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Joe Sinnott’s Fairy Tale Thor

Your appeal has reached my ears Thor! What trouble besets my favorite son? – ODIN

Journey Into Marvel – Part 87

The fairy tale panel.

The fairy tale panel.

Extremites, if you’ve followed this series with fanatical vehemence, and some of you have, you’ll be familiar with ‘Marvel Rush Job;’ those issues that don’t cut the mustard. They rely on hackneyed villains, convenient plots, caricatures.  Every early Earth-616 — main Marvel Continuity — title was helmed by comic book artist extraordinaire: Jack Kirby. Imagine you are Jack Kirby and had to crank out seventy or so pages of high quality work every month — and also the occasional  new creation. The task is daunting. In the summer of ’63 Stan Lee auditioned other artists to take over some of the titles. Sometimes this was a huge success. Look at the work of Don Heck. Sometimes this was a great failure — Al Hartley I’m looking at you. Whatever the result, it’s neat to experience other names take Jack Kirby creations and making it theirs. Today’s issue is the audition piece of long time Marvel mainstay Joe Sinnott and his fairy tale interpretation of Thor. Read the rest of this entry

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Loki ‘The Vice:’ Marvel’s Thor Goes Judeo-Christian

Journey Into Marvel – Part 80

A building rising in the air and then vanishing! People losing their memory for no physical reason! It smacks of supernatural mischief…and that smacks of the god of evil, my old enemy…Loki!

The Movies don't even try and pretend... Milton could see the similarities. (Joke only works if you get that JM was blind)

The Movies don’t even try and pretend… Milton could see the similarities. (Joke only works if you get that JM was blind)

Extremites, like most western fiction the comic’s roots lie in campfire stories. Religious stories, mythologies, and legends all descend from these roots. One of the recurring archetypes that comes out of these traditions is the vice character. I have brought him up before in this series; think Satan or any crux character that coaxes the hero to act against his or her nature. Thor, based out of Norse myth, is the closest Marvel line to these roots.  It’s right that his line has the strongest and most obvious vice character in Loki. Read the rest of this entry

How Dr. Don Blake and Thor Work With 1960s Marvel Logic

Journey Into Marvel – Part 69

One of those new ever changing powers of Thor.

One of those new ever changing powers of Thor.

Extremites, I was thinking about Batman. The concept of a mortal superhero is ingenious. Batman is full of the flaws of humanity yet he can challenge any mortal or extra skilled foe. He can face a human antagonist like the Riddler and an extra-human like Ra’s Al Ghul.

When it comes to Superman, his antagonists must be more powerful to pose a threat to the Kryptonian. Lex Luthor, begins as a  billionaire with an endless supply of resources and over time morphs into a superhuman cyborg just to keep up with Kal’El. At Marvel, Thor, a god, has this same problem. Read the rest of this entry

Is Loki Marvel’s Joker?

Journey Into Marvel – Part 48

loki_joker_facebook_cover_tests_by_lucafon-d5oabrlExtremites, around the premiere of Thor: The Dark World, I read a Forbes article that declared Loki as the only interesting Marvel villain. This article claims because of Marvel’s campy comedic vibe they have yet to produce a villain who has the gravitas of the Joker.

Ignoring that this article disregards the none Disney Marvel adaptations like Fox’s X-Men, which features both Sir Ian McKellen’s inspired interpretation of Magneto and Fassbender’s younger version who is just as rich — and Sony’s plethora of well adapted Spider-Man villains: Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock or the malevolent and off the wall Green Goblin of Willem DaFoe— the article has a point.

I submit that of the villains so far presented in the Marvel Disney World, Loki is the only one adapted faithfully to the screen.

Obadiah Staine is a footnote in Iron Man.

Mickey Rourke’s Vanko is a mishmash of characters.

Shane West’s Mandarin is a spit in the eye.

Tim Roth’s Abomination was well cast in a terrible script.

Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull has too little screen time.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is the first villain that poses a threat and that is because his is the only faithful adaptation.

The Joker, in Batman, is the perfect villain.

We often as literary critics get bogged down  looking for important motivations when we dissect villains, but really, as so well reduced in the recent HBO True Detective series, they are the opposite side to a coin. They are the dark in opposition to the light. Joker is the yang to Batman’s yin. He doesn’t hate the Batman, per se, or love him like the Riddler does, he needs the Batman to exist. This is because he is part of the same personality. Batman and Joker are both deficient in one side of their personality and the other character fills in that deficiency. Batman lacks any sort of humour, Joker has an excess of it. Joker lacks any sort of ethics, Batman has an excess of them. So it is with Loki and Thor.

I am not about to suggest that Thor and Batman are one and the same. I have already made the case that he is a parody of Superman. Loki is the same as Joker. Both characters have the same goal … to create chaos for the sake of chaos.

Sure, as time has gone on both the Joker and Loki have gained deeper pathos. In Loki’s case, he wishes to gain control of Asgard for some received slight in his adoption by Odin, but in his initial appearance this was not present.

Journey Into Mystery #85 is the third appearance of the Mighty Thor. He has now fought aliens, restored capitalism to a banana republic, and met his future love Jane Foster/Nelson. In this issue he meets his archnemesis.

Up in a very special place called Asgard, its first appearance, there grows a great oak tree. Within this tree is exists Loki trapped until someone cries a tear for the him and he can be released. Loki, being the most clever of the Asgardians, makes one of the leaves float into the eye of passing Heimdall and he is free.

After this initial plan Loki spends the story creating chaos in his search for Thor.

If it’s a statue, Loki has brought it to life, if it was somehow inanimate, it somehow becomes animate.

Why does he create all this chaos?

Loki never wants to defeat Thor. He just wants Thor to ‘pit wits.’ This is the relationship Batman has with Joker, although without the magic. It’s almost as if Loki wants to play with Thor. It is not a bloodthirsty relationship like Prince Namor or Doctor Doom’s with the Fantastic Four. It’s a battle of wits.

jim85-02

Loki’s first entrance! Ever!

In my mind, there are four types of antagonists: the Scorned, the Megalomaniac, the Ideologue, and the Shit Disturber. Examples of these in Batman would be: the Riddler, the Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul, and the Joker. On Marvel’s side it goes like this: Prince Namor, Dr. Doom or Kingpin, Magneto and Loki.

Loki’s presence has always been expected when it comes to Thor. Many of Thor’s issues have Loki involved in someway.

And so it is with Batman.

This is evident from Loki’s debut.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:Trapped By Loki, The God Of Mischief!” (Journey Into Mystery #85, Oct. 1962)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pros: This is a really fun issue. More Asgardians. Bonkers Loki plots.

Cons: Character wise, this is a pretty empty episode, but Silver Age comics are often gimmicky and just entertaining.

Previous Review:It Came From The Skies” (Fantastic Four #7, Oct 1962)

Upcoming Review:The Challenge of Comrade X” (Tales to Astonish #36, Oct 1962)

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There Is No Fate But What We Snake: How a Radioactive Cobra Humanized Marvel’s Thor

JIM98_vsCobraJourney Into Marvel –  Thor

The more and more I delve into the Thor mythos, the more and more it becomes clear that the relationship between Thor/Don Blake and, his nurse assistant Jane Foster, define the series.

I wrote in my last Thor related article how his father Odin forbiddance of his romantic involvement with the mortal woman sent Thor into an almost titanic fit of rage. This moment has stood as an important checkpoint in my Journey Into Marvel. It is such a wonderfully  cathartic moment and even more fantastic that it comes from a male character in regards to a female.

The Silver Age Marvel Universe seems to thrive on the ‘will they wont they’ relationship trope.

It began with Reed and Sue in the Fantastic Four, continued with Janet and Hank in Ant-Man and, is further confused by, the love triangle of Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts and Tony Stark in the Iron Man stories.

In the case of the mighty Thor, the trope seems to govern the evolution of the characters and, not a story goes by, that doesn’t revel in the star crossed-ness of Jane and Don.

Within this issue, the antagonist Klaus Voorhees/Human Cobra is purely created as a device to reunite Jane and Don after the proto-Shakespearian banishing that Odin created in the last issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary. It is fascinating. Without the humanizing influence of these events, Thor would end up being a cheap imitation of DC’s Superman. Remember, Thor is a ‘Marvel realist‘ version of the Kryptonian.

Check out my article that directly compares the two.

DON BLAKE‘S INHUMANITY

Mjolnir. You see the trick.

Mjolnir. You see the trick.

From the get go, Thor fought an uphill battle for connection with the audience.

As I’ve written before, Thor is a parody of Superman and he carries along a lot of the same character problems of that DC model. Kal-El’s powers are divine,  meaning that the reader is forced to faithfully accept that he is powerful. Thor’s could be called the same if it weren’t for Stan Lee.

Stan Lee separated the character from the Superman model by first creating the limitation of the Mjolnir, in that Thor must hold Mjolnir to maintain his power and secondly, that Thor is limited by the rules and laws of his people.

Unlike Kal-El, Thor is subject to the laws his Asgardian monarch and father Odin. Kal-El’s race has been destroyed so this is a limitation that does not exist.

In the last issue, Thor was told by his father that if he chose to pursue a relationship with Jane his divinity would be forfeit. Subject to this law. Don Blake and Thor simultaneously distant themselves from Jane’s clear advances.

Jane, rightfully feeling undervalued by her employer, goes to work for Dr. Andrews who is Don’s mortal nemesis.

Side note: isn’t it odd how sexual interest and employment seem to go hand in hand in Jane’s character. Stan Lee, who directly wrote this one, proves once again that he cannot write women. 

These issues often focus heavily on the heightened Asgardian tales of Thor.

This one is a change of pace. We are presented with a human conundrum that could easily happen to many of us non-Asgardians. A father removing his favour because he disproves of his son’s choice in mate. It is a story as old as time.

EXAMINING KLAUS VOORHEES

THE COBRA!!!!

THE COBRA!!!!

As a character the Human Cobra is pretty contrived.

Even by Marvel standards he is tired.

Klaus a disenfranchised and ignored assistant to a much more appreciated scientist, of indiscriminate focus, named Dr. Shektor.

Voorhees and Shektor are working on some project in the remote parts of India.

Coincidentally, it’s a part of India that is populated only by caucasians. Seriously, from the looks of Don Heck’s art, there are no Indians in India.

They seem to be experimenting by injecting radioactive materials into various animals.

While trying to kill his boss for some perceived slight, Klaus gets bitten by a radioactive cobra whose venom goes to work on mutating Klaus into a Human/cobra hybrid. Rather then.. you know… killing him.

Everything about this story is over done. From the personal slights to the radioactive cobra bite. He’s essentially a villainized version of the Spider-Man origin story.

Klaus Voorhees is an empty character that is created to further the romance between Jane and Don.

After some coincidental business between Thor and Dr. Shektor, (Don just happened to be both Shektor’s former protege and in India to stop Cobra from killing the doctor) the Thunder God fights Cobra across the world until he ends up in the office of Dr. Andrews holding Jane Foster hostage.

Human Cobra is so thinly designed that in one panel he is an angry loner who wants recognition, only to change two panels later inexplicably into an antagonist that suddenly wants to take over the world.

Voorhees is a melodramatic trope who’s single function is to take Jane Foster hostage. This thin conception bothers me.

I understand the sheer amount of writing that was going on in this period of Marvel, however, it is disrespectful when a writer dupes the audience with a two dimensional villain that has no clear goal beyond foiling the protagonist. This is not only lazy writing, it is writing that is exploitative; mindless words to fill a money making comic.

the-cobra-attacks-jane-foster

Cobra performing his function.

Ignoring my frustrations with the conception of Klaus, let’s take a look at this all important romantic moment shall we?

Klaus enter’s Andrew’s office coincidentally and promptly takes Jane Foster hostage.

Cobra has just flown from darkest India, with Thor hot on his heals, to battle the god in New York City. Apparently the lack of landmarks in the jungle makes it hard to fight.

He does not go there for any reason beside a sudden need for world domination.

After a few skirmishes that end up being hilariously unbalanced in Thor’s favour, somehow the Human Cobra ends up with his slithery hands all over Jane. This is tackily convenient, I can sense 10 year olds groaning over this, five decades later. This is a convenience that straddles continents and defies geographic logic.

Anyway, accepting the coincidental nature of this whole event, Cobra is ready to kill Jane and Dr. Andrews cowers in his presence.

Suddenly, Thor bursts in and saves the day!

Thor chooses to console Jane instead of pursuing the Cobra and Voorhees gets away. Not a common ending when Thor is involved.

Out of nowhere, spurred on by this rescue from Thor and the cowardice of her new boss, Jane decides to go back to work for Don because she “needs a real man.”

Wait a minute… Jane has many times accused, often without provocation, Don of cowardice. Suddenly, he’s not a coward?

Why?

He wasn’t even present at this event. Jane has no clue Thor is Don. Does Stan Lee still remember this?

This whole realization is entirely spontaneous.  Another example of exceptionally bad writing.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Jane is now back working for Don. He can totally admit his undying love for her, right?

No.

Don knows there are still threats that exist upon the Earth, having let the Cobra go. Therefore, Thor must still exist to protect the world from its ills.

Thor says: “It seems I can never abandon my legendary identity! For when there is a need, Thor must respond.”

Add martyr to the list of Thor’s godly traits.

I am troubled by Jane’s choice in romantic partners.

Stan Lee. Internizer.

Stan Lee. Womanizer.

Stan’s women define their romantic partners singlely through who they work with. Their selection seems to be defined by other direct authority figure. This is seen in Iron Man, Ant-Man, and here.  I wonder why Stan chose to write Jane this way?

Wait… it might lead to a retroactive sexual assault charge.

Fearing a libel charge, I’ll not conject.

Stan has a tendency to rely on cliche and stereotype when he is cranking out work just to sell issues. Judging by the conveniences present in the conception of the Human Cobra and the blankness of Jane Foster’s romantic life; I’d say that the shear amount of titles Stan Lee and the other creatives were responsible for was beginning to lower the collective quality of issues.

Journey Into Mystery has generally been the strongest title. If this one is plummeting, so goes the rest.  Journeying On: Julian Munds

Story I Read:Challenged by the Human Cobra” (Journey Into Mystery #98 Nov. 1963)

Rating: 2 out of 5

Pros: The focused writing on Don Blake really develops the character. Thor in this one clearly functions as an alter ego making firm lines as to how the relationship works.

Cons:  The coincidental writing of the whole issue. The two dimensionality of Jane Foster. The veiled racism. Human Cobra.

Previous Review:Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo” (Strange Tales #114 Nov. 1963)

Upcoming Review: “Tales of Asgard – Odin Battles Ymir, King of the Ice Giants” (Journey Into Mystery #98 Nov. 1963)

 

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Thor: The Dark World “All Hail The King” One Shot Announced: Could It Be A Loki Special?

Hilarious news. About the trickster god! Spoilers, Spoilers.

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Thought-Form and Marvel’s Thor: What is the Nature of Asgard?

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read: Tales of Asgard “Home of the Mighty Norse Gods” (Journey Into Mystery #97 Oct. 1963)

 The Norse Men Thinking...

The Norse Men Thinking…

It was only a few articles ago that I suggested comics were the natural heirs to ancient mythology and, now, Marvel has come full circle to prove my point.

Just how Tales of Asgard fits into the Marvel Universe is really difficult to put my finger on. I know it belongs in the Thor stream of comics, because it elaborates on the world that the Thunder God comes from, but it does not follow any main character from that world. It functions more like an appendix to the main events of Journey Into Mystery. Because of its expository nature, it is really difficult for me to examine this comic as I do the others, so I must change my expectations and look at these stories with a more literary eye.

Tales of Asgard works like a traditional narrative. The visual element, though absolutely stunning and Jack Kirby is certainly in top form here, is less important. Information is  the focal point.

This issue settles some nagging questions I have had about how Asgardians are made up.

Though the title suggests that this is a story about the construction of Asgard, it is more a cosmology of the Norse Gods. It illuminates a vastly different origin story then the one I understand from Modern Asgard. If they were later retconned, please tell me in the comments.

According to the story, the Aesir, as the Asgardians are rightfully named, are the creation of the Norse peoples.

“Well,” you are probably saying, “that’s certainly not news.”

Actually, it is, at least in the spectrum of Silver Age Marvel.

Up until now, Thor has been presented as a living breathing creature yet, Stan Lee claims, they are the literary creation of the Vikings. How does this make any sense? Thor is both alive and not alive? He is a literary character that flies around New York sometimes?

I am beginning to think that Tales of Asgard is somehow not canon.

Help me out here commenters. 

Perhaps, Stan is referring to an elemental idea that has long be in around in Theology. This is a cosmology that was recently made extraordinarily popular by Neil Gaiman in his book American Gods. That cosmology is based on “thought-form.” This is the theory, and it is purely a mechanism for literature; I am not some lunatic religious nut that thinks these things are real, which explains the physical existence and creation of deities by mass belief. In short, if someone believes in a thing, that thing becomes real.

If a ton of Marvel Norsemen believe in the Aesir this causes them to exist. Perhaps, in the Marvel Universe thought-form is a natural constant and Marvel Norsemen believing in Asgardians created Asgard.

I thought, they were an alien race that, may be extra-dimensional, but never the less creatures from another physical world. However, according to this issue, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

For more information about ‘thought form,’ look up the works of David Hume, he is the philosopher that created this idea.

Another question this issue answers is the exact location of Asgard. According to Stan’s telling of the myth, and this is extraordinarily accurate in terms of Norse

Mythology, Asgard is part of a large Oak Tree that holds the nine worlds of the universe. Consequently, this is why the oak is one of the symbols of  Odin All-Father.

Asgard.

Asgard.

This is the Norse religious explanation, but how does it influence Thor and the Marvel Universe?

We know, as avid readers of the Marvel Universe, many characters go into space quite often. They are constantly venturing to other planets and those races are visiting ours on the regular as well. This cosmology creates a problem because Midgard is described as only encompassing the Earth.

If Midgard is only Earth, how does the rest of the universe work into this scheme?

It may be unfair of me to take the cosmology presented here and apply it to the Marvel Universe as a whole, but this issue comes out in October 1963, directly following the premiere of The Avengers. This means that Stan Lee has established that all of Marvels superhero characters exist in the same world. Following the logic of the Tales of   Asgard cosmology, means that those Skrulls and other alien threats, live in Midgard. This is clearly not an extraordinarily satisfying explanation.

As I noted before, I am not really sure how the Tales of Asgard title works into the canonicity of Macro Marvel.

Perhaps, it is a genuine attempt at using comics to educate. I really can’t be sure.

You all can help enlighten me.

Rating: No Rating.  I’m too confused.

Pros: Wonderful Art by Jack Kirby. The narrative voice is positively compelling.

Cons: It doesn’t make much sense when included in the Macro Marvel Mythos.

Preceding Review: ”The Lava Man” (Journey Into Mystery #97 Oct. 1963)

Upcoming ReviewThe Coming of the Plantman” (Strange Tales #113 Oct. 1963)

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Happy Thorsday! David Ward on Thor and Loki

Check out this wonderful article discussing our favourite Marvel Asgardian pare.

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Thor is a twit.

He’s boastful, arrogant, temperamental, and downright stupid. His half-brother, Loki, got the advantage on him more times than not, and Thor’s ususal response was to hit him with a hammer or come crying back (well, ok, screaming and yelling – that’s more manly, after all) to the Allfather, Odin. I can’t blame Loki for playing games with the Asgardian; he kept falling for them. He was quite possibly the easiest Mark in Norse myth, and for the trickster Loki, a source of endless entertainment.

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Whose Legend is Stronger? Thor Vs. Mad Merlin

Story I Read: “Defying the Magic of Mad Merlin” (Journey Into Mystery #96 Sept 1963)

Certainly not the Merlin of Disney.

Certainly not the Merlin of Disney.

I am now a good way into the early mythos of Thor and many questions are beginning to flood my mind. Of the many niggling ones, one over arcing macro question haunts me every time I read Mighty Thor: what is the nature of an Asgardian? Are they aliens as later comics attest, other dimensional beings or Gods and, therefore, divine? This story begins to expand upon the difference between the legend and actuality of Asgard.

Stan Lee presents us with two characters, that are quite well known throughout literature, and subverts our understanding of them. In the comics thus far, we have already come to know one of them, Thor, and have only vaguely heard of the other, Merlin. The Norse Thor is the benevolent and sometimes wrathful thunder god; an oxymoronic character, but show me a religious icon that isn’t. His religious self is infallible and unable to be faulted. Marvel’s Thor however, speaking from only what has been offered in Silver Age Marveldom thus far, is a heightened being that is in no way divine. In this story we learn that he needs to breathe. This seems elf evident but serves as a revelation considering he does occasionally venture into space without the aide of oxygen. We learn, here, that Thor can hold his breath for a long time. Lee successfully busts this god’s divinity with this one idea and puts him on a playing field that is equal to the other mortal superheroes with which he shares Earth-616. He is not omnipotent and, therefore, he is able to have other nemeses, other then his own kind.

When Merlin vacates his sarcophagus in 1963, we are presented with a second character that not only equals Thor in his supernatural powers, but also, in his legend. Merlin, the 60s being the time of the renaissance of T.H. White and the popularity of the musical Camelot, is often depicted as a kind and wise magical sorcerer that mentored King Arthur to found the throne of England. Lee, on the other hand, writes him as a malevolent Machiavellian wizard who uses human puppets to consolidate his “master plan,” which appears to be world domination. What a fantastic idea and one that is wholly creative. Not only does this story call Merlin’s oft-believed motivations into question, it also suggests that there is nothing magical about his composition but that he is a human mutant, like the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man. Some suggest he maybe a forerunner to the genetic mutants of X-Men. I’m not sure the back story presented here backs up that claim. Not to mention, Uncanny X-Men is still very far in the Silver Age future and the idea of mutants, in that sense, is not yet present in Marveldom. I think the conjecture of the creation of Merlin as the first genetic mutant and therefore the basis for his later X-Men appearances is the work of over zealous fanboys.

The subversion of Legend vs. Reality is further used in the climax of the story. Thor usually beats his non divine enemies by using brute strength or some fancy hammer play. A strategy like this against Merlin is easily shot down, literally. After this failure, Thor, uses his dubious human identity, Dr. Donald Blake, to fool Merlin into thinking that Asgardians are omnipotent and can change into any form they see fit.  This not only brings the mad wizard to prostrate in surrender, it what it more importantly plays with the power of icons. Thor’s possible and largely unsubstantiated divinity defeats Merlin. The Thunder God’s reputation is more mysterious and ancient than Merlin’s so it causes the wizard to doubt himself. Thor’s legend is stronger. What an idea.

I know I spend many of these reviews harping on the hasty and often poorly thought out writing of Stan Lee but do not assume that these criticisms come from a disrespect for the father of Marvel. Sometimes he writes stories like these that show the far reaching literary power that comics can possess.

This story is a 5 out of 5. It is an essential read that explains the difference between Marvel and DC. Whereas DC is all about the legend, Marvel is all about the reality.  This story has far reaching impact and should be on all essential reading lists.

Previous Review: “Nothing Can Stop The Sandman” (The Amazing Spider-Man #4 Sept 1963)

Upcoming Review: “A Skrull Walks Among Us!” (Fantastic Four #18, Sept 1963)

What Happens When the Mighty Thor Faces Himself?

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read: The Mighty ThorThe Demon Duplicators” (Journey Into Mystery#95 Aug 1963)

Journey Into Mystery 95The astounding thing I have discovered as I journey through Silver Age Marvel comics is the bipolar nature of the quality of these stories. Those of you who read my last review of Tales of Suspense, know that that I thought that story was terrible, because of it’s disregard for furthering the development of Tony Stark. This Thor story follows that model.

In a former article about Thor, I noted his similarities to DC’s Superman. One of the major issues with that Kryptonian has always been his power, and that the balance between him and his villains is often tipped extraordinarily in his favour. Thor suffers from the same issue.  Contemporary comics heroes, like Iron Man and Spider-man, often fight mortal antagonists who use their own ingenuity to defeat the hero. Thor on the other hand needs a threat that is equal to his abilities, which are supernatural, meaning he needs an equally supernatural threat. Of course, this need is amply balanced by Loki, but his adopted brother cannot always be the antagonist. We can all agree it would get boring.

Stan Lee answers this conundrum by creating a great villain who is essentially just Thor. Well, not Thor himself but an equal evil duplicate. This I have no problem with. I find it interesting as it opens up the question how do you defeat your exact equal? Its a fascinating and frightening idea. The problem I have with this story is how the duplicate comes about.

I understand in this early period of the Marvel Universe it was still unclear to the creatives if they wanted to establish a world which all the heroes

Aparently This Android Was Invented by Don Blake

Aparently This Android Was Invented by Don Blake

interact with each other. Therefore, it makes sense that canonicity in geographic location and macrocosmic influence are uncertain. However canonicity of character should at least be adhered to. It has been established in many former Thor stories that Dr. Don Blake (Thor’s absurd and unclear alter-ego) is a mild mannered general practitioner MD. In this story however, Stan Lee establishes him as an MD who also invented an android and is preparing to announce the invention of artificial intelligence. This comes out of left field. Since when did the good doctor have an interest in AI? Where did he get his knowledge of “advanced robotic engineering?” Most importantly, why is he suddenly at the forefront of this field? This makes absolutely no sense and is purely created just to explain the connection between Don and Zaxton. I am sure in the next Thor, none of this will ever be mentioned and Dr. Blake will go back to treating patients quietly.

This lack of thought, is further shown in the reason for Thor’s presence at the demonstration. He’s only there to open a safe. I kid you not. He is a glorified stage hand.

Though the battle between Thor and his duplicate is entertaining, as most battles in Thor are, the narrative conveniences and disregard for canon really make one wonder why any of this happened in the first place.

There are some clear changes going in the conception of the other Asgardian gods as well. Don only occupies 3 panels. The creatives are clearly tired of that human drama and create a convenient Asgardian weather trauma just to cameo them in. The soap opera with Jane is also given the back seat. Thor saves her in one panel out of nowhere however we are not given a back story nor the location of her entrapment. She’s an after thought. Sloppiness like this that cheapens the really exciting moments.

This story is 2 out of 5. An exciting story mired by the sloppiness in narrative and the inexplicable convenient malleability of the Dr. Don Blake character.

<— Preceding Review:  Iron Man Vs Kala, Queen of the Netherworld– Tales of Suspense#43

—> Upcoming Review: “The Micro-World Of Doctor Doom” (Fantastic Four #16 July 1963)

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