Tales of Asgard -- Journey Into Mystery #99 (from the Tales of Asgard tpb)
"Surtur the Fire Demon!"
Stan Lee-Jack Kirby
Karen: Our third entry in the early days of Asgard deals with Odin facing yet another foe of his people -the fire giant Surtur. We also see a whole lot of trolls in this story, and they are depicted here far differently than they later would be. They are more like fairy-tale trolls, the kind who dwell under bridges, spindly and frightening, with iron grips. Their grips are so strong in fact, that we are told only Odin has the strength to break them.
Doug: The trolls are creepy little fellows, and very reminiscent of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Odin is one bad dude, isn't he? Makes one wonder why there was ever really a threat to Asgard. He's strong, smart, and has an indelible fighting spirit. And still all of the goons try to invade the Realm Eternal...
Karen: When Odin reaches Surtur, he finds him in a sea of flame. As I mentioned before, the coloring is especially vivid and you can almost feel the heat radiating off the page. Odin hauls down ice chunks from space and beats Surtur back.
Doug: Stan and Jack gave us a nice dichotomy with the Ice Giants last issue and now Surtur. This truly is mythology -- as we go through the tpb, we see all of Stan's hyperbole about the series. But I'm thinking that to have read this as it originally appeared, it must have been an eye-opening departure from the superhero yarns that ran in the front of Journey Into Mystery. I'm not always a fan of the split books with two shorter stories, but I'm thinking this must have been quite a bit of fun!
Karen: We get a little bit of science in the story too; when Surtur flees to the center of Earth, he casts out "A huge chunk of matter...a chunk which flies into the sky where it will spin around the Earth...and forever be known as...the Moon!" If you replaced Surtur with a giant asteroid hitting the Earth, that's pretty much what modern theory say for the origin of the moon.
Doug: As I said, this is just fun. I think back to the reading books I used in the 4th and 5th grades that had some mythology in them... Shoot, this was as good as Classics Illustrated!
Karen: Odin loves Earth -wait a minute, he loves Earth? Seems like he was always willing to sacrifice it, or mess with it...OK, I guess when he was younger he loved Earth. Anyway, he loves Earth so in order to protect it from Surtur, he causes it to spin rapidly, and the resulting centrifugal force keeps the fire giant trapped within, supplying heat and energy to the planet.
Doug: Yeah, Odin loving the Earth was funny. I guess that's where Thor got it, huh?
Karen: I suspect it was from his mother! Another fun creation myth explaining how the moon was formed and why our planet rotates. But buckle your seat belts: next time up, we get lil' Thor and lil' Loki!