So as per the sensationalistic cover (below the jump), Journey Into Mystery #113 features Thor revealing his secret identity to long-suffering nurse Jane Foster – for realsies. Does it actually happen that way? And is that our old pal the Grey Gargoyle lurking in the corner? Let’s dive in and find out how much it sucks to date a Marvel hero in 1965. (Not as bad as it sucked later for women like Karen Page or Gwen Stacy. It still sucked, though!)
About the comic:
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #113
Date: February 10, 1965
“A World Gone Mad!”
We start with Thor and Odin and a bunch of other Asgardians throwing down against the villains of Jotunheim. It’s transparently (according to Mr. Lee’s editor’s notes) an excuse to let Mr. Kirby draw some awesome Asgardian battles. In the aftermath, Odin invites his son to come home and resume his “princely duties.”
Thor says “no dice,” and Odin correctly surmises it’s because he’s in lurrrve. He leaves his raging father and heads back to Earth, 100 percent ready to renounce his godly heritage for the sake of Jane Foster. When he slips back into Dr. Don Blake form and tells Jane the truth, though, it doesn’t go so hot.
We cut away to reveal a pair of hapless archaeologists who have just dredged the Grey Gargoyle out of the East River. He petrifies them and runs off, giving us a one-page summary of his backstory after he reaches his apartment.
Cut again, this time to Odin. He’s done nothing but fume about his son for the last half-dozen pages, and now he decides (with the help of Loki’s sage advice) to go ahead and punch the “off” switch on Thor’s godly powers.
That takes us right back to Don and Jane, where the female is being the sensible one – a refreshing change for early Marvel characterization. Jane decides the doc’s been working too hard. It helps that Don tries to prove his Thoritude by transforming just moments after Odin depowered him.
The Grey Gargoyle obligingly smashes through the window before this scene gets any more awkward. Dr. Blake was intimately involved in his last run-in with Thor, so now the Gargoyle is going to force Blake to tell him how to find the thunder god. Don and Jane hot-foot it out of their office with the Gargoyle right behind them.
the ranch Asgard, some of Thor’s buddies – not the Warriors Three – are about to head to Earth to help him. Loki heads that business off, but while he’s doing so another mysterious figure zips down the Bifrost.
Back on Earth, the Gargoyle is making a ruckus in the street. He’s petrifying pedestrians willy-nilly, and he chooses now to announce that he can turn people to stone permanently if he wants to. He’s going to do it to Jane and the Doc because they’re being so irritating.
Our heroes escape thanks to a fortuitous light-arrow from our unknown Asgardian that blinds the Gargoyle. They zip away in a swank Jaguar – which, sadly, the Gargoyle turns to stone. In the absolute nick of time, the Asgardian savior – still concealed by being framed off-panel – restores Dr. Blake’s Thor abilities for thirty seconds.
This is more than enough time for Thor to smash open a street light and channel electricity through his hammer and into the Grey Gargoyle. This somehow melts his limbs together into an immobile mass – which is, the more you think about it, a horrific way to beat somebody.
The final page reveals that the real hero – our mystery Asgardian – was Honir the Hunter, dispatched by Odin to arbitrarily save his son from his previous fit of pique. What a macaroon! Back on Earth, Jane is happy to see that Dr. Don is over his “madness,” and Blake, newly grateful for his Thor powers, is happy to take this out and hop right back to the status quo.
“The Boyhood of Loki!”
A little five-page romp about kid Loki and kid Thor. When the two watch some grown-up warriors sparring with quarterstaves, Loki spoils everything by using some Norn magic to blow up one competitor’s weapon.
The kids are soon caught and the adults instantly blame Loki, which is both astute and unfair. Thor insists that they should both be punished. This impresses the grownups so much that they decide no punishment is necessary. Thor scampers away to have his riding lesson leaving his fuming half-brother to follow along.
It really does seem like Loki’s evil is a chicken-and-egg conundrum. Nobody trusts him which goads him into doing evil which makes nobody trust him – repeat ad infinitum.
So, in case you couldn’t tell from the title, I really wanted to make this post about Jane Foster. Truth be told, she just isn’t doing a lot here. Really this story is more about Odin than Jane or even Thor. He snatches away Thor’s powers in a fit of spite and then zaps them back just as arbitrarily. Such a drama queen.
Odin is also the biggest clothes-horse in the Marvel Universe by a great big margin. He changes outfits – and, more importantly, hats – no less than three times in this 16-page story. I’m mentioning this now because when I start writing about early Avengers comics later on I’ll be introducing the Janet Van Dyne Fashion Watch. I want to make it clear that Marvel clothes-horsery crosses gender lines and none shall challenge Odin in this arena. Especially when it comes to spiffy hats.
As for Ms. Foster, she does about as well as anyone could with a crazy nutso doctor boyfriend who declares he’s the god of thunder and then decides it’s all a delusion a moment later. Since Jane has actually met said god of thunder, she at least doesn’t have cause to think Dr. Don is actually bonkers – just overworked and a bit of a flake.
I was gonna talk about what a raw deal Jane gets in these early Thor comics – and just wait until we get to the amnesia – but reviewing what I already know about some of the other Marvel women caught in love triangles around this era and what happens to them, Jane Foster actually comes out pretty blessed. At least she lives through the silver and bronze ages, which is more than you can say for Gwen Stacy or Karen Page.
Time to Ask …
Who Will Love Journey Into Mystery #113?
Well, evidence to the contrary, this isn’t actually the second installment in the epic story of the Grey Gargoyle. Yes, it’s his second appearance, but there’s really nothing epic about him. And this is a very minor footnote in the romantic story of Jane Foster and Thor / Don Blake. So, ultimately, I think this is only an important read for very dedicated Thor fans. It does serve as decent evidence that Jane is a levelheaded lady who puts up with a lot from both of her would-be beaus.
The JiM #113 cover comes from The Mighty Thor Library. Other images snipped out of Marvel Unlimited by yours truly.