Review:Journey into Mystery #109

“When Magneto Strikes!”,Published: August 4th,1964
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Chic Stone,Letters: Sam Rosen

Well,here’s a crossover I certainly wasn’t expecting. Journey into Mystery #109 features Thor going toe-to-toe with… Magneto?? And he’s not the only Marvel character spotlighted either,the opening of the story serves to remind the readers of the awesomeness that is the combined Marvel Universe.

We start off simply enough as Thor attends the unveiling of a Thor statue as part of a “Hall of Heroes” exhibit. This little interlude gives Jack &Stan reason to show off almost the entire Marvel line. Statues of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers are on display while statues of Spider-Man,Daredevil,&X-Men are mentioned. What,no Doctor Strange?

After that little reminder that we should all be buying the entire Marvel line,the story shifts its focus to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and they’re… uh,cleverly disguised,tree-submarine. I’m not sure where this story fits into the X-Men continuity,but Magneto is on the hunt for the X-Men’s home base,so it’s surely fairly early on.

Strangely,neither the X-Men statues or the X-Men themselves are shown in this issue...

Having already narrowed the location of the base down to New York,Magneto sends his Brotherhood (Toad,Quicksilver,Scarlet Witch,&Mastermind) into the city to find it. His plan is to stay behind and… uh,play with his powers?

Asteroid M? Check. Tree Submarine? Che- Wait...

Stepping into a giant u-shaped magnet chair,he starts screwing around with New York and sending anything metal flying into the air. While this surely causes problems all over the city,it really has one unfortunate impact on our titular hero,Dr. Donald Blake. See,he’s forced to investigate and… cancel his date with Jane. Doh!

After an icy conversation with Jane,Blake becomes Thor and tracks down Magneto’s tree-sub. It’s actually an interesting meet-up at first. You’d think breaking his date with Jane would make him angry,but Thor wants answers more than he wants to bust heads. Thor &Mags have a decent conversation right up until Magneto deigns to infer that Thor is a mutant. If ever there was a time for an ‘I say thee nay’…

I overlooked the tree
sub,but a magnet chair??

Thor finally loses his cool and smacks Magneto’s drink from his hand. Geez,Thor. A little sensitive about being called a mutant,eh? Anyway,that unintended slight leads to our big battle. There’s just one little problem,Thor’s hammer is susceptible to Magneto’s power. Oops.

As you’d imagine,the battle quickly turns against Thor. In mere panels,he’s separated from his hammer and trapped between two bulkheads by Magneto. He ends up reverting to Blake,and let’s face it,at this point he should be royally screwed.

He’s mortal,bum leg and all. He’s trapped (thankfully where Magneto can’t see him). And he’s squaring off against one of the most dangerous villains on Earth. Luckily,Magneto’s still new at this…

Thor does raise a good point...

I guess you could say that Magneto was quickly expecting Thor to break out of the makeshift prison,so,when he doesn’t,Mags freaks out a bit. Thinking that Thor is trying to trick him,Magneto wreaks havoc on Blake from afar with rivets and equipment flying everywhere. The one upside to this death trap is that it motivates Blake to check the far wall – there’s a hole he tore in it when he was Thor. Duh.

His ego unaffected,Blake makes his way through the sub,continues to dodge Magneto’s distance attacks,and recovers his cane. Now you’d think that,having already lost his hammer once,Thor would take a different tack,but he doesn’t. He just pummels Magneto again – this time successfully.

Do I have to pay another 12¢ to see the X-Men? C'mon!

Magneto flees as the X-men arrive. Well,sorta. I’m not sure why,but the X-Men don’t appear on panel. We see the Brotherhood fleeing from them,we see Magneto fleeing from them,but the closest we get to actually seeing them is Beast’s hands and Angel’s shadow. I thought that maybe Thor wasn’t supposed to see them (he doesn’t),but then I remembered that they have statues in opening part of the story. I just don’t get it. An old school Marvel fan will have to explain that one to me…

With Magneto gone,Thor takes it upon himself to demolish the tree-submarine. And really,if Magneto knew Thor like we did,he’d know not to use a tree for camouflage. Thor smashes the entire sub with one hit from his hammer,which makes you wonder why he some times doesn’t just get irritated and do that in the first place.

With 'weak' in your name,you're
not getting a girl that looks like that...

The story ends with Blake calling on Jane and trying to make amends for his hasty departure earlier. It doesn’t take much (he touches her face this time) before she’s ready to make him a ham &cheese sandwich. With some milk,that’s a meal fit for a god if I ever heard one.

Overall,I enjoyed this issue. I was at a loss for why the X-Men don’t actually appear and was a bit surprised by Magneto’s cheesy villain status with the tree-sub and the u-chair,but hey,a 1964 comic that only occasionally reminds you it’s a 1964 comic is a success by any measure.

In the Tales of Asgard backup,we’re treated to another tale of a “not-yet-20 Thor”. This story opens with his being banished from Asgard for some unrevealed trespass. It’s then that Loki’s cousin (how’s that work?),Arkin the Weak,runs off to meet his unrequited love,Knorda,and tell her of Thor’s predicament. She sends her Mountain Giants to slay Thor,but all they manage to do is chase him into a ravine a la Little Big Horn. Once they’re trapped,the curtain is pulled back and all is revealed. Thor’s banishment was merely a ruse to ferret out Arkin. The story isn’t clear on what happens to him or Knorda. She asks Odin for mercy,but it’s not revealed if she gets it or not… Maybe we’ll see them again?

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As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #109 along with a few more panels from the issue…

The Cover and Blake's time with Jane being interrupted by the dastardly Magneto.

5 comments to Review:Journey into Mystery #109

  • He-Mullet

    You really got me spitting my cup of cocoa with the whole Thor’s thing with trees!

    • Daniel Lynch

      It’s not my fault! Thor’s just not eco-friendly…I need to make a montage of all the trees he’s killed…

  • I think this is just a case of Lee and Kirby trying to sell the X-men as mysterious. In the early issues their identities were not meant to be known to the world at large. In fact the existence of the X-men itself was a mystery.

    That said,both Lee and Kirby were notorious for making MISTAKES. The statues? A mistake. The X-men at the FF’s wedding? Probably also a mistake. The ‘don’t show the x-men’trick wasn’t really used elsewhere,but it’s part of the tension of them being a hidden group of super heroes.

    (The other thing is that…a lot of concepts weren’t very solidified back then,so SELLING the X-men was as important as retaining that air of mystery.)

    As for Magneto —one thing you have to remember about him is that he spent most of his life as a really B-list villain,until he was finally brought back by Chris Claremont and John Byrne (I think it was Byrne…maybe it was Dave Cockrum) for the all-new,all-different X-men. Magneto was one of those villains that both Stan and Jack liked to use…but he was always so outmatched and useless in the early stuff that…well…yeah. He’s kind of a bumbling idiot.

    Sort of a low,low,low rent Doctor Doom.

    –Andrew S.

    • Daniel Lynch

      Thanks,Andrew! I was guessing that the X-Men were supposed to be hidden from Thor,but those statues gave me pause in the beginning!

      One of the biggest challenges I’ve had during this experiment is that while I know things about the overall characters,I don’t always know how they were portrayed during the various decades. Magneto here is a prime example,seeing him like this was almost sad. LOL

  • Drew

    Like several of the so-called “Giants”in these Tales of Asgard,
    Knorda doesn’t really look that big,does she?

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