Journey into Mystery #114 feels like a new beginning in the annals of Thor. It’s a new year (1965),Loki’s got a new look,and after the last few issues,appears to be moving into his role as a proper villain instead of being a tolerated and shrugged off nuisance. Loki’s latest plan to take out Thor will extend past this story and weave it’s way through the next five issues.
This issue also features the first appearance of two new characters to Thor’s mythos. Crusher Creel,the now infamous Absorbing Man,and a reporter,Mr. Hobbs. I’m a fan of Creel,but I’ve never heard of Hobbs before. He kinda gives off a “Jack McGee” vibe,so I’m curious to see what role he plays.
This issue starts off with Thor already battling a foe. It’s a bit confusing because it says “Introducing the Absorbing Man”right above his head,but this isn’t him. This guy actually doesn’t get a name,and from what I can tell he never even returns. The brief battles consists of him trying to flee from Thor in a “souped-up bucket racing car” while using an energy pistol and grenades to defend himself. As you’d imagine,a car and some grenades doesn’t do much to protect you from a thunder god. He’s handily defeated by Thor,even while Loki is trying to sabotage Thor from afar.
Loki,annoyed at his latest failure,searches the globe for a new pawn in his game against Thor. He selects a rather mean looking fellow;a prisoner named Crusher Creel and slips a potion into his water. Anyway,Creel feels the effects of the potion immediately and starts to get uppity with the guards. And these are some mean-ass guards,’cause they just start shooting at him.
Luckily,his new-found powers spare him any grisly wounds. He not only repels the bullets,but absorbs their properties. Wielding his wrecking ball like a hammer and becoming a true Man of Steel,he tears his way out of the prison like it was a Kleenex box.
The story then shifts back to Blake. He’s finishing up with his last patient of the day,a reporter,Mr. Hobbs. Hobbs is in a hurry because he wants to catch up to Creel and snag a front page headline. He openly tells all this to Blake,this inadvertently tipping Thor off to Creel’s last location. After Hobbs leaves,Blake breaks his date with Jane (she’s so used to it by now,that she flirts with him as he does it) and heads off for the Black Mountain Swamp (speeding faster than a locomotive,no less…).
Thor quickly finds Creel (courtesy of,I kid you not,his hammer tingling???) and the two engage in battle. Thor rears back with his hammer,Crusher rears back with his wrecking ball,the two weapons lash forth and meet with a giant klanng,and… nothing happens.
The ball absorbs the properties of the uru metal as Crusher’s strength swells to match that of Thor’s. It’s here where Creel is first dubbed the Absorbing Man. The two spar for a couple of pages,but neither can really gain the upper hand. This first battle ends when Hobbs appears and Thor is forced to protect him as Crusher escapes. Hobbs doesn’t do much here,but as we leave him,he does question how Thor found Creel so easily. His interest in Thor feels like it’s going to lead to something and I hope that it does.
Thor catches up with the Absorbing Man,but their second battle is also interrupted – this time by Balder. If Stan wanted us to feel as jolted out of the story as Thor was out of the fight,he succeeded. Balder reports that Loki has kidnapped Jane! Thor immediately leaves to save Jane while Creel marvels at his “victory”. The story ends with Thor declaring that Loki has finally “gone too far”. I hope he stands by that…
This was an interesting issue,though it was more about setting up the beginning of this multi-part saga than delivering a solid story within it’s pages. That said,the pieces are set and I’m excited for next issue. Thor’s got at least two villains to take down,so it should be a good read. Anyway,I’ve still got some lingering questions about the bucket-racer villain from the beginning. Maybe Gillen or Fraction should look into bringing him back?!
In the Tales of Asgard backup,we’re treated to a short five-page story that features all-new characters. It’s our first introduction to Iduna,the red-hooded Goddess who picks the golden apples that give the Gods their immortality,Fenris,a wolf who takes human form,and Haakun,a woodsman. Does that sound like it’s starting to shape up into something that might sound familiar? While Iduna is traveling to take the apples to Odin,the Fenris accosts her in his mortal form,intent to steal them. She is saved by Haakun,who drives the Fenris to another realm with his enchanted axe. The story ends by pointing out the similarities to how this very tale will be told for millennia in many variations,including Little Red Riding Hood.
As we close,here’s a bigger look at the cover of #114 along with some more panels from the issue: