Friday, August 01, 2014

Marvels: Journey Into Mystery #100

"The Master Plan of Mr. Hyde" by Stan Lee & Don Heck
(January 1964)

The first part of this story ended with Thor robbing a bank. Of course, that wasn't really Thor; that was Mr. Hyde in the shape of Thor. I don't know why he bothered with his plan to discredit Thor, since the cops can't really do anything to the Asgardian God of Thunder and all Hyde really has to do is wait.

He strikes when Donald Blake and Jane Foster are out on a date, dining at the Ritz Terrace to celebrate her birthday. Then he just shows up with a gun, takes them to an abandoned castle, ties Don to a column with a time bomb sitting nearby, and takes off with Jane. Last time, I complained that his motivation seemed really simple--he just wants to get back at Blake for exposing him as a thief and embarrassing him--and in the month lag between issues it's really just become that Hyde hates Blake for being a good, respected guy: "You represent everything I hate!" It's literally no more complex than: he's evil.

When Hyde and Jane leave, Don taps his cane against the floor and becomes Thor, and most of the story's pages are just the dynamic battle between the two on a Polaris submarine that Hyde is trying to steal. He never gets it going, and is forced to flee when Thor uses his cape to create a small tornado inside the sub.

This issue's real drama is Jane Foster--she's firmly in love with Don Blake now, and she's worried about poor Don, tied to a column with a bomb set to explode in 24 hours. She's holding on to hope that Hyde will, as he claims, return in time to stop the bomb and save Don's life, so she tries to hide Thor's hammer from him when he drops it on the ground. (That seems like a leap; we've already seen that Thor's hammer will return to his hand, so there's either an inconsistency here, or it's just not solidified yet that Thor can call his hammer back. I do remember one earlier issue of Journey Into Mystery mentioning that the hammer will only return if he throws it, so I'm not sure. I'm just saying, this same month the Hulk couldn't even pry the damn thing out of his hand.)

But Odin is watching, and he doesn't understand what Jane's doing. Jane is trying to make sure that Hyde escapes so that Don can be rescued. She doesn't know that Thor and Don are the same person, nor that Thor will revert to Don after sixty seconds away from the hammer. Odin sees Jane aiding Thor's enemy, and denies Thor's petition that, if found worthy, Jane could be made immortal.

So, in saving Jane's life, Thor loses her once again.

Stray observations:

:: I still think Don Heck is being wasted on this book--he's just not a fantasy artist--but his Jane and Don are great.

Honestly, his Don is more dynamic and compelling than his Thor.

A little of that flavor Don brought to his Ant-Man stories. Those days are long gone...

:: Mr. Hyde's abandoned New York castle... you know what I have to ask. Is it the same castle from Strange Tales #109? And are they both the same castle from Strange Tales #111? I really need to look up what the proliferation of castles in New York is.

:: "All right, Thor! I hate to resort to anything so commonplace as a gun, but I'm finishing you off here and now!"

"Tales of Asgard: The Storm Giants" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman

This is the first tale of Asgard in the "Boyhood of Thor" series, in which young Thor does great deeds in hopes of one day being worthy of Odin's enchanted hammer.

Here, young lads Thor and Loki follow the Storm Giants, who have stolen the Golden Apples of the goddess Iduna. Thor fights the giants with a pepper shaker, while Loki distracts everyone with a fire and tries to rescue the Apples and leave Thor behind. They both jump on to Agnar, King of the Eagles, and fly back to Odin, where Thor finds it a little easier to lift the hammer. Loki seethes in anger, having hoped to receive the credit and gain favor in Odin's eyes.

After each valorous deed, Thor's worth grows. These stories are a fascinating way to show us how Thor became Thor without having to bother with gangsters, crooks and guys in snake costumes, so I enjoy that.

Also, Thor's Prince Valiant hair is kind of hilarious.

Ah, I love comics.

Next Marvels: Baron Strucker!

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