Review:Journey into Mystery #102

“Slave of Zarrko,the Tomorrow Man”,Published: January 3rd,1964
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Chic Stone,Letters: Artie Simek

In the last issue,Loki manipulated Odin into removing half of Thor’s power,robbing him of the strength needed to defeat Zarrko. As a result,Thor was forced to surrender and travel to the 23rd Century. In the comic,it takes three pages to show you what I just summed up in two sentences. The second half of our story gets underway on page four of thirteen.

To protect present day New York City,Thor made an oath to aid Zarrko in conquering the 23rd Century. The good news is that the 23rd Century is particularly easy to conquer. It’s a utopian future where there’s no violence and everyone is rather weak-willed and complacent. Zarrko is seemingly the only person on the entire planet that’s not content with that and he’s intent on gumming it up. The problem is that Zarrko’s also rather weak-willed and complacent. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #101

“The Return of Zarrko,the Tomorrow Man”,Published: December 5th,1963
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: G. Bell,Letters: Sam Rosen

This cover doesn’t know it,but a new era in Thor comics does begin here. Jack Kirby returns with this issue and,together with Stan Lee,the two will steer Thor’s future for the next six years (or 4 months in “Daily Thor”time) and move him into his second decade as a Marvel Comics’ character.

And if Kirby returning wasn’t enough,this issue also features the return of one of Thor’s first villains,cameos by some of Thor’s Avengers teammates,and also does a great job of feeling truly episodic instead of just being a random Thor story. It’s again the first part of a two-parter,but it also relies heavily on the issues that came before. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #100

“The Master Plan of Mr. Hyde!”,Published: November 5th,1963
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Don Heck,Inks: Don Heck,Letters: Sam Rosen

I was so excited last issue. There was a big cliffhanger,Hyde had set his sights on Thor,the city had come to fear Thor as a major villain. The story was double-length,indicating the possibility of a longer,drawn-out conclusion and…well,it’s still 1963,okay?

Journey into Mystery 100 started off strong enough,picking up not immediately after #99 left off,but instead when Thor first discovers that he’s become public enemy no. 1. While this issue had it’s fair share of highlights,the plot point of Thor being a criminal goes largely ignored after the opening and it leaves this story a bit lacking. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #99

“The Mysterious Mister Hyde!”,Published: October 1st,1963
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Don Heck,Inks: Don Heck,Letters: Art Simek

My goodness,we’ve got a two-parter! I know that I’m only in the second year of Thor’s 49 year history,but I’m more than happy to see some longer story lines developing in these pages. Well,somewhat longer –two issues here is about the same as one issue now,but still it’s an indication of good things to come.

Journey into Mystery #99 starts off funnily enough,with Thor transforming into Blake and hoping,almost tongue-in-cheek,that no threat shows up. Of course,Mr. Hyde is breaking into his office on the other side of the door. It’s not easy being an independent practitioner…Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #98

“Challenged by the Human Cobra”,Published: September 3rd,1963
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Don Heck,Inks: Don Heck,Letters: Art Simek

It’s not easy being a Thunder God. It’s also probably not easy writing a Thunder God. This is Thor’s 16th issue and giving him convincing villains has probably been the biggest difficulty so far. This issue saw the debut of the Human Cobra! At first glance,I had some reservations about his validity as a supervillain.

And while Cobra did turn out to be a horribly cheesy villain with a convoluted origin,I still really enjoyed the issue. While I liked Cobra enough to look forward to his return,I particularly enjoyed that the story was built around plot elements that carried over from the prior issue as well as reinforcing the notion that Odin is indeed a big meddler in his son’s affairs. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #97

“The Mighty Thor Battles the Lava Man”,“Tales of Asgard”Published: August 1st,1963
Writer: Stan Lee,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Dick Ayers,Letters: Art Simek

This is a super special issue. I know this because it says so right on the cover.

As modern readers,we’re trained to quickly scoff at any comic that proclaims its own virtues so boldly,but the truth is that history actually bore this one out. It is a super special issue that really kicks off the rest of Thor’s history. Stan Lee took over full-time writing duties,Kirby’s back for this issue (&will return for a long run soon),and there’s the little matter of a backup story,“Tales of Asgard” that was even more enjoyable and promising than the decent Thor story that preceded it. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #96

“Defying the Magic of Mad Merlin”,Published: July 2nd,1963
Writer: Stan Lee &Robert Bernstein,Penciler: Joe Sinnott,Inks: Joe Sinnott,Letters: Artie Simek

This issue perplexed me. If you’ve been reading along the last few days,it’s been a little rough. I think that’s why this issue got the better of me at first. I wasn’t too crazy to see Merlin used as a villain and Jane gives a wonderful tongue lashing to Blake about his responsibilities as doctor,but it basically goes unheard.

I decided I wasn’t in the right mood to read it and waited a bit to come back to it with fresh eyes. It turns out that it still wasn’t that great of a story,but it did have some entertaining bits and I’m glad I waited for a better frame of mind to read it. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #95

“The Demon Duplicators”,Published: August 1963
Writer: Stan Lee &Robert Bernstein,Penciler:Joe Sinnott,Inks: Joe Sinnott,Letters: Sam Rosen

This issue’s ending was as good as its beginning was bad. The middle? Well,that was a bit of a roller coaster. I enjoyed the somewhat overused silver age premise – Thor must fight a duplicate of himself,but that enthusiasm was all but strangled by ridiculous and contrived plot points to give the story the setup [the writers must have believed] it required.

But,in the end,an interesting twist pretty much saves the whole deal. And although we did get some Asgard time to assuage my desires,it had nothing to do with the rest of the story. I’m not even sure why it’s there. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #94

“Thor and Loki Attack the Human Race”,Published: July 1963
Writer: Stan Lee &Robert Bernstein,Penciler:Joe Sinnott,Inks: Joe Sinnott,Letters: Sam Rosen

This was one of those Thor comics I was warned about. It’s not because Journey into Mystery #94 features Loki as the main villain again,although my enjoyment of his character is waning with this being his fifth turn as the main villain in only nine issues.

No,the reason this comic was one I was warned about is because it’s just meh. The premise is simple:Loki turns Thor evil,but the way he goes about it is groan-worthy and the resolution is so quick,it’s easy to miss. Oh,and if you don’t remember this issue? It’s because Odin didn’t want you to. Continue Reading…

Review:Journey into Mystery #93

“The Mysterious Radio-active Man!”,Published: June 1963
Writer: Stan Lee &Robert Bernstein,Penciler: Jack Kirby,Inks: Dick Ayers,Letters: Ray Holloway

Two issues ago,Thor fought off an alien invasion. Then he spent the next two dealing with Loki. Judging from the last nine issues,I was certain we’d see some communists show up in Journey into Mystery #93.

But the cover got me for a second. It depicted Thor locked in battle with the Radio-Active Man! While I know my Marvel heroes,I’m not the most well-versed with Marvel’s villains and I didn’t immediately realize this was the Radioactive Man. Y’know,the one that’s a communist? Continue Reading…