Journey Into Mystery #83
November 25, 2013
Whosoever watches this review, if they be worthy... will see a comic about a Norse God battling aliens.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn, and the final week of this year's Secret Origins Month.
("Secret Origins Month" title is shown)
(A montage of shots is shown of Marvel characters' first comics)
Linkara (v/o): So, Stan Lee and the Marvel staff had been doing pretty well for themselves in 1962. They had created several successful superheroes by that point, including the Hulk, the Fantastic Four... and possibly Spider-Man. Stan Lee's recounting of the creation of Thor mentioned Spider-Man as a previous success, but according to Wikipedia, Thor and Spider-Man premiered in the same month, so make of that what you will. The point is that they had made several successful superheroes, and they were challenging themselves to make bigger and stronger heroes all the time. The problem is that by that point, where was there to go?
(Cut to a description of the origin of Thor by Stan Lee)
Text: (Linkara narrating in Lee's voice) The only one who could top the heroes we already had would be Super-God, but I didn't think the world was quite ready for that concept just yet.
Linkara: Indeed. We had to wait for (holds up a copy of "Supergods" by Grant Morrison) Grant Morrison before that became a thing.
Linkara (v/o): While Lee was trying to come up with new heroes, he apparently kept going back to the Super-God idea. Apparently, he had done a radio interview where Marvel stories were, for the first time, referred to as a 20th century mythology. And that's where he finally realized what he could do with the idea. He felt his readers were probably pretty familiar with Greek and Roman mythology, so tapping that well wasn't going to capture people's interest. Instead, he drew upon Norse mythology, with flowing beards and horned helmets; the whole Viking look that of course is not based on the actual historical Vikings.
Linkara: Because when have superhero comics ever let anything like reality get in the way of telling a good story, eh?
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, with Lee's workload at the time, he handed off his outline about the character to his brother Larry Lieber to put a shot in the arm in the anthology book "Journey into Mystery", and naturally, Jack Kirby was tapped to do artwork.
Linkara: By this point, Jack Kirby was essentially a robot (points to his head) with a keyboard in the back of his head (makes typing motions) that you punched superhero concepts into, and he'd have a finished comic for you in a week.
Linkara (v/o): And that's pretty much it. This version of Thor has survived crappy costumes, crappy adaptations in backdoor pilots, Ragnarok itself, and gave Tony Stark the most epic of beatdowns in the wake of the "Civil War" event from a few years ago. Good times, verily.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Journey Into Mystery #83", and see if we be worthy to behold the origin of Thor.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the cover of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The cover, naturally, is covered in text to grab the reader and yet manages to show everything we need to show about Thor, like how he apparently has some kind of giant, dotted ring around him that repels green rock people that are popping out of a spaceship.
Linkara: Oookay, apparently, I spoke a little too soon last week when I said this comic had nothing to do with science fiction.
Text: Introducing... The Mighty THOR!
Linkara: I've really grown to love adjective titles for comic books: "Uncanny X-Men", "Mighty Thor", "Amazing Spider-Man"! I need one of those. (The words "THE BROWN LINKARA" appear above him and he sees it) Could we try a little harder on that? (A new set of words appear: "THE BEHATTED LINKARA") We'll work on it.
Text: THE MOST EXCITING SUPERHERO OF ALL TIME!!
Linkara (v/o): We open with Thor standing and holding his hammer out at us... which seems to be emitting green energy waves everywhere.
Linkara: Wait a second... Thor's hammer is a Green Lantern battery??
Linkara (v/o): I also love how Thor's outfit has a big wrestling championship belt with a T on it, even though he's supposed to be, you know, not using an English alphabet.
Thor: The legend has come true! By the will of the gods, I am alive! I am invincible! I am--THOR!!!
Linkara: (closes comic) Welp, that was a quick origin.
Linkara (v/o): And to shake things up from the standard Gold and Silver Age "first splash page and then on with the story", we have two panels on said splash page to actually start things off.
Narrator: Our story opens on the windy coast of Norway, where we see a frail figure silhouetted against the bleak sky!
Linkara (v/o): Or, silhouetted against the purple mountains' majesty, as we see in the panel.
Narrator: He is Dr. Don Blake, an American vacationing in Europe!
Linkara: (narrator voice) His life was forever immortalized in National Lampoon's European Vacation!
Narrator: And, as Doctor Blake turns and leaves the site, he doesn't see the strange alien spacecraft which silently lands behind him!
Linkara: (narrator voice) Dr. Blake unknowingly got the UFO ending in Silent Hill: Thor Edition. Boy, is he in for a surprise!
Narrator: ...Two principals in a grim pageant... Neither one noticing the other!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, (scoffs) yeah, this is the grimmest and darkest of plays before us, what with these adorably goofy aliens. Revel in the despair, my friends!
Narrator: But how different things would be if they were to meet at this moment! How different would be the future of all mankind!
Linkara: (narrator voice) It turns out that the aliens were looking for a proctologist of Dr. Blake's talents.
Narrator: But ours is a drama decreed by the fates to be acted out! Nothing can stop it!
(Cut to a clip of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, showing King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table being terrorized by a giant multi-eyed monster (all animated))
Narrator: ...when suddenly, the animator suffered a fatal heart attack!
(Said animator, sitting at his desk, falls over, dead. Cut back to the comic)
Alien: Ah! At last we're on Earth!
Linkara: (as alien) At last! Now, where is the Denny's? I'm starving.
Linkara (v/o): The aliens discuss how, now that they're on Earth, their strength is multiplied, thanks to the different atmosphere. And it's only natural that since they evolved on a planet that was a gas giant without a defined surface that they're... uh, rock monsters.
(Cut to a panel of "Superman At Earth's End")
Hitler Clone: Of course. Don't you know anything about science?
(Back to the Thor comic again)
Rock monster: Now watch, as I prove the invulnerability of our stone bodies!
Linkara: Oh, please! Give me a grass or fighting-type Pokemon, (points to camera) and I will end you.
Rock monster: Without the slightest hesitation, I jump... for I know that nothing on this puny Earth... can HARM me!
Linkara: (as rock monster) OH, GOD! MY LEGS HAVE SHATTERED INTO PEBBLES! THIS WAS A MISTAKE!
Linkara (v/o): As the aliens also test out their weaponry, an old man spots them from behind some rocks.
Old man: (thinking) By the beard of Odin, what have I stumbled onto?!!
Linkara: That's something I've never understood: why do people swear by Odin's (strokes chin) beard? Was there nothing else interesting about the guy? It'd be like me proclaiming, (points offscreen) "By Stan Lee's mustache!"
Linkara (v/o): The old man runs to the village to warn them, but naturally, nobody believes the crazy old man rambling about rock men from outer space. Except for Donald Blake...
Blake: (thinking) It sounds fantastic! And yet, the man doesn't appear mad!
Linkara: (as Blake) Except for that outfit. You'd have to be cray-cray to mix red and purple this season. (snaps fingers)
Linkara (v/o): The next day, he decides to investigate on his own, and he stumbles upon the rock creatures just as they proclaim that they need to kill anyone who discovers them.
Linkara: Kind of hard to conduct an open invasion when no one's allowed to notice you doing it, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, Donald Blake steps on a twig, which alerts them to his presence. He manages to run up a mountain, but he trips and drops his cane. Yeah, poor Donald Blake has a bit of a limp, which probably explains why he can't outrun the guys made out of rocks. However, he discovers a cave that he hopes to hide himself in and looks for another exit to it to try to get away. He finds another exit, but it's blocked by a massive boulder that he can't move.
Linkara: I would say that he needs another gym badge in order to use Hidden Machine for strength, but after that last one, I think I've used all my allotted Pokemon jokes for the year.
Blake: This cave is so dank--so gloomy--and airless!
Linkara: (as Blake) Which is why I'm talking a lot! Talking will preserve the air!
Pollo: (calling out from offscreen) Didn't you use up the air on Comicron 1 while doing a review only a few weeks ago?
Linkara: Yeah, but you see the difference there is shut up!
Linkara (v/o): However, as he's leaning against a wall, it, uh, apparently opens. I'm not entirely sure how. Blake says that it opens when he leaned against the wall like he had hit a secret lever, but the door is opening out, and he was sitting on the ground. So does that mean that the Thing was pushing against him? He heads inside and discovers a secret chamber, and I just noticed how well-lit this cave is. I guess the aliens made sure to put in some fluorescent lights in between testing out how strong they were in Earth's gravity. Inside of the chamber, Blake finds nothing but a gnarled wooden stick on a pedestal.
Linkara: Yeah, it's not magical or anything. Indiana Jones just swapped out the real staff with that a few years ago.
Linkara (v/o): He figures that the stick can be used as a lever to move the boulder, though considering its described as "gnarled", I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work without just snapping in half or something. Not that it makes any difference, since he tries to use the stick like that, and it fails.
Narrator: In helpless anger, Don Blake strikes against the immovable boulder...
Linkara: (narrator voice) As the narrator, I cannot stress enough how utterly useless this situation is!
(Cut to Pollo standing in front of the bookshelf)
Pollo: We'll be right back in a moment. Maybe. We'll see.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner and we got to a commercial break. Upon return, Pollo returns)
Pollo: And we're back. Good times.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner; cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): But striking the boulder with the cane causes lightning bolts to flash, and a nice bit of Kirby crackle consumes Blake.
Blake: The cave is bathed in blinding light!! Like a fiery bolt of lightning! And the ancient cane--it--it's changing shape!
Linkara: (as Blake) It's becoming... (holds up toothbrush in confusion) a toothbrush? The hell?
Blake: And--I'm changing too!! Can this really be happening-- or am I going mad?!!
Linkara: (as Blake) I suddenly feel the urge to narrate to myself! But... what happened to the actual narrator? Was he ever there at all?? MY GOD, I AM GOING MAD!!
Blake: No! It isn't mad!!
Linkara: (as Blake) Good, I never liked that magazine anyway.
Blake: I can feel my body bursting with power-- power such as I've never known!
Linkara: (as Blake) I SHALL RULE THE WORLD!! (cackles)
Blake: The cane!! It has become a mighty hammer!! And I have been transformed into--into...
Linkara: (as Blake, holding hammer) Liberace!
Blake: Wait! There are words inscribed on the hammer!!
Linkara: (as Blake, holding up hand) Stop! (holds up hammer) Hammer time!
Linkara (v/o): And indeed, written in plain English – and in comic book lettering, no less – are these words...
Text: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of... THOR."
Linkara: If he be not worthy, he be prepared to pay a fine of no less than 500 gold pieces to the Asgardian revenue service.
Blake (as Thor): Thor!! The legendary god of thunder!! The mightiest warrior of all mythology!!
Linkara: Man, Lancelot, Hercules, and the goddess Andraste are gonna be pissed off when they hear that.
Thor: This is his hammer!!
Linkara (v/o): Aaand from the looks of it, it seems to have a major radon gas leak, dude. Might want to get that looked at.
Thor: A few moments ago, I couldn't even budge this boulder! But now...
Linkara: (as Thor, reaching out, struggling with something) But now, I... Now I...! But now I...! Now... (gives up, waving dismissively) Oh, forget it! Things wedged in there pretty good! I need the jaws of life or something!
Thor: I can lift it as if it were cardboard!
Linkara: (dramatically) The Mighty Thor, god of lifting rocks!
Linkara (v/o): He seals the cave again after he escapes, figuring that the stone aliens won't suspect that someone as frail as he was would be able to get through there. Then again, the aliens are really taking their sweet-ass time about this. Although, they are rock creatures.
(Cut to a clip of Missile to the Moon, being viewed by the cast of RiffTrax)
Bill Corbett: You know, I think you have a better chance of being overtaken by an actual rock.
(Back to the comic again)
Thor: But what happens now? Do I walk amidst the civilized world as a-- mythological god??
Linkara: (shrugs) Mmm, I don't know. Seems to work pretty well for Tom Hiddleston.
Linkara (v/o): He sits down to think about this whole thing.
Thor: Thor...the god of thunder! What do I remember of him from my school days?
Linkara: (as Thor, stroking chin) Well, I remember he was supposed to have red hair and a red beard.
Thor: He was the noblest and strongest of all the Norse gods!
(Cut to a clip of Thor)
Thor (Chris Hemsworth): (drinking coffee) This drink... I like it!
Darcy (Kat Dennings): I know, it's great, right?
Thor: ANOTHER! (throws coffee mug on the ground so hard it shatters)
(Cut back to the comic)
Thor: The fourth day of the week, Thursday was named in his honor!
Linkara: Yes, in his honor, which is why we call him "Thur", god of thon-der. (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Thor is engulfed in Kirby crackle again.
Thor: What's happening to me?? I'm--I'm changing again!!
Linkara: Oh, don't worry about it, Thor. That happens to everybody when they're growing up.
Thor (now Blake again): I'm back to normal once more! But how?? What caused it??
Linkara: (as Blake, wearing a blue fedora, which he didn't have before) And do I suddenly have a blue hat that I didn't before?
Linkara (v/o): Reading the inscription again, Blake figures he knows the answer.
Blake: So that's it! I must continually hold the hammer to retain Thor's strength! If I let go of it, in about sixty seconds I revert back to my normal self!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense... except this panel right before you changed back shows you still holding the hammer.
(Cut to Phelous who is with Linkara)
Phelous: Great continuity! (gives a double thumbs-up)
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): He remembers more about the hammer, not named "Mjolnir" in this story, just "the hammer", and how, if he threw it, it would return to him like a boomerang.
Thor: Also, the hammer is invincible! Nothing can resist it! Nothing!!
Linkara: (as Thor, holding up his hammer) And nothing else can break a tree in half! (holds it up dramatically) It must be invincible!
Linkara (v/o): He tests his powers out some more, like being able to create rain or snow, which I don't think is often utilized in comics, come to think of it, plus being able to expand such storms into tornadoes. More testing shows that stabbing the handle on the ground once will revert him back to Donald Blake and the hammer becoming a cane again as a disguise. Convenient! And with that out of the way, he heads off to warn people about the aliens. Speaking of, a group of jets head out to attack the alien spaceship... because I guess they just know about them now, but the aliens create the image of a giant dragon right in front of the jets. As a result, the pilots bail out of the jets, thinking they're gonna crash into it otherwise. After the image fades, missiles are launched, but are ineffective against the aliens' "atomic force fields".
Alien: The Earthlings have nothing that can keep us from descending upon them! Nothing!!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Pumaman)
Kobras: Who is to prevent me?
Tom Servo: A halfway smart guy with muscles and hair?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Spotting the failure of the Air Force to take out the aliens, Blake takes matters into his own hands.
Blake: But, perhaps what twentieth century science can't do... the God of Thunder CAN!!
Linkara: (as Blake, holding Thor's hammer) I mean, if it was 21st century science, they may have stood a chance, but twentieth? (scoffs) Ha! Step aside, mortals, and let a god handle this!
Linkara (v/o): Thor can't fly, but he figures on an alternate method of transportation: twirling his hammer around and then throwing it while hanging on to the strap at the end of it.
Thor: There! I release my whirling hammer for a split-second, catching the unbreakable thong...
Linkara: Ha! Thong!
Thor: ...and then--I am pulled along after it like the tail of a rocket!!
Linkara: (as Thor, arm extended in imitation of his pose) And dislocating my arm in the process.
Linkara (v/o): I should also mention that, being a Silver Age comic, the story has been divided into parts, and we've just entered Part 3: "THOR THE MIGHTY STRIKES BACK!"
Linkara: Personally, though, I'm just waiting out for Part 4: "Return of the Thor-di".
Linkara (v/o): The aliens spot Thor approaching and decide to capture him, since, well, a human flying through the air like warrants a bit of an investigation. Unfortunately for them, Thor is able to whip the hammer around and, judging from the debris around the aliens, is smashing them to pieces, probably mortally wounding them. However, he is "directly beneath their captive cage", and they drop said cage down on him. Fortunately, Thor easily bends the metal of the cage.
Thor: Iron bars do not a prison make!
Linkara: (as Thor) Real prisons are made with see-through force field technology! Haven't you things seen my latest movie at all?
Linkara (v/o): Realizing that he's too powerful to be kept alive, the aliens aim their weapons to disintegrate him. However, Thor tosses his hammer at them... somehow managing to hit all their guns out of their hands. The aliens have a final resort to try to stop Thor: the Mechano-Monster!
Linkara: (depressed, his head resting on his hand) I miss Neutro.
Thor: (thinking) That monstrosity looks like it has everything going in its favor!
Linkara: (as Thor, holding his hammer) It even has chiseled good looks. Better than mine!
Thor: (thinking) Everything except... the Hammer of Thor!
(Cut to a clip of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)
Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion): The hammer is my penis.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): And with one swing, the Mechano-Monster is smashed to pieces.
Rock monster: The human is too mighty--too skilled in the art of battle!
Linkara: (as rock monster) He knows how to use a hammer! I always knew carpentry would be our downfall!
Linkara (v/o): And since they don't know how many more like him there are, the aliens beat a hasty retreat.
Thor: I've beaten them! I have proven that the power of the hammer and the might of the Thunder-God are invincible! Nothing can conquer Thor! Nothing!!
Linkara: (as Thor, raising his hammer) Suck it, Ragnarok!
Linkara (v/o): Thor spots some soldiers nearby.
Thor: If I remain here, they'll question me!! They won't rest till they've learned my secret! I'll become an international curiosity!
Linkara: (as Thor) I'd better go join a high-profile team of superheroes to avoid that!
Linakra (v/o): And so, he turns back into Donald Blake and walks off, the soldiers wondering what convinced the aliens to flee. And so, our comic ends with the lesser-known stuff written on Thor's hammer: the editor's note.
BECAUSE POOR LITERACY... IS REALLY UNEXPECTED HERE WHEN EVERY OTHER TIME THE NAME IS SPELLED IT'S ONLY WITH ONE 'R.'
Text: THORR the Mighty, the greatest superhero of all time...
Linkara: I am confused by that sentence. He's only the greatest superhero among new superheroes?
Text: ...will appear regularly in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY!
Linkara: Which just raises the question of what the hell the mystery was in this story. (closes comic and holds it up) This origin story is... really damn enjoyable.
Linkara (v/o): A lot of people who are only familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe are probably scratching their heads about Thor having a secret identity or that he was someone transformed into instead of just being the god traveling to Earth, but that's a story for another day. Needless to say, his Donald Blake identity was not around forever. Anyway, though, the story is really damn fun. You've got a normal guy stumbling upon an alien invasion and then the power to do something about it. He's pretty smart, he gets to smash up a robot, it's awesome superhero action, and very simple in its execution, with great Jack Kirby artwork to boot.
Linkara: And so, "Secret Origins Month" passes us once again. Next week, we begin the Christmas season. And oh, boy, Christmas this year is gonna be weirder than anything the Silver Age had to offer.
(End credits roll)
If he who holds this hammer is not satisfied with the quality of this hammer, he may call 1-800-Dancegard for technical support or a refund.
'Sooo question – the hammer was disguised as a gnarled stick, but the hammer guidelines only talk about the hammer, so could ANY schlub use the cane and then the hammer drops to the ground if it transforms or do you have to be worthy of the stick, too?
(Stinger: Cut back to Linkara as he holds up the hammer again)
Linkara: Let's see what else is written on the hammer of Thor. (looks closely at hammer) Uh... "For a good time, call Freya." (looks at another part of hammer) Uh, over here... Uh, "Your ad here." (looks at handle) And along the handle, in crayon, is written: "Property of Loki and not Thor".