Marvel Comics is in the process of reprinting the origin stories of their most important characters, and this week Thor gets the focus. They’ve covered Spider-Man already in this format, which brings five to seven issues together in a digest-sized collection complete with a brand new cover by Michael Cho. It’s a slick package made for young readers’ hands but readable by everyone.
Interestingly, this collection has a table of contents listing each issue as if it was a chapter in a book. Collected here is Journey Into Mystery #83-100, which are the first-ever stories featuring Thor and his iconic Jack Kirby-designed costume. Running 280 pages long, this collection is meaty — it runs a bit longer than Spider-Man and a lot longer than the forthcoming Hulk edition.
Journey Into Mystery #83 features the blond Thor facing off against the space aliens made of rock made famous by Korg in Thor: Ragnarok. One can imagine the thought process behind throwing a superhero with a hammer up against some rock people. Released in 1962, the story features Don Heck, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko on art and Stan Lee and Larry Lieber on the story. Thor’s first-ever story features a valiant and youthful Thor who is mighty and speaks in an odd way.
Following this, Thor faces off against a villain named The Executioner who looks a lot like a Cuban communist, followed by Loki in Journey Into Mystery #85. Loki pops up again in #88, quickly making him his arch-nemesis, but other wacky sci-fi villains are thrown in between like the Tomorrow Man or another communist fight this time with what looks like Russians. Generally speaking, Thor ends up interacting with civilians more and more as the collection carries forward, and while wacky villains like Carbon-Copy Man pop up, it’s generally a sometimes raucous but always action-packed good time.
The art is what sets this book apart, and really Marvel owes everything to the innovations of artists in this era of comic book making. Every panel is like a work of art with great details and compelling framing. Seeing the outlandish looking Thor in an office building fighting Human Cobra or duking it out with Merkin the Mad outside the White House grounds the story in a reality that is relatable. Hell, President John F. Kennedy even pops up in this book!
There aren’t many extras to be found here aside from a few original penciled pages courtesy of Heritage Auctions and a single house ad. This collection is more about putting these stories back into print in a smaller format for smaller hands.
If you’ve already read these stories nothing is new here, but that’s not really the point. Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor Vol. 1 is the perfect jumping-on point for young readers, collecting the earliest stories with chapter breaks and good quality paper.
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