The House of Eddas: Loki Debuts with Journey Into Mystery #85

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_85The first and second Mighty Thor stories were essentially generic superhero yarns starring a character who happened to be loosely patterned after the Norse thunder god. With Journey into Mystery #85, meanwhile, the series started making a stronger effort to engage with mythology. The title of this issue’s story says it all: “Trapped by Loki, the God of Mischief!”

What do the myths have to say about Loki? Well, the Prose Edda introduces Loki as “fair and beautiful of face, but evil in disposition, and very fickle-minded” before providing several narratives in which he plays a significant part. Across these, Loki emerges as a strikingly ambiguous figure. The first of these stories (second, if we count an earlier narrative that discusses Loki in relation to his family tree) casts him not as a villain as such, but as a member of the Aesir who gives the others bad advice which nearly results in the sun, moon and goddess Freya falling into the hands of the giants. Whether he does so as an honest mistake or in for the purposes of mischief is unclear. In the next narrative he is not a troublemaker at all, and simply Thor’s companion in Utgard; although intriguingly, the story includes a separate character named Utgard-Loki who does serve as a trickster.

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The House of Eddas: Journey Into Mystery #84

Journey_into_Mystery_Vol_1_84Time to delve once more into the earliest adventures of Marvel’s Thor! Having looked at the character’s alien-thrashing debut in Journey into Mystery #83, let’s take a peek at his follow-up adventure…

The second Thor story, “The Mighty Thor vs. the Executioner”, starts by introducing a favourite ingredient of the superhero formula: the love interest. Don Blake is given a nurse named Jane (her surname is not yet established) and we are told that the two love each other. However, neither can bring themselves to admit this. Don is afraid that she will reject him (“a girl so lovely would never marry a—a lame man!”) while Jane believes that Don is simply not the loving type (“he’s too darn stuffy to ever be a romantic!”)

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The House of Eddas: Journey Into Mystery #83

JourneyMystery83As a bit of a lark I’ve decided to do a series with a running comparison between Marvel’s Thor comics and the Norse mythology that inspired them, starting with the character’s first appearance in Journey Into Mystery #83 (1962).

Not that the story in this debut issue, “The Stone Men of Saturn” has much to do with mythology. It takes perhaps the most readily-recognisable image from the Eddas – that is, a hammer-wielding thunder god – and repackages him for what is otherwise a routine superhero story. It’s easy to imagine “The Stone Men of Saturn” rewritten as a first outing for Iron Man or Hulk, for example.

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