The Star Crossed Lovers of Silver Age Marvel: Thor/Don Blake and Jane Foster

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read: “The Lava Man” (Journey Into Mystery #97 OCT. 1963)

Odin commands Thor to end his love affair.

Odin commands Thor to end his love affair.

Recently, like most of you, I journeyed through the cold and blustery snowbanks of Canada to my local cinema in order to bask in the glow of Thor: The Dark World. I won’t go into much detail about the film, as I am sure most of you are Chris Hemsworthed out, for I know I am, but I will say that the film focused on an aspect of the Thor mythos that was not present in the first film; his forbidden relationship with Jane Foster. I loved how the film embraced, and thankfully not nauseatingly, the predicament the two are in. Thor is a godlike alien and Jane is a lowly human. In a Galactic racist sense, it makes … well… perfect sense for the relationship to not totally please all extended family involved. Like any good love story Jane and Thor overcome their differences and love conquers all in the end.

This love story is certainly not the creation of Hollywood, it finds its roots in the comics, and this issue is the first time we get to experience the difficulties beyond the ‘will they/wont they?” cliche.

As the story begins we find Thor doing what he does best, saving the world from ultra criminals, but in the back of his mind he is tortured by the thoughts of his beloved Jane. She just doesn’t seem to love him back. If Thor just told Jane he loved her all of this turmoil would be fixed. The crux of the issue, as is shown through a ghostly window appearance of Odin: the All-Father, is Thor cannot admit his love for her or he’ll loose his divinity.

OH the ASGARDITY! 

Things are never simple for Gods.

It doesn’t make much sense for Odin to forbid this love affair out right beyond the, as I said before, galactic race thing, but it happens.

The reason why Jane can’t admit her love for Don Blake, because she still doesn’t see Don Blake as Thor, is far more selfish. She doesn’t think Don is strong enough to handle a woman. She bases this on the fact that he is disabled (for Mjolnir appears as a cane, and a very stylish one at that, when Thor is Don) and shy. I gotta say, all the women presented thus far, with the exception of Jean Grey, in the Silver Age are written really vain and unpleasantly.

I wonder if Stan Lee and the others were working a personal something out.

Anyway, Jane tells Don that she is going to move her base of operations to Dr. Blake’s nemesis Andrews’ practise.  I assume Dr. Andrews is Don’s nemesis as Don reacts pretty violently to his name. This is the first time Dr. Andrews has been mentioned.

You are probably wondering why I am focusing in so much on the soap opera that is going on with Don. This focus is because this is the meat of the issue. The fight

Lava Man!

Lava Man!

with the Lava Man (who in later comics is referred to as Molto) is little more then a sideshow.

Lava Man arrives on the Earth’s surface having popped out of a volcano to take back the surface-world for his people.

Oh look another subterranean race who hates humans. 

How many civilizations are down there, I wonder.

Loki also managed to make a cameo in this one. His presence is becoming more and more prevalent. I love that these two, Thor and Loki, seem to be in constant combat. However, my love doesn’t extend to the banality of forcing pointless cameos into a narrative that does not need one.

Loki only pops up to explain that he set the Lava Man loose. Why is this necessary?

Can’t we have a villain spurred on to defeat Thor without the extra motivation that he is doing it either for, or in spite of, Loki?

This goes back to my earlier discussion about Loki being the only decent threat to the Thunder God. No other character seems to even come close.

The Lava Man poses no threat. Thor smites the Lava Man with a single blow of Mjolnir.

There is one small moment when the God is trapped in concrete lava, but he quickly makes mince meat of that predicament. The balance always seems to be off.

Even though the balance is always off in Thor stories, I always find myself grinning like the Cheshire cat after I read them.  What is it about Thor that makes me become a child, bowled over by the melodramatic goings on of Don Blake and Jane Foster, and totally willing to overlook tacky moments with Loki?

Maybe it’s because as the most recent Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D episode said: “Thor is dreamy.”

He certainly is and his stories are always wildly fantastical

Rating: 3 out of 5

Pros: Don Blake and Odin’s conundrum over the relationship with Jane, the fireworks with the Lava Man and Loki’s cameo.

Cons: Jane Foster’s unlikability. The cliche of the Lava Man. Loki’s cameo.

Previous Review:  “Music to Scream By” (Tales to Astonish #47 Sept 1963)

Upcoming Review Tales of Asgard “Home of the Mighty Norse Gods” (Journey Into Mystery #97 Oct. 1963)

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About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on December 3, 2013, in Comics, Marvel, Thor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I felt the same about the Thor comics, even when I read them as kid in the 1980s. it always feels so juvenile, and yet it has always been a huge hit and never in danger of cancellation. It must be because Thor is a guilty pleasure and it never sets out to be more serious than it really is. Loki is a great villain though, and that can always pull your story along.

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