The House of Eddas: Brimer, Nedra and a Vanna in Journey Into Mystery #105

Time for another look at the often fraught relationship between Marvel’s Thor comics and Norse mythology…

The issue opens with a story about Thor in his more conventionally superheroic incarnation. “The Cobrta and Mr. Hyde!” open with the god of thunder hanging out alongside his fellow Avengers (who are bored because there’s nothing to do) before setting off on his own.

He runs into his previously-established, non-mythological foes the Cobra and Mr. Hyde who have been tailing him with the aid of Hyde’s latest invention: a “time reversal ray” that projects images of the target’s history. Using it, they find that Thor entered the office of Dr. Blake – but they don’t see enough to realise that the two are the same person.

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The House of Eddas: Giants Walk the Earth in Journey Into Mystery #104

Screenshot_2020-11-06-16-19-08-1There are a couple of things to note about this issue. First off,  Thor’s name now dominates the cover: although Journey Into Mystery wouldn’t be officially retitled The Mighty Thor until later, the change is clearly being prepared for. Secondly, there’s been a bit of a development in how the comic engages with mythology.

At this point the “Tales of Asgard” stories have introduced a number of Norse mythological characters into the Marvel canon, but so far none of them had turned up in the main features. For all intents and purposes Marvel had publishing two separate Thor universes: one in which Thor lives on modern-day Earth and battles various costumed supervillains (with occasional appearances from Loki, Odin and Heimdall and maybe the odd Asgardian extra) and one taking place in a more recognisably mythological setting, featuring the likes of Surtur, Balder, Hela, Sif, Mirmir, the Norns and Ymir.

But that changes, if only in a small way, with Journey Into Mystery #104: for the first time, mythological figures introduced in the back-up feature are folded into Thor’s superheroic adventures.

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The House of Eddas: Thor Helps to Create Humanity in Journey Into Mystery #103

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_103While Journey Into Mystery’s back-up stories had introduced more mythological figures to play with, the main stories were, at this point, still using a very limited cast of Asgardians: Thor, Odin and Loki, plus some extras (if you’re feeling generous you could maybe count Heimdall as a significant character, although his main role was simply to fail at preventing Loki’s escape from prison).

That changed with issue #103, which introduces two more Asgardians into the Marvel Universe. Which ones, you might ask? Well… let’s just say you won’t be recognising them from anything Snorri wrote.

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The House of Eddas: Sif and Hela in Journey Into Mystery #102

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_102Welcome back to another look at how Marvel Comics processed Norse mythology to create its Thor comics. In this issue, the main story is “Slave of Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man”, which concludes the storyline beginning in the previous instalment.

There’s not much to do with mythology here, although Loki gets a small part in which he refers to Thor as “the stepbrother whom I despise”. I believe that this is the first time the comics have acknowledged Loki’s complex family background: in mythology he’s not a biological son of Odin but rather the son of the giant Farbauti (his mother is named either Laufey or Nal, depending on the text). The main plot is not concerned with genealogy, however, but with the newly-enslaved Thor being taken in to the twenty-third century by the evil genius Zarrko, who forces him to sow discord by smashing the city’s central control mechanism.

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House of Eddas: Thor vs the Forces of Evil in Journey Into Mystery #101

Welcome back to another post in the series that looks at old Thor comics from Marvel and sees how they stack up against the Norse myths that inspired them…

Journey Into Mystery issue 101 starts off with Thor in a bad mood, stomping through town as bystanders look on in awe (“Did you see that? His foot clipped a piece out of that lamppost as he passed by!”). After he expresses a complete lack of interest in the “puny, petty lives” of mortals, he smashes the front off some guy’s truck and cold-shoulders his fellow Avengers when they try to intervene.


The source of his ire? He’s still smarting about the end of the previous issue, when Odin doubled-down on forbidding his relationship with Jane Foster. Meanwhile, Odin and Loki watch from Asgard. “You have ordered him to forget her.. but still he broods! Is this not rank disobedience?” says the trickster. “Yes, Loki”, replies Odin. “It is! And by thunder, it shall be punished!” And so Odin halves Thor’s powers until he stops troubling himself with thoughts of Jane.

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House of Eddas: Thor vs. Storm Giants in Journey Into Mystery #100

JourneyMystery100Time for another jaunt back into Norse mythology, as reimagined by 1960s Marvel comics…

Journey Into Mystery #100 opens with “The Master Plan of Mr. Hyde!” which concludes the storyline from last month. At the start of the tale Thor is a wanted man thanks to Mr. Hyde impersonating him while robbing a bank (how Hyde pulled off such a convincing transformation is never explained: was he wearing a latex mask and fake muscles, or does he have an additional shapeshifting form?). Trying to forget his troubles, Thor returns to his mortal guise as Don Blake and enjoys dinner with Jane Foster – until Mr. Hyde kidnaps the pair of them.

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The House of Eddas: Fiery Surtur and Mr. Hyde in Journey Into Mystery #99

JourneyMystery99Time to cross the rainbow bridge (how very appropriate for Pride month) and return to the world of Norse mythology. Or, rather, the world of Norse mythology as filtered through the inky pages of Marvel comics. This time, let’s peek at the ninety-ninth issue of Journey Into Mystery and find out what mystery Thor’s journeyed into…

The main story this month is “The Mighty Thor Battles the Mysterious Mister Hyde!” The comic introduces its latest villain in Calvin Zabo, a crook who applies for a job with Dr. Don Blake (“I have heard of him! He is the famous lame doctor!”) in the hopes of robbing him, only to be turned down as the good doctor has heard about Calvin’s track record.


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The House of Eddas: Odin vs Ymir in Journey Into Mystery #98

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_98Time for another issue of Journey Into Mystery, with two more stories: one another of Thor’s latter-day superheroic adventures, the other a retelling of a Norse myth…

“Challenged by the Human Cobra!” opens with Thor smashing up his office in a tantrum over Jane Foster leaving him in the last issue (“Even a thunder god can go on the rampage! Even the mighty Thor can lash out in a fit of uncontrollable temper! Perhaps you never thought of superheroes possessing the all-too-human qualities of jealousy, frustration, and violent anger! But Thor has emotions, even as you and I!”) He’s apparently noisy enough for Asgard to hear, as Odin calls him over for advice: “Put all thoughts of the human Jane Foster from out of thy mind! Forget her! Else, you will never know peace!”

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The House of Eddas: Tales of Asgard in Journey Into Mystery #97

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_97When I started this series, I intended it to be a comparison between Marvel’s Thor comics and Norse mythology. That turned out to be a bit of a mug’s game because, well, the earliest issues had almost nothing in common with the myths. But now we come to the October 1963 issue, where all that changes thanks to the new back-up feature: “Tales of Asgard”.

For context, Journey Into Mystery had always been an anthology comic. It started out as a pre-code horror title in the EC mould, running stories like “Death of a Puppet” and “The Bewitched Bike”, and later adapted to the censorious post-code climate by running stories about giant monsters like Zog, Spragg and Shagg, with a new kaiju-alike in each issue. Even when Thor was established as the main feature, the comic had continued to run short, self-contained stories with titles like “I Know the Secret of the Sea Monster” and “Frederick Fenton’s Future” as back-up material.

Starting with issue #97, both the main feature and back-up in Journey Into Mystery were based around Thor – but they took two very different approaches.

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The House of Eddas: Journey Into Mystery #96 and Avengers #1

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_96Greetings! It’s time for another trip back in time to see what the Norse god of thunder was up to in the 1960s, thanks to the Marvel Bullpen transforming this ancient heathen deity into a four-colour hero for the kids. This time I’ve got a two-in-one, starting with the story in the September 1963 issue of Journey Into Mystery:  “Defying the Magic of… Mad Merlin!” As its title suggests, this tale pits Thor against a character from a different body of legend…

The story begins with Don Blake returning to his surgery after saving a bus as Thor – only to get scolded by Jane Foster for running out while fluoroscoping a patient. Such are the woes that come with keeping a secret identity.

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