Monday, June 28, 2010

Marvel History Post 16: Journey Into Mystery # 85

Issue: Journey into Mystery # 85
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: October 1962

Brief Summary: We are shown Asgard, the realm of the Norse gods, connected to Earth by the Rainbow Bridge, which also connects Earth to the universe of these creatures. There Loki, the God of Mischief, is condemned to be captive in a tree until someone sheds a tear for his plight. Loki gets Heimdall, warder of the rainbow bridge, to shed a tear, and Loki is free to go after the one who imprisoned him, Thor. Loki finds Thor on earth through a connection Loki makes to Thor's hammer, and so Loki goes after him to Earth. Loki causes some mischief to flush Thor out, and then challenges him to fight in the skies. Once there, Loki hypnotizes Thor. He tricks Thor into releasing his hammer, and then is distracted by the hammer. Without the hammer, Thor turns back into Don Blake, and the hypnotism is broken, so he grabs the hammer back. Loki will go on to have somewhat better plans in the future. Thor then chases Loki all around the city before Thor knocks Loki into water, where his magic is useless. Thor then uses his hammer to throw Loki back to Asgard.

Commentary:

More characters from Norse mythology are now worked into Thor's story, and we also see his homeland, mighty Asgard. We also get a reference to Odin, Thor's pappa, and a very brief cameo at the end of the issue. The distinction between Don Blake and Thor is not yet clear. In this issue, at several times we see Thor thinking about how he knows of Loki, the trickster god, but references that he has this knowledge through his studies of the mythology. So, Don is still aware of who he really is when he becomes Thor.

Quick Thoughts:
  • Loki turns people into "negatives?" And Thor blows anti matter at them to turn them back into normal people? A strange magic indeed.
  • Stan has some creative ways of hypnotizing people before he just invents Professor X. It would seem that both Prof X and Magneto were just Stan Lee plot twists personified.
Favorite Panel:

Here Loki challenges Thor to take to the skies with his best Steppenwolf impersonation. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about this panel other than the caption at the bottom, where Stan advises Thor to be careful. I wanted to briefly consider how this style of comic book storytelling with an intrusive narrator has completely gone out of vogue. I would assume that the reasoning behind this is because that kind of narration is not realistic, and yet I am curious why any super hero comic would be too concerned with realism. It seems that readers are still comfortable with outlandish superpowers, but the boundary between the writer and the story is now more firm than it was back in the early days of Marvel. I myself now find the narration here too intrusive in newer comics, but I wonder what it is about it that would make it seem so phony in modern tales. The only time captions are really used anymore is for first person narration. I'd be impressed if I could see a modern comic use third person narration to effect given the way the stories are written these days.

Next: Strange Tales # 101