Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thank The gods Tis Thor's Day!- Journey Into Mystery # 83

As the good folks at Marvel Comics began to crank out a line of superhero comics, one question was hanging at the backs of their minds: "How can you top Superman?" I mean, for any hero to be more powerful than Superman he'd have to be... well, a god.

Enter The Mighty Thor, Norse god of thunder, hero of legend, scion of Asgard, user of leave-in conditioner.

While on a walking tour of Norway, "lame Doctor Donald Blake" (I LOVE how they describe him like that. He has a severe limp and walks with a cane, but it always makes him sound like he's a sub-standard physician.) is witness to a terrifying invasion by Stone Men from Saturn.

Seeking shelter in a nearby cave, Dr. Blake finds himself trapped in a cave-in. After stumbling through the dark, looking for an alternate exit, Don finds an old, gnarled walking stick laying on a stone slab. Don tries to use the stick as a lever to pry away a large rock blocking a potential exit, and in his struggles bangs the stick against the stone. Suddenly, lightning crashes within the cave and frail Dr.Blake is transformed into Thor.

The stick, it seems was the mighty hammer of Thor, Mjolnir, in disguise. Inscribed on the head of the mystical hammer are the words "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of THOR".

Using his new-found super strength, Thor hefts the boulder out of the way of the exit and leaves the cave. Setting his hammer down, Thor discovers that, after sixty seconds away from the magic of the hammer, he reverts to Donald Blake. He soon discovers that the hammer returns to his hand when thrown, is indestructible and can control the weather.

Thor quickly routs the alien invaders and transforms back into Lame Doctor Donald Blake.

The Hammer turns back into a walking stick. The story ends with the promise of further Thor adventures to come.

For anyone familiar with this comic from its later incarnations, I would like to note a few points of interest. Firstly, it seems pretty obvious (to me, anyway) that at this stage of the comic, Doctor Don Blake is really Doctor Don Blake and he only summons the power of Thor. The Hammer Mjolnir sort of functions like an Aladdin's lamp. Secondly, that being said, Thor reminds me very much of Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel, who was secretly young Billy Batson. Batson would say the magic word "Shazam!" and transform into the super hero Captain Marvel.

Next Thor's Day will be a Hallowe'en-related post, but after that, I will pick up with Journey Into Mystery #84.


  1. Reading between the lines here, I gather that in later versions/editions of the story, Donald Blake actually becomes Thor? I was never quite sure about that - mostly because I never read Thor. Thor's another one of those characters I never quite "got" - like Dr. Strange, and for similar reasons.

    (Of course, growing up with an odd sort of Christian Fundamentalisty upbringing, the idea of an actual god - besides the One - being real, was a bit off-putting anyway, but that's a whole other issue.)

    So now the question is "what is the nature of Thor?" Are there factions similar to Trinitarian doctrine that state that Thor and Dr. Blake are of the same substance, but are still distinct? Simultaneously Two and One? Is there a Norse Arian heresy that states that they are distinctly separate beings, but both holy? Are there those who see Blake as merely a prophet of the Mighty Thor and a vessel through which his divine will is worked? Could there be more and greater Prophets of Thor which will eclipse Donald Blake, and cause a schism, ultimately resulting in distinct Thor-worshipping religions which will spend centuries fighting one another, even though they all worship the same god-concept?

    Dammit, I wanna know this stuff! Guess I'll have to find some old issues of Thor.



  2. Well, first of all, I plan to cover Thor every Thor's Day for the near future- so you can avoid all that shopping. Secondly, it's really pretty simple. A few month in, it is "revealed" that Don Blake has been Thor all along. In fact, Don Blake doesn't really exist. Odin turned Thor into a frail healer to teach him some humility and wiped his memory of being Thor.

    Thirdly, ANY Abrahamic religious tradition connects pretty strongly with the first commandment. However, this is SO not a religious comic of ANY kind.

  3. So this isn't a Norse version of Jack Chick?

    How disappointing ...