If you’ve thoroughly consumed the Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor Vol. 1, get ready for volume 2 out in comic shops this week. Collecting Journey Into Mystery (1952) #101-104 (A & C stories), #105-110, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had a stronger handle on the character as they enter the Avengers age in Marvel Comics.
The Mighty Marvel Masterworks format is slightly smaller in size, offers a table of contents, and is generally a great place to start for kids. Each edition features a brand new cover by Michael Cho which is epic, clean, and easy on the eyes.
In this second volume, the 208-page collection may be best known in modern times for the face-off with Magneto. This version of Magneto is the early days so expect pure evil, pompous waxing poetic out loud, and tomfoolery. This volume also introduces readers to Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, the Cobra, Enchantress, the Executioner, and Grey Gargoyle. There are also appearances by Loki, the Avengers, and Doctor Strange. This is primo classic stuff including the beginning of the ongoing “Tales of Asgard” feature about the Norse gods.
Something the Mighty Marvel Masterworks deserves credit on is their credits page. Often inkers and letterers were left out in the early days and here we have Chic Stone, George Roussos, Vince Colletta, Paul Reinman, and Don Heck all listed as inkers, with Art Simek and Sam Rosen on letters. Every page is drawn by Jack Kirby with Stan Lee listed as the writer.
Possibly the issue most worth revisiting is Journey into Mystery #105, which features the Avengers winding down from the day. You can see how Lee is working on character, like how Wasp and Giant-Man having their side conversations–and Giant-Man questioning Thor’s dating life–or how their secret identities are truly secret. Thor may end up fighting Cobra in the issue, but it’s neat to see he lives a complex life with different roles to play.
Essentially this is a smash-em-up collection with Thor waving his hammer around and finding justice through force. It’s big, boisterous, and truly special as the stories here are the bedrock of what we know of Thor today.
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