Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) #99

Credits:

Cover Date: December 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Mysterious Mister Hyde!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

“Surtur The Fire Demon”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos

What’s Going On?

In “The Mysterious Mister Hyde,” we meet Mister Hyde, the superhuman alter ego of Calvin Zabo. After gaining superpowers, Calvin Zabo decides to get his revenge on Donald Blake for an earlier slight. As luck would have it, Zabo (as Mister Hyde) breaks into Blake’s office at a moment where Blake’s magical cane (that can transform him into Thor) is across the room! Will Doctor Blake be able to get to his cane before his enemy can attack?

In “Surtur the Fire Demon,” we have another “Tales of Asgard” story. Here, we learn how Odin defeated Surtur, king of the Fire Demons, and imprisoned him forever.

Is It Good?

It’s a mixed bag. Don Heck seems to be trying out some new things in this issue —- notably, more pronounced wings on Thor’s helmet —- and I think the art benefits from the risks he takes. Heck is no Jack Kirby clone, so seeing him add his own flourishes makes for a more visually interesting issue.

The story is okay. It’s nice to see some progress with the romantic subplot, but the story ended rather abruptly, with a ridiculous cliffhanger. Granted, this is the first part of a two-part story, but this portion wasn’t very satisfying.

The “Tales of Asgard” story was another installment in the ancient history of Asgard. Due to the compressed nature of the story, it is told almost entirely through narration. Honestly, I’d prefer if this feature wasn’t telling a self-contained story each issue. There’s no drama, no dialogue, and no personality in these 5-page historical summaries.

Sub-Plots:

  • Thor once again protests Odin’s declaration that Thor cannot marry a Jane Foster because she is mortal.

  • Calvin Zabo was refused a job by Donald Blake. When he gains his superpowers, one of the first things Zabo does as Mister Hyde is seek revenge against Blake.
  • Jane Foster is back to silently pining for Donald Blake, after a few issues of her speaking her mind and being tired of waiting for him to announce his affection.

  • Feeling bad for his son, Odin tells Thor that Jane can be granted immortality if she proves herself worthy. “Worthiness” means that she must be noble, unselfish, fearless, and possessing virtues that greatly exceed normal mortals, so that might be an uphill battle.

  • When Thor returns to Donald Blake’s office, he transforms back into Blake, unaware that Mister Hyde was waiting for him. Hyde pushes Blake out of a window and steals money and research from the office safe.
  • Blake was able to transform into Thor as he fell from the window. When Hyde hears on the radio that Thor saved Donald Blake, he vows revenge against Thor for interfering.
  • The next day, Thor is seen breaking into a bank and robbing it. While everyone is confused by this heel turn, the story ends with a promise to continue next issue.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Calvin Zabo, AKA Mister Hyde. Zabo can transform into Hyde, apparently at will. Hyde has a hatred of humanity and super-strength, estimated as twelve times the strength of a normal man.

  • Hyde’s physical differences from Zabo are more than just size and strength. Zabo has glasses and facial hair, while Hyde has/needs neither. In fact, the two are so different that their fingerprints don’t even match!

  • It is worth noting that Odin’s original declaration (in Journey Into Mystery #90) prevented Donald Blake from revealing his secret identity to Jane Foster. At some point, it escalated from “let me tell her a secret” to “let me marry her.”
  • Apparently, Odin can grant immortality. That’s kind of weird to mention now, after nine issues of this “Thor can’t love a mortal” subplot.

  • This (or Tales to Astonish #50, another comic with a December 1963 cover date) is the first two-part story of Marvel’s Silver Age.
  • These trolls are credited as Rock Trolls in the Marvel Wikia, but look substantially different than they do in their first appearance (Avengers #1). These trolls are pink instead of orange, smaller, and look less deformed.

  • The moon is made of magma from the center of the Earth that Surtur threw into space. It’s a fact. We can thank Surtur for the tides.

  • Surtur is currently trapped in the center of the Earth.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Calvin Zabo wanted to work for Donald Blake so he could rob the good doctor. Blake didn’t hire Zabo because he had an awful reputation in the industry. That’s it. They had no other interactions. He applied for a job and was turned down. This might be the worst justification for revenge I’ve ever heard of.

  • We have another “brilliant” scientist experimenting on himself and becoming a monster. This may be the only time the scientist was trying to turn into a monster, though.

  • Odin has the ability to grant immortality, but he has never used this power. How does Thor know about this?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Two things here: first, stop being a misogynist, Stan Lee. Second, what, exactly, was Don Heck trying to draw in the panel on the right? It’s an extreme close-up of Hyde’s eyebrow, with a black splotch in the background.

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