The past couple of issues of Journey Into Mystery established Thor, his secret identity of Dr. Donald Blake and his love interest Jane. What it had not done was establish a foe the equal of the power of the god of thunder. Journey Into Mystery provides that foe by introducing the one and only Loki. While there will be a long and complex relationship between the two characters, this issue is all about showing Loki capable of defeating Thor in some way, even if only temporarily.
On the cover of the issue we see Loki in a much better looking costume than what we get inside the issue. In my opinion the brown just doesn’t work for him but you can judge for yourself in the panel below.
(Panel taken from Journey Into Mystery #85 Photo Credit: Marvel)
In this issue we establish the rainbow bridge that leads to Asgard and at the start we see Loki confined to a tree where he is to be kept for punishment due to his past misdeeds. Through some trickery Loki is able to send a leaf into Heimdall’s eye, causing him to cry, which frees Loki from his plight. He was to be stuck in the tree until someone cried “due to his plight” so Loki meets the conditions but definitely frees himself on a technicality. This establishes not only his cleverness but his capability to use deceit to get what he wants.
This also establishes Heimdall as a recurring character. Loki blames Thor for his punishment so he immediately heads to Earth to harass Thor. Loki disguises himself and blends into the crowds of New York City and we get another example of his powers of illusion. He can’t best Thor with strength so it’s his mind that is his weapon. Soon Loki manufactures a crisis by turning people, “into negatives”. It’s hard to describe but basically three people walk around looking like photo negatives. For some reason Loki assumes Thor will come running to help. Personally, I would imagine there would be a whole host of other Marvel heroes who would be more helpful than Thor in this situation. But Thor of course, is on the scene and does arrive. Thor is able to “emit anti-matter particles!” thus healing the people. This establishes that Mjolnir is basically capable of doing whatever it needs to do in the moment it needs to.
Not long after Loki shows up and he and Thor are locked in battle. And as you can see in the panel above, Jane is already a fan girl of his. That’s a bit odd considering she is alternatively in love with Don Blake and Thor himself but I guess Jane was just an early Tom Hiddleston fan.
During the battle Loki uses hypnotism and other trickery to fight but of course in the long run, Thor wins out. The battle itself isn’t all that memorable but it is the first confrontation between Thor and Loki in the 616 universe. There are two things of note in the battle however. Firstly, it is established yet again that when Thor is away from Mjolnir for more than 60 seconds he turns back into Dr. Donald Blake. In the early days of the 616 universe this is significant as it is one way to stop Thor. Later he will eventually drop the Don Blake secret identity entirely but that’s not for a long time to come. The second significant item in the fight is that it is established Loki cannot use his powers underwater. This is to Thor’s advantage and helps him win the battle. A third item to mention might be Loki is unable to fly on his own. He can transform objects or hypnotize birds to accomplish the feat but he is not able to simply fly whenever he wishes.
The most significant part of this issue, other than the appearance of Loki himself comes on the last page. Thor has beaten Loki and sends him back to Asgard where he knows other gods will take Loki into captivity. We see appearances of Odin, Balder, Tyr and several other unnamed Asgardian gods. They will be repeat characters for Thor and hugely significant in an untold number of events in 616 continuity.
When Thor throws Loki to Asgard he hopes he will never again meet the god of mischief but as fans, we all want him to, and thanks to the obvious set up here, the fans will win out. This is the first appearance of Loki but by no means the last and he is already plotting his revenge.
Next on the reading list we go back to the first family of superheroes in The Fantastic Four #7!