Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) #116

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta

“The Trial of the Gods!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Vince Colletta

“Tales of Asgard: the Challenge”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Vince Colletta

What’s Going On?

In the feature story, Thor and Loki undergo the dangerous Trial of the Gods for reasons to odd to get into right now.

In Tales of Asgard, Loki tries to make another evil friend, but Thor spoils everything.

Details:

In the main story:

  • As promised last issue, Thor and Loki are going to undergo the Trial of the Gods. Odin lays down the ground rules: the two will be dropped in a harsh terrain with no weapons, and the first to return to Asgard wins.

  • Not surprisingly, Loki cheated. He brought some Norn stones with him, granting him a variety of powers.

  • Using the Norn stones, Loki shows Thor a vision of Earth. There, the Enchantress and Executioner are abducting her. This is all part of Loki’s plan; he wants Thor to be distracted and vulnerable.

  • Here’s how that plays out, over and over: Loki uses his stones to get past a dangerous threat, and Thor just forces his way through the threat because he’s Thor.

  • Back in Asgard, Balder informs Odin of Loki’s plot to abduct Jane. Odin doesn’t want the challenge to be swayed by this, so he sends Balder to Earth to save her.

  • Luckily, the Enchantress and Executioner were taking their sweet time with Jane, so Balder was able to catch up to them before the villains had actually finished kidnapping her.

  • Elsewhere, the Trial of the Gods comes to a close. Loki is able to cross the finish line just ahead of Thor.

  • To be continued…!

In Tales of Asgard:

  • While on a diplomatic mission for Asgard, Loki tries to make a private alliance with the evil King Hymir.
  • Loki’s plan is for Hymir to challenge Thor to one of his famously unfair wagers; if Thor loses, he will become Hymir’s slave.

  • The challenge: Thor must break a goblet within two minutes. The catch is that the goblet has an enchantment in it, preventing it from harm.

  • Running out of options, Thor chucks the goblet at Hymir’s head, where it breaks on Hymir’s crown because…magic? Thor wins the challenge!

  • Hymir blames Loki for the loss. Loki had hoped to win an ally, but instead gained an enemy.

Is It Good?

It’s okay. I liked the core idea of this issue —- Thor and Loki are in a race, but Loki is a cheater —- but the execution wasn’t very interesting. I wish Loki’s cleverness was on display in this issue, instead of him just having a MacGuffin that helps him win. Sure, Loki is a cheater, but him using his wits to cheat in different ways would have been way more fun to read.

Continuity:

  • Thor and Loki are going through the Trial of the Gods because Odin couldn’t tell which of his sons was telling the truth in Journey Into Mystery #115.
  • The Enchantress and Executioner last appeared in Avengers #16.
  • Balder last appeared in Journey Into Mystery #114.
  • The Teen Brigade last appeared in Avengers #14.
  • This is the first appearance of the Norn Stones. They are enchanted stones that grant a variety of powers to those that wield them.

  • This issue makes several references to other Marvel comics that were still on sale at the time of printing.
  • This scene takes place during Avengers #16, presumably after Captain America and Rick Jones return from South America, but before Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp have officially quit the team.

  • This scene takes place during Daredevil #7.

  • This scene with the Frightful Four takes place after the events of Fantastic Four #38.

  • Apparently, Odin made an edict making the death of any mortal by a god’s hand punishable by death. That’s new!

Comics Are Goofy:

  • To determine who is telling the truth, the Trial of the Gods forces the gods to…race? That doesn’t seem like a good lie detector test.
  • I have to imagine that this is just a coincidence, but Yagg looks a lot like Professor X in his psychic armor (as seen in Uncanny X-Men #117 and X-Men and the Micronauts). There’s no way John Byrne was paying homage to this throwaway character.
  • Balder is the only Asgardian who has ever even considered dressing up like a mortal on Earth.

  • The Teen Brigade meets their match in this issue.  It turns out that a group of teenagers communicating through HAM radio are only useful if someone else is listening to them.
  • What I love about this scene is that it is a happy accident that Thor broke the goblet here.  Thor’s actual plan was to kill Hymir so that their agreement would be null and void.

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