Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marvels: Journey Into Mystery #104

"Giants Walk the Earth" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Chic Stone
(May 1964)

Oh, this is a good one. The Thor stories are really becoming everything I've wanted them to be.

Last issue, both the Enchantress and the Executioner failed to drive Jane Foster from the heart of Thor, much to the continued consternation of Odin. On Loki's advice, Odin decides to visit the Earth and talk with Thor, leading to my single favorite outfit Odin has worn... possibly ever.

Spectacular. He looks like Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street. Noble Odin, I humbly request a Puppet Forge puppet for Christmas.

Now, this is where the "Tales of Asgard" series starts to pay off in the main feature. Odin has left Loki in charge of Asgard and given him a portion of his power, which Loki promptly uses to try to seize the throne by freeing two enemies of Odin's from their prisons: Skagg the Storm Giant, encircled in flame, and Surtur the Fire Demon, whom Odin long ago trapped in the center of the Earth. Loki has freed them in the hopes of finally wiping out both Thor and Odin, but Heimdall--who hears and sees all--sends Balder to Earth to warn them.

It's nice to see Balder get to be heroic, after his rather pitiful appearance in "Death Comes to Thor." (And don't you just want a blacklight poster of that image?)

The danger to our world is so immediate that Odin actually uses his powers to transport every human on Earth to another dimension, where they will remain, unknowing, until Odin brings them back. That's some serious god stuff.

It says a lot about Jack Kirby's art that the battle that follows feels very grand, even though it really only takes place between five characters in--considering that they have the entire Earth as their arena--a harbor in New York. Odin is able to defeat Skagg, but is too weakened by the effort to confront Surtur, who is going to melt the polar ice caps and drown the world. Thor, being a younger immortal than Surtur, uses Odin's sword--a weapon "older than all"--and the power within to draw Surtur into the cosmos, straight into an asteroid made of "magnetic particles" whose attraction is so strong that Surtur may as well be chained to it.

Though these elemental evils are defeated, nothing has been settled between Odin and Thor, with Thor refusing Odin's order to return to Asgard. That confrontation will have to wait for the future, though... a future that, Odin says, is fraught with danger. First, Odin has to reclaim his throne and sentence Loki to be a slave for the trolls. And Thor has to resume his life as Dr. Donald Blake.

Stray observations:

:: The cover of this issue still says "Journey into Mystery," but that title is now followed with, in HUGE letters, "with THE MIGHTY THOR." This must be one of Marvel's more popular books, with the prominent call. (And eventually the comic will just be retitled The Mighty Thor, of course.) The splash page for this story promises it will be "possibly one of the ten all-time epics you will never forget!"

"Tales of Asgard: Heimdall, the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge!" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Don Heck

The story of Heimdall, and how he became the guardian of the Rainbow Bridge in the early days of Asgard because his hearing was so good he could detect the growing of a plant with his ears, and his eyes were so sharp he could see an enemy approaching Asgard from two days away. It's not bad, but I do prefer the harder mythology/cosmology Tales.

All in all, a fun issue; I loved the main story, and I like seeing Thor battling mythological monsters and Asgardian villains. Next issue, I see, we're back to some of his earthly villains, which I'm not so xazzed about, but we'll see where the future takes us. Remember, according to Odin, it's fraught with danger.

Next Marvels: the court-martial of Sgt. Fury!

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I think that I am an irrational sucker for the numbering of some of those early Marvel books, some of which continued the sequence from the previous title (Thor 125?, Hulk 102, et al.)