Monday, November 11, 2013
Tales of Asgard: Journey into Mystery 112 and 113
Tales of Asgard: Journey into Mystery #112 (January 1965)
"The Coming of Loki!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Vince Colletta
Karen: This tale brings us the backstory behind possibly Thor's greatest enemy -his adopted brother, Loki. We begin ages ago, with mighty Odin, wielding the hammer Mjolnir, facing off against Laufey, king of the giants of Jotunheim. Laufey desires nothing less than Asgard itself, which of course Odin will fight to the death to defend! Their battle is nothing less than cataclysmic, and it seems that in Jotunheim, the land bows to Laufey's will. Odin realizes he must end the fight quickly, and he hurls Mjolnir at his foe, shattering Laufey's war club!
Doug: This is the fourth or fifth story we've reviewed out of the Tales of Asgard tpb where we've seen a younger Odin. I've enjoyed seeing the All-Father kick a little tail. That splash page (above) is a real homage to David vs. Goliath -- and it looks like Laufey just got off of an equally-large horse! Talk about some bowed legs! And of course this battle -- even with the imposing opponent -- is never in doubt due to the power of Mjolnir.
Karen: Seeing their king disarmed riles the giants and they surge forward. Odin calls his Asgardian warriors to his side. The battle is met, as god wages war with giant! After the passage of time, the Asgardians eventually prove victorious. The giants flee the battlefield under cover of darkness, to regroup at Laufey's castle, but Odin and his men are right behind.
Doug: Jack Kirby gives Big John Buscema a run for his money in terms of ugly barbarian guys. What a motley crew of giants -- you can almost hear the slobbering and heavy stinky breathing! I'm not really sure how the Asgardians triumphed. Were all of their weapons enchanted? If so, then that would even the odds. But in sheer physicality, I'd have to say that the giants should have had the advantage. I liked that Stan wrote that the battle wrote of the magnitude of the battle that time had no meaning -- it could have lasted for minutes, hours, or days.
Karen: Laufey dies at the hands of Odin, and most of the other giants are slain as well. But Odin finds something wriggling in a sack in Laufey's throne room. He discovers a small child. He recognizes it as Loki, Laufey's son. The king was shamed by him, as he was not of giant stature. While one of Odin's warriors says that the very name of Loki has a sense of evil to it, Odin says the child is still regal. He declares for all to hear that he will raise Loki as his own son. "For better or for worse, Loki is forevermore an immortal of Asgard!" You think he knew he was asking for trouble?
Doug: Well, not only is Odin pretty spry in these early adventures, he's as dense as he would be in the adventures of Thor as an adult. I wouldn't say that Odin dispensed justice -- just brutal old-school law-of-the-land type stuff. Was it ever explained why Loki was of "normal" stature, rather than a giant? Talk about an inferiority complex from the get-go! Oh, and I'm feeling better now that Vinnie Colletta is on the inks.
Tales of Asgard: Journey into Mystery #113 (February 1965)
"The Boyhood of Loki!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Vince Colletta
Karen: We've moved ahead years so that Loki and his brother Thor are now young lads. They are watching a tournament. Two men fight using grappling staffs (it reminded me of the "Amok Time" episode from Star Trek!). Thor is positive one of the contestants will win, as he is more skilled. Loki, full of spite, bets on the other fighter, and to make sure he's proven right, he casts a spell he learned from the Norn Witch Women to cause Thor's fighter's staff to blow up. Well, that's not suspicious at all! The men are startled but look around and spot the boys watching. Loki's first reaction is to flee, but Thor being Thor, immediately begins to climb down to face the men.
Doug: This little tale (as well as the one above) is dear to my heart, as I first encountered it in the pages of Bring On the Bad Guys! on Christmas day, 1976 when I was 10 years old. I loved it then and I do now, as well. Vinnie's inks are perfect for the young Thor; how about Jack drawing Loki's hair turned up as if he has little devil horns? The monogrammed tunics are a great touch as well -- I guess Loki always had an affinity for green. And as I stated above in our first review, Kirby is really doing a nice job with the some-craggy, some-handsome Asgardian warriors. Have you ever wondered, in regard to the immortals, if they were all the god or goddess of something? We know Balder is "the Brave", but is he the god of anything in particular? Sif?
Karen: As soon as the two young princes enter the arena, the men begin pointing fingers at Loki and telling him it's illegal to use magic on the contestants. Thor innocently asks why they only speak to his brother. The men say they know that Thor would never cheat. But Thor, being the Odinson, tells the men that if they are going to punish Loki, they'll have to punish him too. Seeing this, the Asgardian warriors relent and declare there will be no punishment. This only causes Loki to seethe even more. The two boys head towards the stables while the men contrast the young princes' qualities.
Doug: Thor's just a good guy, isn't he? I recall wondering about how the men would punish the boys -- it's sort of a taboo to spank someone else's child, isn't it? And I'd think the fact that these lads' dad was, I don't know -- the ruler of the Asgardian universe -- might be sort of an issue. The posture of the two godlings is very well-played, with Thor up front and confident and Loki in the background and looking small.
Karen: Thor is oblivious to Loki's rage and as they mount their horses he offers to race him. Loki's mind is filled with hatred for his brother, who is loved and accepted by everyone, and seems so much better at everything than he is. He swears to himself that he shall gain power and someday destroy Thor!
Doug: You can see Stan and Jack doing a great job with this script in showing Thor's somewhat dull mind in terms of noticing his surroundings, combined with his aforementioned nobility -- his two predominant character traits early in the chronicling of his adventures. Thor just makes it worse with a comment that he gave not a second thought to, that the skill of the rider was more important that the steed on which he rode. And Loki -- his attitude is like those coals at the bottom of the grill, just smouldering. Looking into his young face, I have no doubt that he truly will plot to make his subversive dreams come true. Ever the outsider...
Karen: Ah, the seeds are sown! This was a fun little story to read. Far less subtle than the way the first Thor film portrayed Loki and Thor's relationship. The comic book Loki really never had a chance!