Sunday, 27 August 2017


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

One of my all-time favourite origin issues is JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #83 - introducing The MIGHTY THOR (or THOR The MIGHTY as he's referred to inside the mag).  That's the cover of my very own copy you're looking at up there, which first came out in August 1962.  Well, that's not quite true, because although it was cover-dated August, it actually went on sale in May of that year.  "Wait a minute," I hear you cry, "there's no date on the cover!"  Yup, but there was on the US issues, which were printed first;  then the cover plates were amended to include a UK price and remove the month from the issue number box.  As these comics came over to our shores as ballast in ships, we didn't get them until many months after our American cousins, so it was pointless having a date on our copies (which were printed on the same presses as the ones for US readers).

Below is the 1966 GOLDEN BOOK & RECORD SET reprint of the above comic, and as you can see, some of the detail of Thor's hair has been lost.  Inside, the splash page was printed in black and white on the interior side of the cover, and the final page of the origin story had the last panel omitted, with the other two being extended to fill the space.  The 'drawing-up' of the soldiers helmet and head is rather clumsy (see further down), but I doubt that many readers noticed it back in the day - unless they had the original printing to compare it with, that is.

Next up is a 1999 German edition, and I've included an interior page (further down) so that you can see how it looks in a foreign language.  On the whole, the re-lettering throughout the tale has been done with some proficiency, and the balloon shapes don't seem cluttered or squeezed, which can sometimes happen when one language is exchanged for another.  One of the things I tried to do (and usually succeeded) when re-lettering a strip in another tongue, was to ensure that the pages looked as if they had been created that way.  I've seen some pages by lesser letterers (don't scoff - they exist) with words crammed right up against the balloon or caption outline, making the published result look terrible.  This one manages to avoid that. 

Now here's an interesting thing I only just noticed while looking at these covers in preparation for scanning.  If you compare the cover below with the ones above (best to enlarge them to their full size), you'll see that the detail is much sharper than even J.I.M. #83's cover.  This surprised me, because I'd expected the original printing to be better - but no, it isn't.  In the cover below, you can see individual brush strokes that just reproduce as blobs of black in the 1962 presentation.  If you want what is probably the best-ever single issue printing of this classic tale, then you should do your absolute best to get your hands on the issue below.  It's dated October 2017 in the indicia inside, so might well still be available in your local comics shop.  

Okay, I know I've shown these before, but what follows is an original production stat of the cover as JACK KIRBY and JOE SINNOTT drew it, along with an amended version.  As you can see, initially there were more STONE MEN (later revealed to be called KRONANS), five of whom were deleted because STAN LEE thought the cover was far too cluttered, resulting in Thor being visually overwhelmed by them all.  I thought that too many Kronans had been removed, so therefore digitally played about with the stat to produce the cover as I would have done it.  (Click image to enlarge, then click again for optimum size.)  Hey, MARVEL - are you reading this?  Next time you reprint this ish as a single comic, use my version of the cover - no charge!  Okay, that's it for now, the other pages are accompanied by footnotes to explain things as you go along.  See you all next time, culture-lovers.

And now, a selection of interior pages - with footnotes...

Original printing.  Note the misspelling of Thor's name

1966 reprint, with two panels on bottom tier extended

Didya know that Thor was multi-lingual?  You do now

2017 reprint.  Simply glorious


dwalt said...

Yeah, your version has the best balance of details and clarity.

Kid said...

Ta muchly, D. (Your cheque is in the post.)

Dave S said...

That new printing looks fantastic, although I do quite like the colouring on the German cover. I'm pretty sure I first read Thor's origin story in Marvel Saga but remember reading a reprint of the full story not long afterwards.

It's funny, I vividly remember the amazement and excitement I felt when I first read Thor, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, the Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters novel, but I also felt as though I was rediscovering those stories - like they'd existed in my sub-conscious somewhere and reading the comics just brought them to the surface. I feel this way about music too - I know when a song is going to become an all-time favourite when I hear it for the first time and feel like I already know it (although my music tastes are quite different to yours, Kid - I'm more into Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath than Jim Reeves!)

Kid said...

Not a Jim Reeves fan? (Gasp!) Get thee to a Nunnery! Actually, DS, I've got a 'Best of Deep Purple' CD, but don't tell anyone - it's bad for my image. That's an interesting sensation you describe. Could it be that you saw the Doctor Who story on TV (assuming that the book was a novelisation), and had perhaps read the Marvel stories in reprints when you were a lot younger (and had forgotten doing so)? And had perhaps heard various songs on the radio in the background somewhere, before becoming consciously aware of them on a later hearing?

Dave S said...

Very possibly in the case of the comics - I might also have seen some of the Marvel cartoons (probably on Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade) and become familiar with the origin stories from there.

In the case of the Doctor Who story, probably not, as it was broadcast 5 years before I was born and not repeated til 1999, according to Wikipedia (I first read the novel around 1984 ish), and many of the songs I've felt that way about have tended to be album tracks. I think it's just a feeling similar to meeting someone and instantly getting on with them or walking into somewhere and feeling at home.

And I love Deep Purple too!

Kid said...

Just you wait - Jim Reeves will conquer you yet. As for walking into somewhere and feeling like home - that happens to me every time I come back from the shops.

Meant to say, DS, that the colouring on the German cover is the same as that in the very first printing (in English) of the Thor volume of Marvel Masterworks, before they decided to become more archival in nature and restore the original colour schemes.

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