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.

Yes,Thor,you forget every time.

As such,there’s not really a lot for me to talk about with this issue. Creel would appear to be the most credible physical villain that Thor has encountered so far. Thor has the Superman problem – Loki is an excellent arch-nemesis,but its a battle of wits against him. Like Superman,Thor needs more bruisers to fight – but bruisers tend to lack character.

Creel straddles that line – I wouldn’t say that he’s a great character,at least not yet,but I love that he’s more or less a simple convict and that he behaves as such. It’s not clear on whether Loki may have amped up the Absorbing Man a bit when he retrieved Creel from space,but he does seem a touch more powerful. He can lift and throw Thor’s hammer (I don’t remember him being able to do that in his earlier appearance),but,perhaps more impressively,he can also grow to the size of a small building.

It’s probably one of the most memorable aspects of the book,in fact. After the initial confrontation didn’t go Creel’s way,he runs. We follow Thor as he tries to catch up with him – having to run through a crowd of people trying to escape from Creel. We’re treated to a few cool panels that are leading up to what’s about to happen. People are looking and pointing up,then Thor even worries about the situation getting out of hand because of some off-screen development. The next page reveals the new menace. Creel has absorbed the concrete and steel around and looks to be about ten to twelve stories tall.

I love how Thor's so casual about victory.

Thor,undaunted,flies up to face the over-sized Creel and manages to force him to return to normal size and,again,go on the run. The funny thing about this issue is that,while the fight is satisfying,Creel spends most of it on the run. Even funnier,courtesy of Thor being distracted and saving a toddler from danger,Creel wins! We close with Thor unconscious,beaten by a gloating Absorbing Man.

Creel's got an odd philosophy. It's probably why he ended in prison.

Despite it being a “less talk,more action”issue,it still managed to be an enjoyable read. I mean,sure,it was light on plot,but some comics have to be slugfests now and again. And this one definitely was. We got a few stray panels – Balder sensing that Loki is planning something (cause he’s breathing),the mysterious stranger checking in on the imprisoned Jane – but this was a fight issue,no doubt. And we’re left to worry for Thor’s well-being. We’ll see just how me manages to overcome tomorrow…

In the Tales of Asgard backup,we’re treated to a small snippet of Thor &Loki’s Quest. Thor’s ship must sail through the Pillars of Utgard – which means certain death. As the men start to break ranks and panic,Thor commands they be steadfast and sail through the storm. As the sailors push on despite the treachery of the channel,Balder climbs to the front of the bow,bringing a horn. We’re not sure why,but we’re told that his success could mean life or death for Thor and his crew… next issue will tell of their fate too.

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The cover,and a selected scene from Thor's fight with Creel...

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