Tuesday, 7 February 2012



I don't want to create the impression that I was an overly-sick child when I was a lad, but I'm struck by how many comics I associate with days of school while ill in bed. To be honest, usually my ailment consisted of nothing more than being sick of school and fancying a bit of a break, but, occasionally, I was actually suffering from some life-threatening illness - like a mild cold or a dose of diarrhoea.  Sometimes I could even milk a slightly higher temperature and a headache for all they were worth.

It was the morning of my 11th birthday, and my fate had just been decided.  Because I was feeling 'off-colour', I didn't have to go to school that day (hooray), so I sat up in bed and allowed myself to be nourished by frequent administrations of American Cream Soda and a lunchtime bowl of tomato soup.  I was surrounded by a plethora of comics, three of which I particularly remember, being the following: The MIGHTY THOR #158, MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS #6, and that week's issue of WHIZZER & CHIPS (#5 I think).

Although I now primarily recall these comics from that particular day, I had acquired the MARVEL ones perhaps a week or two before and can still remember buying them.  However, I tend to associate them more with my birthday because, in trying to relieve my bedridden tedium, I completely immersed myself in their pages. This no doubt accounts for why they and the day left such an impression.  Anyway, no doubt we'll someday get around to looking at MCIC #6 in more detail, but for now let's just focus on Thor #158.

"The Way It Was!" proclaims the splash page, and that's precisely what it delivers - a look back at how Thor The Mighty (as he was originally referred to) came to be. Ol' Goldilocks' origin tale from JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83 is re-presented, with some small alterations to its splash to accommodate a flashback scenario.  If you compare DON BLAKE's arm in the far-right bottom picture with its original printing, you'll see that it has been extended outwards to accentuate the appearance of his limp.

Interestingly, when Marvel first released their MASTERWORKS books, they recreated the splash page of Thor's debut from proofs of this reprint (as well as the rest of the pages) because they had apparently mislaid the proofs of the original printing.  Although a better-quality source has since turned up (which can be seen in the OMNIBUS and one or two other volumes), the inferior version still surfaces from time to time.  (Best to get a copy of the recent softcover Masterworks if you prefer archive quality.)

I remember my father reading this comic after me, and expressing his frustration that it was a continued story.  He never found out what happened to the 'real' Thor - mainly 'cause I never bothered to tell him when I read the concluding part of the tale reprinted in Marvel U.K.'s SPIDER-MAN COMICS WEEKLY #s 125 & 126 in June/July of 1975.  I doubt he'd have remembered ever seeing the cliff-hanger ending to the first instalment by then anyway.

So there you have it!  I'll reveal the answer as unfolded in the above Thor #159 another time. I had to wait about sixteen or seventeen years before I acquired the original American issue, so a few weeks or months of suspense isn't going to kill you. (Update:  Rejoice, you need wait no longer.  The answer can be found by clicking on this link.  So why are you still here?)
Click here for Part Two.  Click here for Part Four.


Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Hi Kid,

I have long wanted to do a post about the subject of memorable literature associated with illness. I had my share of bed rest, as a kid, tied into specific material that was a bittersweet experience.

It's actually somewhat at the roots of my psyche and I want to give it a proper go. I bet you and I aren't the only ones with that experience, but your post has inspired me to start assembly of my thoughts that I will indeed turn into an autobiographical post.

Thanks for your continued insights.

Kid said...

I look forward to reading it, Thom, and know it will be well worth it. And thank you for your continued and valued comments.

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