Tuesday, 2 January 2018


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Cover art JACK KIRBY

Over on Amiable Al's MARVEL In The SILVER AGE blog, the debonair host talks about a certain romance artist's one-off superhero tale back in the '60s.  It reminded me that I'd once turned my attention to that very issue (back in 2011) and it occurs to me that now would be the perfect time to resurrect my post for another outing.  Be sure to jump over to MITSA (by clicking this link) and read that post too, as it's extremely detailed and interesting.


To many (if not all) MARVEL fans, the worst THOR story ever drawn was most likely JOURNEY Into MYSTERY #90's 'The CARBON COPY MAN!' (March '63), illustrated by AL HARTLEY.  Apparently Al was mainly a romance artist who was pinch-hitting for KIRBY, who drew almost everything else that Marvel was publishing at that time, superhero-wise.  (With the exception of SPIDER-MAN.)

It probably is the worst Thor adventure ever to appear, but for reasons other than just the art - like the plot for example.  Basically, it's a re-working of FANTASTIC FOUR #2's 'The SKRULLS From OUTER SPACE' storyline, but without the hypnotism angle at the end.  (The Skrulls transformed themselves into cows, and were then hypnotized by REED RICHARDS to prevent them from thinking of changing back to Skrulls again.)

A bunch of evil aliens from the planet XARTA land on Earth and impersonate key figures in government, with the intention of making foolish laws which will throw citizens into a state of confusion and panic.  (Isn't that what most politicians do anyway?)  Apparently this will soften up the planet enough to leave it vulnerable to invasion.  They've chosen America as the first stage in the pursuance of this plan, with the intention of conquering the rest of the world when the good ol' U.S. of A. has fallen.  (Always pays to get in a bit of practice first.)

A perfect duplicate?  Betcha he can't turn into THOR though, huh?

Thor eventually defeats the aliens in combat, then commands them to transform into trees, on the grounds that, as the Xartans take on all the traits of whatever they impersonate, and as trees can't think, the idea of changing can never occur to them.  Er, how's that again?

Firstly, Thor couldn't possibly know whether this was true or not, and secondly, on what system of logic is he basing his assumption?  For example, if Xartans take on ALL the traits of whatever they impersonate, they surely wouldn't have been able to change back from human form (regardless of whether the idea could occur to them) - because humans CAN'T DO THAT.

See, that's the fly in the ointment - taking on ALL the traits of whatever they impersonate.  They've already demonstrated that they DON'T.  They merely mimic the outward physical appearance of whatever form they adopt, not the intellectual or mental limitations of that form - so they should be able to change back to Xartans any time they wanted, whatever shape they happened to be.

Gosh!  Some of those classic tales from yesteryear sure don't stand up to scrutiny.  (Or am I just being too pernickety?)  But what the heck!  They were fun.

For more Loopy Lapses in Logic, click here.


Nick Caputo said...

I did some detective work and confirmed that this issue was indeed produced under duress. This is what I posted to the Marvel in the Silver Age site, along with a link to Stan Lee's letter to Jerry Bails:

You are absolutely right about Hartley rushing out the story due to deadline issues. Stan Lee wrote about it in a letter to Jerry Bails in 1963, explaining that it wasn't Hartley's "cup of tea" but he pinched hit in an emergency. Here is the line: http://themarvelageofcomics.tumblr.com/post/16306907460/a-letter-written-by-stan-lee-to-super-fan-dr
Marvel's staff was very small back then, so whoever could help out usually did. Ditko helped Stan out in a pinch a number of times, for instance, on Giant-Man, the first issue of Daredevil and inking a few stories, likely at the last moment. Dick Ayers once told me he came into the office a few times just to help out on deadlines (he almost exclusively worked at home) so everyone got the job done. one way or the other.

Kid said...

Thanks for that, Nick - took a look at that link and read the whole letter. I'll be going back later to read the comments (116).

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