Sunday, February 02, 2014

Marvels: Journey Into Mystery #94

"Thor and Loki Attack the Human Race!" by Stan Lee, Robert Bernstein & Joe Sinnott
(July 1963)

Another improbable Bernstein script, with lots of rampaging and zero consequences. Which is a fitting follow-up, I guess, to that story that apparently ended with Thor nuking China. There's still not a lot of real continuity in Thor--nor in the designs of the other Asgardians--but at least this story has Loki in it. I still don't think Bernstein has a great handle on Loki yet--he's been trying to turn Loki from mischievous foil to straight villain--but it's still not as bad as Larry Lieber's Sandu story.

In this story, Loki (again in chains) causes a nuclear test missile to go off course, knowing that Thor will try to stop it by throwing his magic hammer at it. Loki distracts Thor at just the right moment so that, instead of catching his hammer, the hammer hits him right in the head, completely altering his personality. Thor now sees Loki as his friend and Odin as his enemy, so he follows Loki's mental summons to Asgard and frees his brother. To Odin's horror, Loki demands control of Asgard, and announces he and Thor will wreak havoc on Earth until Odin surrenders.

A great deal of the story is concerned with Loki and Thor attacking landmarks: Thor destroys the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramid, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Panama Canal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, while Loki destroys the Empire State Building and the Sphinix and brings dinosaurs to life inside museums. (They're still balancing between general pranks and actual destruction for Loki.)

Finally, representatives of the United Nations beg for an audience with the two gods. Once inside the UN Building, Thor falls into a trap door and gets hit in the head with his hammer again, because as every cartoon, sitcom and movie tells us, the only way to cure an injury caused by an accident is to have that same accident a second time. So Thor is back to normal, and the UN reps reveal themselves to be Odin and the Asgardians in disguise, and they capture Loki, agree to return all the landmarks to normal, and wipe mankind's memories of the events that happened so that no one thinks Thor is evil.

Wait... what?

You can just wipe everyone's memories? Then how is there any jeopardy to a Loki story at all? How is... what? I don't know if this came from Stan's plot or Robert Bernstein's script, but what a lame addition, especially since it probably won't get a mention ever again. It's just another one of those plot saves that gets thrown in even if it doesn't make sense and doesn't really matter, because the whole story just doesn't matter.

Guys, don't use Loki in your filler stories.

Stray notes:

:: This is the first Thor story that didn't have Jane Foster in it at all.

:: We get a scientific reason why Thor's injury changes his personality: Loki says the hammer hit Thor right in his chromosomatic gland, which determines and changes personality. I mean, it's not real science, but I guess it sounded plausible in 1963. Look it up on Google and all you'll get are references to this issue.

:: Here's yet another design for Heimdall.

Yeah, flunky.

:: This is the first cover to refer to "The Marvel Age of Comics!" Not an auspicious debut for it, but hey, it's finally here!

I still feel like Marvel hasn't quite found the character or rhythm to Thor yet. He needs to have one of those stories like Ant-Man did in Tales to Astonish #44 that just retools the whole thing without throwing all of it out. A new sense of direction, like the Hulk never got. Don't Hulk this book.

Next time: the return of the Howlers!


Bob Rutledge said...

No doubt Steven Moffat's favorite issue of Thor.

For obvious reasons.

SamuraiFrog said...