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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Ah, my own faulty memory gets me.  140 - 142 were all done-in-ones and none particularly memorable but then 143 starts one of Kirby's typical epic mashups with several multi-parters merging into one another as he did several times in Thor and the FF in the mid-60s. And, yeah, the next one did include Thor, bereft of all his powers save for his strength, joining up with Circus of Crime, but I found it all entertaining. Otherwise, we got the Enchanters, Loki, the Wrecker, Hela, the Destroyer, Ulik and Mangog.  Quite a ride over the next year, just awaiting Thor to give the Super Skrull a few whacks of his hammer and head off into a soda shop for some refreshment.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

Fred W. Hill said:

Perhaps Lee felt they needed a done-in-one breathing space between epics but this was pretty dull stuff and Replicus' pose on the original cover was very awkward.

Last issue was also a done-in-one.  I found it to be much more exciting than this issue. 

Agreed on the cover.  Jack was great but couldn't hit a home run every time.

In X-Men #9 Thor leads the Avengers to Europe following "strange impulses" through his hammer.

Just how many powers has Thor picked up, even for one issue, by this point?

This does remind me of the early JIM stories in which he and his hammer acquired new powers in every issue.

And the power he says only he and Loki have in Avengers, which he doesn't use himself.

That used in Avengers #16 to transport the baddies to a dimension where their powers worked against them seems to have been one of Lee & Kirby's "let's wrap up this fight with the bad guys as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next big story of this issue" plot device never to be resorted to again, mainly because it would quickly get rather dull seeing Thor regularly go to confront the baddie of the month, twirl Mjolnir around and then laugh as the baddie knocks himself out while trying to hurt Thor. Of course, Thor did have to take off for the Trial of the Gods so maybe Odin let him use that transportation power to that dimension just that once so he could wrap up the fight and hightail it back to Asgard.

Unlike Iron Man, with Thor you have a Superman problem. How many threats can really challenge him? So conflicts with Odin seemed to crop up regularly.

I think the problem with Avengers membership for the heroes having their own separate titles was exacerbated when Marvel went with more and more continued stories. It was easy for Stan (or Julius Schwartz with the JLA) to say "this story happens after the one in such-and-such book" when most of the stories in all the books were single issue. Hence, the Kooky Quartet.

And even if that approach only lasted for the remainder of the Silver Age, or to be more specific until about issue #93 of the Avengers, IMO it was a great idea, a way to further differentiate Marvel from DC. Admittedly, by the time I started reading the mags regularly, Spidey was appearing in both ASM and MTU, and Cap, Iron Man & Thor were all appearing regularly in the Avengers as well as their solo books.  Still, in 1973, most Marvel scribes & ye new editor-in-chief Roy were making some effort to explain how the heroes could be in two or more titles of original adventures in the same month.  By 1976, by my reckoning, they had mostly given up on that.  Also by then it was becoming increasingly difficult to pretend that the stories were all coming out in real time -- that the FF had gotten their cosmic powers 15 years earlier but Johnny was still only about 22 at most rather than in his early 30s, but Roy was still making out that Reed & Ben were WWII vets which would have made both of them, as well as Dr. Doom, in their early 50s at the youngest in 1976.  Not sure when if ever that particular bit of their background history was specifically revised.

Fred W. Hill said:

....Marvel scribes & ye new editor-in-chief Roy were making some effort to explain....

Roy being Roy, explaining continuity glitches and everything is in his DNA.

Pretty much the same thing happened in #193 when the Silver Surfer took over fighting that creature Loki made while Thor continued to Asgard.
 
Fred W. Hill said:

That used in Avengers #16 to transport the baddies to a dimension where their powers worked against them seems to have been one of Lee & Kirby's "let's wrap up this fight with the bad guys as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next big story of this issue" plot device never to be resorted to again, mainly because it would quickly get rather dull seeing Thor regularly go to confront the baddie of the month, twirl Mjolnir around and then laugh as the baddie knocks himself out while trying to hurt Thor. Of course, Thor did have to take off for the Trial of the Gods so maybe Odin let him use that transportation power to that dimension just that once so he could wrap up the fight and hightail it back to Asgard.

I have to add another word to the list of comic book terms I've been mispronouncing since the '60s. 

According to the trailers, it's HELL-uh. Not HE-luh, as I've been saying it. 

(*&%$$!!

At least I pronounce THAT right. 

Nah it's HAY-la and THAY-nos. All other pronunciations are incorrect.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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