Journey Into Mystery (Vol. 1) Annual #1

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“When Titans Clash!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Vince Colletta

What’s Going On?

Thor accidentally enters Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods. Naturally, he picks a fight with their greatest champion, Hercules.

Details:

  • At some point in the past, Thor and Loki were looking for adventure in Jotunheim, land of the Storm Giants. When Thor spies a pair of Giants, he attacks. Loki, predictably, hides from the conflict and let’s Thor defend himself.

  • Thor’s hits cause the Storm Giants to retreat, but the thunder god struck the ground so hard that it began to crumble; he accidentally discovered a passageway to Olympus!

  • As Thor begins to look for a way home, he encounters a rude (but very strong) opponent —- the mighty Hercules, son of Zeus! It doesn’t take long for the two to get off on the wrong foot.

  • The pair quickly comes to blows, and they are both surprised at how worthy the other is in battle.

  • This goes on for a while.

  • Eventually, Zeus steps in and calls the fight a draw.

  • Thor and Hercules part as friends, and Zeus sends Thor back to Jotunheim safely, where a very confused Loki was waiting.

Is It Good?

It’s a big fight issue, so it’s mostly fluff, from a storytelling aspect. But the art is good, and it’s always fun to see Thor evenly-matched in a fight. Hercules being an abrasive ass was an interesting character choice, and one I fully support —- who needs or wants their heroes to always be boring, anyway?

Continuity:

  • This issue contains reprints of the Thor stories from Journey Into Mystery #85, #93, #95, and #97.
  • This is the first official Silver Age appearance of Hercules, the strong and adventurous Greek demigod. He last appeared in the Golden Age (Young Allies #16, from 1945).
  • It seems —- based on his general appearance, attitude, and the fact that neither he nor Thor recognized each other —- that the “Hercules” Thor battled in Avengers #10 was a different person than this Hercules. It’s odd that Thor didn’t comment on that in the Avengers story. I wonder when/if this discrepancy will be explained?
  • This is the first appearance of Zeus in a Silver Age superhero comic. He last appeared in Amazing Adult Fantasy #13 in 1963.
  • Thor apparently didn’t always know that Olympus and the Greek gods were real. I would love to see that explained some time, because it seems very strange.

  • There are two pin-ups of Asgard in this issue. It’s worth noting how much more futuristic they look, compared to what we have seen in the comics so far. None of these places have been referenced before.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I like that Thor recognizes Olympus by A) falling and B) a “shadowy chamber.” Yep, nothing spells Olympus like those two things.

  • Even if I believed that satyrs and centaurs are not enough to weird out an Asgardian, I would think that the concept of centaur pants would draw Thor’s attention. Do you think this is a Comics Code thing, or did Jack Kirby just love the concept of fictional creatures wearing unnecessary underwear? (See Fing Fang Foom for another example)

  • Hercules is a ridiculous character, and I really like the idea of someone insisting on sole usage of a bridge. It’s like Herc was just hanging out at the bridge, waiting for someone to cross it — just so he could be a jerk and refuse to let them cross.

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