Monday, September 16, 2013

Marvels: Journey Into Mystery #87

"Prisoner of the Reds!" by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
(December 1962)

This one's another Thor filler story...

Basically, American scientists have defected behind the Iron Curtain, so Don Blake hatches a plan with the Pentagon to announce that he's developing a biological weapon to get the attention of Soviet spies. Soon, he's kidnapped and taken overseas where he (as Thor) rescues the scientists from a commie citadel. And that's pretty much the whole story. Doesn't get much more complex (or exciting) than that.

Notes:

:: In this story, Thor fights sharks by creating a whirlpool. That's pretty cool.

:: When the Soviets capture Thor (he surrenders when they threaten to kill the scientists), they strap him into a machine and... leave him there. So, of course, he turns back into Don Blake, escapes, and retrieves his hammer. Then he whips up a furious storm to destroy the citadel. It's kind of going through the motions, really. There's no challenge. "We have Thor captured! What do we do?" "Eh, leave him alone and do nothing, it's probably fine."

:: The news report that opens the story mentions five missing scientists, but when Dr. Blake goes to rescue them, there are only four and no one ever mentions the fifth. A simple error, but I'm surprised no one's told the story of the missing fifth scientist, what with later writers deciding every error was a universe-altering story thread to be resolved.

:: When Colonel Harrison in Army Intelligence asks Blake why he's putting his life in danger, he says his bum leg kept him out of Korea and this is his way to serve his country. So, I've never thought about it, but was Blake born with a lame leg? Is it a developmental disability? I guess I sort of assumed it was a World War II injury (there are so many Marvel characters who fought in World War II), and never really questioned it. I'm just curious.

The story's a bit of a propaganda piece, as you'd expect from this genre in this time period, but it is nice that they take a panel out to remind us that it's the Soviet government who's our enemy, not necessarily the Russian people.

Otherwise, it's totally skippable.

Next time: the Human Torch investigates rumors of swamp demons, and then things get weird.

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