Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) #101

Credits:

Cover Date: February 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Return of Zarrko the Tomorrow Man”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

“Tales of Asgard: the Invasion 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 lead story, Thor faces Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, again. However, Thor has incurred the wrath of Odin, and has had half of his powers taken from him, so the battle is much more difficult than it would normally be.

In the Tales of Asgard back-up story, a young Thor tries to prove his valor by defending Asgard against attack. Little does he realize that Loki has arranged for Thor to battle the brunt of the enemy army, without any help.

Details:

In “The Return of Zarrko the Tomorrow Man”:

  • Thor is pouting in public, and verbally lashing out at civilians. This garners enough attention that the rest of the Avengers try to intervene, but they leave when Thor rebuffs them.

  • In Asgard, Odin is frustrated that Thor still loves Jane Foster, despite being told (in Journey Into Mystery #100) that he will never be allowed to marry her. After a little goading from Loki, Odin decides to punish Thor by taking away half of his powers and expelling him from Asgard.

  • This is all according to Loki’s plan, of course. With Thor weakened, he can finally defeat the God of Thunder.

  • Not wanting to draw Odin’s wrath, Loki opts to attack Thor indirectly. He decides to use Zarrko as his pawn. Loki magically restores Zarrko’s memory, and nudges him to blame Thor for his misfortune.

  • Zarrko soon travels back to the past with a giant robot that can disintegrate metals.

  • Working at half power means that Thor does not fare well against the robot. Zarrko threatens to have the robot rampage through the city unless Thor accompanies him to the 23rd century and agrees to follow Zarrko’s commands. Knowing that no Earth hero can stop the robot, Thor agrees to help Zarrko; that story will be told in next month’s issue.

  • Odin observes Thor’s surrender, but apparently without an audio feed.  He is upset at Thor’s apparent cowardice.

In “Tales of Asgard”:

  • Asgard is anticipating a massive attack from the “forces of evil,” and a young Thor wants to prove his worth by helping Heimdall defend the Rainbow Bridge. Heimdall sensibly sends the boy away.

  • Knowing Thor’s desire to prove himself in battle, Loki leads Thor to a gap in Asgard’s defenses; if Thor protects that, that should make him somewhat more worthy of holding Mjolnir, right? Not surprisingly, Loki not only created the gap that Thor is now defending, he also alerted Asgard’s enemies to attack there.

  • Thor held the attackers at bay long enough for Asgard’s warriors to regroup and come to his defense.

  • Despite Loki’s best efforts, Thor ends the day slightly closer to being able to wield Mjolnir.

Is It Good?

Surprisingly, this issue works for me. The plot is contrived, and Zarrko is neither an interesting nor sympathetic villain, but that didn’t bother me this time. Maybe it is because Thor and Donald Blake have been devoid of personality, and having Thor cause a panic because he’s in a bad mood was entertaining. Or maybe it is because Thor is a vastly overpowered hero, so having him weakened by Odin made him sympathetic for a change. This isn’t a great issue, by any means, but it was a change of pace in a title that has started to feel stale.

The Tales of Asgard back-up feature was an added bonus. For the second consecutive issue, Lee and Kirby focused on a small part of a larger story, and turned in a fun short story about the young Thor.

Continuity:

  • Thor’s godly strength and powers —- as well as that of his magic hammer —- have been halved by Odin, as punishment for not forgoing his love for Jane Foster.
  • Loki’s punishment for his frequent misdeeds appears to have been relaxed. He is no longer chained in a dungeon (to be fair, we knew that in Journey Into Mystery #97), and he is now allowed to hang out with Odin.
  • Zarrko’s memory has been restored by Loki. It was damaged in his battle with Thor in Journey Into Mystery #86.
  • This is the first appearance of a host of minor Thor villains: the Norn Hag, Ulfrin the Dragon, Skoll and Hati (Wolf gods), and Geirrodur the Rock Troll.
  • Apparently, being worthy enough to lift Thor’s hammer isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Young Thor is able to lift it a bit before he has been proven worthy.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Consistency is Key, Part 1 of 2: The Avengers want to prevent Thor from hurting any innocent civilians while he is distraught, so they try to talk to him. Before they catch up with him, they witness him recklessly damaging private property and endangering civilians.

  • Consistency is Key, Part 2 of 2: the Avengers then try to speak to Thor, and he brushes them off, insisting that no one can help him. Iron Man’s reaction is “You’re right. It’s none of our business. We’ll leave you alone now to wreck the city as you see fit.”

  • First of all, that must have been a well-constructed building to stay together, even after being ripped from its foundations and dropped on its side. Second, why is there traffic on both sides of the downed building? It looks like a one-way road, so shouldn’t the cars past it be home free?

  • “This is too much! My son was too weak to win a battle because I intentionally weakened him!”

  • I love the expression on Thor’s face here. He looks like a cat meowing for food.

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