Friday, June 25, 2010

Journey into Mystery # 84

Issue: Journey into Mystery # 84
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: September 1962

As a note, at this point in the mighty Marvel publishing schedule in 1962 there is more than one book set in the MU coming out each month. Until I come up with a better system, I'm going to post them in alphabetical order, unless it's clear that one should be read ahead of another one. Anywho, onto Thor...

Brief Summary:

Dr. Don Blake has returned from vacation to his medical practice, where we learn he has a crush on his nurse, Jane.  He won't reveal his feelings because he is a cripple and thinks she could never love him.  Before anything happens there, civil war breaks out in San Diablo, and the leader of the commie group is a warlord called the Executioner.  The country needs medical aid, so Don volunteers to go, bringing Jane with him.  They travel by ship to reach the country, but the Executioner orders it sunk.  This doesn't sit well with Don, who transforms into Thor and sinks the planes prepared to attack the ship.  The Executioner is displeased with this failure.  When the Americans are on shore, they are attacked by his men.  Don creates a thunderstorm to help protect the Americans.  Then, he turns into Thor and takes down a tank or two.  In all the hubbub, Jane is captured.  Don follows after them, calls the Executioner a coward, and then turns back into Thor.  The other army in the war shows up, and the commies aren't prepared to fight Thor (who unleashes a volcano) and the other army, so they surrender.  The Executioner tries to escape with a couple of bags of money, and is gunned down by his own men.  Don Blake and his nurse then get to treat the people of San Diablo, while Jane wishes Don were as brave as Thor, not knowing they are one and the same.

Commentary:

This issue didn't work for me very well.  Why are a bunch of American doctors landing in the middle of D-day?  I understand they want to help, but the middle of a war, without any other support, doesn't quite seem appropriate.  Also, Thor/Don Blake seems more bound to the superman tradition of hiding one's special identity.  Of course, Don only recently received his powers.  I suppose it is only human nature to try to keep such a thing secret.  It does not seem that Thor yet has a clear game plan for how he wants to operate as both a doctor and a Norse god of thunder.  As I typed that last sentence, I found myself having a hard time blaming him, though.  With the Executioner killing his own men for failure, and then getting gunned down himself, we see more of how the MU, even in its early days, could be a violent place.  Of course, in these comics, the truly brutal violence is still happening off panel.

Quick Thoughts:

  • Love troubles exposed in thought bubbles are here!
  • The Executioner doesn't want any aid going to the peasants.  What kind of communism is that?
  • San Diablo is obviously a fictional country.  I'm curious to see if it will be back.
Favorite Panel: The Executioner orders deaths while wielding his mighty chicken drumstick.  I think it's pretty clear he didn't have much of a shot against Thor from the get-go.

Next: Tales to Astonish # 35