Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) #90

Credits:

“Trapped By the Carbon-Copy Man!”

Cover Date: March 1963

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Larry Lieber

Penciller: Al Hartley

Inker: Al Hartley

Cover Artists:Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

The warlord Ugarth, from the planet Xarta, has decided to conquer the Earth. Xartans can change their shape at will, and their plan is to infiltrate influential places in government and sow confusion, in preparation for a full-scale invasion.

They prioritize defeating Thor after hearing of his prowess from their captives. But how can Thor defeat a species that can copy anything?

 

Is It Good?

Not really. It’s a worse version of Fantastic Four #2, but without the mystery and without the ambition of the Skrull shapeshifters. The artwork is unspectacular, but I did like that Al Hartley’s version of Donald Blake looks much frailer than Jack Kirby’s version.

 

Sub-Plots:

  • Odin forbids Donald Blake from revealing his alter ego to “any other mortal.”

  • Thor uses a questionable knockoff of Occam’s Razor to deduce that people are acting bizarrely because they are literally not themselves.
  • After defeating Ugarth in battle (and throwing him into space!), Thor decides to take the remaining Xartans on Earth as hostages including Ugarth’s son, Zano. Thor tricks them into turning into trees; since trees do not have the ability to think, the Xartans will never think about changing into another shape!

 

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of the alien Xartan race, Ugarth, and Zano.
  • Thor is still tapping his hammer handle to access certain powers.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Why would Odin care about Blake’s/Thor’s secret identity? More to the point, if this is something he cares about (and may be responsible for, perhaps?), why hasn’t he mentioned this earlier?
  • The Xartans want to confuse the populace by…painting a bridge with polka dots? I don’t know how effective these aliens are.

  • The Xartans are replacing and impersonating important people (like government officials, etc.), and so they select…Jane Foster, the nurse in a private practice. I could buy replacing a head nurse in a hospital, but Jane doesn’t appear to have much impact on anyone.
  • I would have thought the simplest explanation would be that someone is mentally manipulating people, but sure, body snatchers isn’t much more far fetched.

  • This would be pretty clever, but no one ever indicated that the Xartans take on all the traits of what they impersonate.

  • How is turning the Xartans into trees, to live indefinitely without consciousness, any better than lobotomizing or killing them? Why not force them to transform into goldfish or something else that dies quickly? Not very heroic, Thor!

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