November 5, 1963
- Although the lead story is ostensibly the conclusion to the crimes of Mr. Hyde, the theme at its heart is concerned with the budding romance between Dr. Don Blake and his nurse, Jane Foster. So far these indications have been almost wholly concerned with mutual unspoken feelings while working side by side in Blake's medical office, but here - on the occasion of Jane's birthday - Don takes her out to dinner at a classy restaurant, the Ritz Terrace. Though Don makes sure to keep the depth of his feelings under wraps, at least until he can gain permission from Odin to pursue this love, it's nevertheless the first real steps at courtship that we've seen. (And certainly more attention than we've ever seen Hank Pym pay to Jan in the pages of Tales to Astonish!)
Don & Jane on a date. Classy yet relatable, the characters and setting make the scene
successfully romantic - and all in the midst of a superhero yarn!
- Meanwhile, Mr. Hyde continues to plot - even if his plots (and Stan's) seem a bit baffling. For instance, what's Hyde's purpose in this issue? Well, continued revenge against Don Blake, for no apparently good reason, and ... to steal a submarine. Why? Uh ... hey, why not? It is, I suppose, a step up from last issue's bank robbery - but it also shows that although Stan could create a threat with neat premise and an impressively fearsome visual (courtesy of the great Don Heck), the villain could yet be one rather lacking in motivation and character.
And this is why I love Don Heck. The closeup of the bomb and Hyde's craggy fingers,
the glamour of Jane's coiffure and style, and Don Blake captive behind. Gorgeous!
- Still, the failures in the writing can be somewhat forgiven in light of our eventual surprise at getting such a downer ending. Hyde escapes, to vex the hero another day (though by now, that's nothing new). The police inform Thor that they know it was a disguised Hyde that robbed the bank last issue, and not Thor - even if they neglect to mention how they know, and it's never explained how such a thing was accomplished in the first place - but otherwise it's not much of a victory. At all. Plus, Odin's ticked: While watching the battle, he saw Jane stop Thor from capturing Mr. Hyde (in a misguided effort to save Don Blake), and he vows that such a person could never be worthy of being an immortal.
I'm assuming this is one of the few times the bad guys are defeated with table spices.
- Finally, in "Tales of Asgard" we get the first backup story starring Thor, as opposed to the exploits we've read thus far telling the ancient legends of Odin. But there's a twist: It's actually a story about Thor as a young boy, which serves to connect it to our feature story's hero while yet keeping it fresh. In this first tale from his childhood, we're treated to an adventure in which the boys Thor and Loki travel to the home of the Storm Giants to retrieve the golden apples stolen from the goddess Iduna. Although seeing such a tale from his past does make one wonder: What happened to Thor in between those early days, and Don discovering Thor's hammer in a Norwegian cave? It will be some time before that story is told....
Young Thor's victory. Note how the ending compels the reader to never miss a single
instalment. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the issue when he finally succeeds, would you?