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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TALES OF ASGARD - THE STORY THUS FAR ...

Tales of Asgard from Thor #140, "The Battle Begins!"

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.

TALES OF ASGARD (Thor 141 - June 1967)

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Led by Hogun, the Asgardians storm Mogul's kingdom.  Mogul's subjects are terrified and they scatter.  Thor warns that the villain may strike when they least expect, but Hogun vows he will never let down his guard.  Volstagg, meanwhile, sees two men carrying what appears to be a female in a litter chair, and wonders if Mogul is being crafty and hiding within the conveyance.  As his fellows charge forward, Volstagg turns to investigate.

Hogun, Fandral, and Thor soon find themselves confronted by a corps of sword wielding soldiers.  Despite being outnumbered, the Asgardians get the better of their opponents.  At the same moment, Mogul is in his castle, about to sentence Alibar the Thief to death for stealing food from the royal kitchen.  However, he stays the execution to make better use of him.  He knows the Asgardians are close and seek his life and his royal battle standard, and he has a plan.

Mogul grants Alibar a pardon.  Alibar asks him why, but Mogul's only response is to garb him in princely raiment..  He also gives him a steed, saying a warrior must have one.  Alibar still doesn't understand, and Mogul replies that he respects his courage, and wants him to be a knight, to battle the enemies of the realm.  Alibar figures it out - Mogul wants him to fight, and die, in his place, especially after Mogul hands him the battle standard.  Mogul also gives him an army to lead.  It is an army of demons - Satan's Forty Horsemen!  They proclaim death to the Asgardians.  Alibar realizes he is still a slave, that he doesn't lead Satan's Forty, but is merely along for the ride, and that Mogul has doomed all who live!

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My rating: 9/10

The story has turned a corner, as Mogul's Jinni Devil is out of the equation, and Mogul's true colors are revealed - he is a coward.  The Asgardians are closing in, and Mogul knows he is doomed unless he does something drastic.  Alibar seems intriguing as soon as he is introduced.  He doesn't even pretend to be grateful to Mogul for sparing him but guesses - correctly - that the tyrant has an ulterior motive.

This chapter is a great display of the character of the Asgardians.  Hogun is completely obsessed with getting to Mogul and won't let anything stop him.  Fandral is laughing in the face of death, demanding Mogul's forces bring him a master swordsman to test his mettle.  Thor takes an uncharacteristic supporting role, backing up the others with his hammer and his fists; however, this is a wise course to take with Hogun being as single-minded as the story has shown him to be.  Volstagg seems obviously taken by a pretty face, but who knows where this will go?

Jack draws some terrifying looking demons.  Satan's Forty Horsemen should make for interesting opponents for our heroes in the next segment.

I like these Tales of Asgard in that despite the fact that Thor is clearly the star and by far the most powerful Asgardian, aside from Big Daddy Odin, Kirby lets Hogun, Fandral and even Volstagg have their moments to shine, even if Volstagg's moments are mainly for laughs.  It's a good mix of comradery, drama and humor that Lee & Kirby excelled at in these stories.



Fred W. Hill said:

I like these Tales of Asgard in that despite the fact that Thor is clearly the star and by far the most powerful Asgardian, aside from Big Daddy Odin, Kirby lets Hogun, Fandral and even Volstagg have their moments to shine, even if Volstagg's moments are mainly for laughs.  It's a good mix of comradery, drama and humor that Lee & Kirby excelled at in these stories.


Agree 100% with your assessment.

Now that they finally published Thor Epic Collection vol 3 I can follow along. They published vol 4 before vol 3!

I agree with your observations. Up until now Mogul's land was spelled "Zanadu." In the Alibar story it is suddenly "Xandu." Stan should have written more notes instead of trying to remember names.

Merely a variant spelling, like Peking/Beijing.

The Captain posted on the source of "Zanadu" p.95. "Xanadu" has its currency to English speakers from the opening the opening of Coleridge's great poem "Kubla Khan", which begins

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea...

Which we have no idea where it will go, since he couldn't remember the rest of it.



Richard Willis said:

Now that they finally published Thor Epic Collection vol 3 I can follow along. They published vol 4 before vol 3!

Hooray!  Marvel does tend to publish the various Epic Collections volumes randomly.  Here's how it went for Thor: Vol 16, 11, 1, 4, 12, 2, 17, 3

I agree with your observations. Up until now Mogul's land was spelled "Zanadu." In the Alibar story it is suddenly "Xandu." Stan should have written more notes instead of trying to remember names.

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