Friday, April 23, 2010

48: Journey into Mystery #91

Journey into Mystery #91
February 5, 1963

  • Still trapped in Asgard after his capture by Thor last time, trickster god Loki still finds a way to sow his mischief here on Earth. Detecting some small, latent abilities in Sandu, a carnival mentalist, Loki amplifies his powers from afar, giving Sandu the ability to read minds, levitate objects, and teleport himself and others. So, of course the shady character immediately turns to robbing his customers, stealing an entire city bank, setting himself up in a golden palace, and even abducting the United Nations building. But when he strains to lift Thor's mighty hammer, he short-circuits the power he's been given, and everything snaps back to normal.

  • After last issue's turn by Al Hartley, this issue sees Joe Sinnott step in as penciller for (most of) the next six issues. A veritable industry legend, Sinnott is perhaps best known for his staggering 16-year stint inking The Fantastic Four, starting out on #44 (over Jack Kirby) and going through #231 (over Bill Sienkiewicz), with many other pencillers between. Though he was always in-demand as an inker, and highly sought after by the pencillers he worked with, his own pencilling work hasn't received nearly as much acclaim, and we can see why: His work is competent, professional, and absolutely solid - but, while there are no flaws to be found, there's also not much to set it apart from the other comic art appearing on the stands at that time. It's absolutely good, solid work, and should be appreciated for that, but it seems his real skill would be in embellishing the work of others, rather than in his own layouts and composition.

  • Although we're still a ways off from Stan realizing the rich tapestry of stories available to him in Norse mythology, Loki hasn't spent more than two issues away from the book (and will be spotlighted in the next issue as well). More to the point, there are signs that they're moving to touch on the pre-existing mythos more and more, as this 13-page story not only includes Loki and Odin, but also references Asgard, Thor's belt of strength, and the Valkryies. Interestingly, we're initially surprised to see the Valkyries shown here as heavenly, sweet-faced maidens in white, flowing gowns, as opposed to fierce warrior women as they're often portrayed.  However, this isn't without cause: Though they first appeared in ancient tales as sinister spirits who claimed men's souls, later stories which emphasized Valhalla as a paradise for the fallen saw the Valkyries evolve into Odin's angelic attendants to the dead.  However, by their next appearance in Thor some three years later, they would indeed be sporting a more dire and frightening look....

    Meet the Valkyries: Attendants to the Dead and Bringers of Belts!