Thursday, November 25, 2010

89: Journey into Mystery #97

Journey into Mystery #97
August 1, 1963

  • Here begins the reign of Stan! Not that he ever left, of course; he created the character with Jack Kirby back in issue #83, and he's been plotting the stories the entire time, with just the scripting duties being written by someone else (Larry Lieber first, then Robert Bernstein for the last spell). But starting with this issue, Stan takes over the writing in full, and settles in for a lengthy run of doing so - till Thor #192, in fact. Wow!

    The first thing Stan does, of course, is ramp up the melodrama.
    Now we're getting somewhere!

  • And if that's not enough: Jack's back! Perhaps to mark the beginning of Stan's new dedication to some of Marvel's lesser-tier characters, Kirby comes back for this one issue to illustrate the main story - the first time he's been back on the book since issue #89. After this, we'll have a three-issue stint of Don Heck's artwork on the main story, before Jack returns for good with issue #101, beginning an uninterrupted Lee-Kirby run on the character which will last until issue #179.

    The Lava Man may not be a very inspired idea, but his visual design certainly is.
    Just look at all those shadows and crags!

  • Satisfied yet? Too bad. Because also beginning this issue is a new series of 5-page backup stories, the justly lauded "Tales of Asgard"! One of the frustrations with Thor's first year of comics has been the wasted potential; despite the richness of story ideas to be found in a pre-existing mythology, in these early days he's been just Random Superdude in a Cape, facing the likes of comedy wizards and mafia mugs. From here on out, though, we'll be privileged to receive a new short story drawn from the Norse mythos in every issue, all the way through #145!

    I love that the first "Tales of Asgard" has the confidence to begin not in the world of myth,
    but with the simple lives of the Ancient Norse, telling stories to each other.

  • If you haven't figured it out by now, this issue is decidedly important for kicking off what's generally acknowledged to be one of the greatest runs in the Silver Age of comics - and by the powerful team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, one of the most important pairings in comics history. When comics fans, critics and historians talk about Jack Kirby, and the Lee-Kirby team, they always point to the first 102 issues of The Fantastic Four as being an unparalleled height that's only rarely been approached since. The second-most acclaimed of their works, however, is always their run on Thor ... and I'm incredibly excited to see that start to take shape.

    Okay, I know the chances are incredibly unlikely, but ... can we get some more Magic Cow?
    Please?  We don't get nearly enough of those in comics.