Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) #97

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Lava Man”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Don Heck

“Tales of Asgard”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

In “The Lava Man,” Thor has to save the day when another one of Loki’s mischievous plans results in a sentient Lava Man attacking New York City.

In “Tales of Asgard,” an introduction to Norse mythology is given.

Is It Good?

It’s more “promising” than “good.” I don’t know how long to expect Jack Kirby to stay on the title —- Joe Sinnott has handled the art on the last few issues —- but he’s an obvious improvement over Sinnott’s blander style. This issue also ratchets up the stakes in the romance between Jane Foster and Don Blake, which is an abrupt change in tone. The past few issues haven’t been good, though, so maybe these changes will be for the better.

The “Tales of Asgard” backup story was just an introduction to what they plan to do with the feature. As such, it wasn’t interesting, but I can see this being a quality addition to Thor’s stories.

Sub-Plots:

  • Donald Blake wants to propose marriage to his nurse, Jane Foster, but he stops because he hasn’t received permission from Odin to reveal his secret identity to a mortal. Jane seems to sense that Blake wants to discuss romance with her, and she indicates that she is getting tired of waiting for him to make a move.

  • Odin refuses to give Blake permission to tell Jane that he is secretly Thor.

  • Loki sends the Lava Man to fight Thor.

  • Thor eventually defeats the Lava Man by flying him back into the volcano he came from, and then sealing the volcano’s top with rocks.

  • Tired of not being a priority for Dr. Blake, Jane quits her job to work (and probably date) a rival doctor.

Continuity:

  • Last time we saw Loki, he was chained in an Asgardian dungeon. While he is still restricted to Asgard, they appear to have relaxed his punishment a bit: he is no longer chained, and has a room with a view. So, I guess his misbehavior led to a reward.

  • This is the first appearance of Molto, the Lava Man, although he is not named in this issue. This is also the first mention of the Lava Men subspecies, period. The Lava Man can melt things, or turn them into ash.

  • The “Tales of Asgard” backup feature marks the first appearance of many of Thor’s family members. Buri (Thor’s great-grandfather), Bor (spelled “Borr” here; Thor’s grandfather), Bestla (Thor’s grandmother; she is unnamed here), Vili and Ve (Odin’s brothers; they are not named in this issue).
  • Surtur is also introduced in this issue.

  • The Frost Giants debut in this issue.

  • Apparently, Odin killed the last of the Frost Giants.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • “I know you love me, and I love you —- but you’re not assertive enough, so I’m going to date a womanizer instead!” Yikes, that’s bad writing.

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