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.
This will be a rather short entry in Daily Thor because of the nature of the story. I found it entertaining,but it was a very quick read and there’s not much to say about it as a result.
This story is more in line with a Tales of Asgard backup than it is a main Thor tale. We’re not specifically told if this a tale of yore,but it does begin with Loki &Thor travelling side-by-side to Jotunheim,so I feel like it should be set back in the Tales days instead of the current timeframe of the title. Plus,Thor appears to be searching for an adventure,something he doesn’t tend to have time for anymore,what with his hands full safeguarding his little corner of New York,dealing with his brother’s schemes,or interfering in communist countries. So we’ll assume this happened some time ago.
While the two half-brothers are in Jotunheim,they come across two storm giants trying to find the passageway to Olympus. That may sound odd,but Thor tosses in an explanation – that storm giants were once cast out of Olympus,so naturally a way back should exist somewhere in Jotunheim. Anyway,Thor came there looking for a fight,and these guys would appear to suffice in his opinion. Loki cuts and runs as usual,but the battle foes well for Thor…until he ends up falling through the passage to Olympus. Oops.
Perhaps appropriately,Thor finds Olympus different,but similar to his own Asgard. He doesn’t get to meet anyone other than Thor &Zeus,but the possibility of his interaction with future Greek &Roman gods will remain after this issue. Anyway,Thor’s journey through Olympus seems rather uneventful until he finds a one-lane bridge at the exact same moment Hercules is on the other side. Herc insists that he should get to cross first and Thor objects. This is how fights start,folks.
What we have here might be the dumbest,but funniest,misunderstanding for two heroes to fight ever. And boy do they fight. This is a fifteen page story – and nine of them are spent on the fight between the two relatively evenly matched foes. The battle is epic,but ultimately pointless –neither can win. Their battle only ends thanks to Zeus himself,who commends them both on their valor,has them shake on it,and sends Thor back to Jotunheim.
Once back,we find Loki (he,as usual,conveniently disappeared when Thor engaged in battle) disappointed that Thor lives. As Thor gets his bearings,a giant mountain forms to cover the entrance to Olympus. Thor suspects that it must be Zeus’ doing,but he doesn’t tell Loki,thinking it best to keep Loki out of the loop on Olympus. Prolly a good idea.
In all,this was a fun little respite from the main tale running through the book. While I like the saga aspect,it’s nice to get a story not connected to Loki’s latest plot. Plus,if you’re new to Thor,there’s plenty of reprints to keep you entertained after this tale is over. As a Herc fan,I’m happy to finally read his first appearance too. I know we’ll be seeing him show up in the main title soon,it’ll be interesting to see how or if this adventure ties into that one.
Finally,the Annual also offered another little tidbit for Thor fans –a Map of Asgard. Instead of the usual look at a few extra panels,I’ll include the map below.