Tuesday, June 7, 2011

144: Journey into Mystery #104

Journey into Mystery #104
March 3, 1964

  • At the end of last issue, Thor redeclared his love for Jane, despite his father Odin's forbiddance. (Which is understandable; you never want your kid dating a girl from the wrong side of the Rainbow Bridge.) At his wit's end, he asks Loki for advice, despite all the bad news we've seen Thor's adopted brother bring about: proof that where Odin's sons are concerned, he really is blinded by love. Loki therefore suggests that Odin confront the problem directly, by leaving Asgard and travelling to Earth in person! Of course, it doesn't hurt his schemes that Odin then leaves Loki in charge....

    Odin incognito.

  • So: Thor and Odin have been getting under each other's skins. Thor can't understand why Dad won't let him live his own life, while Odin is all "While you're under MY roof...!" about it. Who among us has never been there? A truly masterful schemer might have left this building friction to its own, and reaped the benefits of that failing relationship in the fullness of time. But Loki doesn't yet have that much subtlety to his machinations, and decides Odin's trip to Earth is his best opportunity to remove the All-Father permanently. To that end, he unleashes Odin's most fearsome enemies: Surtur the Fire Demon, whose ancient defeat we saw in Journey into Mystery #99, and Skagg the Storm Giant - although, based on the "ring of fire" Skagg is released from, Stan might have been thinking of Ymir instead. Details aside, this illustrates - for any readers who might have wondered - that the "Tales of Asgard" backup strips don't take place in a vacuum, and can in fact feed back into the main, present-day story. Stan and Jack are weaving a tighter, more cohesive whole out of the separate areas of Thor's life, and it makes for a stronger body of work in full.

    Was that really the simplest way to address the situation?  If so: WOW.

  • Fortunately, all is not lost, as watchful Heimdall hears of Loki's plans, and summons Balder the Brave to assist Thor and Odin on the earthly plane. And what a battle it is! Thor, Odin, and Heimdall on one side, with the titanic forces of Skagg and Surtur on the other - and the Earth caught between! But y'know, despite Odin's decrees that his son stop dating the Earth ladies, he really does have a soft spot for our race ... and so, in an effort to spare us the trauma and destruction that will surely ensure, he stops time and removes the entire human race to another dimension! The level of power this bespeaks is staggering, and the fact that it's done as an offhand gesture really makes us reassess our thoughts of this Asgardian god-king.

    Perhaps Heimdall isn't taking the audition entirely seriously.

  • Meanwhile, in this issue's "Tales of Asgard" we get a bit of a change. The last series of backups had focused on the adventures of Thor as a young boy, culminating in his finally achieving the gift of his mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Now, we're told, begins a new set of biographical stories focusing on the other characters in the Asgardian mythos. And first up is mighty Heimdall, ever-vigilant guardian of the Rainbow Bridge! But for Heimdall to win that honor, he first has to prove that he's the best god for the job....

    The starfield effect isn't present in the original artwork.
    I don't care.  I think this looks great!