Days of Thunder – January 1965: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #112 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “The Coming of Loki!”

Majestically written by: Stan Lee/ Magnificently drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Masterfully inked by: Vince Colletta/ Magnanimously lettered by Artie Simek

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Back when the universe was young, Odin needs to defeat many enemies in order to establish his reign. One such foe is Laufey, King of the giants of Jotunheim.  After a fierce battle, the forces of Jotunheim are defeated. Laufey attempts to regroup behind the defense of their castle, but Odin pursues his enemies back to their home and slays their king.

After the fighting ceases, Odin finds a baby. It is Loki, son of Laufey. Odin claims the child as his own, swearing him to forever be a son of Odin and the half-brother of Thor.

First Appearance: Laufey, Jotunheim, Baby Loki

Days of Thunder – January 1965: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #112

The Mighty Thor Battles the Incredible Hulk!

A Stan Lee – Jack Kirby Marvel Masterwork! Inking by Chic Stone * Lettering by S. Rosen

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Thor happens upon an unruly pack of youngsters arguing amongst themselves over who is stronger: the Mighty Thor or the Incredible Hulk. Thor can deduce that this is the topic of debate because they are snarling at each other as if they are about to come to blows while each side brandishes giant wooden signs shaped like the heads of the respective nominees.  It is an amazing tableau.

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Thor sits down with the youths and tells them of the time he battled the Hulk, specifically in the pages of The Avengers #3. Not much of interest happened in that issue, but apparently, between panels, there was a thirteen page fight between Thor and Hulk.

The end result of the fight ends up being inconclusive.

Days of Thunder – December 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #111 part 2

Tales of Asgard: Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “The Secret of Sigurd!”

Superbly written by Stan Lee/ Supremely drawn by Jack Kirby/ Savagely inked by Vince Colletta/ Sagaciously lettered by Artie Simek

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One day Young Thor, Young Loki, and Young Balder are taking a shortcut through a forest when they meet Sigurd. Sigurd is a big hairy bloke who understandably wants these brash godlings out of his forest.  Thor doesn’t know him but Loki recognizes him, and Balder seems to have heard of him.

At Loki’s urging Thor picks a fight with Sigurd. Sigurd is holding his own until Balder remembers Sigurd’s secret power: Sigurd is the son of the Earth Sprites, and each time his body strikes the ground, they give him some of their power. So Thor hurls the poor bastard into outer space.

First Appearance: Sigurd

Days of Thunder – December 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #111

The Mighty Thor The Mysterious Mr. Hyde and The Serpentine Cobra Feel… “The Power of the Thunder God!”

Written with the mastery of Stan Lee/ Illustrated with the genius of Jack Kirby/ Delineated with the Delicacy of Chic Stone/ Lettered with the India Ink of Artie Simek

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Thor finds a secure spot to stash the unconscious time warped body of Jane Foster, and once he has done so, he fights Hyde and Cobra. Even at double-strength, they do not pose much of a challenge for the god of thunder.

Meanwhile, in Asgard, Balder does what he can to remind Odin of a time when the king was young and in love. Moved by Balder, Odin decides that while Thor is still forbidden to marry the young Earth girl, she is to be saved from death.

Balder embarks on a quest to reach Hardol, a mystic healer who lives far away, beyond the molten chasm. He rides past swamps of flame, past noxious eternal nightmare plants, and past the Valley of Swords, which is literally filled with upraised swords.

Balder also fights a not-to-be named phantom who’s very touch means death. Balder gambles that if this entity from another universe were to touch his sword, which was forged from a substance also from another universe, the being would be destroyed. His gambit works, and as Balder’s sword returns to his hand, the monster vanishes in a burst of red light.

Back on Earth, Thor is anguished. His time warp cannot be held indefinitely.  To attempt to do so would cause irreparable harm to the universe. As much as he loves Jane he cannot permit the temporal displacement he is creating to continue, and so he drops the warp.

One heart beat later, Balder’s sword drops from the sky. Attached to it is a vial and a note explaining it is for Jane. Thor feeds it to his love. As life returns to her, Balder’s sword slowly rises into the sky, returning to his hands. Fucking epic.

First Appearance: Hardol, Unnamed Phantom Who’s Very Touch Means Death,  The Valley of the Swords

Days of Thunder – November 1964: The Avengers #10

“The Avengers Break Up!”
Story superbly written by: Stan Lee/ Art adorably drawn by: Don Heck/ Inked by darlin’ Dick Ayers/ Lettered by stalwart Sam Rosen

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Once again Zemo, The Enchantress and The Executioner are deliberating on how to destroy the Avengers when the Enchantress receives a mental probe from another time. Using that mental connection as a beacon, Immortus, Master of Time appears before them. Immortus is the ruler of Limbo and he has decided to throw his lot in with this crew as part of his larger goal of conquering the 20th century.

Immortus uses his Time Mastery to attack the Avengers by summoning various historical warriors. He enlists Attila the Hun, Goliath, Merlin the Magician, Hercules, and Paul Bunyan. This time-displaced Merlin is presumably from a point in time prior to when he meets Thor in in Journey Into Mystery #96, although curiously this Merlin has white hair and beard as opposed to the black haired one who tried to get a job working for JFK.

Each hero faces a different foe and Thor fights Hercules. Herc puts up a good fight, but Thor defeats his Greek opposite, who honorably yields when the fight is lost. In this story featuring Thor, Hercules, Paul Bunyan, and Goliath, it has now been established that the world that Thor lives in is a literary universe where several different mythological traditions are all treated as real.

The Avengers are more than a match for the villains even with their expanded historical roster.  When defeat is imminent, The Enchantress casts a spell around her, The Executioner, and Zemo that rewinds time to just before Immortus was about to make contact with their little cabal. She breaks contact with the Master of Time thus preventing this adventure to have happened anywhere but in the minds of the three of villains. Maybe Immortus will remember it too, since he is a time master but we are given no indication that this is the case.

First Appearance: Immortus, Attila the Hun, Goliath, Paul Bunyan

Days of Thunder – November 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #110 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! The Defeat of Odin!

Another towering triumph by Marvel’s talented titanic team: Stan Lee Writer/ Jack Kirby Illustrator/ Vince Colletta Delineator/ Art Simek Letterer

tales 110Odin and the warriors of Asgard are at war with humans who rebel against Asgardian rule. I think these humans are the same humans as the humans of Earth, but it is not clear. The Rebels are newly led by young Prince Rivvak, who is now leading them into battle against Odin’s forces for the first time.

The two armies approach each other on the Boiling Plain, a treacherous area filled with geysers of erupting fire. Odin’s forces appear to be getting the brunt of the fire spouts.  He orders a retreat, so as to protect their steeds from the deadly flames. As they depart Rivvak is celebrated by his men for driving off the enemy.

As they return home, Young Thor questions Odin as to why he he held back, why he didn’t do any number of things that would have won them the day. Odin reveals that he wanted the Rebels to win that day. He says “There must always be those with the fire of rebellion in their blood! There must alays be those who will fight an unbeatable enemy! Only thus can the race of man remain fearless and strong!…Men must never feel an enemy cannot be beaten!”

First appearance: The Rebels, Prince Rivvak The Fearless, The Boiling Plain

Days of Thunder – November 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #110

The Mighty Thor! “Every Hand Against Him!”
Spectacularly written by: Stan Lee/ Magnificently drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Powerfully Inked by: Chic Stone/ Eventually lettered by: Art Simek

Loki has somehow freed himself from Asgardian imprisonment and is now loose on Earth. Having nothing better to do, he posts bail for those losers Mister Hyde and The Cobra so he can magically double the strength of their powers and turn them against his brother. Even with these two jokers’ powers doubled, and Thor’s powers ostensibly still halved, this does not seem like a fight they can win.

Loki tells the criminals that the key to defeating Thor is to kidnap Nurse Jane Foster. The logic of this plan confounds Mister Hyde and Cobra, despite the fact they have both separately kidnapped Jane before. Apparently, Loki can’t just tell them that Blake is Thor due to an unbreakable edict from Odin.

Meanwhile Don and Jane continue to be all touchy-flirty. It’s nice in a nauseating sort of way, but as they close up shop for the day, the Cobra grabs Jane out of a window.  When Thor confronts Cobra and Hyde, they tell him to meet them in 24 hours.

Back on Asgard, Loki is once again showing Odin that Thor will stay his hand to protect Jane Foster. Odin appears before Thor to once again yell at his willful son. This time he is so mad that he banishes Thor from Asgard. Either he forgot that Thor has already been banished from Asgard since Journey Into Mystery #101, or maybe when he told Thor to come back to Asgard with him in Journey #104, that unbanished him, despite Thor refusing to return.

This banishment so angers Thor that it gives him the clarity to see that Loki told those other villains to kidnap his sort-of girlfriend. Enraged, he flies straight to Asgard, despite having just been either banished or double-banished.

Heimdall tries to stop Thor but unlike last time he tried to block Thor’s entrance to Asgard (#101 again), this time Thor pulls out some super hammer whirlwind that he dubs “The Winds of a Thousand Worlds” which momentarily stuns Heimdall. Thor fights his way through a bunch more warriors before finding Loki. Loki plays it cool, denying all involvement but lets his brother know that Jane is in a lowly estate in Jersey.

That’s when Odin barges in ready to beat the insolence out of Thor. Thor tries to explain that he did what he did to defend an innocent. Odin is wiling to suspend his judgment as he casts Thor back to Earth using his mere will.

Thor enters the house that Hyde and The Cobra share. The Cobra throws a tear gas grenade at Thor, which apparently was a good choice because Thor is apparently completely vulnerable to tear gas. As he thrashes about he accidentally sets off an explosion, doing a great deal of damage to the house. Thor and the villains are unharmed but Jane got hit by a great deal of falling rubble and has been terribly injured!
Thor’s beloved is near death, and he cries to Asgard begging to deaf ears that she be saved. Desperate, Thor spins his hammer to create a time warp, which seems to be a variation of his power to create space warps. He envelops the house, making the fabric of time stand still, suspending Jane between life and death, even as Hyde and Cobra approach to continue the fight.

To be continued

First Appearance: The Winds of a Thousand Worlds, Time Warp

Days of Thunder Recap Page: Pre-Kirby and Early Kirby

Thor powers

So to recap…

Doctor Donald Blake is a famous genius medical doctor living in New York City.  He is an amazing surgeon, specializing in neurosurgery but regularly performing all manner of surgeries.  He also has a small private practice where he apparently serves as a general practitioner. In addition to his medical endeavors, he once built a sentient nigh-indestructible android.

Doctor Blake is disabled. His right leg is lame, requiring his use of a walking stick. He is romantically involved with his nurse and only employee, Jane Foster. Outside of Nurse Foster, he seems to have little social life.

Doctor Blake frequently travels the world on various humanitarian trips. On one such trip, he randomly stumbled upon an enchanted stick that can transform him into Thor, Norse God of Thunder when he stamps it on the ground.  He now uses this stick as a walking stick.

Thor is the Norse God of Thunder. As a member of the Asgardian race he is immortal and incredibly strong, although ostensibly he is only at half-strength due to a punitive action of his father. His Asgardian physiology includes a chromosomatic gland, which determines personality. His body also emits a free-flowing aura of electrons, which can be detected by other Asgardians.

While initially it appeared that when transformed, Blake’s personality simply inhabited Thor’s body, over time Thor’s personality and memories became stronger and stronger. Now, regardless of whether they are in Blake’s body or Thor’s they seem to be a single, composite personality.

The gnarled stick that transforms Blake into Thor transforms itself into an enchanted Uru hammer which grants him a number of supernatural abilities. Thor is the only living being that can lift it, having earned that right incrementally through a series of noble deeds, although it can be lifted by mechanical devices. If he stamps it on the ground twice, he creates storms. If he stamps it three times he ends the storms. Four stamps create seismic activity.

The hammer can also be spun to create space warps, time warps, and time travel. Thor can throw it so hard that it will pull him through the air, giving him a version of flight. The hammer can detect the presence of Asgardians, and in particular has a psychic link with Thor’s brother, Loki.

Thor must remain in near-constant physical contact with the Uru Hammer.  If 60 seconds pass without Thor holding the hammer, he will revert to Doctor Blake and the Hammer will revert to a walking stick.  Fortunately, the enchanted hammer returns to Thor’s hands whenever it is thrown.

In addition to his hammer, Thor possesses a belt of strength which can amplify his powers. For reasons that are unclear, he seldom wears it. Valkyries keep it safe for him on Asgard.

Thor is the son of Odin, King of Asgard. He is Odin’s beloved favorite son, and his father has helped him on Earth on numerous occasions. However, Thor has made it know to Odin that he is in love with the mortal Jane Foster. Odin considers all mortals to be beneath unfit mates for his son, and he refuses to allow Thor to marry Foster or to reveal his true identity to her. This has caused much tension between father and son as of late.

Thor is brother to Loki, Prince of Asgard and God of Evil. Loki was born a Frost Giant but was adopted by Odin as a baby, conferring him with all the powers of a royal Asgardian. Loki is an evil schemer who hates his brother and is hated by Thor in return. Not as strong as Thor, Loki is a powerful magician and a shape shifter although water negates these abilities. He also shares a psychic link with Thor’s Uru hammer. He spends most of his time plotting against his brother and is constantly being punished by his father, who cannot help but love his evil son.

Asgard is the most powerful of kingdoms in a world that is connected to Earth by a rainbow bridge known as Bifrost. It’s inhabitants are known as the Aesir but are more commonly referred to as Asgardians. Their world is inhabited by a number of sentient races, including fire demons, dwarves, trolls, mountain giants, ice giants, storm giants, rime giants and vanna. Human life on Earth was first created by Asgardian magic.

Thor is a member of a team of superheroes known as the Avengers. Despite nominally being a superhero, Thor has done many things beyond the purview of superheroics. He once travelled to the future where he proceeded to conquer planet Earth. And in present day, he once nuked China.  These actions seem to fly in the face of the vow Thor has taken to never take a mortal life.

Thor has fought many super-powered enemies. After Loki, the most significant ones are the Enchantress, the Executioner, Mr. Hyde, The Cobra, and Zarrko the Tomorrow Man.

His most important allies are ostensibly the Avengers, consisting of Iron Man, Captain America, Giant Man, and The Wasp.  Despite his membership in their organization, Thor consistently rejects their aid in his own personal conflicts.

He also has two notable Asgardian allies, Balder and Heimdall. Balder is a gentle, kindhearted warrior. Heimdall is the stoic watchman guarding the rainbow bridge to Asgard, possessing astounding powers of perception.

Thor stars in the lead feature of a comic magazine titled Journey Into Mystery.  This incarnation of Thor was created by writer Stan Lee, and Illustrator Jack Kirby.  After the introductory adventure in issue #83, Thor’s early stories were written by Larry Lieber and illustrated by a variety of artists, most notably Don Heck.  As of issue #97 creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby took over the book as the regular creative team.  They also began the Tales of Asgard feature, a series of five page stories that fleshed out the larger Asgardian world of Thor.

Days of Thunder – October 1964: The Avengers #9

“The Coming of the… Wonder Man!”
Sensationally Written by: Stan Lee/ Superbly Illustrated by Don Heck/ Selectively Inked by: Dick Ayers/ Sufficiently Lettered by Art Simek

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The previous issue of The Avengers had the team fighting a master of Space and Time named Kang the Conquer. It was light on the Asgardian action.

The Enchantress, The Executioner, and Baron Zemo have been trapped between the sixth and seventh dimension ever since Thor trapped them in a space warp (Avengers #7) The Enchantress now uses her sorcery to pull their ship back to Earth.

When they return, the three of them are determined to destroy the Avengers. I’m not sure why.   Zemo hates Captain America, but it almost seems like the Asgardians are simply going along with Zemo because they have nothing better to do while in exile.

These villains  find a guy with a grudge against Tony Stark, give him super powers, and make him pose as a superhero named Wonder Man so he can worm his way into joining the Avengers. Wonder Man discovers he likes being a hero and when the bad guys attack, he double-crosses the bad guys and dies in the ensuing fight, while the bad guys escape.

First Appearance: Wonder Man

Days of Thunder – October 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #109 part 2

Tale of Asgard: Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “Banished From Asgard!”
Presented by the greatest names in illo-dramatics: Stan Lee, Author/ Jack Kirby, Illustrator/ Vince Colletta, Delineator/ Sam Rosen, Letterer/ Living proof of the titantic talent which has made this series a smashing success!


There comes a day in the midst of a war with the Mountain Giants when Odin publicly banishes Young Thor from Asgard for dueling or something. This catches the attention of Arkin the Weak, described as cousin of Loki, which since he is an Asgardian, not a Frost Giant, presumably means he is also Thor’s cousin.

Arkin is in love with Knorda, the Asgardian/Human-sized queen of the Mountain Giants. (Not to be confused with the Ice Giants, Storm Giants, or Rime Giants) He betrays his people by leaking this news of Thor’s banishment to her, in an attempt to curry her favor.


Knorda uses this intel to mount an ambush against a lone Thor.  When attacked by a band of Mountain Giants, Thor leads them on a merry chase. It ends when he uses their size against them, luring them into a trap.

The entire banishment was a ruse to ferret out a suspected traitor and not only have they captured the enemy’s queen, but they have discovered the betrayer. Knorda is a class act, and she accepts her defeat and capture with grace and honor.

First Appearance: Knorda Queen of the Mountain Giants, Arkin the Weak, The Mountain Giants

Days of Thunder – October 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #109

The Mighty Thor! “When Magneto Strikes!”
Written by: Stan Lee, the monarch of the Marvel Age, at the peak of his power! Illustrated by Jack Kirby, the prince of pageantry, at the height of his titanic talent Inked by: Chic Stone, the dean of line design, at the peak of his prowess! Lettered by S. Rosen, the sultan of spelling, at the little table in his studio!

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One of the concepts established in the larger Marvel Comics shared universe is that of the “mutant.” In the fictional world in which Thor stories take place, there is a genetic offshoot of humanity who develop random superpowers at the onset of puberty. These people are referred to a “mutants” or “homo superior”. Merlin is a mutant. Sandu, Master of the Supernatural was probably one also.

The larger cultural issues of a world with mutants are primarily explored in the pages of a comic magazine entitled X-Men. The titular team in this book consists of  a group of teenagers indoctrinated into becoming paramilitary mutant rights radicals by the charismatic leader of their private school, a secret mutant with mind altering powers.

The X-Men’s greatest enemy is a man by the name of Magneto. He is a powerful mutant with the the power to control and alter magnetic fields, and the leader of a team quizzically named the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Magneto believes that mutants should use their natural powers to overthrow the human race.

In this issue Magneto causes a ruckus in New York looking for the X-Men and Thor comes to investigate, even though that means Don has to break a dinner date with Jane. Magneto mistakes Thor for a mutant and tries to recruit the Norseman to his cause, offering to share wealth, art, and treasure with Thor. Thor hears him out, but is unimpressed, considering such beauty to be mere irrelevancies. When Magneto gets to the conquer-the-human-race part of the pitch, Thor condemns the mutant as a villain, and the two of them fight.

The two have a protracted fight, ending undecisively when the (off-panel) X-Men arrive to fight Magneto. The villain retreats in fear and Thor leaves, having accomplished nothing of import.

After the battle, Blake seeks out Nurse Foster, asking her forgiveness, which she grants. The two flirt and banter and it is delightful. At one point, Jane calls Blake a “silly goop.” For the first time in 26 issues, these two are actually shown to act like a young couple in love with each other. This brief exchange is the warmest and most human the book has been to date.

Days of Thunder –September 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #108 part 2

Tales of Asgard: Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! “Trapped by the Trolls!”

Fantastically Written by: Stan Lee/ Faithfully Drawn by: Jack Kirby/ Fabulously Inked by: Vince Colletta/ Finally Lettered by: Art Simek


A cloaked stranger visits Sindir, King of the Dwarfs, seeking refuge from a storm. Sindir turns the stranger over to the Trolls to be their slave as part of a deal the Dwarves have with the Trolls.  Turns out the stranger is really Young Thor, who has come to rescue the other slaves. Which he does.

First Appearance: Sindir, King of the Dwarfs

Days of Thunder –September 1964: Journey Into Mystery with The Mighty Thor #108

The Mighty Thor! “At The Mercy of Loki, Prince of Evil”
Written by Stan Lee, The Idol of Millions! Illustrated by Jack Kirby, The Toast of the Town! Inked by Chic Stone, The Man of the Hour! Lettered by Art Simek, The Peoples Choice!

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Oh man, so much happens in this issue! It starts with Thor hitting the New York sidewalk with his hammer so hard and so precisely that a truck about to hit a child flies into the air, sailing safely over the child. Of course, this stunt does tons of property damage, but Thor tells a nearby cop that he will reimburse the city, not with his own money but with Tony Stark-provided Avengers money.  Then he flies off, assuming everything is cool.

Later, Thor finds Doctor Strange badly injured after barely winning a fight with some enemy of his named Mordo. Thor calls the hospital and fifteen minutes later, operates on Strange  as Doctor Blake, musing that it is only Thor’s unearthly knowledge that gives Blake the ability to save Doctor Strange through surgery.

It is at this crucial moment that Odin summons Thor to help him battle some unspecified enemy. Blake ignores the Allfather and completes the life-saving operation. Afterward, Strange makes it clear to Blake that his magic services are at the lame doctor’s disposal, should he ever need them.

Upon returning to his office, Blake meets an older man with a walking stick, complaining of leg pain. The man falls to the floor, knocking Blake’s stick out of his hand. Obviously this is a bit of sleight of hand, but well executed. After returning the wrong stick to Blake, the stranger stands up straight and tosses Blake’s cane out the window without even looking. It’s a total badass move.

The stranger is a disguised Loki, who had escaped Asgard while Odin was out fighting whoever it was he tried to get Thor to help him fight. Loki knocks out Jane with some “slumber mist”, punches Blake in the face, and runs away with the sleeping nurse in his arms.

Blake runs down the stairs to find his cane but it is slow painful going because running is not something Blake can actually do. By the time he reaches street level, the cane has vanished. In desperation, Blake telepathically reaches out to Odin but apparently Odin can only be reached by mental link while he is within the halls of Asgard and thus he does not hear Blake’s plea.

When Odin fails to bail out Blake, he immediately visits Doctor Strange to cash in that favor he is owed. Blake asks the sorcerer to help him find his walking stick and Strange uses his magic to do just that.

A vagrant has found the walking stick and is using it as a fishing pole. In a scene that surpasses the Peanut Gambit to become the all-time greatest Thor moment, Doctor Blake starts a fight with a hobo, trying to steal his fishing pole.

He would have lost that fight too, because he is a disabled weakling. but Doctor Strange pretends to be a ghost and scares away the pack of vagrants that Doctor Blake attacked. Once more in possession of his walking stick, Doctor Blake becomes Thor once again.

It is around this time that Odin returns to Asgard victorious. He puts on his Robe of Conquest and mentally contacts Thor. His success has lifted his spirits and he decides to cut that knucklehead son of his a break. However, Thor is pissed off that Odin failed to respond earlier, and he gives his all-powerful, wrathful father the kiss-off. Then the Avengers cameo and he tells them to take a hike also.

Thor is looking for Loki by himself.  All the gods of Asgard emit an aura of free-flowing electrons from their person, which can be detected by another immortal.   Oddly, In this case, it isn’t Thor himself that can detect Loki’s aura, it is his hammer that does the detecting.

It is an odd detail. Combine it with Loki’s special bond with the hammer and with the sixty second rule, and it seems like the real divinity lies not within the person of Thor, but in the hammer. There are interesting connotations at work here, poorly fleshed out and conjecture-heavy as they may be.

At any rate, Loki tries to block the electron-based detection, but Thor eventually finds him. They fight. Thor wins. Loki releases Jane from Limbo, where she had been held. Loki gets ready to fight some more, when an unnamed Asgardian appears through magic mist, grabbing Loki with an arm enchanted by Odin, dragging him back to Asgard. Thor and Odin make up, but even as they do, Thor is tending to Jane’s well-being to the frustration of his father.

First Appearance: slumber mist, The Uru Hammer’s ability to detect the aura of free-flowing electrons emitted by Asgardians

Roger Moore as James Bond 007 in Ian Fleming’s “Live and Let Die”

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The beginning of the Roger Moore era begins here. Roger Moore doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a Bond but he seems to have his fans.  They sure did make a bunch of these movies with him, I would hope for good reason.  Almost anything would be a welcome change after the last Connery.

The film starts with a series of assassinations. During a session of the United Nations, a white guy is killed by killer audio feedback. In the Caribbean, a white guy has been tied to a post and killed by a snake bite. And in New Orleans, a white spy is not-at-all-subtly staking out a club called Fillet of Soul when a funeral procession passes, “Who’s funeral is it?” he asks a bystander.

“Yours.” Stab, shove in casket.  Continue procession.  Cue credit sequence.

The theme music this time is by Paul McCartney and Wings. The song is exotic and brassy and perfect for a Bond film.   It’s a great song worthy of a former Beatle.  Of course, one cannot help but remember that Bond in Goldfinger made a point of taking a pot shot at the Beatles, quipping that they should only be listened to while wearing earmuffs.

The title sequence itself is delightfully sinister.  It includes the perquisite naked ladies but has a fire and skulls motif that gives the whole affair a black magic tone. It is a little unusual for James Bond but it is cool.

Our first glimpse of Moore comes as M and Moneypenny visit Bond at home. He is in bed with a young woman when they arrive. He is wearing a digital watch. Bond should never be seen wearing a digital watch. Bond should always be stylish never fashionable.  It is a bad start.

The tone of this sequence is one of light comedy, nicely masking the exposition. James hides the girl in a coat closet from M. Moneypenny finds the girl and helps Bond hide her. It’ s a dumb farce scene but goddamn if Lois Maxwell doesn’t give it some gravity. This is the first time she’s actually been face-to-face with Bond’s womanizing and you can see it kill her inside, even as she helps Bond with a smile and a wink.

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M exposits that the three men killed in the pre-credits were all agents of British Intelligence: Dawes, Hamilton, and Baines. Bond rather liked Baines. They shared the same bootmaker. Bond is being sent to investigate their deaths.

Stupid digital wristwatch aside, Moore as Bond looks a lot more respectable and gentlemanly than Bond has in the past few films. That is not to say that he actually is respectable or a gentleman. As soon as M finishes briefing him and departs, Bond uses his new magnetic wristwatch to unzip the closet girl’s dress. It is sexy in a fun, playful way as opposed to the normal Bond sex creepiness.

Bond’s assignment is to investigate Kananga,  a dictator ruling San Monique, a small fictional Caribbean nation. Kananga is played by Yaphet Koto with playful menace.    He is currently visiting the United Nations in New York, so that is Bond’s first stop.

In New York Bond liases with yet another new Felix Leiter. This one, played by David Hedison, is a minor revelation. There’s a chemistry between him and Bond that has always been absent before.  He comes across as Bond’s American best friend, which I think is supposed to be the point of the character, but has never quite landed up until now.

Before Bond can begin his investigation, someone driving what is described by Leiter as a “white pimpmobile” tries to assasinate Bond. This man shoots Bond’s driver in the head, leaving the car to crash. Bond manages to avoid serious injury and with the help of Felix, traces the car’s owner to a store dealing in voodoo paraphernalia.

Bond finds the pimpmobile parked near the voodoo store, and so he tails it by taxi.  However, it turns out that Bond’s taxi driver is part of a chain of seemingly ordinary black people throughout the city that are all tracking Bond’s movements. It seems as if every black person in New York is part of a monolithic criminal conspiracy and all their attention is now focused on James Bond.


Bond arrives in Harlem, and enters a Fillet of Soul, the chain restaurant being staked out at the start of the film. He gets seated at a booth that is placed along a wall.  This booth swivels, fireplace-secret-door-style, into a hidden lair.  Once in the lair he is informed by Tee Hee Johnson, a tall, imposing man with a mechanical vise for a hand, that he is to be introduced to Mr. Big.

While waiting for Mr. Big, Bond meets Solitaire, a beautiful young tarot reader, played by Jane Seymore, who is utterly confident in her ability to divine the fortune from her tarot cards. Bond flirts with her briefly before Mr. Big sweeps in and tells his men to waste the honky. Bond smugly asks whether “waste” is a good thing.

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Bond is taken out back to be wasted, but he is saved by a black CIA agent, thus establishing that, in fact, not all black people are evil.

Bond now heads to San Monique. As he arrives, he passes Baron Samedi, a voodoo performer in facepaint and top hat, touted as “The man who cannot die”. Samedi puts on an exuberant and slightly sinister show.

This film has moved at a breakneck clip for a Bond film up until this point, but now things slow down enough to make room for some spy shit as Bond sweeps his room for bugs. A deadly snake is slipped into his room and his champagne is left for him by a large man who only speaks in a whisper. This is the assassin driver of the white pimpmobile.

After finding and dispatching the snake, Bond meets in his hotel room Rosie Carver, another black CIA agent who as part of her cover is posing as “Mrs. Bond.” She is a rookie field agent standing in sharp contrast to Bond’s years of experience. This subtly sells the idea that Moore-As-Bond is a veteran like the character, not a rookie like the actor.

Bond just sort of assumes that Carver will sleep with him. She rebufs his advances and then immediately gets frightened by a hat. It is then implied that she sleeps with Bond.

They meet up with Quarrel Junior. Remember Quarrel? James Bond’s other black friend? The guy in Dr. No who couldn’t tell the difference between a tank and a dragon who got killed with a flamethrower? Apparently he had a son who serves the exact same narrative purpose as his father.

Bond and Rosie hire Quarrel Jr. to take them to Katanga’s Island base. As they approach, Katanga asks Solitaire to give a reading about how this encounter will play out. The card she reads is “The Lovers” but she tells Katanga that what she sees is “Death.”

Katanga believes that Solitaire has the power but it is implied that deflowering her would depower her.   This film is treating her divination as being a real power, which is odd.  All of a sudden there exists magic within the world of James Bond. This wholly alters the tone of the proceedings. Even more than You Only Live Twice, this film abandons being an espionage thriller, transcending that limited genre, and creating something weirder and more interesting.

It turns out that Rosie is an agent of Katanga, attempting to set up Bond. Bond sees through her act which naturally does not stop him from sleeping with her in the jungle before confronting her regarding her duplicity.  However, she is killed by one of Katanga’s traps before she can tell Bond what she knows.

To perform reconnaissance on Katanga, Bond hang glides while smoking a cigar, pulled along by Quarrel’s boat. When he is ready to make his move, he lands, tearing off his pants to reveal a second pair of pants, while reversing his jacket so that he can be properly dressed for the occasion. It is sublimely ridiculous.

Bond makes his way into Katanga’s compound, where he finds Solitaire. He coerces her into sleeping with him. He tells her that the cards say that they must. What he does not tell her is that he has replaced her deck of cards with a deck that contains nothing but copies of “The Lovers”.

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After they make love, Solitaire is stunned and appalled at what she has done. She no longer has the power now that she is devirginated.   Her whole life has been destroyed. Bond uses this vulnerability to press her for information about Katanga.

Having had her life destroyed, Solitaire seems to have no real choice but to stick with Bond as he escapes the compound. Two pretty fun chase scenes later, Bond escapes San Monique but cannot quite hold onto Solitare, who get’s captured. This is a setback for Bond who had, in obtaining the  boss’s girl, gained  a useful bargaining chip.

Some time afterward, Bond and Felix end up at the New Orleans Filet of Soul. Bond asks to be seated closer to the stage to avoid a secret door booth.  He is obliged and they are front and center to watch a woman singing “Live and Let Die”, the film’s theme song.

Despite avoiding the booth, this table is also part of a secret passage, dropping Bond into a lower level when Felix leaves to make a phone call.

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Bond is clamped to a chair and interrogated by Mr. Big. The gangster wants to know if Bond has slept with Solitaire.   He learns the truth and in the course of the scene, reveals a secret of his own:  Mr. Big is Katanga in disguise! I feel foolish admitting it, but I genuinely didn’t see that coming!

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Katanga’s villainous plot is elegant in its simplicity: Give a bunch of people in America free heroin.

After Katanga learns the truth about Solitaire, Bond is taken by Tee Hee Johnson to a crocodile farm where heroin in processed. Johnson tells Bond that he loves the crocs despite having lost an arm to one.

Bond is then left alone in the farm on a tiny island surrounded by crocodile-filled swamp. He spies a metal canoe and uses his magno-watch to pull it to him. However, the canoe is firmly tied up!  The gimmick has failed.

Moving to plan “B”, Bond instead jumps on the body of one crocodile after another, Pitfall Harry-style, hopping his way to freedom. Then he burns the heroin shack to the ground before taking off on a speedboat and I kind of love this movie.

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Bond doesn’t make a clean escape. What follows is a truly spectacular car/boat chase that reels in J. W. Pepper, a racist redneck sheriff, blatantly inserted into the film to make the movie itself seem less racist.

The chase involves boats on rivers, cars on roads, swimming pools, boats jumping over cars, a boats moving on land, a weeding, boat-switching and car-switching, all culminating in a glorious fireball. It is one of the greatest chase scenes I have been fortunate enough to bear witness to.

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Bond and Felix jet back to San Monique, I think to burn their poppy fields? Or assassinate Katanga? I’m still not sure why British Intelligence gives a shit about the American drug trade. Fun as this all is, it seems a little small-potatoes for Bond.

At any rate, Bond arrives just as Solitaire is about to be murdered in the voodoo ritual seen at the start of the film, officiated by Baron Samedi. Bond starts shooting people. He seemingly shoots Samedi but what gets shot is apparently a lifelike Samedi mannequin. Bond frees Solitaire, and when Samedi resurfaces he kicks the voodoo man into a coffin full of venomous snakes.

While Bond distracts the bad guys, Leiter and Quarrel blow up some poppy fields. Bond and Solitaire run away from the angry voodoo horde, but end up running straight into Katanga. Having caputured Bond at home, Katanga takes pleasure in showing off his wonderful underground lair, complete with monorail and shark tank.

The two prisoners are tied above the shark tank but it isn’t long before Bond uses his watch’s buzzsaw to escape. He quickly turns the tables on Katanga, forcing him to eat a pellet of compressed air, which causes him to gruesomely and cartoonishly explode. It is a bit much.

Having assassinated the leader of a sovereign nation, Bond and Solitaire board a train. Presumably they have left San Monique but it isn’t clear. Aboard the train, Bond teaches Solitaire to play gin rummy.

Tee Hee Johnson boards the train looking to kill Bond. Bond shoves Solitaire into a foldout bed so that the men can trainfight. This is reminiscent of the amazing fight in From Russian With Love, but instead of beating the bad guy with savagery, he defeats him by disabling his robot arm. He then throws Johnson out of the train.

The danger has passed, but the film cuts away to Baron Samedi, perched on the edge of the train, alive and cackling. The end.

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I really enjoyed this film. I feel bad about liking it because whatever other charms it may possess, it is a movie wherein James Bond rapes a woman. It’s a heinous act in an otherwise light film, but eight films into the franchise, I am going into this flick assuming that Bond is a monster and a rapist. Even though the filmmakers do not understand that Bond is a bad guy, I certainly do, and I can enjoy the film as I can enjoy other stories about bad people. That doesn’t excuse the movie and other viewers might have a different experience.  Also it is not entirely un-racist.

With that guilty disclaimer out of the way, this is a hell of a movie.  It isn’t just enjoyable compared to the previous films in this oftentimes unpleasant franchise, it is is enjoyable in its own right. It creates a goofy, over-the-top, world that James Bond can almost make sense existing within, playful and absurd in largely the right ways.

It only took them eight tries to get the tone right on a James Bond film.  This is a good movie following seven ones that were not good.  Maybe this first Roger Moore film is the start of something new and exciting.

Days of Thunder – August 1964: Strange Tales #123

Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts “The Challenge of Loki!”
Written by Stan (Miracle Man) Lee/ Illustrated by Steve (Marvel Man) Ditko/ Inked by George (Mystical Man) Bell/ Lettered by Art (Magical Man) Simek

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Strange Tales is a double feature book.  One of the stories  in this issue stars Doctor Strange.  He is the most powerful magician in the world,  a force for good living in Greenwich Village, New York.

From his Asgardian prison, Loki projects an image of himself to Doctor Strange. Loki tells Strange that his brother Thor is evil and that he plans to conquer mankind. Doctor Strange doesn’t fully trust Loki but given what we know about Thor, this story that Loki spins seems plausible.

Thor is miles away, but Strange uses his powerful sorcery to snatch Thor’s hammer away from him, in mid-flight no less. However, shortly after grabbing the hammer, Strange figures out that Loki is evil and they have a magic fight.

Strange attempts to trap Loki in the Purple Dimension, but Loki’s powers are far greater than those of Strange, and he laughs off Strange’s attacks. Strange plays defense long enough to return the hammer to Thor. Thor uses the mighty Uru metal in his hammer to trace back the enchantment, but Loki runs away before Thor shows up.

Days of Thunder– August 1964: The Avengers #7

The Mighty Avengers! “Their Darkest Hour!”
Magnificently written by: Stan Lee/ Majestically Illustrated by Jack Kirby Masterfully Inked by Chic Stone/ Meticulously Lettered by: Art Simek

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A lot has happened since we last checked in with the Avengers. The Hulk quit the team. A World War II-era superhero known as Captain America was revived from suspended animation and has joined the team. Iron Man and The Wasp have new costumes.  Ant-Man has developed a second identity as Giant Man, gaining the ability to grow large as well as as small.

The Avengers have fought an assortment of villains in the interim, including The Radio-Active Man, who apparently survived nuking China, and other Lava Men, but not the original Lava Man, who has learned to respect Thor and the surface world, and who is named Molto. They have also fought an old enemy of Captain America’s, a former Nazi named Baron Zemo with a purple woolen mask permanently glued to his face.

This issue starts with Odin exiling the Enchantress and the Executioner to Earth as punishment for attacking Thor a few months back. He seems to not realize or care that their attack was a direct result of his own orders to seduce Doctor Don Blake.  This hardly seems just.

On Earth, the Enchantress casts a spell on Thor temporarily making her will his own. Once he is enchanted, she compels him to drink deep of a special brew. He soon finds himself asleep, beset by horrible visions of his compatriots on the Avengers as horrible monsters, with only valiant Thor able to stop him.

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Thor awakens, convinced that the Avengers are pure evil! Thor fights Giant Man, Iron Man, and nominally the Wasp. He seems more powerful than the three of them combined, but they are likely pulling their punches. When asked for an explanation for his attack, Thor retorts “I shall do my explaining with my avenging hammer!”

Eventually Iron Man uses a blinding light to break the spell.

Meanwhile, the Executioner has been helping Baron Zemo fight Captain America because the Enchantress didn’t want him to harm Thor who she totally has the hots for. Their fight smashes into the existing fight and ultimately, as the three villains try to escape in a rocket, Thor uses his hammer to create an all-consuming space warp. None can say where a space warp will lead to, maybe a different city, maybe a different universe.

First Appearance: a space warp

Days of Thunder – August 1964: Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #107 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods “Balder Must Die!”

Written and drawn by the prize-winning team of Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby/ Inked by Vince Colletta/ Lettering: Art Simek

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Watching as Balder sings to the woodland creatures like he’s fucking Snow White, Young Loki vows to find a way to destroy the jerk.   To do so, he seeks the help of the Norn Queen, a powerful sorceress. She is repulsed by Loki’s evil, but is compelled to obey the Asgardian prince.

Odin has made every living thing pledge to protect Balder but the Norn Queen reveals to Loki that Odin has overlooked one thing:  Balder has no protection from the mistletoe. Giddy with this knowledge, Loki visits one of his Troll slaves, commanding him to fashion a blowgun and dart out of mistletoe.

The next day, armed with his new weapon, Loki watches Baldur spar, waiting for him to fall.  The villain wishes to hide his misdeed, so when Baldur takes a hit, that is when Loki will strike with his dart.

Eventually, Baldur stumbles, trying to avoid stepping on a caterpillar, and Loki makes his move. It is a that moment that the Norn Queen uses her magic to burn the mistletoe to ash. The mistletoe may not have pledged to protect Baldur, but Loki forgot that the Norn Queen herself took that solemn pledge.

First Appearance: The Norn Queen

Days of Thunder – August 1964: Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #107

The Mighty Thor “When The Grey Gargoyle Strikes!”

Written By: Stan Lee, who needs the money/ Drawn By: Jack Kirby, who enjoys the practice/ Inked By: Chick Stone, who loves the publicity/ Lettered By: Art Simek, whoever he is!

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Jane is mad at Don and that makes Thor sad, but when Jane runs into Thor he pretends that he is mad at Don, rather than telling her that he was totally cool with the doctor’s actions last issue. This turns out to be a good instinct, as he scares the hell out of Jane. She begs Thor to forgive Blake, telling him that she is in love with him.

She loves him! Overjoyed, Thor sails through the air, shouting his good news to random New Yorkers.

Meanwhile, we have the curious case of the Grey Gargoyle. A French chemist named Paul Duval accidentally imbues his right hand with the ability to turn anything it touches into stone for one hour’s time. If he touches a person, they are turned to living stone, and are petrified but otherwise fine after the hour is up. If he touches the rest of his body, he becomes encased in living stone but mobile. It is unclear how he is able to glove his hand.

Operating as “The Grey Gargoyle”, Duval has been performing supervillainy in Paris for months but he is unsatisfied.  Duval is a bit of a fatalist. He gazes at his piles of money and jewels and sighs. “These are meaningless! Sooner or later the police will track them down and seize them!”

Finally he finds a glimmer of hope when he learns that Thor is an immortal. He decides that if immortality exists, it is the only thing that can matter. Thus, he decides to steal Thor’s hammer, which he deduces to be the source of Thor’s immortality.

Thor and Duval meet and they tussle. The Gargoyle tries and fails to pick up the hammer. Thor gets turned to stone, but fleshifies when he reverts to Blake.

Unable to revert to Thor during the one-hour window of petrification, Blake limps into action himself. He makes some phone calls and using his connections to both Tony Stark and to a local TV station, he is able to rig a motorcycle to broadcast holograms of Thor, which he uses to distract the Grey Gargoyle.

Once he gains the villain’s attention, he lures him into a vehicular chase, culminating with the two of them crashing into the Hudson River. Blake swims to shore, while the Grey Gargoyle sinks like the stone that he is. As a bonus, Don’s act of heroism has put him back in Jane’s good graces.

First Appearance: The Grey Gargoyle

Days of Thunder – July 1964: Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #106 part 2

Tales of Asgard, Home of the Mighty Norse Gods! Balder “The Brave”
Written With Passion By: Stan Lee/ Drawn with Pageantry By: Jack Kirby/ Inked With Power By: Vince Colletta/ Lettered with Pride By: Art Simek

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In the midst of an epic battle between the Asgardians and the Storm Giants Balder abandons the fight. He saw a bird fall from its nest, and so he left the battle to return the bird to its mother. As punishment, Odin makes warriors throw things at Balder.

Balder stands resolute while various weapons are flung at him. Each time some freak natural occurrence deflects the shot. Eventually, Odin reveals that he has granted Balder the gift of invincibility because the king of the gods respects gentleness. Also, fucked up mind games.

First Appearance: Honir

Days of Thunder – July 1964: Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #106

The Mighty Thor “The Thunder God Strkes Back!”
Written Fairly Well By: Stan Lee/ Drawn Not Too Badly By: Jack Kirby/ Inked Kinda Nice By: Chic Stone/ Lettered Pretty Fair By Art Simek

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When last we left our hero, Thor had lost his hammer to an atomic-powered hydraulic hoist. This issue starts with him running into the crowd to hide his transformation. As the villains hold hostage the attendants of the Metal Machinery Show, Blake makes a deal with the villains: He will again show them how to summon Thor, but first they must retrieve his walking stick, which has become stuck in the same machine that Thor’s hammer is stuck in.

No sooner do the villains return the stick to Blake than he hobbles back into the anonymity of the crowd. This is unexpected and interesting.   Doctor Blake happily broke his word, while Thor would rather conquer the entire planet than break his.  The number of people contained in the Thor/Blake duality remains murky.

Thor fights the villains, capturing the Cobra, while Hyde slinks away pulling the exact same switch-identities trick that Thor pulled.

A short while later Hyde sucker punches Thor, knocking his hammer from his grasp. Thor makes to grab the hammer before the sixty second window closes, but changes his mind. He decides that if he can’t kick the crap out of this loser half-powered and barehanded, then he doesn’t deserve to be Thor. His confidence is not misplaced.

Later, back a the office. Jane Foster is furious! The news has reported the deal that Blake made with the villains and she is furious. Seriously, Kirby doesn’t depict her as comic-melodrama misunderstanding mad, he draws her as truly enraged. With a “To think that I once thought I loved you!!” and a stifled sob, she storms off.

Days of Thunder – June 1964: Journey Into Mystery With The Mighty Thor #105 part 2

Tales of Asgard: Home of the Mighty Gods “When Heimdall Failed”
Written By… Stan Lee/ Illustrated By… Jack Kirby/ Inking… Geo. Bell/ Lettering… Art Simek

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King Brimer and Queen Nedra of the Storm Giants want to attack Asgard but the task is seemingly impossible.  How can they launch an offensive while Asgard is guarded by All-Seeing, All-Hearing Heimdall?   Nedra has a plan.

She summons a Vanna, a fairy-like creature of the air. He can turn himself invisible, and move silently, so Nedra commands him to sneak past Heimdall and scout the secrets of Asgard. He does so, although Heimdall feels compelled to swing his sword as it passes.

Inside Asgard, the Vanna surveys the military forces of Asgard, including a sweet-ass bulldozer tank that is pure Kirby magic. He is spying on Odin himself when Heimdall reports that he suspects that danger is near. Odin trusts his guard and he commands the unseen presence to reveal itself. Odin captures the tiny spy and commends Heimdall for speaking up even though it might have made him look stupid.

First Appearance: King Brimer, Queen Nedra, the Vanna