Review:Journey into Mystery #113

“A World Gone Mad!”,Published: December 3rd,1964
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Chic Stone,Letters: Art Simek

After last issue’s Hulk interlude was the first comic to not feature Donald Blake,I was ready to get back to the “ongoing”tale of Thor. And this issue sorta delivered…I mean,Thor did resolve to tell Jane his secret,but,as you can imagine,things didn’t go well. In the end,the status quo was maintained,but this story did give us the a small peek behind the curtain to gauge Jane’s reaction.

There’s a pretty good story built around that premise though. We see Thor aiding his fellow Asgardians in a battle against Jotunheim only to later be forsaken by Odin and forced to fight this issue’s villain – a very cranky Grey Gargoyle –as Dr. Donald Blake.

The story starts out cute enough. One thing I miss about older comics is the interaction between the creators and readers. They might seem like out of place story elements now,but sometimes Stan would play fast and loose with the captions – as if he was speaking directly to us instead of narrating a story. This issue started out as such.

The first three pages feature a modern day battle between the warriors of Asgard and Jotunheim. Stan outright tells us that it doesn’t have much to do with anything;that they had simply promised Jack he could draw a few giant battle scenes:

There's no Jotunheim giants? I'm worried Odin might have some bad intel...

Now,we don’t know who they’re fighting,but it doesn’t really matter. The Asgardians are quickly victorious. Odin,pleased with Thor’s participation,bids him to return to Asgard full-time. To Odin’s chagrin,Thor refuses on account of,y’know,Jane.

Odin just needs to get over his marriage must be between a god and a god thing...

Thor returns home depressed and,tired of this dual life,decides the most honorable course of action is to renounce his godhood to be with Jane. I have to take a minute out here,as it seems that Donald Blake doesn’t really exist anymore. There is only one personality between them and all this interaction with Asgardians has proven that the one personality is Thor. Even now,it doesn’t seem like Blake is giving up on being Thor after a year so much as it’s Thor giving up centuries as a god. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense,but it’s never brought up in-story.

As Blake,he returns to office and doesn’t waste any time. He tells Jane that he is,in fact,Thor!

Stan again jumps into to let us know they can’t adequately describe Jane’s shock and that we must move to another part of the city where scientists have discovered a stone statue at the bottom of the river. After cleaning it up,it awakens,and they quickly realize their mistake:they have freed the Grey Gargoyle!

Bum...bum...bum!!!!

Meanwhile,back in Asgard,Odin sees that Blake has told Jane his secret and quickly removes the power of Thor from him. This goes over particularly poorly,as Blake stamps his cane to prove his godhood to Jane and… nothing happens. It’s really an awkward scene for erectile dysfunction at this point,with his confusing being met by Jane’s “it’s okay,honey”.

And,of course,it’s at that odd and inopportune moment,that the Grey Gargoyle attacks!

You know,we've never really discussed Blake's income bracket... cause that's a pretty sweet Thor-mobile...

Everything is a little convenient here,so you’d almost think that Loki orchestrated this whole scenario,but he didn’t. He does play a small role though. Many of the Asgardians wish to aid Thor,but Loki spends his time preventing them from helping. One rider,however,escapes Loki’s notice and traverses the Rainbow Bridge to make way for Earth.

If you remember,Blake was the one who consigned the Gargoyle to the bottom of the river,so it would make sense if Gargoyle was returning for vengeance on Blake. He’s not,he’s looking for Thor and thinks Blake knows where he is. To Blake’s credit,he actually does a decent job of staving off the Gargoyle. He gets Jane out of the office and manages to escape for a time. Ultimately,though what can one lame doctor due against a living,breathing statue? Turns out,not much. Blake trips over a curb and knocks Jane unconscious. Oh,how the mighty have fallen.

What a difference nearly getting
your ass kicked makes,huh?

When Blake’s finally cornered,an arm reaches out and grants him the power of Thor for a whopping thirty seconds. Remember,one minute for Hyde,5 for Hulk,and 30 seconds for Gargoyle. Kinda makes the Grey Gargoyle pretty lame if you think about it. Then again,Blake did take him down last time.

The pair spars briefly and then,in an episode of weird science,Thor uses electricity to fuse the Gargoyle’s limbs together just before he reverts to Blake. Back in Asgard,we’re shown that it was Honir (Balder’s brother) who had aided Thor and that he did so at the behest of Odin. With the day saved,Odin again returns Thor’s power. Since Jane didn’t believe Blake,Odin hopes that his son will make a better choice this time.

He does. He awakens Jane,who conveniently missed the entire battle and his Thor-claim is quickly swept under the rug. Jane remarks that she’d rather spend her time with Blake anyway. Awww.

While I was glad to get back in the thick of things for this issue,it would almost qualify as an imaginary tale if Marvel were into such things. It wasn’t a bad issue. I was happy to see the Gargoyle return,but I’m more than ready for him to be actually threatening. His defeat this time was rather ridiculous,especially when the last time was clever. The one thing that could come out of this story is Thor pining less for Jane since he’s been reminded of what it’s like to be plain,simple Blake again. Time will tell.

In an hour,when his power wears off,we'll his limbs still be fused? Ewww...

After getting Loki’s origin in the last issue,we get another brief tale that depicts an important turning point in his young life. The story focuses on the rivalry between Thor &Loki. Specifically,on Loki’s annoyance that Thor is always stronger,always better,always right. In this issue,Loki bets on a fighting match between two Asgardians and manipulates the outcome so that Loki’s champion wins. The two fighters,knowing Loki interfered accost him,but Thor stands up for his half-brother. The two fighters let the matter slide because of Thor. Loki,jealous for so many reasons,but now also for the way the others capitulate to Thor comes to the realization that Thor must be destroyed.

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As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #113 along with some more panels from the issue:

The Cover and the Gargoyle ruining a book,an elevator,and the Thor-Mobile. Well,at least for an hour...

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