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).
The story opens with Thor working in the blast furnaces of Pittsburgh. Stan says he’s been at work for about an hour,repairing the damage to his uru hammer when we catch up to him. With his mallet repaired,he can now fly to Asgard (though I have to ask…where did he get the extra uru metal from?) and hand the norn stones over to Odin. At this point,I don’t know if the norn queen is ever going to get her stones back,but I do know that she’ll be one short as Thor accidentally dropped one while checking the bag for the hundredth time. I imagine that will come back to haunt all of us later…
The story takes on a strange turn at Asgard,however. Odin accepts the stones as proof of Loki’s cheating way back in Journey into Mystery #117 and seeks to increase Loki’s punishment (for waking the Destroyer armor in #118),but Thor stops him. This is after causing an endless amount of trouble,possibly bringing about early-onset Ragnarok,and,lest we forget,kidnapping Jane! Thor asks for mercy for Loki,because he’s evil. It’s just his nature!
So Loki’s punishment for awaking the armor,being apprenticed to Ularic,will have to suffice for all his crimes but,there is some hope! Even though Thor begged Odin for mercy,we next see him out on a balcony brainstorming a way to enact his own vengeance! I’d be excited,but man,y’know that ain’t gonna ever happen. I don’t know,but it just seems likes an errant panel.
And,of course,it turns out that Loki isn’t suffering too much anyway. He’s already imprisoned Ularic and has the run of the mystic lab. As Thor returns to Earth,we’re left to wonder what Loki has up his sleeve.
So if Thor asking for mercy for Loki while plotting his own vengeance wasn’t weird enough,things get stranger. For me,it’s been about a week-and-a-half since Thor first fought the Absorbing Man,for the folks who initially read this story,it’s been about half a year,but I assumed that it was no more than a day (maybe two) for Thor. And yet,when he gets home – he appears to have been gone for weeks,if not months. The office is abandoned and in disarray,the landlord wants his “months overdue” rent,and Blake’s patients have left him for physicians. Other than the landlord asking for rent,the time isn’t specified,but it seems unlikely that this whole ordeal was that long. Geez.
Even though Blake’s problems are piling up,there’s a bigger issue –Jane is nowhere to be found. Thor hits up the Avengers for help,but – and I had to laugh – finds that he’s been replaced by villains. This coincides with the Avengers roster changing from the founding members to reformed villains in Avengers #16. Thor leaves in the middle of that Avengers issue so it all fits,but if you’re just reading Thor,you might be asking why Magneto’s henchmen are suddenly Avengers.
Discounting the new Avengers ability to help,Thor continues the hunt for Jane alone. The readers are given a peak as to her whereabouts though. We don’t learn much,but we do know she’s being held against her will and that the man holding her wants to forget Don Blake forever. Bum-bum-BUM!!
While we’re trying to sort out all this craziness,Stan &Jack dish out one more heavy plot point for us. Using the magic at his disposal,Loki reaches into deep space and returns the disembodied Crusher Creel to Earth. Our issue ends with Thor about to engage in his second battle with the Absorbing Man!
This was another enjoyable issue. While I pick it on a bit for the sudden jump forward in time,there is a sort of…meta appeal to it. Readers had gone months without Blake,Jane,and the usual Earthbound drama and that does translate into our regular cast being out of sorts when those elements return. I’m excited for another battle with Creel,but I’m really not sure what to think about Jane’s captor. I have no idea where that;s going. I imagine I’ll find out this week though…
The Tales of Asgard backup continues to setup Thor’s quest to discover the villain flirting with Ragnarok. This issue really just covers Thor and his crew preparing to disembark. It’s not heavy on plot,but it does give us a little more insight into Hogun &Volstagg as well as identify Magrat &Kroda as two assassins brought on board by Loki. The issue is simply setup for whatever’s brewing,though I did have to laugh at the last panel which shows Odin soaking his feet and wondering if he made the right decision. Ignoring that he Odin tends to indulge himself more often than not,he does appear to know more than he’s letting on…