Wednesday, July 29, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe: December 1963, part 2


Thor spends a big chunk of this issue in Asgard, still badgering his dad for permission to marry a mortal. Odin is adamant, though—gods don’t marry mortals. Finally, though, he relents a little, telling Thor that IF Jane Foster can prove herself worthy somehow, Thor can MAYBE marry her.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, yet another disgruntled scientist (there’s so many of them in the Marvel Universe that they really oughta start up a union) creates a formula that turns him into the super-strong Mr. Hyde. Realizing that only Thor has the power to stop his planned crime spree, he disguises himself as the Thunder God and robs a bank. Soon, there’s an all-points bulletin out on the Asgardian.

To be continued. Ya know, I think this is the first two-part story we’ve come across so far.

Anyway, there’s another great Tales of Asgard back-up story included. This one features Odin battling Surtur the Fire Demon. It’s another six pages of extraordinary and epic Jack Kirby art work.


Iron Man encounters Mr. Doll, who is using voodoo dolls to extort wealth from rich guys. That’s a perfectly acceptable idea for a comic book villain, but I really wish Stan Lee had taken a moment to come up with a better name. It’s literally embarrassing to have to type the name “Mr. Doll.”

Oh, well, the important aspect of this story is that Iron Man finally redesigns his armor into something more streamlined and visually pleasing. Iron Man finally looks pretty much the way we’re used to him looking. With his new armor, he manages to defeat Mr. Doll (good heavens—that name) by using a focused force field to reshape a voodoo doll into the villain’s image.

Interesting, Steve Ditko does the art for this issue. He's perfect for Spider Man and Dr. Strange, but his style doesn't really fit Iron Man. Still, the new armor design is pretty darn cool. I'm afraid I don't know if Ditko himself designed it or based it on someone else's (Kirby?) design.

But for the love of heaven---Mr. Doll? Stan, Stan, Stan, you can really do better than that.


And here’s the beginning of yet another two-parter. A villain known as the Human Top (he’ll eventually become better known as Whirlwind) has the power to spin and move at super speed. When Giant Man tries to run him down following a robbery, Hank’s size proves to be a hindrance. Still unused to his new growing power, he can’t get his hands on the Human Top, causes traffic jams and (in one wonderful panel) runs head first into a neon sign.

Chagrined but undeterred, Hank comes up with some training devices to help him improve his own speed and agility while he’s giant-sized. As the issue comes to an end, he and Janet are ready for a rematch with the Human Top.

Hank and Janet’s bantering continues to inject some personality into the story, while Jack Kirby handles the Giant Man/Human Top chase scene with his usual flair for action. The real fun, of course, comes from seeing poor Hank make a mess of things when he tries to run down the Top.

Well, that’s it for 1963. As 1964 opens, we’ll see the FF, the Human Torch and Dr. Strange all confront old villains; Peter Parker will enter a boxing ring to fight Flash Thompson; Thor and Giant Man continue their current battles; Iron Man will tussle with one of the X-Men; the X-Men go to the circus but don’t have a good time; and the Avengers take on both the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner.

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