Thor debuted in Journey Into Mystery 83, cover-dated August 1962.  This was, of course, the very early days of modern Marvel.  The Fantastic Four had only 5 issues under their belts, and the Incredible Hulk had just 2.  JIM was a monthly title (FF and Hulk were bi-monthlies), so Thor was actually the first super-hero headliner to appear every month, beating out Ant-Man by a month.  Spider-Man also debuted in Aug '62, but would have to wait 7 months to get his own magazine.

Of all the Silver Age Marvel books, JIM/Thor seems to get a lot less love and respect than other creations.  That may be because Thor is not really a creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as it is their adaptation of the Thor of Norse myths.  There is one aspect of Marvel's Thor that is possibly borrowed from the Fawcett Captain Marvel, and in some of the early stories, Thor comes across as a poor man's Superman.

In the first year or so, Stan sometimes was credited as the writer, sometimes only the plotter.  It's debatable how much he did or didn't do - it always will be, I suppose - but one thing for sure, he very obviously didn't do the dialogue every issue.  Jack did the pencils on JIM 83-89, 93, and 97, and then was the regular penciller every month starting with 101.  Jack also did the backup feature, Tales of Asgard, starting in JIM 97, a very significant - and excellent - strip on its own.

Inspired by the Baron, I'm going to re-read the Thor stories starting with JIM 83 and give you my thoughts.  I may stop at Kirby's last issue, or I may keep going, I haven't really decided yet.  Like Bob, I'm going to try to be succinct, even though it's not my strong suit - I'm sure I'll be long winded from time to time.  I'm looking forward to what you guys think of these stories as well.

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The original Fly predated Kirby's proposal for Spider-Man/Silver Spider. They both had a young boy turn into an adult hero with a trick gun. Supposedly, Ditko was to ink the first few pages of Kirby's story and (when he was still simpatico with him) alerted Stan to the ripoff of the Archie Comics character. Then the decision was made to change the Spider-Man concept to what we now know. For some reason they still had Kirby do the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 even though the Ditko cover was better. (IMO, but then everything I say is IMO)

Richard Willis said:

I have the entire run of The Fly in TPB. The earlier stories are good, but the character owes a lot to the original Captain Marvel.

Simon based on the Fly on the unused Silver Spider, who he developed for C. C. Beck.

C. C. Beck once wrote that the real hero of Captain Marvel stories was Billy Batson. I can see his point: they often had a sequence where Billy couldn't say his magic word, and had to figure out his way out of trap. By analogy, the hero in "Thor" should have been Don Blake, and there are sequences in one or two early stories where Thor loses his hammer, and Don Blake has to figure out how to get it back. Initially, it was Blake who pined for Jane. But Thor acquired his Norse God personality - proud, sometimes arrogant, capable of rage, willing to fight to the end - and it became Thor who wanted Jane and couldn't have her.

I guess I didn't understand the references to the Silver Spider. Thank you.

The first two issues of the Hulk have Banner save the day while the Hulk doesn't really do much of anything except smash a few things.

In the 50s a series of stories about the boyhood of Namor appeared in Sub-Mariner Comics. Possibly those stories were the model for the phase of "Tales of Asgard" where the series was about the boyhood of Thor.

They reprinted the story where he got his wings in the 70s. They just appear one day when he's falling to keep him from landing on rocks. Not the first time he got a power out of nowhere simply because he needed to have it. In Marvel Mystery#2 he first encounters fire and is saved by water suddenly pouring from his pores like a sprinkler. Early Thor has been described as being sort of like Marvel's Superman since he kept getting new powers. Seems Namor used to have that position. Giving him wings to fly helped get around the "strong man that can fly must be a Superman rip off" that Captain Marvel ran into.

"Gun tooting villains." Having a gun that toots sounds very Golden Age.

Hah! Called it!
 
Ron M. said:

What if Jane Foster found Thor's hammer is probably where they got the idea for the new female Thor. Somebody at Marvel came across that comic or got into a conversation about it. She doesn't turn out to be Jane, does she?

By this point the Asgardians had been theeing and thouing for awhile. Thou and thee are singular. It's possible some writers didn't understand this intuitively and thought of then as old-fashioned forms of you. It might be fun to keep an eye out for instances of their being used for groups by mistake. ("Hear me, thou men of Asgard...") I can't say I can point to an example, but I bet someone got it wrong.

This post displaced the thread Mad About You from the homepage.

TALES OF ASGARD - THE STORY THUS FAR ...

Tales of Asgard from Thor #137, "The Tragedy of Hogun!"

On their way back to Asgard, Thor, Hogun, Fandral, and Volstagg encounter a badly injured man with his arms and legs tied to posts so that he is suspended above the ground.  Hogun recognizes him as Saguta, a warrior and one of his fellow countrymen.  They cut him down but they can tell he is moments away from succumbing to his wounds.  Hogun asks who has caused his injuries and Saguta replies it was the tyrant Mogul.  Hogun is incensed by the mere mention of Mogul's name and demands to know where Mogul is, but before he can say anything more, Saguta dies.

Hogun continues to be enraged and his friends try to restrain and calm him.  He screams out for Mogul to show himself.  Suddenly, there is a surge of smoke and shadows, and a shape begins to form within it.  It is Mogul, answering Hogun's challenge.  But Thor tells him he commands the party, and it is Thor he must answer to first.  Behind Thor, Fandral and Volstagg are struggling to hold Hogun back, who is screaming at Thor that he, not Thor, must face Mogul.

Mogul warns Thor of his power, and turns his sword into a serpent.  Thor is unfazed and says trickery won't stay his wrath.  He is irate that Mogul committed murder on Asgardian soil and says retaliation will be swift.  Hogun warns Thor he won't be cheated out of his vengeance, even by him.  Suddenly, a voice cries out, saying "None may threaten Mogul!" and a large shadow can be seen on the ground.  Hogun says that Mogul has summoned his Jinni Devil and calls him a base coward for it.  A gigantic green hand scoops up Mogul as he tells Hogun and the others if they want a fight, to find him at the Mystic Mountain, as the Jinni flies off.

Hogun tells his fellows that Mogul's Jinni is the last of his species, and has powers beyond imagination.  Mogul enslaved Hogun's people, and drove him from his land; he has searched for years, but has never been able to find the Mystic Mountain.  He tells him he will now leave them and go to find the Mystic Mountain alone.  But Thor says they are all brothers, and they will stand beside him.  Hogun warns them his father and his brothers all died seeking the Mystic Mountain, but Fandral, Volstagg, and Thor all pledge to be by his side all the way.

Tales of Asgard from Thor #138, "The Quest for the Mystic Mountain!"

Thor, Hogun, Fandral, and Volstagg have journeyed to the land of Hindi, far from Asgard, seeking the Mystic Mountain of Mogul.  They go to the cave of Wazir the Prophet to ask him the location, but the cave is guarded by the monstrous, one-eyed Ogur.  They try to explain why they are there but Ogur ignores them and attacks.  Fandral states it is said that Ogur can fell one hundred warriors with one blow, but remarks he has never faced them before.  They try to reason with him but it is to no avail.  Thor states Mogul, not Ogur, is the enemy they seek, and does not fight back.  But when his life is in jeopardy, Fandral uses his sword to drive the monster back.  Hogun attacks next but Ogur catches him in a deadly grip.  Thor lets his hammer fly, and when it strikes, Ogur falls.

Wazir emerges from the cave and demands to know who they are and what they want.  Thor states they are Asgardians, in the service of Odin, and they seek only one thing: the Mystic Mountain.  Wazir warns them that no one that has sought the Mystic Mountain has lived to return from it.  He holds a staff and tells them to clutch it; in this way, his knowledge will flow to them.  He tells them a mist will form, and when it fades, they will have the answers they seek.  When it does fade, Wazir is gone, but they have learned the location as he said they would.  The Mystic Mountain rises from within the crater of the dreaded Jinni Slave of Mogul.

Thor, Hogun, and Fandral go to collect Volstagg, who had been guarding their steeds, but to no one's surprise has fallen asleep.  Fandral says Volstagg will say he wasn't sleeping; it was a pose to lure an unsuspecting foe.  He knows his friend well - Volstagg says as much before dozing off again!

Tales of Asgard from Thor #139, "The Secret of the Mystic Mountain!"

Mogul is "weary of yon revels" and sends away the entertainers in his court.  He orders one of his subjects to repeat the news he has brought to him, which is that four strangers (Thor and company) are approaching.  Mogul is outraged and uses an enchanted crystal to view who it is - Asgardians led there by his old enemy Hogun.  Mogul summons his slave, the Jinni Devil, who is eager to have new victims.

Meanwhile, Thor is counselling Hogun to be cautious, but the Grim One will have none of it; he is only concerned with vengeance for his brethren slain by Mogul.  Volstagg points out that while they are where Wazir informed them the Mystic Mountain is located, the land around them is barren and flat.  The Asgardians are stumped momentarily until Thor figure it out.  He slams his hammer to the ground and the earth tears away, revealing that the Mystic Mountain is an underground city, which they can see through a crystal barrier at their feet.  They all agree this is Zanadu, the land they had sought.

Hogun begins slamming his mace on the crystal barrier above Zanadu, but Thor tells him to conserve his strength.  He points out that if all those that came before them were killed, someone will soon come looking for them.  Hogun agrees but can barely control his rage.  Just then, the barrier begins to open, and Thor is proven right, as the Asgardians are confronted by the Jinni Devil!

NEXT: THE BATTLE BEGINS!

Tales of Asgard (Thor 140 - May 1967)

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Mogul's slave, the gigantic Jinni Devil, attacks the Asgardians.  Thor retaliates by hurling his hammer and causing the Jinni great pain.  Hogun warns Thor that it must be he that draws first blood.  He smashes the Jinni with his mace but the monster laughs it off.  He grabs Hogun and threatens to kill him.  Fandral lunges at the Jinni with his sword, ignoring Hogun telling him to stay back.  The jab is painful enough that the Jinni releases the Grim One.

Thor warns his fellow Asgardians that the Jinni is enraged and is about to use his magic powers against them.  His attack staggers them but Hogun tells them not to despair ... "'Twill soon be dark!"

Far below the surface, Mogul is observing the battle on a monitor with some advisors.  He tells them the Jinni has made a fatal mistake by dawdling too long with the Asgardians.  Once the first shadow of nightfall is seen, the temperature changes the body fabric of the Jinni.  That one weakness caused all of the other Jinnis to perish, and Mogul's servant is the last of his race.  Mogul remains unconcerned, even if the Jinni fails, believing himself to be unbeatable.

Night falls, and the Jinni Devil indeed fades into nothingness when the first shadows appear.  The Asgardians head toward Zanadu to confront Mogul, and Hogun vows to slay his enemy.

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My rating: 9/10

Another good chapter in this epic.  The Jinni Devil was a fearsome foe, but the Asgardians' courage never wavered, with the possible exception of Volstagg (as usual).  The Voluminous One is always good for a little comic relief, even in a deadly serious situation.  There's also a bit of unintentional humor, at least in my eyes: Hogun has a bit of the warrior madness going on, and is basically threatening Thor when he tells him it's his hand that must strike first / draw first blood / slay Mogul.  However, Thor, and even Fandral, are more effective in this battle.  Thor's hammer staggers the Jinni, and Fandral's blade caused the monster enough pain that he released Hogun from a death grip.  Meanwhile, Hogun took his best shot with his mace, and the Jinni laughed it off, and mocked him.

We haven't seen Mogul do much yet, but he's still supremely confident even after he realizes his Jinni Devil is going to be defeated by the Asgardians.  The coming battle should be a good one.

The art remains top-notch on this feature, as is the writing.  It really feels like Stan and Jack and company were having a blast on this series.  It's too bad they didn't do more back-up series in this way, five pagers with huge panels; I just love the format.  Nothing feels rushed or squeezed in.

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