Thursday, March 20, 2014

October 1962

(Continued from September 1962)

Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 85  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Loki escapes from his prison in Asgard and comes to Earth to get revenge on Thor. The trickster hypnotizes him to help make mischief, but Thor’s transformation into Donald Blake frees him from hypnosis, allowing him to defeat Loki and return him to Asgard."
Indexer Notes: "This is the first appearance of Asgard. Heimdall looks nothing like his later appearances. Odin's name is mentioned for the first time.

JACK KIRBY plows on with Larry Lieber on dialogue & Dick Ayers on inks. 5-page stories by Don Heck and a Steve Ditko fill out the issue. After one sci-fi story and one story involving Communists, Kirby introduces what would slowly become an increasingly-important part of the series, mainly Thor's ties with Norse mythology.

This came out right in the middle of a whole slew of "sword and sandals" films involving Hercules and other miscellaneous muscle-bound heroes with mythological ties or not. Amid all the Greco-Roman stuff, a Norse must have stood out some.

Some comments from a friend of mine in Wales...

"Well, I guess Thor is one of the few superheroes who could legitimately be expected to be able to best Superman. With Superman's vulnerability to magic, one thump with the hammer should put him out.
The identity switching seems more like Captain Marvel. A magic trick that turns anyone into a superhero. No origin required. It's just fantasy. Any reader can imagine if they had found the 'stick' they could be thor. Of course the whole identity switch thing was also intriguing on a more adult level. Where did Blake go when he was Thor? Where did Thor go when he was Blake? That fascinated me. We even got an explanation much later on. The magical aspects of the identity change got around the way every other superhero is an expert tailor and can knock up their own threads in no time. They are also all quick change artists. Superman and the Flash are naturals but the others?

From a non-American point of view, both Superman and Thor are non-American. They are both alien. Not even human. Reminds me of Manhunter from Mars. He also had an identity switch going on didn't he? John Jones and Jon Jonzz or some such. I liked him too.

I know some people didn't like Thor's archaic speech but I felt it made him special. Above the rest. It made it clear he wasn't any old superhero. They could hardly give him a Danish or Swedish accent could they?

It's a fascinating idea that it was Blake and not Thor that was 'imaginary'. The myth was real and the doctor was a creation to serve a purpose.  It takes a fantasy into the realms of science fiction.  I suppose if Thor had been the 'real thing' right from the start, then it would not have been a super hero comic in the accepted sense of the time. There had to be an all American guy who changes into tights.  A comic featuring the adventures of a Norse God would have been a bit too adventurous perhaps.

Thor's time as Blake would naturally give Thor a much better understanding of mortals and leads to him being far more 'human' than he was before his 'lesson'. As a friend of human kind he can be a super hero and fit into the comicbook slot.

I grew up with these comics, though there were huge gaps as distrubution over here was a bit hit and miss and I lost chuncks of story. I did pick up on them again when Marvel started doing reprints in black and white in the late sixties/early seventies.

I agree about a slow build up. And coming in with the Daleks right away would have been a big mistake. We needed to get to know the Doctor first. As with getting to know Blake. He's our link between humans and gods as he's both.

I guess as Marvel readers were probably on the whole pretty bright, lots of questions about Blake/Thor needed an answer. So they came up with the explanation. which I think was brilliant, whoever thought of it.
I'm thinking that this was not the original idea. But the writing grew with the character. He became more and more real so demanded a proper pre-explanation.

I would guess it was Kirby and not Lee that came up with this - or possibly the readers did. But it made Thor much more believeable."

TALES TO ASTONISH 36  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

STRANGE TALES 101  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in November 1962)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

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