John Dunbar re-reads Thor (Journey Into Mystery 83 and up)

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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Nice to see this thread active again, John!  I got this issue in somewhat less than mint but still intact and readable condition about 25 years ago.  Not really a classic but still enjoyable and it may have some significance as the first appearance of the Warriors Three in a modern story rather than in Tales of Asgard.  This also continues the trend of the main mag of having more stories set in Asgard and involving more Asgardians and their foes, giving Thor a more unique feel.  Of course, in putting more focus on Thor's homeland and fellow gods, as well as the introduction of the Inhumans in the FF, Kirby was setting the trend that would be the hallmark of his work of the late '60 and the '70s -- families of gods or godlike beings, including malicious kinfolk, with their own culture and homeland but coming into increasing contact with humans.  

Always felt this was one of Marvel's best Silver Age fights, so I'm looking forward to this.

I think of Thor Annual #2 as a sort of transition from "Tales of Asgard" to modern stories. I read this sequence not too long ago and that's how I read it. I've been reading some Thor lately, too, in the #160s.

Thor Annual #2 is also one of the issues included in IDW's Jack Kirby's Thor Artist Edition.

The Four Jerks should be a permanent team.

I wonder if readers preferred "Thor, Prince of Asgard" to "Thor, Super-Hero"? The book has always fluctuated between the two with complaints if it went too long in either direction. Thor was the champion of both Earth and Asgard, rebelling against his father yet always his father's son. Without Asgard, Thor is just another super-hero like Superman would be without Krypton. 

This makes me think of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern. He was also divided between Earth adventures and villains and space adventures. Personally I preferred the Earth stuff. Later he had father-son problems with the Guardians at a later date.

Philip Portelli said:

I wonder if readers preferred "Thor, Prince of Asgard" to "Thor, Super-Hero"? The book has always fluctuated between the two with complaints if it went too long in either direction. Thor was the champion of both Earth and Asgard, rebelling against his father yet always his father's son. Without Asgard, Thor is just another super-hero like Superman would be without Krypton. 

I liked a bit of the mixing as long as the other Asgardians were still involved and I certainly didn't mind that Donald Blake's appearances were very few and far between in the '70s.  As a character, he was too much of a cipher and the way Lee & Kirby often depicted him he seemed positively pathetic, even when Kirby appeared to completely forget that Blake was supposed to be partially crippled and showed him sprinting around pretty well for someone with a bum leg. In reading the olde stories, Blake was rarely shown in any setting other than at his office, aside from going to or leaving the office -- I don't recall any scene showing him at home, and while he was in pining for Jane mode, he was never shown having any sort of social life.  Bringing Balder, Sif and the Warriors Three into the modern storyline at least gave Thor other characters to interact with regularly, aside from the villain of the month, including Loki, or big disagreeable daddy Odin.  The other Asgardians made Thor stories more fun to read, IMO.  I suspect a big part of the reason the Silver Surfer's 1st series failed to survive is that he had no friends to regularly interact with, or even to tell him, "hey, you've got your problems, I get that, but you're sulking entirely too much!"

Philip Portelli said:

I wonder if readers preferred "Thor, Prince of Asgard" to "Thor, Super-Hero"? The book has always fluctuated between the two with complaints if it went too long in either direction. Thor was the champion of both Earth and Asgard, rebelling against his father yet always his father's son. Without Asgard, Thor is just another super-hero like Superman would be without Krypton. 

I like the fact that the Warriors Three all had distinct personalities in addition to distinct looks.

I enjoyed the Silver Surfer's first series. You probably have a point about the Surfer needing someone to talk  to, but his concept defined him as a loner. A side-car for his board?

Yeah, the basic concept of the Silver Surfer made it difficult to make any sort of supporting cast for his series.

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