Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Y'know, it feels odd to be including this particular ish in my
FAVOURITE COMICS Of The PAST spot.  After all, it still
seems quite a recent comic to me, so well do I recall buying it back
when it first came out.  Then it hits me - that was 1991 - 24 years ago,
not far off half my life away, and I realise that, when I was 24, I felt
as if I'd been around forever.  That means that a 23 year-old today
would probably consider this mag practically prehistoric.  And
yet it still seems so tangibly recent to me that it's difficult
to accept it's almost a quarter-of-a-century old.

Anyway, this was a pretty hot comic at the time, featuring
the death of a Norse god and the introduction of a new THOR.
There's genuine suspense in the tale, told superbly by TOM DeFAL-
CO and RON FRENZ, in Thor's 350th Anniversary appearance in a
mag that was titled JOURNEY Into MYSTERY for its first 125 issues.
It even reprints Thor's debut from JIM #83, 'though the reproduction
in some places looks as if it was yet in the process of being restored for
its then-upcoming MASTERWORKS presentation, especially in the
lettering department.  Some bold words contain blurred letters
which are whited-out in places, awaiting retouching, but have
been left unfinished - probably due to a tight deadline.

For those not in the know, although most of the recent re-
printings of Thor's origin are taken from far more faithful sources,
back then Marvel had to use the proofs from Thor #158, which had
also reprinted the story, but with an altered splash page and final panel.
The splash had to be re-assembled into its original layout, and the logo
restored and a speech balloon re-created, but it didn't look exactly the
same.  The last panel from #158's version was revised only slightly
for #432's outing, but was completely re-lettered (badly) 'after
the original' for the Masterwork volume.

Anyway, that's enough mind-numbing geekery from
me - it's well-past time to look at some dynamic artwork.
So let's say we do so right away, pilgrim.

Note that in the intro to this page, LARRY LIEBER, who scripted
the tale (based on STAN LEE's plot), isn't mentioned, nor is JOE
SINNOTT, who inked JACK KIRBY's pencils.  (For years the inks
were credited to DICK AYERS, although it was obviously Sinnott's
style.)  I doubt that Larry's omission was a devious attempt to deny
him rightful credit - or give Stan undue glory - it was most likely
the result of someone not knowing the story's genesis.


baab said...

The Kirby drawn origin story still fills me with wonder.

Kid said...

It's probably my all-time favourite origin, Baab - followed by Iron Man's. Both scripted by Stan's brother Larry Lieber, who came up with the names Uru, Don Blake & Tony Stark. He's also responsible for Henry Pym's name. Stan usually tried to make his names alliterative, Larry didn't bother.

Colin Jones said...

If a 23 year-old thinks 1991 is prehistoric what does he think of the '70s ? It's difficult to believe that nobody under 38 was even born when I was reading Planet Of The Apes every week. I've got to say that I always chuckle at the Stone Men from Saturn - they are a perfect example of how clueless comics writers were about basic science.

Kid said...

I don't think they were clueless, CJ, they just didn't bother letting the facts get in the way of telling a story - especially as comics were for kids, remember. If a radioactive spider bit you, you'd probably die, not absorb its powers. They were comicbooks devoted to fantasy, not science manuals dedicated to facts. Personally, I love the Stone Men.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, what you say is true of course but for me there should be a certain level of "believability" even thought it's fantasy - as a child I was very interested in astronomy (I still am actually) and so I knew that Saturn was a "gas giant" which had neither stone nor a solid surface. I get the impression that Saturn was simply plucked out of the air as the homeworld of the Stone Men without any understanding of its' composition. It is this sort of befuddled attitude to science that leads to people thinking that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time. I know it's fantasy but there should be limits. Anyway, that Thor tale is identical to the stories that Marvel were producing before The FF where an alien invasion from the Planet X or wherever would be thwarted by a plucky individual.

Kid said...

I never had a problem with the 'suspension of disbelief' when it came to fantasy stories, CJ. I knew Norse Thunder gods didn't walk the Earth, so a few Stone Men from Saturn weren't going to bother me. I could imagine the Stone Men having a scientifically-produced protective 'aura' around their planet, which would provide misinformation to astronomers on other worlds (and galaxies and solar systems), in order to thwart the possibility of attack.

As for dinosaurs and humans co-existing, I'm prepared to accept the possibility that some dinosaurs still roamed isolated parts of the globe, hence legends of dragons, etc. Apparently (as I mentioned before), there are examples of shod human footprints criss-crossing over dinosaur tracks, which suggests that it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. Some branches of 'science' are as much a religion as various religious institutions, and it's more 'faith' that drives their ideas than facts. Scientific theories are always being revised anyway, which tends to suggest a helluva lot of flexibility.

DeadSpiderEye said...

The fantasy threshold, it's an interesting topic, why some should baulk at certain fantastic premises presented in fiction while others let them ride. A certain licence in that respect doesn't really bother me, Stone Men from Saturn, John Carter on Mars they're all things I take in my stride. It's interesting to note though, the pains certain authors take to defend the -authenticity- of their work. I recall, Sir Walter Scott's foreword to Ivanhoe, where he takes on those that scoffed at the veracity of his vision of the mediaeval world.

What I do take issue is with, is realism in the broader context of the representation of the human condition and deliberately misrepresenting significant historical events. A good example of the latter, would be George Lucas's Red Tails. I saw it recently and I'm afraid to say, I found profoundly offensive. I think he got off lightly with the drubbing he received from critics over that. There's a difference between deliberate -misrepresentation- and artistic licence in the service of entertainment though. For instance, U571, the film that was castigated so roundly in the British media offers no pretensions of authenticity so the liberties it takes with history, don't bother me in the slightest. As for misrepresenting the human condition, I would cite Star Trek TNG as a major culprit, the notion that every crisis can be resolved by -nice- folk being -nice- to every one is just a horrible lie.

Kid said...

You hit the nail on the head with that comment, DSE, especially the last part. Sometimes you just have to respond with a show of force because some people mistake (as Stan Lee put it) meekness for weakness.

I haven't seen Red Tails or U571, but I know that you're a smart enough cookie to know what you're talking about.

Not quite on the human condition, but in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, there's a symbolic shot of a 'plane's progress across the globe, but a country's modern name is listed on the map shown, not its name in the 1930s. (It may have been Iran instead of Persia, I can't quite recall.) When something like that happens, I just regard it as a modern translation for a contemporary audience.

Dougie said...

I bought that Thor comic too. I was living in Dennistoun for the first time,in the early 90s and I was really enjoying the De Falco/Frenz pastiches of Lee/Kirby. I really liked the MC2 line about 7 or 8 years later.

Kid said...

I not only bought it, I also KEPT it, Dougie. What's more, I selfishly bought as many copies as I could whenever I saw one in a newsagents, thus depriving many Marvel maniacs of the chance of reading it. I just thought it was a brilliant comic.

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