The world cannot get enough superhero articles. Readers demanded another one so here is a look at the first 20 stories of the Marvel Comics version of Thor.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #83 (August 1962)
Title: Thor The Mighty and the Stone Men
Villains: Kronans (Stone Men)
Synopsis: Brilliant and famous doctor and surgeon, Donald Blake MD, has traveled to Norway on vacation. While he is there an alien race of Stone Men called the Kronans, using Saturn as a staging post, invade the Earth.
The lame (as in limping with a cane) Doctor Blake hides in a nearby cave where he finds a hidden chamber containing an alternate walking stick. An inscription on the cavern wall indicates that the stick can bestow the power of the Norse thunder god Thor.
When Blake fails to move rocks which have fallen across the cave entrance by using the walking stick as a lever, he lashes out in frustration, striking the bottom of the stick against the rocks. This triggers his transformation into Thor while the enchanted walking stick becomes Thor’s legendary hammer Mjolnir.
NOTE: As Thor’s adventures went along, Marvel Comics ultimately decided that Donald Blake really WAS the ancient Norse god Thor, but that his father Odin had wiped his memory and forced him to live as the lame Donald Blake to teach the cocky god humility. The lesson apparently learned, we’re told Odin made Blake take this Norway vacation so he could find the cane/ Mjolnir and return to being Thor in order to save Earth from the Stone Men.
Back to the story, as Thor, our hero easily removed all the rocks blocking the cave entrance and watched as Earth fighter jets were driven off by the Kronan spaceships, whose force fields protected them from all the Earthlings’ missiles and bombs.
Thor attacked the invading Kronan forces, armed with Mjolnir. The Stone Men, their disintegrator rays, their robotic Mechano-Monster and all their other weapons were overcome by our hero, so the aliens flew off, ending their invasion of Earth.
Thor struck the base of Mjolnir’s handle against the ground and turned back into Donald Blake while Mjolnir turned back into his walking stick. Doctor Blake blended in with the crowds and contemplated his new dual identity.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #84 (September 1962)
Title: The Mighty Thor vs The Executioner
Villain: The Executioner (Santiago Rivera) This is NOT Thor’s more famous foe called the Executioner (Skurge), who will debut later.
NOTE: Nurse Jane Foster makes her first appearance in this story.
Synopsis: In the fictional South American nation of San Diablo a rebellion against its Communist dictatorship has unleashed a bloody war across the country. The Communists, as usual, inflict heavy losses on non-combatants and assorted international physicians volunteer to do medical aid in the war-torn country.
Doctor Donald Blake and his longtime nurse Jane Foster are among the medical personnel arriving in San Diablo. Santiago Rivera, called the Executioner, doesn’t want the civilians to receive medical aid because he wants them to be at the mercy of his Communist forces.
Blake turns into Thor to strike down the Executioner’s warplanes when they try to bomb the arriving medical ships. Next, Rivera sends his soldiers into the jungles to kill every doctor and nurse they find. Again, Donald Blake is forced to become Thor and defeat the Communists while not letting Jane Foster catch on to his secret identity.
Rivera and his men threaten to kill Jane unless Thor flies off, so he does. Returning as Dr Blake, he tries to insist that Nurse Foster MUST be let go, but the Executioner bullies him, takes his walking stick off him and orders him executed.
Donald goads the macho Rivera into a one on one fight, implying the Executioner is too cowardly to fight “a cripple.” The fight begins and Blake grabs his stick, then runs off to become Thor. The thunder god wipes out the Communist army with the help of the arriving freedom fighters.
The Executioner tries to flee with as much of San Diablo’s gold reserves as he can but his own forces kill him when they realize he is abandoning them. With Rivera’s death the Communists are defeated and a new era dawns in San Diablo.
Doctor Blake and Nurse Foster stay for a few months overseeing the international relief efforts.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #85 (October 1962)
Title: Trapped By Loki
Synopsis: In Asgard, Loki uses his magic and his wiles to escape the prison in which Odin confined him. He wants revenge on his ancient enemy Thor. He manages to locate him in New York City through the Uru metal that Mjolnir is made from.
Once in New York, Loki is frustrated by the millions of people among whom Thor may be living. To flush out the thunder god he uses his magic to turn crowds of people into photo-negative images of themselves, causing a citywide panic.
Donald Blake turns into Thor and investigates. He uses his hammer to undo the enchantment and the people are returned to normal. Loki confronts Thor and the two take their battle to the skies, to avoid endangering innocent humans.
Loki succeeds in enthralling Thor and gets him to lay down his hammer. He then sends the thunder god to let loose all the deadly animals in the zoo, to endanger the mortals that Thor obviously has a soft spot for.
Our villain does not know that 60 seconds without Mjolnir causes Thor to turn back into Donald Blake, thus freeing him from Loki’s enchantment before he can even reach the zoo. Returning to where he left his hammer (which Loki was, of course, unable to lift and was forced to abandon), he touches it, turning back into Thor.
Thor battles Loki in a citywide, destructive battle but ultimately defeats him and returns him to Asgard for punishment. Our hero turns back into Dr Blake, who returns to his office where Jane Foster is gushing over Thor’s latest heroics.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #86 (November 1962)
Title: On The Trail Of The Tomorrow Man
Villain: The Tomorrow Man (Artur Zarrko)
Synopsis: In the future year 2262, the mad scientist Artur Zarrko feels that the peace that reigns around the globe means he should be able to conquer the planet. With atomic weapons long since banned, Zarrko builds a time machine so he can go back in time, grab some nuclear weapons, then go back to 2262 and use the nukes to take over the world.
In 1962, Thor is helping the American military test missiles, with the final test of the day centering around exploding a cobalt bomb near Thor to study its effects on him. (And Thor is fine with this.)
The Tomorrow Man shows up in his saucer-shaped time machine, since he knows from future history that THIS was the day and site on which the first cobalt bomb was tested. Zarrko pilots his craft against Thor, defeats him and makes off back to the future with the cobalt bomb.
Thor promises the generals that he will recover the cobalt bomb and asks his father Odin for help getting to where the Tomorrow Man went. Odin tells Thor Mjolnir can take him through time by tying a fragment of Zarrko’s craft (broken off by Thor during the battle) to the hammer and spinning it rapidly.
The thunder god arrives in the year 2262 a few weeks after the Tomorrow Man returned there. He finds that Zarrko has successfully forced the world government to surrender all authority to him because he threatened to use the cobalt bomb if they didn’t.
Soon the Tomorrow Man learns Thor has followed him to 2262 and sics his newly-formed army on our hero. When the thunder god defeats the army, Zarrko has him attacked by a large number of robots. Those robots succeed in taking Mjolnir away from Thor but he gets it back before the 60 second limit which would have turned him back into Donald Blake.
When all the robots are defeated, Zarrko takes to the air in a bomber, planning to use the cobalt bomb if he can’t be dictator. Thor conjures up a storm, recovers the c-bomb and causes the Tomorrow Man’s aircraft to crash.
The world government praises Thor and retakes control from the defeated Zarrko. Our hero returns to 1962 so that the cobalt bomb test can indeed take place on the date it’s supposed to.
Thor returns to New York, becomes Donald Blake again and listens to Nurse Foster mooning over Thor again.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #87 (December 1962)
Title: Prisoner of the Reds
Villains: Soviet Union officers and soldiers
Synopsis: More Cold War drama. When Dr Donald Blake reads about 5 American scientists who recently defected to the Soviet Union under suspicious circumstances, he decides to look into it.
Blake goes to Washington D.C. and talks to military intelligence. He volunteers to serve as bait by playing on his worldwide reputation. He lets the U.S. government spread news that Dr Blake has devised a new biological weapon.
One of the news photographers who show up amid the flurry of publicity for Donald Blake is really a Soviet spy. His camera is really a hypnosis device. Its flash enthralls the good doctor, forcing him to write the exact kind of farewell note that the 5 other “defected” – but really abducted – scientists left.
The spy then takes Blake to the Soviet Union, where the hypnosis wears off and he is imprisoned alongside the other 5 scientists until he will give in and agree to work for the USSR. The first time Donald is alone he turns into Thor and takes on the Russians.
The thunder god overcomes all the high-tech traps in the prison, but when the Soviets threaten to blow up the prison and all the prisoners, Thor agrees to lay down his hammer. The Russians bind Thor hand and foot in “electronically treated” shackles.
Once the 60 seconds are over, the chained Thor turns back into Donald Blake, who is so scrawny that he easily slips out of the bonds intended for his brawny alter ego. He touches his discarded hammer and becomes Thor once again.
Our hero then frees the prisoners and defeats the Soviet forces in the area. He turns back into Donald Blake and joins the other American scientists in fleeing the Soviet Union. Back in the U.S. Jane Foster is unimpressed by Dr Blake’s courage but dwells instead on Thor’s heroics.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #88 (January 1963)
Title: The Vengeance of Loki
Synopsis: In Asgard, where Odin has decreed that Loki may never again visit Midgard/ Earth, the villain broods. Wanting revenge on Thor he takes to magically spying on our hero and sees one of his transformations from Thor into Donald Blake. Armed with this knowledge of the thunder god’s secret identity he devises a new plan.
Loki slips out of Asgard in the form of a small snake and heads for New York City. Once there he transforms into a handicapped old man and visits the office of Dr Donald Blake, where he whispers magic instructions to Jane Foster. When Nurse Foster presents him to the doctor, Loki reveals his real form and tells Blake he knows he is really Thor.
Blake turns into Thor and Loki challenges him to fight him in Central Park. Loki leaves and Thor becomes Donald Blake again, then conjures up an excuse for Jane Foster about why he must leave for the afternoon.
Per Loki’s post-hypnotic command, Jane walks to Central Park, arriving in the middle of Thor and Loki’s battle. By endangering Jane Foster, Loki manages to separate Thor from his hammer, then encases Mjolnir in a mystical force field to prevent the thunder god from being able to touch it.
After 60 seconds, Thor turns back into Donald Blake and is helpless to oppose Loki, who brags that his hated archenemy will now have to watch as he conquers his beloved Midgard/ Earth. Donald revives Jane from her hypnotic trance and takes her home.
Loki rampages through New York, terrorizing the citizens and harshly defeating the armed forces which try to stop him. (No, I don’t know why the Fantastic Four and/or Spider-Man don’t show up to oppose him.)
Donald Blake comes up with a plan of his own, and plants an anonymous threat with the media – a threat supposedly coming from Thor – saying that he will defeat Loki. Our villain fears that the thunder god somehow recovered Mjolnir and goes to Central Park, where the opaque force-field seems intact.
Loki temporarily lowers the force-field to make sure the hammer is still there. In that brief moment, the lurking Donald Blake lunges from the bushes, touches the hammer and becomes Thor once again. Loki tries to escape but the thunder god subdues him and takes him back to Asgard for further punishment from Odin.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #89 (February 1963)
Title: The Thunder God and the Thug
Villain: “Thug” Thatcher
Synopsis: It’s a busy day at the office of Dr Donald Blake, where he and his nurse Jane Foster care for a long line of patients. Blake ponders his unrequited love for Jane, who regards the doctor with a degree of professional admiration but dreams about marrying Thor.
Nearby, Andrew “Thug” Thatcher has his gang and his girlfriend Ruby bust him free during a prison exchange. Thatcher is shot and wounded during the melee so he and Ruby and his boys seek out a doctor’s office. They hold Blake and Nurse Foster captive and force the doctor to treat Thug’s wound.
Donald does so, while silently praying to his father Odin to help him. Odin obliges, striking down one of Thug’s men, allowing Blake to slip away and turn into Thor. Our hero easily trounces the gangsters but Thug and the reluctant Ruby use Jane Foster as a hostage against Thor.
The thunder god turns the tables on Thatcher, who flees but is caught by Thor and turned over to the cops. Ruby’s desire to reform impresses our hero, who has Odin remove her memories of Thug Thatcher so she can start a normal life.
Thor transforms back into Donald Blake and resumes attending to his patients.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #90 (March 1963)
Title: Trapped By The Carbon Copy Man
Villain: The Carbon Copy Men
Synopsis: On the distant planet called Xarta, two of their warlords plan to invade the Earth.
Meanwhile, Doctor Donald Blake and his nurse Jane Foster are facing another busy day. Blake contemplates revealing to Jane that he is really Thor and asking her to marry him. Before he can do so, Odin contacts him telepathically and forbids him from doing so.
Donald leaves to do the rounds of his patients at his admitting hospital and notices bizarre behavior on the part of civilians and police officers alike. He returns to his office to find that Jane, too, is different.
Blake becomes Thor and flies around the city. Ultimately he learns that the alien Xartans are starting their bid to take over the Earth by rounding up New Yorkers and making “carbon copies” of them. The original humans are kept as captives in their vast spaceship.
Thor sneaks around outside the spaceship, then puts down his hammer while he tries to tear open an entrance for himself in the hull. A magnetic force field of unearthly strength holds him flat against the ship’s surface.
After 60 seconds he turns back into Donald Blake and is found & captured by the Xartans. Blake meets Jane and the other captives. The Mayor joins Jane in insisting that Thor will stop the Xartan invasion.
The aliens inquire about this Thor, so Blake pretends he knows where to find him. While “leading” the Xartans to Thor he slips away, touches his hammer and becomes Thor again.
The thunder god outfights the Xartan army and all their high-tech weapons, ultimately driving off the invasion force. The Xartans who had already taken human form are rounded up by Thor and forced to transform into trees, thus losing their sentience and becoming trapped in those forms for good.
Back at Donald Blake’s office, Jane Foster tells Blake that Thor told her and the Mayor that Donald had helped him against the Xartans but Jane snarkily wonders how he could possibly have helped the mighty Thor.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #91 (April 1963)
Title: Sandu, Master of the Supernatural
Villains: Sandu and Loki
Synopsis: In Asgard, Odin is storing away Thor’s belt, which can increase his already awesome strength. (This belt is actually from Norse myths, believe it or not.)
On Midgard/ Earth, Thor is flying along over New York and sees a bank building float into the sky and then disappear. Turning into Donald Blake so he can mingle with the crowd below, he learns that the people who were in the bank right before the incident have no memory of what happened.
Blake assumes Loki is behind these magical events and contacts Odin, only to learn that Loki is still imprisoned in Asgard. Unknown to Odin, however, a few days earlier Loki was mystically observing Donald Blake and Jane Foster at a magic show provided by the magician called Sandu.
Loki began remotely augmenting Sandu’s powers to a thousand times what they were. The greedy, villainous figure began using his new powers in nefarious ways, stealing all the money from a racetrack one day, stealing entire bank buildings after that.
Recently Sandu stole an entire palace from the near East. He kept the stolen buildings on the moon for safekeeping for now. Presently he has decided to steal everything on the island of Manhattan.
The Air Force tries to stop Sandu but is easily defeated. Next the evil magician floats the entire UN building high in the sky, where he addresses the delegates and tells them to inform each of their governments to surrender their sovereignty to him.
Seeing news reports of all this, Donald Blake becomes Thor and takes on Sandu. In a destructive battle, the magician at last succeeds in pinning Thor underneath an entire skyscraper. Odin witnesses this, and no doubt saying to himself “So THAT’S what Anton Chekhov meant!” sends Valkyries to Thor’s aid with his strength-increasing belt.
The Valkyries put the belt on the trapped Thor, who manages to lift the skyscraper off himself with his augmented strength. Next he clashes with Sandu again.
In this rematch things go more Thor’s way and when he has Sandu on the ropes the villain tries lifting Mjolnir but fails. When he tries using his magic to lift it, his power shorts out completely, leaving him a normal man once more.
The buildings are all restored to their appropriate positions and Thor turns Sandu over to the authorities. Loki, his role in this still unknown to our hero, is furious that Thor once again survived destruction.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #92 (May 1963)
Title: The Day Loki Stole Thor’s Hammer
Synopsis: In Asgard, Loki is now chained to a tree with bonds made of Uru, the same mystic metal that Mjolnir is made of.
In New York City, Donald Blake slips away to become Thor, take down a trio of jewel robbers and turn back into Blake before Jane Foster can even notice.
A week later, Thor is helping a Hollywood studio film a Viking movie, using his powers to save them a fortune on special effects. When he throws Mjolnir at the rigged-up “dragon” he is fighting in the film, Loki magically causes his Uru chains to magnetically attract the Uru in Thor’s hammer.
The hammer shatters Loki’s chains, freeing him, while a frantic Thor contacts Odin and tells him that his old enemy is probably the one behind the theft of Mjolnir. Odin teleports Thor to Asgard, where the 60 second period before he reverts to Donald Blake does not apply.
Thor searches for Loki, who animates giant trees into monsters that attack our hero. Thor defeats them all, even without his hammer. Loki unleashes a dragon on Thor, who emerges victorious over it.
Next the thunder god throws a hunk of Uru metal from a nearby supply of the substance, and, as he hoped, the same magnetic enchantment which attracted Mjolnir attracts this chunk of Uru. Thor follows it to Loki’s shattered chains, where Mjolnir sits among the wreckage.
In a bit of an anticlimax, Thor shows Odin, Frigga and Heimdall how Loki shattered his chains and the three of them recapture him. Back on Earth, Dr Blake resumes treating patients with Jane Foster at his side.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #93 (June 1963)
Title: The Mysterious Radioactive Man
Villain: Radioactive Man (Chen Lu, PhD)
Synopsis: Dr Donald Blake is in India participating in international medical relief work. The Communist Chinese suddenly invade the country.
Blake turns into Thor and fights the invading Chinese army to a standstill, then commandeers many of their vehicles to evacuate the sick people of India that Donald Blake was there to help. Afterward Thor conjures up a powerful storm which drives the Chinese back across the border into their own country.
(If you’re an emotional cripple who objects to China being depicted in this way, let me remind you how much noise China is making these days about possibly invading India.)
When the Communist leaders in Peking hear about this they demand that their scientists come up with a way of dealing with Thor in case he ever defies them again. Dr Chen Lu volunteers to be his own guinea pig in an effort to spawn a being powerful enough to go head to head with the thunder god.
Back at his laboratory, Chen Lu subjects himself to various chemicals, energies and different dosages of radiation. In the end he turns green, can project a force field around himself and is strong enough to take on Thor. He calls himself Radioactive Man and demonstrates his massive power to Mao Tse Tung.
Chairman Mao has Radioactive Man smuggled into New York Harbor via submarine. The villain wastes no time unleashing monumental destruction on New York City while demanding that Thor come forth to fight him.
Dr Donald Blake is stuck in surgery, so it is some time before he can turn into Thor and face Radioactive Man, who has been striking down U.S. forces in the meantime.
The pair clash and at one point the brilliant Chen Lu uses his radioactive powers in such a way as to leave Thor vulnerable to his hypnotic commands. He orders Thor to throw away his hammer, but is annoyed when the Asgardian throws it way too far away for Radioactive Man to see where it went.
The villain leaves Thor enthralled where he stands and continues his reign of terror. After 60 seconds Thor turns into Donald Blake, and as usual in his mortal form he is freed from any hypnotic state which gripped Thor.
Returning to his office, Blake rigs up a machine that will let him detect Uru and tracks his missing hammer to the bottom of the Hudson River. The gutsy crippled man recovers it, nearly losing his mortal life in the process.
Now that he’s become Thor again, our hero resumes his battle with the destructive Radioactive Man. The god conjures up a tornado which he uses to whisk Chen Lu back to China, where the villain seemingly dies from the explosive impact of his crash landing in the mountains.
NOTE: Chen Lu turns out to not be dead, and soon becomes one of the original members of the Masters of Evil when they battle the Avengers.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #94 (July 1963)
Title: Thor and Loki Attack the Human Race
Synopsis: A U.S. base in the Pacific conducts a missile test but the experimental device goes off-course and the remote self-destruct switch is not working. They send an emergency broadcast asking for help from Thor.
Dr Donald Blake hears the radio broadcast, turns into Thor and flies off to make sure the missile doesn’t harm anyone. In Asgard, Loki mentally monitors all this while bound in Uru chains to a tree. He magically caused the missile problem as part of a trap for Thor.
When Thor throws Mjolnir at the missile to destroy it high up in the air, Loki mystically causes a distraction which diverts the thunder god’s attention at the crucial instant when the hammer returns to him. Thor gets clobbered by his own returning hammer, weakening him enough that Loki can assume mental control over him.
The manipulated Thor flies to Asgard, fights his way past Heimdall on the Rainbow Bridge, then frees Loki. Together the pair drive off Odin and Loki informs Odin that he and Thor will be wreaking havoc on Midgard/ Earth until the sky god agrees to abdicate in favor of Loki.
Back on Earth, Loki magically creates a giant sea serpent which brings global shipping to a virtual halt, animates the Sphinx in Egypt and sends it on a Kaiju-style rampage. He also transforms dinosaur displays in museums into living dinosaurs and lets them loose, then turns the Empire State Building into a gigantic monster which attacks New York City.
Meanwhile he has Thor create massive storms which destroy the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Taj Mahal and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Eventually a U.N. delegation approach the two Asgardians to negotiate. During the negotiations the delegates cause an “accident” which results in Thor getting hit by his own hammer again and being freed from Loki’s control.
The supposed U.N. personnel drop their magical disguises, revealing themselves to be Odin and other Norse gods. Thor subdues Loki, who is then taken back to Asgard and chained once again to a tree.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #95 (August 1963)
Title: The Demon Duplicators
Villain: The Duplicator (Lawrence Zaxton)
Note: Awhile back, a Thor title referred to a “Carbon Copy MAN” when it should have been MEN. Now we have a Thor title referring to “Demon DuplicatorS” when it should instead be singular.
Synopsis: Odin summons Thor to Asgard, where he has the thunder god create a mild rain to make up for a drought the realm has been suffering. Thor then returns to Earth/ Midgard, where he attends a scientist convention.
Professor Lawrence Zaxton is demonstrating a robot he created with Dr Donald Blake advising on the humanoid anatomy elements. The robot has an IQ of 375 and outperforms humans at solving complex equations. Its artificial skin is strong enough to withstand a few blows from Thor’s hammer, meaning an army of such robots would be nearly invincible.
This oddly written story now takes a strange departure from where it seems to be going. The robot immediately short-circuits and is in danger of exploding. Thor hurls the android far up into the sky where it explodes harmlessly.
Our hero returns to New York City and resumes his medical practice as Dr Donald Blake. One day he comes in to the office to find Jane Foster gone but Professor Zaxton waiting for him.
Zaxton tells Blake he now wants his anatomical assistance on his new device, a ray-gun which duplicates inanimate objects when he fires it at them. He wants to improve it so that it duplicates living creatures, too, hence his need for Blake’s assistance.
After the debacle with the robot, Donald does not want to work with Zaxton ever again, but the Professor reveals he has Jane Foster held captive somewhere and will kill her if Blake doesn’t cooperate. Our hero plays along for a few days, hoping to learn where Jane is being held.
Zaxton uses his Duplicator Ray on a cat, which is successfully duplicated. While the Duplicator is exalting, Donald slips away to become Thor so he can go free Foster from Zaxton’s house, where the villain reveals she was being held.
Spotting Thor, the Duplicator fires his raygun at him, spawning a second Thor and sics the obedient duplicate on the original thunder god. To give his creation the edge, Zaxton duplicates just Mjolnir this time, so that the fake Thor has TWO hammers to fight with.
It turns out that mystic objects like Mjolnir cannot be successfully duplicated. The fake Thor’s hammers are just regular hammers and don’t even harm the real Thor. Our hero quickly defeats the duplicate of himself, causing the duplicate to vanish like a burst bubble.
While fleeing Thor, Zaxton falls to his death and his Duplicator Gun is destroyed in the fall, too. Jane Foster is freed and to wrap up this strange, disconnected tale, Thor returns to Asgard to end the few days of rain he had caused.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #96 (September 1963)
Title: Defying the Magic of Mad Merlin
Villain: Merlin (The Marvel Comics mutant version, not the “real” Merlin)
Synopsis: Thor is helping to save a bus full of passengers who fell into the East River. This causes him to be a half hour late showing up that morning as Dr Donald Blake. Jane Foster chews him out in his office for making his patients wait, then the two start their day.
Elsewhere, a ship from England has delivered an item for the museum: the supposed Sarcophagus of Merlin, recently discovered. Staff marvel at how magnificently preserved the corpse is.
Once left alone, the body opens its eyes and ventures forth, revealing that it is really one of the world’s oldest mutants, one who used his mutant powers to pretend he had magical abilities in the distant past.
NOTE: This mutant menace would go on to battle the X-Men a few times under the supervillain names Warlock and later Maha Yogi.
Merlin diverts a missile from Cape d’Or, threatening thousands of lives, but Thor arrives to set things right. Merlin teleports himself to Washington DC where he uses his powers to force his way into the White House to confront President John F Kennedy. (Insert your own Camelot joke here.)
Merlin insists that JFK surrender the United States to him, but Thor arrives in time to challenge the villain. The pair fight throughout Washington DC, with Merlin animating the Lincoln Memorial statue to fight Thor. He also uses the Washington Monument against Thor like a lance/ missile.
Ultimately, Thor convinces Merlin of his far superior power and persuades him to impose another thousand year sleep on himself like the kind he just woke up from.
Thor turns back into Donald Blake and reports for surgery. While assisting him in the operation Nurse Jane Foster tells him that in the operating room he’s a real wizard.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #97 (October 1963)
Title: The Lava Man
Villain: The Lava Man
Synopsis: Thor saves a jet pilot from certain death, then turns into Donald Blake and shows up at his practice. For some reason we are now told Jane Foster has feelings for Blake but that he is being aloof because of the way Odin previously forbade him from telling Jane the truth about his dual identity.
Once again he transforms into Thor and asks Odin for permission to reveal his secret to Jane and marry her, but Odin refuses.
The next day an incredibly strong man made of lava emerges from beneath the Earth’s crust and is on a rampage. The media call him the Lava Man. He lives under the Earth and wants to claim the surface world for his own.
Jane Foster tells Dr Blake that she has gotten a job with another doctor because she doesn’t want to stay where her affections have been rejected. (?) Then, with his attention caught by the citywide panic over the mayhem being caused by the Lava Man’s rampage, our hero becomes Thor and takes on the villain.
The battle between the thunder god and the Lava Man tears up most of the city, above ground AND below. The pair are evenly matched in strength and the Lava Man’s control of lava matches Thor’s control of storms.
Ultimately our hero carries the Lava Man off to a distant island and rams him down an active volcano before jamming it shut. The menace of the Lava Man seems finished.
The next day when Dr Blake and Nurse Foster interact she is angry that he never even checked to see if she was okay during the Lava Man’s destructive rampage. She introduces Donald to Dr Bruce Andrews, her new employer, and the two leave Blake wallowing in Peter Parker levels of self-pity.
NOTE: The Lava Man eventually turns out to be just ONE of an entire subterranean tribe of such deadly, powerful creatures. When he attacks again a few months later the rest of the tribe is beside him and it takes all the Avengers to stop them.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #98 (November 1963)
Title: Challenged by the Human Cobra
Villain: The Cobra (Klaus Voorhees)
Synopsis: We start with our hero erupting in a fit of anger over the failure of his relationship with Jane Foster. Odin summons him to Asgard where he warns him once again to forget his feelings for the human woman. Thor storms out of Asgard in a rage.
Back on Midgard/ Earth, the thunder god turns into Dr Donald Blake and decides to travel to India to visit an old colleague, hoping this will take his mind off Jane. (Trying to schedule appointments with Dr Blake must have been a real headache.)
Blake visits that colleague, Professor Schecktor (Scheckie to his friends) and meets the professor’s assistant, Klaus Voorhees. After Donald leaves, Klaus enacts his plan to kill Schecktor and take credit for his research.
To that end, Voorhees lets a cobra bite both him AND Schecktor, then administers his own special anti-venom to himself alone, letting the professor die. Too late, Klaus realizes that the cobra had been exposed to radiation. Its bite, mingled with his own anti-venom solution, has given him all the powers and abilities of a cobra.
Yes, he was bitten by a radioactive cobra, just like Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. In fact, the Cobra’s power set would make him an okay foe for Spider-Man, but up against Thor he’s absurdly out of his league.
Hearing about Schecktor’s fate, Donald Blake looks into it and realizes what happened. Klaus Voorhees, now called the Cobra, has fled to the U.S. Blake turns into Thor and returns to America.
Meanwhile, the Cobra, now suspected in Schecktor’s death, is using his powers to terrorize and intimidate a pharmaceutical firm into manufacturing his specially devised anti-venom but give him most of the profits. Thor arrives and easily smacks around his under-powered foe, prompting the Cobra to flee.
On the run, the villain breaks into the office of Dr Bruce Andrews, where Nurse Jane Foster has been working since leaving Donald Blake’s service. Andrews is exposed as a coward too terrified to defy the Cobra, disgusting Jane, who publicly summons Thor.
Our hero arrives, prompting the Cobra to use Foster as a hostage, taking her with him out onto a ledge several stories above the streets below. When Thor attempts to follow him he throws Jane Foster aside, forcing the thunder god to save her while the villain makes his escape to
menace mildly perturb our hero another day.
Jane Foster resigns as Dr Andrews’ nurse and returns to work at Dr Donald Blake’s practice.
NOTE: After a few tussles with Thor, the Cobra would go on to fight superheroes closer to his own power level, like Captain America and Daredevil.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #99 (December 1963)
Title: The Mysterious Mister Hyde
Villain: Mister Hyde (Calvin Zabo)
Synopsis: As Thor flies over New York City on his way to Asgard, the embittered Calvin Zabo is contemplating his revenge against Dr Donald Blake over a mysterious grudge.
Thor arrives in his father’s throne room, where he again pleads for permission to reveal his true identity to Jane Foster and marry her. Odin again refuses and things get heated. Thor raises Mjolnir to strike his father but is blasted down by energy rays from Odin’s hand. Odin orders Thor to return to Midgard/ Earth and Thor leaves.
Calvin Zabo prepares for his confrontation with Donald Blake, reflecting on how Blake refused to hire him as an assistant. Zabo has developed a serum which, when he drinks it, transforms him into an ugly, hulking and super-strong brute of a man. In honor of one of his favorite books he has named his alter ego “Mister Hyde.”
After swallowing some of the serum in the hallway outside Blake’s office, the transformed Mr Hyde bursts in, demanding to see Donald, who is not there. Informed that the doctor has not arrived yet, Hyde and the reluctant Jane settle down to wait for him.
When Dr Blake arrives, Mr Hyde confronts him, then tosses him out the window. On his way down, Donald manages to hit the base of his walking stick against the building’s wall, transforming him into Thor.
The thunder god makes sure Jane Foster is safe, then flies off to search for Mr Hyde. Unable to find him, he returns as Donald Blake. Calvin Zabo hears how the doctor was saved from the new supervillain called Mr Hyde by Thor and now wants revenge on Thor, as well as Blake.
The next day, Hyde disguises himself as Thor, bursts through a bank’s walls, tears off the vault door and flees with the money. In the cliffhanger ending, New York City is gripped with fear that Thor has gone bad.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #100 (January 1964)
Title: The Master Plan of Mister Hyde
Villain: Mister Hyde (Calvin Zabo)
Synopsis: With Odin having refused to let Thor confide in and marry the mortal Jane Foster, the thunder god asks him to instead transform Jane into an immortal so that they can marry. Odin will take it under consideration while observing Jane’s conduct to see if she is “worthy” of being canonized.
While traveling around New York City on his way back from Asgard, Thor sees citizens flee from him in terror and is attacked by the police since everyone thinks he robbed the bank that the disguised Mr Hyde robbed.
Not wanting to have to harm the police, Thor slips away and turns into Donald Blake. He then goes on to have a dinner date with Jane Foster that night. Calvin Zabo has secretly followed Dr Blake and Nurse Foster to the restaurant and now drinks more serum, changing into Mr Hyde.
Hyde attacks Donald and Jane at the restaurant, abducts them and ties Blake to a bomb while he heads off with his hostage, Jane, who has caught his eye. Wanting to show Foster how the supervillain half lives, he drags her along as he attacks a Naval Base and hijacks a Polaris Submarine.
Elsewhere, the struggling Doctor Blake has managed to reach his
utility belt cane and uses it to turn into Thor. He smothers the bomb and flies off to battle Mr Hyde aboard the Polaris Sub.
The battle quickly turns against Hyde, who, since he only has the strength of 12 men, is many times weaker than the Superman-level Thor. Jane Foster, not knowing that Thor IS Donald Blake, helps Mr Hyde escape because she’s worried that if Thor beats him he’ll detonate the bomb Dr Blake is tied to.
Thor must play along and, rather than pursue Hyde, flies off to “save” Donald Blake at Jane’s urging. In true Soap Opera fashion, Odin happened to observe Jane helping Thor’s foe to escape and doesn’t know the reason. He angrily tells Thor he will NOT allow her to become an immortal.
With Mr Hyde still at large and his future with Jane Foster doomed, Thor again indulges in Peter Parker levels of self-pity as this issue comes to a close.
NOTE: I have no idea why they had Thor take on such inferior villains back-to-back but the next time Mr Hyde took on our hero, Loki mystically increased his strength to make him a better match for Thor.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #101 (February 19640
Title: The Return of the Tomorrow Man
Villain: The Tomorrow Man (Artur Zarrko)
Synopsis: Thor pouts his way through New York City over his romantic plight. With his massive strength he is leaving a trail of destruction behind him, yet is oblivious to it.
His fellow superheroes Iron Man, the Wasp and Giant Man try to calm him down or subdue him but aren’t able to do either. Thor flies to Asgard but is forbidden another audience with his father Odin. He calms down and returns to Midgard/ Earth.
In the year 2264, Artur Zarrko prepares for another encounter with Thor. He reprograms a massive, kaiju-sized mining robot -whose arm is slightly visible on the above cover – to do his bidding and returns to the 20th Century.
Thor is attracted by the destructive rampage of the mining robot and attacks it. The robot is indestructible and the Tomorrow Man threatens to destroy everything in sight unless Thor surrenders and helps him conquer Earth of the year 2264. To save countless lives in New York City alone, Thor complies.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY Vol 1 #102 (March 1964)
Title: Slave of the Tomorrow Man
Villain: The Tomorrow Man (Artur Zarrko)
Synopsis: Arriving in 2264, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man has Thor take on the futuristic police force. The thunder god fights a path through the authorities until he and Zarrko have an audience with the World Council of the global government.
Zarrko demands that the World Council surrender to him the Master Machine which has been running the planet following his previous attempt at conquest. The Council refuses to even tell the Tomorrow Man where it is, so he orders Thor to help him find it. Our hero obeys, but leaves behind a secret note for the World Council.
An Octi-Robot tries to stop Thor and Zarrko but Thor defeats it. (No, I don’t know why they don’t just have SEVERAL of the mining robots like the one Zarrko used last issue deal with the thunder god and the Tomorrow Man.) A Council member then gives in and tells our hero where the Master Machine is located.
Thor and Zarrko arrive at the remote island housing the device. They fight their way through the high-tech defenses of the Master Machine until the Tomorrow Man seizes control of it. This makes him the de facto conqueror of the Earth, so Thor states his promise has been fulfilled and he attacks Zarrko.
Our hero once again starts to overcome all of the device’s security systems that Zarrko unleashed on him so the panicked Tomorrow Man takes manual control and threatens to use the Master Machine to destroy the planet if he can’t rule it.
Zarrko’s threat causes the machine’s security devices to react to him in order to save the Earth and they surround the Tomorrow Man in a force field. The World Council’s police officials soon arrive at the island to take custody of Zarrko and thank Thor.
They reveal to us readers that his message to them earlier explained the situation and asked them to let Thor take down the Tomorrow Man in his own way. Our hero then uses Mjolnir to create a time warp so he can return to 20th Century Earth.
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