Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) #102

Credits:

Cover Date: March 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“Slave of Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Chic Stone

“Tales of Asgard: Death’ Comes to Thor!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Paul Reinman

What’s Going On?

In the main story, Thor is forced to help Zarrko conquer the 23rd century. But what will happen when he is successful?

In Tales of Asgard, we finally learn how Thor proved himself worthy enough to lift Mjolnir.

Details:

“Slave of Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man!”:

  • Thor has agreed to be Zarrko’s servant in the 23rd century. Zarrko’s first command was to have Thor conquer the planet!

  • Thor does as he is told, but he makes sure to use as nonviolent means as possible to overcome Zarrko’s enemies. Eventually, Zarrko and Thor make their way to the World Council, where the leaders of the 23rd century rule. Zarrko demands that they direct him to the Master Machine, the secret computer that tells them how to govern.

  • They find the Master Machine, hidden on an isolated island. The computer has automated defenses, but even a half-powered Thor is mighty enough to overcome them.

  • By guiding Zarrko to the Master Machine, Thor has kept his word to help the villain conquer the 23rd century. Having fulfilled that promise, Thor is no longer constrained by his word; he is now able to attack Zarrko!

  • In the end, Thor is able to defeat Zarrko fairly easily, and the World Council takes custody of the villain. Thor returns to the 20th century, and Odin is once again proud of his son.

“Tales of Asgard”:

  • Thor is told by the Three Fates that he will someday be able to lift Mjolnir, but not until he has faced death.

  • Thor soon encounters a wounded Balder the Innocent. Apparently, Storm Giants attacked him and captured his sister, Sif. Enraged, Thor picks up the hammer to save Sif —- without realizing the significance of what he has finally done!

  • With his new hammer, Thor easily handled the Storm Giants. However, they had already traded Sif to Hela, the Goddess of Death. Thor tracker down Hela, and offered his life for Sif’s; Hela was touched by Thor’s noble offer, and granted both their freedom.

Is It Good?

The main story was okay. I still don’t like Zarrko as a villain, but the hilariously random powers Thor showed off in this story kept me amused. It’s interesting to note that Thor finished the story, still operating at half his power; if that plot thread is picked up next issue, it will be the longest-running non-romantic subplot in this title.

The Tales of Asgard story was good. I think Lee and Kirby are starting to find their groove in these short stories, and we’re finally starting to see Kirby draw some weird character designs in Asgard.

Continuity:

  • Odin halved Thor’s powers (and that of his hammer) in Journey Into Mystery #101.
  • Thor was 18-years old when he was worthy enough to lift his hammer. That seems young for an immortal.
  • This is the first appearance of Hela. It’s worth noting that Hela has a variant of her classic helmet, even in her first appearance. She appears to be older than Thor; I only mention this because I know I’ve read stories where she is supposed to be Loki’s daughter, and Loki is approximately Thor’s age in these stories.
  • This is the first appearance of Sif. At this point, she is far from the brunette warrior-goddess that she will become and appears to be both a blonde and a lady of Odin’s court.
  • This is also the first appearance of the Norns, AKA the Three Fates, AKA the Weird Sisters, AKA the Moirae. They are oracles and overseers of fate. They are not named in this issue, but the three sisters are Skuld, Urd, and Verdandi.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Thor’s hammer can do what, now (Part 1)?

  • Thor’s hammer can do what, now (Part 2)?

  • Wait…the 23rd century is secretly ruled by a computer? And it isn’t trying to destroy humanity, but instead guided us to a nonviolent utopia? This might be the most radically fictional thing Stan Lee has ever written.

  • What are the odds that every single one of the major cities of the future A) exists in the 20th century B) have not changed their name? Also, Antarctica and Tahiti will apparently become more important in the future.

  • Thor’s hammer can do what, now (Part 3)?

  • Thor’s hammer can do what, now (Part 4)? That’s awfully fast, Thor, and seems like something that would have major repercussions if you did it in Earth’s atmosphere.

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