Wednesday, January 14, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe--December 1962, part 2

Journey into Mystery #87

Donald Blake, along with a number of other American scientists, is kidnapped by Communists and taken to a castle fortress behind the Iron Curtain. Once there, he turns into Thor and busts the place up. He and the scientists then contact the local Resistance and get smuggled back to America.

That’s pretty much it. It’s a step backwards from the more cosmic level threats that Thor had been dealing with for the last couple of issues (Loki and a time traveler) and it’s actually a bit dull. This story, I’m afraid, is a definite misstep in the development of the character.

But things will soon be looking up again---he’ll be going another round against Loki next issue.

Strange Tales #103

Despite having STARRED IN A BOX-OFFICE HIT MOVIE IN AN ISSUE OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR THIS SAME MONTH, Johnny Storm is still working to preserve his “secret identity” as he arrives at his high school in Glenville. There’s just no denying it—everyone in Glenville is an idiot.

Johnny stumbles upon some inter-dimensional aliens planning to invade Earth. Captured and taken to their dimension, he’s rescued by members of an anti-war faction. He leads them in an attack against the invading army and inspires the average people to revolt against their despotic ruler.

It’s actually not a bad story—any comic that allows Jack Kirby to design some cool-looking sci-fi gadgetry is always worth looking at. But the complete lack of continuity with the Fantastic Four book continues to be annoying. I suppose it’s really the fault of the citizens of Glenville—did I mention that they are all apparently idiots? Or perhaps news broadcasts and major motion pictures starring JOHNNY STORM AS THE HUMAN TORCH just don’t play in Glenville.

That’s it for December 1962. Next time, we’ll enter 1963 to see Johnny meet up with yet another future member of the Frightful Four. The Fantastic Four will face off against Dr. Doom for the third time. Thor will fight Loki for the second time. The Hulk will smash more stuff and Ant Man will go up against a really smart bug.

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