Tag Archives: Odin

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

jim 97

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 – 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

jim 95

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 – 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

jim 91

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 – 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

jim 86

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

jim 85

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