Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The History of Marvel Comics: February 1963, part 2


Donald Blake is kidnapped by mobsters to treat their wounded leader. Blake has to wait for an opportunity to turn into Thor, then rounds up the bad guys.

This issue is another unnecessary step backwards for the Thunder God. Lee and Kirby should have realized by now that mundane threats like average gangsters aren’t going to present a sufficient enough workout for Thor. Kirby’s art keeps things moving along to an extent, but there’s really nothing interesting going on here this time.

Well, there is one mildly interesting bit—at one point Thor uses his “super-developed vocal cords” to throw his voice and distract a gunman. It looks like the Marvel guys were dipping into Superman’s bag of tricks. The Man of Steel often used “Super-ventriloquism” back in those days. I’m pretty sure, though, that this is the first and last time Thor uses that same power.


The Wizard, tossed in jail by the Human Torch three issues ago, escapes from prison and holes up at his private estate, protected by a powerful force field. He challenges the Torch to fight him one-on-one.

Johnny accepts the challenge, though his sister Sue sneaks into the house also to help. They both end up captured, but Johnny is able to think his way out of their prison and capture the villain once again.

It’s a nice story in that it obligates Johnny to use his brains as well as his flames. Ironically, after Lee and Kirby expend such energy defending Sue Storm to readers in this month’s issue of Fantastic Four, poor Sue is in need of rescuing and is pretty much useless in this story. Don’t worry, Sue, things will get better.

Overall, this was a weak month for storytelling in the Marvel Universe. But things really get jumping next month. A certain young web-slinger will don his costume once more, while a certain wealthy industrialist will trade in his tuxedo for a suit of armor for the first time. We get our first real indication that these books really are all set in the same Universe, as Fantastic Four has a run-in with first the Hulk, then a job-seeking Spider Man.

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