Review:Journey into Mystery #86

“On the Trail of the Tomorrow Man”,Published: November 1962
Writer: Stan Lee &Larry Lieber,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Dick Ayers,Letters: Artie Simek

First,I want to think all of the IAT readers who made the jump over here yesterday. It was a great “grand opening”for The Daily Thor! And special thanks to those of you who left feedback on what can make these articles better. We’re still working the kinks out here and knowing what you’d like to see can only help,so thank you for that. I hope you’ll keep reading and posting.

I really enjoyed #86,but maybe not for the right reasons. It was a great read,but it also features the full gamut of the oddities I’ve been encountering with this book:the Blake/Thor dichotomy,his deus ex machina hammer,and yes,Jane touches her face.

And if he doesn't...? Good thing this is an anthology title.

Despite the fact that these early articles are running a bit longer than I originally intended,I keep thinking of things that I left out after they’ve been posted. In this case,I haven’t gotten to talk much about what’s going on with Thor when he’s not on camera. He didn’t have much exposure in the first two issues,but he was practically a household name in the last issue.

Thor was at a hospital entertaining children by levitating a bed with the hammer. When Thor appeared to answer Loki’s challenge,the crowd recognized him immediately – some were even astonished that anyone would dare challenge Thor! There are clearly some stories going on in-between issues where Thor is gaining notoriety and popularity. I kinda wish we were seeing them.

Issue #86 extends Thor’s notoriety in a new way –he’s now actively working with the military. But I have my doubts about their intentions. Chasing down anti-aircraft missiles so they can make them better &faster seems innocuous enough,but then they want to test what happens when a bomb blows up in his face.

You heard me right. The US Military wants to see what happens to a person when they’re caught up in the blast of a cobalt bomb. And Thor “thinks he can survive” so he agrees to let them do it. What happens if they’re wrong? Worse still,if you know what a cobalt bomb is – it’s not about blowing stuff up. It’s a dirty bomb meant to radiate targets and make them uninhabitable.

So basically,the military asks,“Mr. Thor,we’d like to detonate a bomb in your face and radiate you to see what happens,is that okay?”

“VERILY!”

Why is the time-scope bigger than the time machine??

Fortunately,a new villain – Zarrko,The Tomorrow Man – appears and,in a twist of irony,saves Thor by stealing the bomb and spiriting it off to 2262. The future see,is utopian. Everything’s perfect. There aren’t even weapons (well,no guns and bombs anyway –do you have to outlaw baseball bats and box cutters to achieve world peace?). And Zarrko? Well,you probably know a guy that’s just gotta bring you down when you’re doing well because they’re not happy with their own lives? That’s Zarrko. This peace thing? It isn’t his bag.

Zarrko needs a weapon so he can shake things up. Mind you,he’s converted some robot laborers (bet they’re enjoying utopia) into killing machines and he’s capable of building a time machine,but he has to go into the past to steal a bomb. And when he does,he steals one from in front of a superhero. So,clearly,he’s got mad technology skills,but he’s apparently not that bright.

One of the military men –with his “sherlock holmes”calabash pipe –determines that Zarrko must have come from the future based on qualities in a left behind piece of metal from Zarrko’s ship. Now you’d think the bomb being in the future means this probably isn’t Thor’s problem anymore. I mean,what can he do? Two words:magic hammer.

It's like listening to a recorder player and being taken back to your youth. Sort of.

Thor goes off to call up Dad,and as we’re treated to yet another “Wait,is he Blake or Thor?” moment,Odin lets him know that the hammer can time travel. You just have to spin around like a tornado with it. Of course!

Thor simply spins his way 2262,but he overshoots and gets there a month into Zarrko’s reign. He’s in charge simply because has the bomb and he could use it. So remember if you’re ever in a utopia,everyone is a pushover. Come to think of it,that might be the only way you can have a utopia…

Thor is told he can’t confront Zarrko directly,so he comes up with a plan. And in the next panel,he’s… going off to confront Zarrko directly. But whenever security forces get near Thor a mysterious cloaked figure thwarts them. Well,I found myself wishing the cloaked figure was the Thor of 2262 because that would’ve been kickass,but the reality is Thor is the cloaked figure and some patsy was forced to dress up like Thor and play decoy. It was disappointing,but you have to appreciate that they had a spare Thor costume handy. And you should feel bad for the decoy because he gets thrown around the room and beat up for his trouble. Great plan,Thor!

Note to self:never agree to Thor's plans.

We then move into the “run from Thor” portion of the book. Zarrko tries to slow down Thor a variety of ways and does have some success with those aforementioned robots. One of them grabs the hammer,and in probably the coolest moment in the book,leaves Thor with only a minute to take the robots down without it. Instead of punching his way out,he outwits the robots and floods the room. With hammer in hand,he retreives the bomb from Zarrko’s ship and lets the villain crash land. Zarrko survives,but without his memories and mental prowess. Ouch.

With his adventure done,Thor spins back to 1962 and returns the bomb to the military. We close on Blake in his office with Jane. She’s reading a paper that says “Thor saves C-Bomb;Survives Explosion”.

Maybe if Don wants points with Jane,he
should compliment her on her new hair color.

Those maniacs! They blew him up! Damn them! Damn them all to hell! Sorry… I get carried away. Blake looks none the worse for wear having just been through a close range radioactive blast. Jane doesn’t seem to notice anything either,though she is busy daydreaming about Thor… and touching her face.

Maybe this issue wasn’t any more or less silly than the ones before it,but it did feel like it. Maybe trying to blow him up at the beginning just threw me off to much. Anyway,I’m off to Journey into Mystery #87. By request,I’m leaving you with a larger look at the cover as well as a new feature,a shot of my favorite panel. See you tomorrow!

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A closer look at the cover alongside my favorite panel from this issue.

7 comments to Review:Journey into Mystery #86

  • SilntAngl5

    “And Zarrko? Well,you probably know a guy that’s just gotta bring you down when you’re doing well because they’re not happy with their own lives? That’s Zarrko. This peace thing? It isn’t his bag.”

    That reminds me of someone…. ;)

    I love your witticism. They really make your reviews and it’s making me REALLY want to read Thor. Badly. And (please don’t kill me) I’m not a fan of the “older-aged”comics because the story depth is usually lacking,generalized in nature and praying on stereotypes.

    I might need to make an exception,though….

    • Daniel Lynch

      I don’t know who you’re talking about! ;)

      I’ve found that while the depth of the story is relatively shallow,there’s a lot more implications that go unexplored. A lot less seems to happen in modern stuff.

  • The problem with comics from this era is you do have to keep in mind that the writers (re:Stan Lee) were writing up to 10 comics a month,nowadays 2 comics is considered a huge workload and 4 or 5 are considered workaholics. Point is in all of that some crap gets through. Also Stan wrote these specificly for kids and thus some things are toned down and some things are taken for granted,like Thor’s popularity for instance,it’s just a given,no big adventures between just is. Then again at this time the number of super-powered beings could be counted rather easily.

    Anyway to me the miricle of the Lee/Kirby/Ditko ect years is the fact that these guys created SOOO much and most of it was engageing on some level. When I look at modern comics I tend to get the opposite effect and there are a ton of people working on those. Not sure what that says about comics,but I find it interesting.

    • Daniel Lynch

      I am definitely keeping that in mind! While I am approaching this a bit snarkily,it’s definitely meant to have a light-hearted tone. I am enjoying these issues quite a bit. And while I’ve found a few things to pick,I think it’s pretty solid so far. Engaging is definitely the right word. I’m always ready to look ahead and it’s hard not to.

      And I think you’re right on the modern stuff,depending on the writer,some of it just doesn’t have as much in it despite being almost twice as long in some instances.

  • Loving these,loving the site,and loving the noble goal you’ve set for yourself! Looking forward to the whole run!

  • Drew

    Thor exhales a hurricane in this issue! These early stories indicate he didn’t need his hammer to control the elements,
    like when he issued lightning from his hands in issue 93 and created a tornado by flapping his cape in issue 100!

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