Journey into Mystery #103 was made for me to love. We’ve got the first appearance of two new villains,carryover plot from last issue,intrigue for Donald Blake,a capable combatant for Thor,tons of more Asgard-related story,and a way out there back up that blew my mind. You can probably smell that favorite tag coming a mile away,can’t you?
The story opens with Thor returning home from his 23rd century misadventures last issue. If you’re the type of person who might feel confused jumping into a book that’s not a #1,there’s a quick recap of the events from #102 just for you. It’s not particularly relevant to this story,but it’s handled in a cool way –a dream sequence courtesy of an exhausted Don Blake.
The thing that struck me as odd with the recap was that it only concerned itself with the outcome of Thor’s time in the 23rd century and not how he ended up there –unable to defeat Zarrko because Odin (at the behest of Loki) robbed him of half of his power. In fact,Thor being only half-capable isn’t really mentioned in this issue at all. And there are some parts where that would have been particularly relevant.
Anyway,after that four-page intro,we jump headlong into this issue and again we see Loki whispering into the ear of Odin (and ostensibly causing Thor trouble). This time around,Loki suggests sending a hottie Thor’s way so that she might replace Jane in Thor’s heart. Odin sends Loki to arrange for the Enchantress to pay Thor a visit.
If Kirby wanted us to view Enchantress as a sexy vixen,he succeeds. She’s immediately seductive,even tempting Loki with her charms,but we’re warned. She’s hot,but,since she’s essentially a female version of Loki,she’s definitely not to be trusted.
Enchantress hits up Earth where Kirby portrays her as a full-on bombshell. Movie poster hair,expensive jewelry,a fur coat,and a bust-to-waist ratio that would make the 90s blush. She does her best to charm Blake,but his strength of character simply proves too great. Her only victory comes in Jane seeing her almost kiss Blake. Jane slams the door,Blake runs after her,and Enchantress has a “mirror,mirror,on the wall”moment. If she can’t outfox Jane fair &square,well,then,Jane has to die! Enter the Woodsma…I mean,the Executioner.
Ex is happy to do Enchantress’bidding for a shot at being with her. She strings him along in that direction,but she sorta forgets to tell him to kill Jane. Instead,he uses his axe (which can rip the fabric of reality) to banish to limbo. As expected,that doesn’t sit well with Thor.
The result is a great page-and-a-half battle between the two Asgardians. Thor’s reduced power isn’t mentioned,but he’s pretty well matched with the Executioner here. Thor ultimately gains the upper hand,but must bargain with him to save Jane. The deal? Jane’s return in exchange for the hammer. And don’t think it’s a desperate gambit,Thor is willing to sacrifice “being Thor”(however that Blake/Thor arrangement works out) to save Jane. Luckily,Thor gets lucky.
In a cute moment,Thor hands Ex the hammer after Jane is returned and,naturally,it immediately crashes to the ground. Ex does his best,at least getting the handle off the ground. The hammer is his prize,but it’s useless to him. Before Thor’s full minute runs out,Enchantress shows up to seek revenge on Ex for not fulfilling his part of the deal. Her interruption allows Thor to grab the hammer and we’re ready to wrap this puppy up.
Interestingly,Thor’s not angry or vengeful with the pair. He’s simply tired of their interference. He uses the hammer to send them both back to Asgard. Yeah,it’s a quick-and-out ending,but it fit the story somehow. It didn’t feel like his life was in danger,or that these villains were sworn enemies or anything. They were just two more Asgardians trying to screw up his relationship. You know,like when you get a new girlfriend and you have some friends you really don’t want to introduce her to? Well,if one of them had an axe that could banish her to limbo anyway.
The story closes with Blake &Jane sort of making up while Odin,watching from above,throws a temper tantrum over his failure to break them up. We’re promised that he’ll keep trying (in the next issue,no less).
The Tales of Asgard backup was an odd,but satisfying read. The story follows Thor on a quest. We see him gain a flying ship,Skipbladnir,that can shrink in size and fit in his pocket. Yes,I know he doesn’t have pockets,but it’s still cool,okay? Thor flies it south,battles a dragon,a boar god,all en route to one King Mirmir. Thor has brought him a branch of the world tree,so that Mirmir may fulfill a promise he once made to Odin. Using the branch and his own mystic waters,Mirmir transforms two trees on Earth. What do they become? Aske &Embla –the first humans! Woah! I’m not sure how this fits in with Marvel creationism,but an editor’s note lets us know it’s at least “freely translated”from Norse myth. It’s cool either way…
As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #103 along with some cool panels. I had a hard time choosing for this issue,so it’s a little bigger than normal. I want to show some scenes from Thor’s fight with the Executioner,but how could I not show the creation of mankind?