Welcome back browsers of the Internet, to another week in Ye Olde School Café! In this week’s installment, I’ll be taking one last look at Essential Thor vol. 1, in honor of the movie in theaters now! In the past couple of weeks, we saw the origin of Thor and Donald Blake, the evil half-brother Loki, and Thor’s new love interest, Jane Foster. Now, we’ll lightly skim over the rest of this volume and wrap things up.
This first volume of Thor offers mostly stories that include either Loki or B-listers that you see now and again. The beginnings of the Thor/Donald Blake dynamic aren’t explained right away, but later when they are, it makes sense. We are told later that Odin punishes Thor by sending him to Midgard (Earth) in the guise of Donald Blake to teach him humility. Eventually, though, Thor would just be himself, and lose the Blake persona.
In Journey into Mystery #86 (and again in #101 & 102), we see Zarrko the Tomorrow Man plague Thor. He travels back from the 23rd century to steal a nuclear bomb, and succeeds, even with the interference of the mighty Thor. Thor then asks his father, Odin, to grant him the ability to travel to the future and apprehend the fiend. Odin grants his son’s wish, and Thor is whisked away to the future to stop the madman. Of course, he does, and also retrieves the bomb as well, then returns to the past. Jane Foster then comments when Dr. Blake returns to the office, that she wishes she could work for Thor instead of the “colorless” Dr. Blake.
The next couple of issues focus on an array of things like Thor fighting “commies,” some mob guys, and another bout with Loki. In this second fight with Loki, Thor has to save Jane Foster from a tiger that Loki conjures up. It’s in this issue (#88) that you see Thor start to fall in love with Jane. We get to see Thor against some other villains as well, but some of them are only a once and done for the most part (Carbon Copy Man, Sandu – Master of the Supernatural, Radio-Active Man, etc). There is, however, a cool appearance of the Enchantress and the Executioner in #103, and a battle with Magneto in #109.
For the most part, Loki is the big villain in this first volume, but there is a recurring story line that I really liked with Mister Hyde and Cobra. These two villains together cause Thor a lot of problems, and even go so far as to kill Jane Foster! Well, Thor actually inadvertently does when he smashes his way through a couple of traps, and Jane is caught in the building and crushed. Thor begs for Odin’s help, and after much consideration for his son’s love towards Jane, he saves her life.
The final issue in this volume (#112) contains an epic battle between Thor and the Hulk! It’s the usual smash everything in sight with no clear winner, but cool nonetheless. The last thing I’ll say about this book, is that starting with issue #97 of JIM, the reader is given a short story in the form of “Tales from Asgard.” It kind of spotlights a battle of a certain hero from Asgard. Heimdall, Balder, Odin, you name it. A battle against Surtur, or the Frost Giants, whatever, you get a really cool back up story that isn’t some recycled crap (well, at that time). These books (Essentials) are fantastic, and every reader that doesn’t have deep enough pockets to buy these gold or silver age treasures should check them out!