Review:Journey into Mystery #121

“The Power! The Passion! The Pride!”,Published: August 3rd,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Art Simek 

Journey into Mystery #121 was a bit of wish fulfillment for me and I imagine it was for its original readers forty-six years ago too. When Crusher Creel first appeared in #114,he dueled with Thor for a bit,but the battle was interrupted by Balder who brought news of Loki kidnapping Jane.

When Thor returned to finish his business with Creel in the next issue,the battle was similarly stunted. Thor did defeat him,but it was done quickly as part of the larger story. Heck,the married couple that Creel was terrorizing might have gotten more panels with him than Thor. Creel returned last issue,but the battle was held for this one. And I mean this one –the entire issue is a 16 page battle. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #120

“The Day of the Destroyer!”,Published: July 1st,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Art Simek

With that pesky annual out of the way,it’s time to get back to our monthly title. If you’ll recall,Journey into Mystery #119 left Thor with a bit of a to-do list. Jane was left passed out in the office,the norn stones still had to be taken to Odin to prove Loki’s treachery and restore Thor’s honor,and,oh yeah,Thor’s hammer is still sorta busted. Plenty to do and it looks like only this issue to do it in.

Of all the things on the list,Jane’s welfare,Loki’s treachery,his own honor,etc. – Thor does the sensible thing and gives top priority to fixing his hammer. I can’t say as I blame him –I kinda feel like he should the levitation stone,but I can see why he’d not want to rely on it. The best part is that,as casually as it was broken two issues ago,it’s also casually repaired (with a shout-out to Pittsburgh for good measure). Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery Annual #1

“The Day of the Destroyer!”,Published: July,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Sam Rosen

Yep,today’s not the Journey into Mystery #120 that you might’ve expected,but instead Journey into Mystery Annual #1. I’m not sure what Marvel’s rule was on Annuals back in the sixties. From what I can tell,they’d started doing Annuals in 1962 – the same year Thor took over Journey into Mystery,but Thor wouldn’t get his own annual until this one in 1965.

Now,the cover boasts that this issue is a 72 page King Size Annual. Most of that page count are some welcome reprints of Thor’s early battles with Loki,the Demon Duplicators,the Lava Man,and the Radio-Active Man,but long terms readers are treated to a new story as well. And it just so happens to be the first appearance of another great Marvel character:Hercules. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #119

“The Day of the Destroyer!”,Published: June 1st,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Art Simek

Last issue left Thor at the mercy of the Destroyer –seconds away from being… uh,destroyed. Loki,in an attempt to stop the very plan he’d set in motion found himself quickly imprisoned and shackled in an Asgardian dungeon. This issue picks up where that one left off… sorta.

Apparently,Stan &Jack left themselves too little wiggle room at the end of the last story. This issue finds Thor exactly where he’s supposed to be,but Loki is no longer in his “cliffhanger”shackles. It’s not a big deal,but the shackles seemed like they would be a large component of the dilemma for this issue,so it’s odd that they just evaporated. Luckily though,that doesn’t detract from an otherwise great issue. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #118

“To Kill a Thunder God!”,Published: May 4th,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Art Simek

Journey into Mystery #118 continues Thor’s saga to retrieve the Norn stones and prove that Loki had cheated during the Trial on Skornheim. This arc has taken some strange turns since it began in issue #114,but I’ve enjoyed most of it.

In this issue,Thor has retrieved the stones,but is interrupted when Loki awakes the Destroyer armor. Yep,that Destroyer armor! It’s a fun issue – and not just for the fight scenes. After realizing the implications of what he’s done –that Thor’s death at the hands of the Destroyer would likely result in his own execution,Loki does his best to aid Thor from afar,but is thwarted at every turn. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #117

“Into the Blaze of Battle!”,Published: April 1st,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Art Simek

Journey into Mystery #117 was a bit of a stretch for me. It’s not that Thor’s back to fighting Communists,as we can equate them with a modern day equivalent. It’s not that the story was heavy-handed or preachy on the evils of communism either,as I understand that sometimes comics get political. That’s just their nature.

I think it was just odd because the story elements seemed out of place. We’re in the middle of this epic Thor vs. Loki multi-part tale,that has Loki creating supernatural foes for Thor,has Thor traveling to exotic and otherworldly locations,and,overall,just has a very “Asgard” feel to the whole saga. And yet,here we are,somewhere in North Vietnam learning how Communism has destroyed a family (and Thor not really caring about it). Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #116

“The Trial of the Gods!”,Published: March 4th,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Vince Colletta,Letters: Art Simek

Throughout this entire week,the Journey into Mystery’s I’m reading are basically telling one big story. The individual issues feature different adventures,but there is one overarching plot – Loki’s multi-faceted scheme to finally do away with Thor.

In the last issue,Odin decreed that Thor &Loki would have to undergo trials to resolve a dispute. It seemed rather silly – Odin basically called Loki a liar and then believed what Loki said,so this all seems like overkill. Then again,the trial the pair must undergo almost kills Thor and certainly would’ve killed Loki where he to play fair. Maybe Odin was hoping to see Loki lose… Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #115

“The Vengeance of the Thunder God!”,Published: February 4th,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Frank Giacoia,Letters: Art Simek

Journey into Mystery #115 finds Thor with quite the to-do list. First and foremost,he must save Jane,but that means defeating Loki,and then there’s that unfinished fight with the Absorbing Man. And while this issue is part of a larger storyline,he’s still only got sixteen pages to wrap it all up. Let’s hope Thor’s up to it.

Last issue ended with Thor setting off to confront Loki alone. This issue picks up soon after;Thor has already made his way to Loki’s castle and the battle begins right on the splash page. Back on Earth,Hobbs and the police are still on the trail of Crusher Creel as he’s about to meet two unlikely heroes – who quickly become my favorite part of this issue. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #114

“The Strong I Am,The Sooner I Die!”,Published: January 5th,1965
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Chic Stone,Letters: Sam Rosen

Journey into Mystery #114 feels like a new beginning in the annals of Thor. It’s a new year (1965),Loki’s got a new look,and after the last few issues,appears to be moving into his role as a proper villain instead of being a tolerated and shrugged off nuisance. Loki’s latest plan to take out Thor will extend past this story and weave it’s way through the next five issues.

This issue also features the first appearance of two new characters to Thor’s mythos. Crusher Creel,the now infamous Absorbing Man,and a reporter,Mr. Hobbs. I’m a fan of Creel,but I’ve never heard of Hobbs before. He kinda gives off a “Jack McGee” vibe,so I’m curious to see what role he plays. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #113

“A World Gone Mad!”,Published: December 3rd,1964
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Chic Stone,Letters: Art Simek

After last issue’s Hulk interlude was the first comic to not feature Donald Blake,I was ready to get back to the “ongoing”tale of Thor. And this issue sorta delivered…I mean,Thor did resolve to tell Jane his secret,but,as you can imagine,things didn’t go well. In the end,the status quo was maintained,but this story did give us the a small peek behind the curtain to gauge Jane’s reaction.

There’s a pretty good story built around that premise though. We see Thor aiding his fellow Asgardians in a battle against Jotunheim only to later be forsaken by Odin and forced to fight this issue’s villain – a very cranky Grey Gargoyle –as Dr. Donald Blake. Continue Reading…