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Journey Into Mystery 85
"Trapped By Loki, The God of Mischief!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND October, 1962

Writer: Stan Lee Artists: Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers Editor: Stan Lee

What's better... mystical powers or physical strength? Even better, a cunning mind to utilize either ability to its fullest! Two of my favorite characters are Thor, God of Thunder and Loki, God of Mischief. These two have a sibling rivalry with the world as their sandbox, as Loki seeks to humiliate Thor for imprisoning him within a tree. Loki would also don a green suit which would have Jimmy Olsen and Johnny Thunder green with envy! The odd thing about Thor is how he'd simultaneously regard Loki as both his half-brother and as a mythological legend. In re-reading this story, I was struck by some of the similarities between this and a Silver Age Superman-style story, with an extradimensional imp pestering our hero!

The cover has Loki standing atop a skyscraper and challenging Thor to a fight, while Thor regards Loki as someone he didn't expect to see again!

The splash page has Loki casting a magical spell upon Thor as the Thunder God whirls his long-handled hammer, Mjolnir, atop a theater marquee, as a crowd looks on.

From the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard, Loki is currently trapped within a tree and he'll remain there until someone cries over his situation. Since his imprisonment, Loki has been able to manipulate the tree. He causes a leaf to fall into the eye of Heimdall, who sheds a tear, and thus, Loki is freed from the tree. He's ready to wreak havoc on the world and get revenge on his half-brother, Thor, who caused his imprisonment!

It's been some time since Thor has been seen in Asgard, as Loki establishes a link with the Uru metal of Thor's hammer, and discovering the location of the owner! On Midgard (otherwise known as Earth), Thor is entertaining children by using his hammer to levitate a hospital bed via magnetic force. Loki slides down the Rainbow Bridge and dons modern clothing, and begins his search for Thor on Earth. Leaving the hospital, Loki decides to cause a disturbance.

Some blocks away, Dr. Don Blake and Nurse Jane Foster overhear cries for help and see people being transformed into living negatives. Don realizes that some magic spell is behind it, and heads off into an alley, where he strikes his walking stick against the ground...becoming Thor! Among the onlookers, Loki observes his half-brother's approach.

Thor quickly rotates Mjolnir, causing it to emit anti-matter particles and sending them at the Negative people. Their atoms reverse, reverting them into positive people once more. (Could Thor have cured Larry Trainor, Negative Man of the Doom Patrol?) As the people thank Thor for his feat, and Jane Foster compliments him, Loki approaches and transforms into his traditional Asgardian regalia. Loki, God of Mischief now confronts his half-brother, and prepares to exact his revenge!

Thor remembers the legends of Loki (Does this mean that at this point, he doesn't regard Loki as his half-brother, but as a myth?) As Loki issues his challenge, Jane Foster regards him as dashing and romantic. (Later depictions would have Loki as weasely and cowardly, determined to save his own skin, rather than stand and fight.) Loki gestures and a hotel's red carpet becomes his transport, as he takes to the air, causing Thor to follow him. Loki uses the sun to hypnotize Thor each time his hammer passes in front of him. Loki soon has Thor under his hypnotic control.

He compels Thor to land and attempts to have him give the hammer, but Thor obeys Odin's edict that none may wrest Mjolnir from him. Loki uses the power of suggestion to convince Thor to throw his hammer into the pond, only to have Mjolnir return to his grasp, as per Odin's edict. (It'd be interesting to read a story where Loki and Mr. Mxyzptlk swap foes and have Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen meet the Marvel versions of Thor and Loki!)

Loki conjures up an image of Thor, compelling him to give the hammer to the image, as he is also compelled to head to the zoo, and free the animals. (Hmm... does this mean that Thor regards himself as Don Blake, first, and a modern version of of a mythological god, second?) Loki observes several people attempting to lift Thor's hammer, as unseen by him, Thor transforms back into Don Blake, the bespectacled physcian. (Hmm, it was once mentioned that the essence of Thor gradually caused the identity of Don Blake to resemble more closely the Son of Odin.) As Loki waits impatiently for Thor, Don makes his way to the fallen hammer (which hasn't reverted to a walking stick, as it has on other occasions.) As two men attempt to lift the hammer, Don approaches them and asks for a turn.

The men scoff at the humble physician, as he bends down and grasps the hammer. A blinding flash of light occurs and it is the God of Thunder who is now grasping Mjolnir. A fearful Loki realizes the game's up! He summons all the pigeons in the city, using them to cover his escape. Thor is in pursuit of Loki, and is swiftly overtaking his half-brother.

Loki enters a theater, dispersing his pigeon army. As there is no room for Thor to swing his hammer, Loki suddenly becomes brave and goads his half-brother into pursuing him. Thor is confident that his physical strength will be sufficient for the challenge. Loki uses his magic to release the curtain from its mooring, making his escape, while Thor struggles momentarily with the curtain, using his super...errr... Thunder-Breath to disperse it. (Why didn't Loki just zap Thor? Maybe he overtaxed his powers in the same manner he wasn't able to escape from a simple lead-lined truck in Avengers #1.) Loki runs to an undeground tunnel, where he's confident he'll beat Thor!

Friendly commuter Loki pushes some people off the platform as a train approaches... Thor leaps to the commuters' aid by gripping the twin rails, causing the train to pass safely above them. As the grateful commuters thank him, Thor races off in search of Loki, who has animated the winged Pegasus symbol of a gas station, and has gone airborne! In the Manhattan crowd, Thor is unable to whirl his hammer!

The winged horse smashes the surrounding commercial displays, as he heads for the Statue of Liberty, and begins to think up a plan to defeat Thor! The God of Thunder heads to a construction site, where he seizes a section of pipe, and throws it unerringly, causing it to fall on Loki, disrupting his concentration! He makes a big splash, where his magic powers are useless underwater!

Holding his half-brother under one arm, Thor heads to the Empire State Building, the world's tallest skyscraper, and ties Loki to his hammer. Whirling Mjolnir at tremendous speed, he throws it into space, where the hammer and its reluctant passenger arrive in Asgard (presumably through a dimensional gateway), where Odin, Balder, Tyr, and the others witness Loki's ignominious return. Mjolnir returns to Thor before the sixty seconds have elapsed (Otherwise, Don Blake would have had to heal himself after catching it.) Don returns to Jane Foster, who is impressed by the battle between the two gods. She believes it to be romantic, making their everyday lives seem dull by comparison, while a bespectacled and somber Don Blake has a different point of view.

An enjoyable story by Lee/Kirby/Ayers. Loki is similar in character to Mr. Mxyzptlk in causing minor property damage rather than being the God of Evil he'd later be. His transformation of those people into Negative Beings simply begs for a couple of untold tales where Loki uses the Doom Patrol to fight Thor, possibly offering General Immortus immortality, or having Superman and Jimmy Olsen cross paths with Marvel's Thor and Loki, while Lois Lane and Jane Foster compare notes on Clark Kent and Don Blake.

Thor seems to have the personna of Don Blake rather than the God of Thunder. This tale is more in step with the type of stories seen in Journey Into Mystery and Strange Tales, where someone stumbles upon some alien artifact or ancient trinket, and tampers with it, resulting in a lesson to be learned by story's end.

Kirby's art captures both characters' distinctive personna's and energy in their battle, while Stan injects humor with the commuters and the flying Pegasus symbol. It's understood that Jack would draw an entire story based on Stan's suggestions, so it may very well be that Jack made the sequence even more memorable!

This Review Is Dedicated To Tom Lammers

Steve Chung
"Trapped By Loki, The God of Review!"