Friday, October 30, 2009

Marvel Masterworks vol. 26 Thor/Journey Into Mystery 101-110

originally posted December 21, 2008

Marvel Masterworks vol. 26 Thor/Journey Into Mystery 101-110

Let me start this review off by saying that Thor has never been one of my favorites. I’ve read a lot of Avengers, but I could take or leave Thor. However, these issues on a whole were engaging and dynamic and I want to read more!

I got this masterwork through the library and I feel I have to mention that the quality of the copy is atrocious. The pages are falling out, half of them have been taped in and when they were repaired they weren’t place correctly in the spine so many sections hang out like the uncut pages of some sort of illuminated manuscript of the days before the printing press. It really is nearly enough to make a grown man cry. I wish I still had access to professional book repair equipment, it would be a fairly easy to fix.

Anyway onto the stories!

Jack and Stan created a perfect setup, I don’t know if it was the same in 83-100, but Thor’s supporting cast works smoother than any other cast I can think of. There is Thor/Dr. Don Blake both of his personas are equally heroic and I like how Blake isn’t just a cover identity his skill as a doctor is sometimes just as important as Thor’s might. Blake’s nurse and the love of his life Jane Foster, she desperately loves him and can’t figure out why he can’t marry her. Thor’s father in Asgard Odin. He is all powerful and his word is law. He loves Thor, but does not approve of him loving an Earth girl. Finally Thor’s step-brother and arch enemy Loki who is always pulling the strings that lead to Thor trials. All four characters are locked together in a kind of battle of wills and no one seems to be able to get the upper hand. It’s great to see them try, but you know that nothings ever going to change.

One of the small things I don’t like about Thor and Iron-Man is that it often seems to me that they both get new powers each month. In issue 101 Thor draws magnetic forces of the galaxy into his hammer and then magnetizes a huge robot. Then in issue 102 he holds the hammer at a right angle and catches the sun’s rays to put men into a trance. However, as the issues went on, weird things like this thankfully became few and far between.

The Tales of Asgard are another gem. At first I didn’t like them because they make the main feature five pages shorter, but they grew on me quickly, since they are written like the Norse myths of old, or modern day fables.

In issue 101 and 102 Thor faces Zarrko the Man of Tomorrow, an evil genius from the future. He comes back in time with a huge robot that Thor is unable to defeat because Odin has halved his power. So Thor goes back to the future with Zarrko as his slave to save the present. At first I wondered why Zarrko needed Thor; he had the robot! But the next issue explained it, I guess. In the future their was a master machine hidden somewhere that controlled all other machines and he needed Thor to defeat it. These issues were okay, but nothing special.


(Journey Into Mystery 103)

Issue 103 was a historic issue, it features the first appearances of the Enchantress and the Executioner. It was a great read. I also enjoyed the tales of Asgard, which was about the Origins of Humans on Midgard.

The cover of issue 104 promises that “Nothing You Have Seen Before Can Equal the Breath-Taking Spectacle of ‘Giants Walk the Earth!’” and brother this one delivers while Odin is on earth Loki releases a Storm Giant and a fire Demon. With a gesture Odin transports the entire human race “to a dimension beyond the ken of the human mind. ”

And Thor, Odin and Balder the Brave face the monsters in a titanic battle.

Issue 105-106 is a team-up between Mr. Hyde and the Cobra. Mr. Hyde is an okay villain. He’s an evil genius with super strength when he drinks a potion. However, it is odd to me that unlike his namesake he doesn’t seem to be of two-minds. When he’s the scientist he’s just as evil. The Cobra on the other hand is kind of a silly villain he slinks around on the walls like a gravity defying snake and slips through Thor’s fingers like a greased pig, but I don’t see how he hopes to ever actually win a battle with the son of Odin by being slippery. The highlight of these issues is finding out that why only worthy living beings can pick up Thor’s hammer, any machine with enough power can do it, giving Thor a definite weakness.


(Journey Into Mystery 107)

The Grey Gargoyle appears in issue 107. His power doesn’t really make much sense. He is like King Midas except whatever he touches turns to stone for one hour and can not move. However, when he touches himself he becomes a walking Gargoyle with super- strength. That aside I loved the issue because Blake unable to turn back into Thor for an hour devises a way to beat the Gargoyle without Thor.

The Tales of Asgard in this issue is also fun. Loki believes he’s found Balder’s the Brave’s weakness, a dart made of mistletoe! It sounds corny, but trust me.

Issue 108 guest stars Dr. Strange. Thor is contacted by the astral projection of Strange while he’s flying around the city and he follows it and finds Strange collapsed on the floor of his sanctum sanctorum after a battle with Mordo that he barely survived. Thor switches to Blake who uses the “unearthly knowledge of Thor” during a grueling surgery on Dr. Strange who is suffering from a dark spell. Blake saves Strange, who later promises to return the favor. Of course Blake immediately needs Strange’s help twice in a fight against Loki. He doesn’t even give Strange a day’s rest before cashing in the favor!

Issue 109 is the obligatory battle with Magneto issue. Magneto is a good enemy for the X-Men, for Thor, he’s just kind of bizarre. After a display of magnetism that moves everything from various metal supplies in Blake’s office to lampposts and a car outside. Thor traces the “flow of magnetic forces” and finds Magneto. Magneto asks Thor to join the Brotherhood and help him conqueror the world. Thor refuses because he is the sworn protector of the human race! They battle and Thor loses his hammer and turns back to Blake. Blake then has to avoid Magneto’s deathtraps, a neat feat for a cripple. Later Thor draws out Magneto’s magnetic power with his hammer leaving Magneto powerless, whoops! But Magneto just happens to have a nuclear Proton bomb, but an unseen Iceman freezes the bomb and Magneto retreats. I thought it was kind of weird that the X-men defeat Magneto, but are not seen


(Journey Into Mystery 110)

The final issue 110 features Mr. Hyde and the Cobra again now with their powers doubled by Loki. They kidnap Jane Foster. Loki is unable to reveal Thor’s identity to mortals because of an unalterable edict of Odin (isn’t that convenient?) In order to confront Loki Thor battles the entire army of Asgard. After that I wondered why he had so much trouble beating an ugly looking guy and a guy that was slippery, but I won’t find out until I can read the next Masterwork!

At the end of the Masterwork are two Tales of Asgard from issues 99 and 100. Why weren’t they in the first Thor Masterwork?

Also it looks like the masterwork might have a lot of re-coloring each of the three covers I posted featured are different then the ones in the masterwork. The Executioner is dressed in blue in the masterwork. The Grey Gargoyle has blue gloves and boots. Anyone know how extensive the re-coloring was?

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