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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 Loki’s Second Appearance Signalled the Coming of a Titanic Change at Marvel

Journey Into Marvel – Part 64

Loki has a Don Blake too!

Loki has a Don Blake too!

Extremites, what is it about Thor and Loki? Loki tries to take Thor’s hammer, either fails or briefly holds power until Thor rights everything and we as fans come back in droves to see versions of this story over and over.

I wrote an article that took Forbes to task for calling Loki “Marvel’s only decent villain.” Forbes is wrong. There’s plenty of decent villains in Earth-616. However, they are correct in noticing the mass appetite for Loki. But why? 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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What’s Up With All-New Marvel NOW!?

R2D2 Cupcake

Loki658

Since it’s the beginning of the year, it seems like Marvel made their own New Year’s resolution – “Let’s re-brand our re-brand and reboot some reboots!” The result of that is All-New Marvel NOW! I’m actually a gigantic Marvel fan and I would say I spend 75% of my free time reading Marvel comics, even though I don’t write about them as much. Also, the All-New Marvel NOW! reboot of Marvel NOW! isn’t really as lame as I just described it. Basically, with the new year, Marvel is re-introducing and re-booting some characters that haven’t gotten as much attention in the past year or so. Also, the same old comics will still be around, just with new story arcs. Here are a couple of the brand new series that I can’t wait to read:

All-New Ghost Rider
I was never a Ghost Rider fan and I didn’t really like the…

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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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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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Marvel films: Why bad guys should go good

I think if you look at those characters, you will notice that the majority have not been adapted from their comic book counterparts, in fact some have been created inspire of. As you well know the comics present three dimensional characters. In many cases, these cinematic creations are bastardized simplistic adaptations. Whiplash for example was an amalgamation of two characters. The Mandarin was similar in name only.

I, must say, there should be a greater attempt at adapting the source material rather then creating something new. This perspective killed the first Batman franchise, nearly destroyed Superman and has put asunder many others, Daredevil comes to mind. (It was not Afflecks fault that movie failed.) When looking to actual characters that utilized the source material to their advantage we find detailed portrayals. Ledger’s Joker comes to mind and also Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2, and obviously, Magneto. Your assessment of Loki is a tad subjective. Tom Hiddleston is known to be quite the fan. Though sometimes he deals with very poor writing, some of his stuff in Dark World was less then stellar, he usually cranks out a balanced performance informed by Loki’s need to be vindicated by his adoptive father. But he’s a diamond in the rough.

Absolute Power

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Despite working with decades of material, the Marvel film continuity is – so far – almost void of bad guys who are anything but, well, bad. While cardboard, power-hungry world destroyers can be fun, they certainly aren’t enough to carry the antagonistic side of an entire franchise.

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Happy Thorsday! David Ward on Thor and Loki

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

Biff Bam Pop!

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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Inside the Hierarchy of the Avengers

Journey Into Marvel

The Story I read: “The Coming of the Avengers” (The Avengers #1 Sept, 1963)

Even the cover seems reverential.

Even the cover seems reverential.

If there are checkpoints in this quest, the premiere of the Avengers would be the first. This is the moment that a loose knit group of ragtag characters became beings that inhabited a whole far reaching world. Sure, there had been crossovers before this, but they always seemed to be special events that were often hastily written exhibitions stemming from fan requests. This issue, however, is the moment that showed Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the other Marvel creatives wanted to construct a vast comic gallery that would be able to compete with the massive and older DC counterpart. Reading this story felt almost like a religious moment; if comic fandom could be considered such.

This story reveals a glimpse into how the Silver Age Marvel world works. On the face of  this issue, it resembles a caper flick, not unlike The Dirty Dozen. A group of rag tag Superheros come together to defeat a common enemy.

Thus enters the Incredible Hulk. 

…Wait a minute. The antagonist is actually Loki. Never mind that, neither Ant-Man, Wasp, or Iron-Man can pose any threat to the trickster god so only Thor confronts him. The rest pursue the supposed villainous Hulk only to find out that he is not such a bad guy. He’s just a circus performing monster who was the victim of an Asgardian plot.

I wasted 20 pages on this?

This is the problem of Hulk and probably the reason for his lack of success in the period; he is too believable as the villain. He is a selfish, violent monster, who is out for his own survival. Not to mention he is a malady to Bruce Banner. Hulk is difficult to spin as a legitimate hero, for he lacks humanity and a moral code, the two prerequisites for a superhero. It is telling that the Disney Marvel film franchise has had such trouble translating the character to film, till Joss Whedon of course figured it out by making Jekyll and Hyde one: “I’m always angry.” – Says Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce.

In the Silver Age, Hulk was not the result of rage as depicted in modern Marvel but is a character that bares more resemblance to Jekyll/Hyde. Perhaps, it was the pages devoted to Thor’s solo adventure that hampered proper development for Big Green.

Thor’s contribution to this story bares more similarity to an issue of Journey Into Mystery then as a team up with the Avengers. The moment he found out that Loki had a plot to capture him he flew away to Asgard to fight. The three others duked it out on Earth. This is not the actions of a team mate. There is no group cohesion in this story and I blame it on haphazard writing. The group comes together out of happenstance which results in a themeless issue. This is not the case with the film, which was vaguely inspired by this plot, because of the creation of the S.H.I.E.L.D. assemblage.

I felt empty at the end of what should have been a fantastic experience.

I also wonder why it was these five characters that were chosen to be a part of the first Avengers crew. It makes sense that Dr. Strange is not included as he has only had two stories devoted to him, by this point, and, frankly, they were very odd. I doubt Stan Lee intended the good Doctor to be a common fixture. The Fantastic Four, though creatively mentioned in the story, have really nothing to do with the creation of the Avengers. This is strange as some time has been spent making the Four (particularly Jonny Storm) the flag ship line. Perhaps, their was a fear that the Four’s egos, the topic of my last review, would over power these less established characters. I for one would have enjoyed a Tony Stark comic lashing of Thing. I know it will come in the future.

Overall, this is a very messy issue with some really great action with Hulk, and some brilliant use of Ant-Man and Wasp, also some wonderful art by Kirby. Yet, there

The Teen Brigade gets bombarded by help.

The Teen Brigade gets bombarded by help.

is an absence of Iron-Man, wasted focus on Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade, and confusion as to the plot. I give this one a 3 out of 5. I flirted with a lower mark but it felt sacrilegious as this issue is so important and a gamble of an undertaking. This makes the endeavour as a whole, respectable.

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

—>Upcoming Review: “Marked for Destruction by Dr. Doom” (The Amazing Spider-Man #5 Oct 1963)

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