The last time we checked in on Thor he was fighting your average, everyday, run of the mill communists and the story was rather dull. One easy way to have a great story for a hero is to have an incredible villain. Loki has already been introduced in the pages of Journey Into Mystery but this second appearance in issue 88 is where he starts to shine. All heroes need a good nemesis and Thor’s will forever be Loki. And of course the dynamics of that relationship are even more complicated because they are brothers (well half-brothers anyway).
If you look at the cover up there you might get the idea that Odin does a bit of toxic parenting here. I mean Loki’s not good by any means but Odin is clearly showing some favoritism and it’s clear this was not the first nor will it be the last time.
The issue starts out with Loki prisoner in Asgard because Thor recently bested him. Loki doesn’t take that too well and since he’s the god of mischief he can perform a ritual where he can see Thor. What he sees is actually a few panels from Journey Into Mystery 87 when Thor escapes from the chains the communists have put on him by turning back into Dr. Donald Blake and slipping his bonds. Loki is able to tell Thor can only stay Thor as long as he is gripping his hammer. If he lets go of it for more than 60 seconds he turns right back into Blake.
Loki is no slouch so he figures he needs to separate Thor from his hammer to defeat him. He’s able to shape-shift into a snake and sneak out past the watchful eye of Heimdall. Once on Earth, Loki takes on the disguise of an old man and goes to the offices of Dr. Donald Blake. He hypnotizes Jane Foster and goes in to see the good doctor.
Here’s where we start to see that Loki is his own worst enemy. He could have, while disguised, easily defeated Blake. But he just can’t resist the urge to show Dr. Donald Blake that he is Loki. His vanity gets him every time.
Naturally, Dr. Blake grabs his cane and taps it on the ground to become Thor. Loki immediately challenges Thor, telling him he will cause havoc throughout this puny world until Thor agrees to fight him. For some reason, Loki allows Thor an hour to prepare.
When he does meet up with Loki, Thor states, “Though I cannot match you, power for power, I have one weapon which you cannot match… the invincible hammer of Thor!“
This shows that while Thor is supremely powerful, he actually knows Loki is a match for him.
Thor then falls into Loki’s trap. He had hypnotized Jane to show up where they were to do battle. He transforms a tree into a tiger just after Thor throws his hammer at Loki. Thor has to choose between grabbing the hammer and saving Jane. These kinds of moral dilemmas are everywhere in Marvel but Loki really is one of the best at manipulating people with choices like these. I think you won’t be surprised to hear Thor saves Jane. This does cause him to be away from the hammer long enough to revert back to Dr. Donald Blake. Lucky for him Jane fainted during all this so she still doesn’t know Thor’s secret identity.
Loki seizes the moment and creates a magical force field around the hammer which Blake can’t budge. Loki turns into a bird and decides to just go wreak havoc amongst the humans. He turns people into “Blank beings” which are just white outlines of who they were. Loki actually did something similar the first time he fought Thor as well. Next on the mayhem list for Loki is turning streets, cars and all non-organic material into candy and ice cream. It’s actually a funny couple of panels but you do tend to feel for the guy who lost his convertible because it was melted by the sun.
While his pranks are kind of silly, he does start to escalate pretty quickly. He next goes toward the arctic where some communists are testing an atomic bomb. He turns it into a dud. So I guess Loki is on the side of the Americans in the cold war? Ha, no he just wants to mess around.
But Dr. Blake knows if left to his own devices, Loki will eventually get up to something lethal. Loki faces an army and just puts wings on all their weapons so they fly away. But Blake has an idea.
He puts word in the newspaper Thor wants a rematch with Loki. Loki can’t resist but to see what is going on. He sees Thor, not knowing it’s actually a plastic dummy. He lifts the force field to check on the hammer which gives Blake the perfect opportunity to grab it.
Before Thor can throw down, Loki turns into a bird again but Thor feeds all the birds peanuts and realizes the one bird not eating has to be Loki. Thor makes short work of it and traps Loki. He takes him back to Asgard once again where Odin is none too pleased with Loki.
This issue does a fine job of establishing the real rivalry between Thor and Loki and sets up a lot the elements of some of the best Thor stories to come.
Next up on the reading list we’ll be visiting with Johnny Storm in the pages of Strange Tales #104!