Journey Into Mystery has already run several stories starring the god of thunder, Thor, himself. In issue 86, there are several significant events that help shape the 616 universe for years to come.
We all know Thor has been on earth and hides in his secret identity of Dr. Donald Blake. Most of the stories so far have focused more on Blake than Thor. But this story is all about the Asgardian god and what he can do. In addition, it introduces some new powers Thor has and establishes both time travel and the possibility of different worlds.
Three centuries from now Earth has overcome all violence. They live in a peaceful and technologically advanced society. But one man, named Zarrko aka the Tomorrow Man, wants to rule the world. As any good evil scientist would do, he invents time travel to go back to 1962 when atomic bombs were being tested. Why he didn’t just invent his own weapon if he could invent time travel is beyond me.
It just so happens Zarrko goes out to the desert in New Mexico where Thor is helping the U.S. military to test missiles. The army wants to make a missile fast enough Thor can’t catch it. They fail of course.
Now if the New Mexico desert and bomb testing has you thinking of a certain green man who has gamma related powers you would not be the only one. While we never see Hulk or Bruce Banner, there is someone there in a military uniform who looks an awful lot like General Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk comics. This is never confirmed though, as they don’t say his name. Also, having Thor even show up in this location just makes the reader wonder, “who would win in a fight between Hulk and Thor?” This becomes an age old question and one of the most hotly debated ones among Marvel fans.
Anyway, back to the story at hand. Zarrko shows up, steals something called a “cobalt bomb” and scurries back to his own time. After that is where things really start to get interesting. Thor knows he has to go follow this villain so he does something he has not done before. He summons his father Odin to ask for his advice. This shows the Asgardian gods taking more of an interest in the activities of Thor and they will come into play in future issues. Odin tells Thor he can spin himself and his hammer fast enough to travel through time. (Yes I know it sounds silly but hey, why not?) This vastly increases Thor’s power as the ability to time travel is extremely significant.
Once in the future, Thor meets with the innocent citizens of the world who want Zarrko gone. He devises a plan where he has one of them dress up like him while Thor himself follows behind in a black cloak. Zarrko easily traps the fake but then has to contend with Thor. He fires a, “delta-electron gun” which is supposed to send Thor into another dimension.
This confirms that not only does time travel exist in the 616 universe but so do other dimensions. Again, this is a hugely significant revelation. While Thor isn’t especially known for going to other dimensions or time traveling, a vast number of other 616 characters are. This just establishes the groundwork.
As big of a revelation as that is, we still haven’t seen the limit of Thor’s power. He is able to prevent himself from going to this other dimension by simply exhaling with “Hurricane Force!!” This prevents the dimensional door from closing on Thor and he escapes. This is a pretty big power increase once again for Thor. And it makes the reader who was wondering if Hulk or Thor is stronger think that perhaps Thor has a huge advantage.
Thor is not out of trouble yet as an army of giant robot monsters take his hammer from him. If we remember the old rules of Thor’s transformation we realize that in 60 seconds Thor will become Dr. Donald Blake who is no match for the mechanical monstrosities. It also begs the question of how the robots can lift the hammer considering it is only supposed to be lifted by those worthy of Thor’s power. Thor losing his hammer is a fairly frequent occurrence in the issues to come so we’ll leave that as a dangling question for now.
Of course, Thor does vanquish his foes, both the robot army and Zarrko himself. It’s not until after Thor returns and everyone is defeated that we see Thor change back into Donald Blake. This is somewhat significant because the reader gets the impression Blake is less necessary to the story. In fact, a secret identity never made much sense for Thor anyway but he has to have one because that’s how all the Marvel heroes start out. In time he’ll lose that and readers will get to focus just on the part they enjoy, Thor himself.
All in all, this seems like what would be a fairly standard Marvel story. There is a villain who is defeated by a hero and there’s a little bit of inventiveness in it with the time travel. I doubt the creators of the issue realized the amount of significance these events would have but looking back on it as a reader it is a vital issue.
Next up on the reading list we’re going to get hot under the collar again as we visit Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch in Strange Tales #102!