. The first thing to crawl from the Well of Life on their world were the totally evil Frost Giants, led by Ymir the first and greatest of their number. Ymir had a gigantic magic cow.

Later, the first Aesir crawled from the well. He was named Buri. Buri and his unnamed wife had a son named Borr and later Borr had some kids, one of them being Odin, and Odin grew up to kill all of the Frost Giants.

Some time later, Odin and his unnamed brothers decide they like the Earth and so the set a ring around the planet, from which grows Yggdrasil, a magic protective tree that awaits the coming of man.

The interesting thing about this telling is that while it is clearly backstory for a major Marvel Comics superhero, it is framed as a legend, a story told by ancient Norsemen. It’s tonally very different from usual Stan Lee material and it is great.

First Appearance: Surtur, Surtur’s flaming sword, The Frost Giants, Ymir, Ymir’s magic cow, Buri, Borr, Yggdrasil

Days of Thunder – October 1963: Journey into Mystery #97

The Mighty Thor Battles… The Lava Man

Written by Stan Lee/ Drawn by Jack Kirby/ Inked by Don Heck/ Lettered by Art Simek

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This is the first issue scripted by Stan Lee and shit gets real!  Loki lures one of the Lava Men that live within the Earth’s magma to cause trouble for Thor and Thor eventually tosses it into a volcano, whatever.  That is not what this issue is about.   The real action happens in the office.

Thor petitions Odin, begging permission to marry Jane Foster and is flatly denied. Blake decides to forsake his life as Thor and straight-up, I have no idea what that means, so poorly defined is their dual identity. I mean, presumably, he just has to give his magic stick to somebody decent, right?  That person will become the new Thor, yes?

This is all cut short because before Blake can tell Jane how he feels, she interrupts him and tells him that despite her feeling for him, she thinks he sucks and so she is quitting his employ to go work for Doctor Basil Andrews, that wolf who has always tried to date her who has never been mentioned in the comic before and who is called Bruce Andrews when he shows up at the end of the comic, leaving with Nurse Foster presumably forever!

First Appearance: The Lava Man, Doctor Basil or possibly Bruce Andrews

Days of Thunder – September 1963: Avengers #1

“The Coming of the Avengers!”

Written by Stan Lee/ Drawn by Jack Kirby/ Inking by Dick Ayers

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The stories of Thor depicted in Journey Into Mystery have stood alone until this point. However, as of the publication of this comic magazine entitled  The Avengers, Thor becomes established as living in a overarching fictional universe shared by other heroic characters prominently featured in other comic periodicals published by what has come to be known as The Marvel Comics Group.

This story features several characters originating from other magazines. Ant-Man and The Wasp are two heroes capable of shrinking to the size of insects. Iron Man is a wealthy arms dealer wearing a transistor-powered suit of armor that secretly powers his crippled heart. The Hulk is mild mannered scientist that regularly transforms into a giant green tragic monster. Rick Jones and the Teen-Brigade are a bunch of teenage radio enthusiasts with affiliations with the Hulk. The Fantastic Four are the greatest superhero team of all time.

Despite the addition of all of these characters, this is essentially a Thor story. It begins when Loki tries to menace Thor by using Hulk as his catspaw. Follow the chain on Loki’s plan: In Asgard, Loki uses his magic to make the Hulk smash some things, which seems like the sort of thing that Hulk routinely does without divine intervention. In the Southwest, the newspaper reports that Hulk is at it again. Rick Jones reads about this in the paper and freaks out. He dispatches his Teen-Brigade to radio the Fantastic Four in New York, in case they haven’t read the paper. Loki diverts the message to Doctor Don Blake’s office radio but somehow it is also heard by Ant-Man, Wasp, and Iron Man, as well as the Fantastic Four. Mr Fantastic blows off the news, but all the other heroes show up.

Thor assumes that this must be the work of Loki because basically everything that happens to him is either the work of Loki or communists, so he heads to Asgard to confront his brother. He fights his way through a gauntlet before confronting Loki, who ambushes him with his troll allies. The trolls are apparently the natural enemies of the gods, and have an unbreakable grip. Thor beats the trolls and Loki runs away but Thor uses his hammer to soak up the strong flow of magnetic currents which apparently is what the Trolls eat, snaring Loki who is apparently magnetic. This probably has something to do with the mental link Loki shares with Thor’s hammer, established in Journey Into Mystery #85

Meanwhile, the Hulk has been hiding in the circus and we the readers are treated to maybe my favorite image that Jack Kirby ever drew:

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The Hulk dressed as a sad clown, juggling a horse, elephant, and seal.
The heroes attack him in the middle of his act, surrounded by circusgoers. The Hulk, totally the wronged party, runs away.

As Hulk and his persecutors continue to fight, Thor returns to Earth with Loki to explain that this is the real bad guy of the story. Loki uses his magic to turn radioactive, but unfortunately for him, he happened to be standing on a trap door, which Ant-Man’s ants spring open, dropping him into a tank for storing radioactive waste.

Almost as an afterthought, the Wasp suggests that they form a team, which they do, Hulk inclusive. They call themselves the Avengers.

First Appearance: Trolls, The Avengers, Mechano

Days of Thunder – September 1963: Journey Into Mystery #96

The Mighty Thor! Defying the Magic of… “Mad Merlin!”

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

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Nurse Foster is understandably angry with Doctor Blake because every time he hears of an emergency on the radio, he blows off his patients and locks himself in his lab for hours on end. She tells him, “I kept making lame excuses to your patients!” which is in questionable taste given who she is talking to.

Later, Merlin wakes from a thousand year sleep and decides to become President John F. Kennedy’s adviser.  Merlin is not a real wizard, he is a mutant.  He challenges Thor to a duel because he believe the thunder god to be the only threat to his plan. Thor convinces Merlin that he is a shape-changer by turning into Doctor Blake. Cowed by this show of power, Merlin agrees to go back to sleep for another thousand years.

First Appearance: Merlin, John F. Kennedy