Wednesday, May 12, 2010

History of the Marvel Universe: February 1965, part 2


Thor helps Odin defend Asgard against invaders, but then ticks his dad off by deciding to head back to Earth. While in his guise of Don Blake, he finally tells Jane Foster that he’s Thor. He taps his walking stick on the floor to prove it—and nothing happens. Jane thinks he’s gone nuts.

That’s because Odin is in a snit again over his son loving a mortal woman, causing him to remove the power of Thor from Blake. Complications ensue when Blake and Jane are attacked by the Grey Gargoyle, who is looking to revenge himself on Thor. (A whole lot of villains by now know there’s a connection between Blake and Thor. None of them suspect that they’re the same person. But that’s understandable—his transformation into Thor literally provides him with a different body.)

Blake and Jane play stay-away from the Gargoyle for awhile before Odin relents and arranges for Thor’s powers to return. The Gargoyle is defeated. Blake has changed his mind about telling Jane his real identity and she dismisses his early statement as temporary madness.

It must be nice to be able to tell your girlfriend pretty much anything then later just casually dismiss it as temporary insanity. I’m not sure that would work in real life.

Oh, well. Stan Lee is finally starting to move his characters away for the overused “I love him/her but can never tell him/her” routine. Blake and Jane are now openly professing their mutual love (though, ironically, Odin will eventually be proven right about the foolishness of a god loving a mortal). Sue and Reed are doing the same, as are Hank and Janet. Once Tony Stark gets over Pepper, that particular bit of melodrama will be largely left behind.

The “Tales of Asgard” back up shows us a young Loki using magic to rig a fight so the guy he bet on wins. When he’s caught, young Thor nobly stands by him and impresses the heck out of everyone. Loki, though, just hates Thor all the more because he doesn’t get the same respect. The tale isn’t filled with the same level of Kirby-esque action that defines most Tales of Asgard, but it’s still a nice little bit of characterization.


The Mandarin turns out to have a pretty cool origin. His dad was a descendant of Genghis Khan who is killed the moment the Mandarin is born by a falling idol. His mom dies from a broken heart and a bitter aunt raises the boy to hate all mankind.

When the adult Mandarin stumbles across the ancient remains of an alien spaceship, the strange technology becomes the basis of his own scientific prowess and his power rings.

Anyway, remember that he had Iron Man a prisoner at the end of the last issue. But Tony manages to think his way out of a death trap and foil the villain’s plan to incite World War III.  The action is handled pretty well, but Mandarin’s origin story is the real meat of the story.

Nothing further is resolved regarding the subplot in which everyone thinks Tony is dead—but that will come to a head (perhaps a little too quickly to be really satisfying) next issue.

Meanwhile, Captain America is asked to visit a prison cell block known to house the most brutal cons. But it’s a trap—the prisoners have secretly taken over and they want to use the magnetic devices on Cap’s shield to open the main gate. In another really, really, really fun Kirby fight scene, Cap pretty much wipes the floor with them.

The irony at the end of the story? Well, Cap had taken out all the magnetic devices, because they were throwing off the shield’s delicate balance. It seems that Stan and Jack had pretty quickly realized that Cap is a lot cooler if he does amazing things with his famous weapon out of pure skill.

That’s it for now. Next week, we’ll see what Ant Man, Hulk, the Avengers and Daredevil were up to in February 1965.

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