Thinking about the latest twists in the Thor saga, I thought about the Silver Age Thor so I was wondering--

  • when Odin deposited the newly created Don Blake in front of that medical college, did he think up a complete backstory for the guy, with paperwork and creditials? I know it was the 60s but you still had to have a college diploma to be a doctor!
  • Was it ever confirmed exactly what kind of doctor Blake was? He appeared to be a general practioner (gp) until he had to do complicated surgery.
  • Did Odin ever worry about Don Blake getting, well, killed somehow?
  • How long did it take for Thor's persona/memories to come back? In his first appearance, it was Blake transformed into Thor but soon, Thor's personality took over. It really was very similar to Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
  • Mjolnir was charmed that none but Thor could hold it but it wasn't super-heavy or else Thor would be crashing through the floor, among other things. But if he placed it inside a car, say, could you drive away with it, theoritically?
  • Did Thor truly love Jane Foster or was it Don Blake's emotions?
  • Did Thor have access to Don Blake's knowledge because sometimes the Thunder God seemed confused by technology/modern times?
  • And was Odin Thor's greatest foe or was there meaning to the All-Father's seeming madness?

 

 

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  • Mjolnir was charmed that none but Thor could hold it but it wasn't super-heavy or else Thor would be crashing through the floor, among other things. But if he placed it inside a car, say, could you drive away with it, theoritically?

 

I could swear I remember a comic where a baddy shifted it with a hydraulic lift of some sort.

 

I'll answer what questions I can:

Was it ever confirmed exactly what kind of doctor Blake was? He appeared to be a general practioner (gp) until he had to do complicated surgery.


Whatever kind of doctor he needed to be to make the story work. ;)


Did Odin ever worry about Don Blake getting, well, killed somehow?


I don't recall it being addressed, but my guess is no.


How long did it take for Thor's persona/memories to come back? In his first appearance, it was Blake transformed into Thor but soon, Thor's personality took over. It really was very similar to Bruce Banner and the Hulk.


I don't remember Thor's personality ever taking over Donald Blake's throughts.  However, it's entirely likely that during the Silver Age Stan or Larry and Jack forgot who was supposed to talk like whom.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that's why Thor started using Elizabethan English.


Mjolnir was charmed that none but Thor could hold it but it wasn't super-heavy or else Thor would be crashing through the floor, among other things. But if he placed it inside a car, say, could you drive away with it, theoritically?


Post Silver-Age, there was a story in Marvel Team-Up where the Lava men used a mystical construct to lift Mjolnir.  However, I believe the magic made it exceptionally heavy to anyone or anything that wasn't worthy of wielding the hammer.  Additionally, Thor really wasn't able to put the hammer down for a few minutes otherwise he would turn into Don Blake.


Did Thor truly love Jane Foster or was it Don Blake's emotions?


Yes, he did up until Jane rejected immortality.


Did Thor have access to Don Blake's knowledge because sometimes the Thunder God seemed confused by technology/modern times?


Not during the Silver Age.  I don't think it was ever stated as such, but there wasn't a scene I can recall where Thor displayed medical knowledge.


And was Odin Thor's greatest foe or was there meaning to the All-Father's seeming madness?


Odin was verily a butthead and stubborn as a mule.  However, he thought that everything he did to Thor was in Thor's best interests, and in some cases that was the truth.  Loki, on the other hand...

In Journey into Mystery #105 the Cobra and Mr Hyde snatch the hammer off Thor using a machine. You can see it on the cover of #106. (I understand in #106 Blake is transformed back into Thor when one of the villains strikes the cane.) A robot steals the Hammer from Thor in the first Tomorrow Man story.

 

My recollection is in the first Kang issue of Avengers, when the Avengers have just been released from Kang's trap, Iron Man has some difficulty recovering due to his heart problem and Thor has a thought balloon in which he thinks that as Don Blake he can see he's having trouble breathing. But I think there are also issues where he changes back to Blake so as to be able to apply Blake's medical skills.

 

Thor #158, which was partly a reprint of the character's first appearance, raised the question of whether he was really Blake or Thor. #159 revealed he was really Thor. I think the issue established that Odin exiled him to Earth as an adult Blake, and that his life as Blake began as he commenced his medical studies.

I've seen it pointed out that Don Blake's transformation resembles the Golden Age Captain Marvel's. However, there was also a Golden Age Thor who was a mortal gifted with Thor's powers, and Marvel's version was preceded by a Kirby version in a Tales of the Unexpected story discussed here (adult language in the article, and also adult content elsewhere at the site). Note the design of the hammer, the buttons on Thor's top, and the leg straps. 

 

A still earlier Kirby version appeared in a Simon and Kirby "Sandman" story from Adventure Comics #75. This Thor - spoiler warning - turned out to be an impostor.

 

According to the GCD the Norse gods also turned up in Boy Commandos #7, in the story "The Shadow of Valhalla" by Don Cameron and Louis Cazeneuve (the GCD's synopsis reads "Brooklyn and the Commandos visit Valhalla the home of the Norse Gods and contend with a group of Nazis to determine who will win the gods' favor.") According to the GCD too the hammer of Thor appeared in the "Viking Prince" story in The Brave and the Bold #3. Another criminal Thor appeared in Batman #127.

I was flipping through my Essential Thor Volume 1, looking for some evidence on my Thor/Don Blake persona query and here's what I found:

  • Journey Into Mystery (JIM) # 83 (Au'62), his first appearance, clearly has Blake transforming into Thor with his persona intact. In fact, once he figures out the sixty-second rule, he states that he will "revert back to his normal self." Adding to the confusion is the one-thump does the change yet two-thumps summons the storm and three thumps stops it! That's a LOT of thumps!!
  • JIM #84 states that Blake takes on the aspects of Thor. Oddly Blake uses the magic cane to summon the storm!
  • JIM #85, the first appearance of Loki has Thor not recognize him at first and recalls him from "ancient legends". In another oddity, Loki loses his powers when he's wet!! But Odin proclaims Thor his "elder son" yet there is no mention of Loki being his son or Thor's brother.
  • #86 has Thor summon Odin for help, calling him "Father". Also Thor has super godly breath!
  • #87 has Don Blake being out of the Korean War due to his bad leg and Thor seems to consider Blake a seperate person.
  • #88 has Thor reverting to Don Blake as his "normal self."

So it seems that Stan, Larry and Jack weren't 100% sure themselves if Blake became Thor or if the two were seperate beings. And it also seemed like Marvel fans wanted an answer!

  • And was Odin Thor's greatest foe or was there meaning to the All-Father's seeming madness?

  Colin Smith does a very convincing analysis of Odin's role in the early Thor adventures.  To wit, that he is a batshit crazy psychopathic despot. His argument is pretty comprehensive and hard to refute. 

 

For Odin - Lord Odin, Valiant Odin, etc, etc - is convinced that he's none other than the supreme power in the Marvel Universe, and that he occupies this highest of all offices by virtue of his own outstanding moral as well as physical and intellectual qualities. The Lord of the Eternal City, it appears, thinks of himself as every bit the good unchristian monarch, and this appears to grant him the right to not only do as he pleases, but to insist, shall we say, that others behave and even think as he wants them too. As he declares during one of his perpetually reoccurring hissy spats with the congenitally angst-ridden Thor, "My law may not be defied - by godling or mortal..", which helps clarify his position where everyone who isn't the King of Asgard is concerned. For it's not simply that he regards his own perceived interests as being the same of those of his fellow Asgardians. To Odin, every living creature that he deals with in the Essential Thor # 1 exists in his universe at his pleasure, and he can do with them as he chooses.


So in some ways Odin was Thor's greatest foe, and his 'seeming' madness was actual madness.  Which means that Thor has an almighty blind spot in not seeing or attempting to combat Odin's tyranny. Colin even gives instances of Thor acting unreasonably in accord with Odin's diabolical writ, even though he's supposed to be the good guy.

Thinking about the latest twists in the Thor saga, I thought about the Silver Age Thor so I was wondering--

  • when Odin deposited the newly created Don Blake in front of that medical college, did he think up a complete backstory for the guy, with paperwork and creditials? I know it was the 60s but you still had to have a college diploma to be a doctor!

No idea.

  • Was it ever confirmed exactly what kind of doctor Blake was? He appeared to be a general practioner (gp) until he had to do complicated surgery.

Randy is right, whatever the story called for.  In the early stories, he is clearly a family doctor, but there are lots of stories where he did surgery, as you say.

  • Did Odin ever worry about Don Blake getting, well, killed somehow?

I don't know if this was ever addressed directly, but I assume Odin had some sort of protection for Blake so Thor wouldn't die as well.

  • How long did it take for Thor's persona/memories to come back? In his first appearance, it was Blake transformed into Thor but soon, Thor's personality took over. It really was very similar to Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

In JIM 83, when Blake transforms into Thor, he clearly has none of Thor's memories and still thinks of himself as Blake.  I don't think it went beyond that issue.   It seemed to change almost right away from "I've become Thor" to "I am Thor".  By the time the "Tales of Asgard" series begins. it's evident he has memories going back many years and certainly long before JIM 83.  Not to quibble, but I would say only somewhat similar to Banner and the Hulk - Blake recalls everything that happens while he's Thor and vice versa,

  • Mjolnir was charmed that none but Thor could hold it but it wasn't super-heavy or else Thor would be crashing through the floor, among other things. But if he placed it inside a car, say, could you drive away with it, theoritically?

Pass.

  • Did Thor truly love Jane Foster or was it Don Blake's emotions?

Thor did, he even asked Odin for permission to marry her.  It was a spin on the classic comic book trope of a love triangle with only two people in it, like Clark Kent - Lois Lane - Superman, or Hal Jordan - Carol Ferris - Green Lantern, except that Jane was in love with Don Blake, wishing Blake would just express his feelings and be more like Thor, instead of Jane mooning over Thor and ignoring Blake.

  • Did Thor have access to Don Blake's knowledge because sometimes the Thunder God seemed confused by technology/modern times?

As I said, in JIM 83 he didn't, but he did almost immediately after.  I don't recall him being confused like you said.

  • And was Odin Thor's greatest foe or was there meaning to the All-Father's seeming madness?

Randy answered this perfectly!

 

This was not unusual for Marvel in the Silver Age.  There were many ideas thrown at the wall to see if they would stick (Daredevil's electronic cowl, the FF in plain clothes, Thor using super-ventriloquism).  I tend to discount the vast majority of the stories in Essential Thor Vol. 1 as well because many of the elements that really made Thor Thor didn't happen until Stan and Jack started writing the book on a regular basis.  Outside of the Tales Of Asgard back ups, I'd call 90% of that volume "growing pains".

Philip Portelli said:

So it seems that Stan, Larry and Jack weren't 100% sure themselves if Blake became Thor or if the two were seperate beings. And it also seemed like Marvel fans wanted an answer!

As far as Odin goes, he is portrayed as being stubborn, close-minded and short-sighted but Stan wrote him as noble and wise. A benevolent despot, certainly who claimed to be the "Be-All and the End-All", the final word in all matters. He exiled Thor to Earth to teach him humility, to put him in his place and to punish him. But the All-Father was shocked that the Thunder God prefered Earth to Asgard, probably to get away from his controlling padre!

Marvel had several father-figure types, often disapproving but Thor had it far worse than the X-Men (Professor X), Doctor Strange (The Ancient One) and even Spider-Man (J. Jonah Jameson). They didn't go around cutting off their charges' powers just to prove a point!

You may be reading Odin on Odin's terms, rather than from a more detached perspective, Philip.  Do read Colin's essay.  Obviously Stan and Jack didn't intend for Odin to be read as a psychopathic only-sometimes-benevolent(when-it-suited-him)- despot, but his actions are there for all to see, in any case.

The only problem with Colin's reading is that Thor seems to be completely blind to his father's failings and often complicit in his despotic rule, which dimishes Thor. 

But that's the aristocracy for you!

when Odin deposited the newly created Don Blake in front of that medical college, did he think up a complete backstory for the guy, with paperwork and creditials? I know it was the 60s but you still had to have a college diploma to be a doctor!

I think Odin being a god and all was able to handle such details without too much trouble. Plus, as you say, it was the 60s - never mind being a comic book.

Andy

It's apparent that, early on, they either hadn't really thought things through very well, or they decided to get into the Asgard mythology more than they originally thought, possibly because Kirby really liked drawing it. As they added more backstory for Thor, it became apparent that this notion of Blake becoming this mythological god wasn't what happened.

But, as we all tended to do throughout the SA, they mostly just ignored it, until they finally decided to address it. Maybe they were getting so many letters asking about it or trying to explain it in hopes of getting a no-prize that Stan decided he should address it and/or it'd make a nifty plot.

The question of whether a car could drive away with the hammer if Thor put it on the backseat is an interesting one. I think it could have, but nobody could have lifted it off the seat. I think Thor could use it to, say, hold down the Hulk, because Hulk would have to *lift* the hammer off his chest. It's not heavy, so it wouldn't go through the back seat's cushion or crush Hulk's chest, it just can't be lifted or moved by anyone. 

That means, as I understand it, that the machinery clamp in JIM #105 shouldn't have been able to do what it did, unless it doesn't count because it's not a person.

That was a cool story, though, one of the few early Thors I remember well, because that was such a memorable circumstance. Again, though, I think Thor should have been able to snap his fingers or whatever and the hammer would've torn apart the machinery to return to him.

They also started to lose that 60-second thing, I think because they weren't that crazy about stories involving Don Blake and secret identity stuff. No doubt that's why they jettisoned Jane to a happily ever after life.

I think Odin took the long view on everything, probably because 1. He figured they were immortal and couldn't be hurt too badly and 2. He had all the time in the world. So banishing Thor to Earth for a generation or two was no big deal. And taking Loki's side on so many things when that had never worked before was his long-term plan, that, over 100s of years, might make Loki a bit more of an okay guy.

Likewise, I assume he could implant all the knowledge "Don Blake" would need and give him enough credentials to go to med school. The real question may be why he didn't give Don magical credentials from med school and deposit him in NYC as a newly minted doctor. Making him pay to go through med school and a residency was *really* being a jerk.

-- MSA

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