Thursday, March 10, 2011

119: Journey into Mystery #101

Journey into Mystery #101
December 2, 1963

  • When our story begins, we find Thor doing his best impression of The Hulk. In a foul mood, he stomps through the city - heedless of the destruction left in his wake - and snarling that he just wants to be left alone. Regular folk flee from his temper tantrum; instead, his teammates Iron Man, Giant Man, and the Wasp are alerted to the predicament by Pym's army of ever-vigilant ants. The heroes aren't mentioned as such - in fact, the name "Avengers" is never used - but perhaps Stan felt safe in assuming that even if Thor's readers weren't also picking up The Avengers (of which only three bimonthly issues had yet appeared), they would at least be aware of Marvel's ever-growing superhero presence on the racks.

    Once Thor starts acting like an adult, maybe Odin will treat him like an adult!

  • And what is Thor so angry about? Jane, of course. Specifically, Odin's refusal to let Thor marry her, convinced as he is (via grave misunderstanding) that she's simply not worthy of the love of a god. In fact, Odin is so incensed at Thor's adamant devotion - defying the wishes of his father, the All-Father - that, at Loki's whispered urgings, he strips Thor of fully half his power and might. At this, Thor finally stops to reflect (and mope), musing dejectedly on his heartbreaking dilemma.

    Perhaps Loki just wants a spiffy, shiny jetpack?  Maybe?  No?

  • So of course it's when Thor is at his weakest that he's faced with the return of Zarrko, The Tomorrow Man, one of his very earliest enemies. (And what a striking cover to herald his return!) At the end of their first encounter Zarrko had lost his memory, but Loki magicks it back to take advantage of Thor's weakness. Despite the grandiose name, The Tomorrow Man is little more than an overly ambitious scientist guy from the future ... yet with the help of a giant robot he's able to bring down the lessened god, easily, and then blackmail Thor into returning to the 23rd century alongside him, there to execute his plans of conquest. The last thing we see is the two of them fading from the present, on their way to the future; how will Thor be able to fight back?

    Thor alone, against the many invaders of Asgard.

  • Meanwhile, back in the present, March 2, 2011 saw the softcover collection of Tales of Asgard, a 300-page reprinting of all the Stan & Jack ToA backup stories. Though it's not the first time these stories have been collected, it is the first time they've been reprinted in their entirety, and on their own. Even more interesting is that for this reprint Marvel opted to try an experiment they've attempted a couple of times these past few years, though never so completely: that of recoloring the pages from scratch, using the limitless possibilities afforded by today's technology. To say that this is a divisive issue would be an understatement, as there are those who feel that such a change places the final product at too great a remove from its original form. (Then again, I've also heard the same said about the stellar remastering found in Marvel Masterworks, so it's certainly an argument of degrees.) Myself? I actually like this new coloring a lot! Yes, it's different from the original publication - but let's recall that what saw print was often represented by muddy or mis-aligned colors (due to poor printing technologies), in remarkably few hues (due to the limitations of the colors available), and often unfairly soaked up by the thin newsprint. Were today's technologies available back then, I do think Stan and Jack would have wanted art closer to what's seen in this new collection - and I do think the modern coloring gives Kirby's art an added dimension, beyond that which we already praise.

    A three-panel sequence showing the comic as originally appeared; the remastered version published in Marvel Masterworks; and the recolored edition for the new Tales of Asgard collection.