Review:Journey into Mystery #99

“The Mysterious Mister Hyde!”,Published: October 1st,1963
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Don Heck,Inks: Don Heck,Letters: Art Simek

My goodness,we’ve got a two-parter! I know that I’m only in the second year of Thor’s 49 year history,but I’m more than happy to see some longer story lines developing in these pages. Well,somewhat longer –two issues here is about the same as one issue now,but still it’s an indication of good things to come.

Journey into Mystery #99 starts off funnily enough,with Thor transforming into Blake and hoping,almost tongue-in-cheek,that no threat shows up. Of course,Mr. Hyde is breaking into his office on the other side of the door. It’s not easy being an independent practitioner…

Dr. Erskine,eat your heart out!

One thing I always appreciate in comics is “bystander involvement”. I love seeing people help Superman out of wreckage or aid Spider-Man when he’s unable to defend himself. I love that. That’s not quite what’s going on in these early issues of JiM,but I do like seeing the crowds recognize Thor. I like that just seeing him has an impact on them. I suppose the modern universes are so tightly woven and the heroes are so overpopulated that the bystanders don’t get excited anymore,but I think they’re a stand-in for the readers. If they’re all seeing Thor and they’re excited – then shouldn’t we be? That’s missing from a lot of modern books.

It’s amidst this crowd that we catch our first glimpse of a new villain,Mr. Hyde. Now if you’re thinking about Dr. Jekyll – you’re pretty much spot on. We spend a good chunk of the story recapping the life of one Calvin Zabo,who will become our Mr. Hyde. It’s not really explained,but Zabo appears to be a con man with some amount of chemistry experience. He’s rebuffed by Blake,which is apparently sufficient cause for a months-long mad-on. Zabo,always obsessed with the story of Jekyll &Hyde,begins work on a “real life” version of the chemical formula and succeeds.

Remember,he's attacking Blake. He doesn't even know about Thor...

I have to stop and chuckle a bit about the use of Hyde as a Marvel villain. I’m always fascinated by adaptations of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll &Mr. Hyde because they almost always differ significantly from the original work. This Hyde is based more on the common perception of that story – Hyde becomes larger,stronger,monstrous – instead of the original Hyde who became twisted and smaller. And,of course,Zabo retains his standard personality. I only note this because Zabo specifically states it all happened “just as Stevenson” had described it.

Anyway,Zabo uses his appearance,new fingerprints,and new-found strength to rob banks and cause mayhem,but he secretly just wants to get revenge on Blake for not hiring him. Priorities,man,priorities!

Sometimes 1963 seems like a century ago...

Blake’s got bigger problems than Hyde though. He’s still mighty pissed about not being able to hook up with Jane and he’s gone off to Asgard to make his case to Odin once more. Odin gives us our first glint of hope – Jane could become worthy of Thor if she proves to be virtuous enough.

Meanwhile,Hyde has made his assault on Blake’s office. You have to really appreciate that Hyde isn’t even thinking about Thor. Here he is,breaking into this guy’s office,threatening his nurse,and he has no clue what’s about to happen.

At the same time,Thor returns and reverts to Blake,unaware of Hyde bursting into the waiting area. Hyde bursts through another door and makes his run at Blake,knocking him out a window. I mean,you spend months planning revenge,you create a super-serum that would piss off Cap’s doctors,and then you accidentally knock the guy out the window before you throw a punch? I mean,really?

No,Thor's not really big. It's a metathor.

Jane faints at seeing Blake fall – the caption says this is because “she is a female” after all. Ouch,Stan. Ouch.

Blake becomes Thor mid-fall,but returns to the office to find Hyde gone. With revenge achieved,he’s left to start committing crimes of a more important nature. When he hears that Thor “saved” Blake,his vendetta is renewed,but ironically switches to the Thunder God.

We close on a fantastic two-page sequence that shows Thor robbing a bank and becoming a public menace. All those folks who felt lucky seeing Thor,who felt safety at his presence are rebuffed. The police are on high alert waiting to see what crime he might commit next. The city is held in the grip of fear over Thor’s turn at villainy.

I reiterate,Odin's a badass.

But the best part? There’s no wink at the audience. There’s no explanation. The story depicts a Thor gone rogue and uses that to draw us back to the next issue. That’s awesome.

Despite my enjoyment of this issue,the five page Tales of Asgard back-up nearly stole the show again. Having battled ice giants last issue,Odin sets his sights on the fire giant,Surtur who has teamed with Trolls to conquer Asgard. The issue depicts the epic battle between the two and showcases how heavily this battle factors into Thor’s mythology. Surtur struck at Earth to deter Odin and created the Moon by carving it out of the Earth as he dug his way to the core. Odin uses his sword to start the rotation of the Earth and trap Surtur at its core to provide much needed heat and energy to the new planet.

If you enjoyed this article or just want to get the latest updates from The Daily Thor please visit us on Twitter or Facebook! Thanks!

As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #99 along with some of the creation myth panels from the “Tales of Asgard”.

The Cover,and the panels depicting the creation of the moon,why the Earth spins,and the source of geothermal energy.

2 comments to Review:Journey into Mystery #99

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href=""title=""><abbr title=""><acronym title=""><b><blockquote cite=""><cite><code><del datetime=""><em><i><q cite=""><strike><strong>