Review:Journey into Mystery #108

“At the Mercy of Loki,Prince of Evil!”,Published: July 2nd,1964
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Chic Stone,Letters: Art Simek

Well,they can’t all be great stories. After having such a terrific run for this entire week,I may have gotten my hopes up for this issue. Journey into Mystery #108 features a guest spot by Doctor Strange and the return of Loki – it’s been all of three issues since he made himself a nuisance,so,I guess he was due?

After a strange intro that finds Thor destroying miles of city streets to create a “ripple” (i.e. earthquake) that prevents a boy from being hit by a runaway truck and a quick dismissal about how the Avengers can afford to pay for the damage (thanks,Tony),we’re off to actually start this story…

It’s hard to put my finger on it,but this issue just feels more forced and misshapen then the other stories this week. We start with a cool crossover moment when Thor answers the summons of one Doctor Stephen Strange (perhaps you’ve heard of him?) and finds him near death after a bout with Mordo.

The Wonderful World of Dr. Strange!

I did appreciate what happened next. Thor can’t really do anything for Strange,but Blake can! He performs life-saving surgery (during the dreaded cliché of a power outage,no less) and earns a favor (or two) from Dr. Strange for his trouble. This is a cool bit of story,but unfortunately,it only culminates in a wheelchair-bound Dr. Strange solving the issue’s problems from afar. You’ll see…

Donald Blake,Mystical Doctor?

That aforementioned power outage was caused by a lightning storm which itself was a result of Odin throwing a temper tantrum when Thor didn’t answer his call (“I’m in surgery,Dad!”). Odin had wanted Thor to join in some epic battle (its exact importance is never mentioned). Odin leaves for battle rebuffed,paving the way for Loki to jumpstart plan #5,878,108 to take down Thor.

Unfortunately,Loki really isn’t up to his usual cunning this time around. He takes on a disguise to steal Blake’s cane (and ends up simply discarding it out an open window) before simply kidnapping Jane. Blake first calls Odin for an assist,but he’s not around to hear him. This is how miscommunications start,y’know? Unable to get ahold of Odin,Blake calls in that strange favor he’s owed.

Strange Sub-Plot #1: Cane Retrieval. Using his astral form,Strange locates Blake’s cane. He appears before two hobos using it as a fishing rod and scares them off,allowing Blake to retrieve it. Thanks,Doc!

What’s that,Lassie? Thor fell into the well?

Then things get a little clunky. First,Thor blows off a second interruption by Odin. But then,he’s approached by the Avengers who wish to aid him with whatever it he’s doing. He ditches them nicely and proceeds to the Adirondack Mountains to confront Loki. I get the Odin thing because his presence is dictated by the story. But what was up with the Avengers here? Is Stan just out to remind us to pick up other Marvel titles? Anyway,after landing near Loki,Thor again calls on Strange.

Strange Sub-Plot #2: Protect Jane. Loki has trapped Jane in limbo and Thor tasks strange with protecting her from Loki’s magics while Thor battles him directly.

Thor always seem to enjoy a good deforestation.

The fight with Loki is notable for Thor being really angry,but the battle itself is somewhat lacking. Loki’s big move is to knock Thor into a covered up well.

With Thor distracted,Loki attempts to “harm” Jane. I know we’re shooting for an all-ages audience here,but he’s trying to kill her right? So,doesn’t this kind of take things to a new level? What if Loki killed Jane? Loki’s not really walking the line between mischief and vendetta,he’s outright evil here. I don’t mind it so much,but it’s somewhat inconsistent from what has come before. Nonetheless,Strange does his job and protects her despite Loki’s awesome power. We won’t see him again,so wave goodbye to Doctor Strange.

Thor climbs out of the well and quickly pummels Loki into submission;ordering him to retrieve Jane. After she’s safe,Loki is immediately recalled to Asgard while Odin &Thor have a quick makeup session about ignoring each other earlier. That’s a wrap!

Thor frees the troll captives.

This story was okay. Honestly,it’s a story like this – with the out-of-place cameos,inconsistent motivations,and no real addition to the larger plot – that I was expecting when I started reading these comics. Since I’ve been exceptionally pleased with everything so far,this issue caught me a little unaware and I felt it was lacking. I do like the idea of Loki as a more credible/dangerous threat,but I was getting used to him not being that at the same time. Either way,I’m closing shop here and hoping issue #109 has good things in store for Monday.

The Tales of Asgard contained a decent story within its five pages. While in the Troll Kingdom,an Asgardian traveler has been caught and forced into slavery. After he’s left chained up with dozens of other prisoners,the story reveals that the traveler is,in fact,Thor! Thor breaks loose and frees the other Asgardians in a quick “feel good”tale. The story ends with him sealing off the troll kingdom “forever”.

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As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #108 along with a few more panels from the issue.

The Cover and some selected scenes of Thor's fight with Loki.

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