By the time this issue of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY was published, he series had crystalized into its final form. The short one-off adventures of the Thunder God Thor now gave way to an impressively long serialized story that ran consistently from issue to issue without a break for several years. In addition, the character’s background as an immortal of Asgard was being featured more prominently, with his adventures growing in scope and scale as a result, both within Asgard and throughout the cosmos. And finally, like his work or not, Vince Colletta was now in place as Jack Kirby’s regular inker on both Thor and Tales of Asgard, cementing the look of both strips for the rest of the decade. It was a thoroughly grown up project.

This issue’s story opens in the midst of events already transpiring. Framed by his half-brother Loki for crimes against the Realm Eternal, Thor had been forced to face the Trial of the Gods against him in order to prove his innocence. But Loki cheated, using enchanted Norn Stones to allow him to prevail in the challenge. But Thor, being an honest god, was given dispensation from All-Father Odin to go to Earth and locate the Stones so as to prove his innocence. This led Thor to Vietnam and a conflict with the military there. But he found the evidence he needed, and as this issue opens up, he prepares to return to Asgard while first ferrying a woman caught in the fighting to safety behind American lines.

But Loki’s been monitoring Thor’s progress from far-off Asgard, and he cannot allow the thunder God to return. So he enchants a nearby unnamed hunter, causing him to use the sleep potions in his possession to capture Thor. But knowing that this is only a stall, Loki compels the Hunter to go to a hidden temple deep in the woods, where Odin has secreted the Gods’ greatest weapon: the Destroyer, an unstoppable armored juggernaut. By approaching too close to the Destroyer, the hunter’s life essence is drawn into the creature, bringing it back to life. As the Destroyer is said to be completely indestructible and unstoppable, Loki hopes to pit it against Thor and polish him off for good.

As Thor enters the unveiled temple and discovers that the Destroyer has been activated again, he finds himself almost immediately on the defensive against its much greater power, forced onto his back foot. In Asgard, Loki suddenly has misgivings about this entire plan–he didn’t realize that the Destroyer would be so formidable and he’s worried about what All-Father Odin will do should he learn that teh God of Evil was responsible for its reactivation. Unfortunately for Loki, Odin has decided at this moment, with even teh resolution of the Trial of the gods undecided, that he needs to partake of the restorative Odin-Sleep which renews his great powers. So for the next 24 hours, he’s going to be unavailable to aid either Loki or Thor.

A quick pit stop at this point for a House Ad touting the big series changes happening in two other of Marvel’s super hero anthology titles. In STRANGE TALES, the Human Torch has been evicted in favor of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. which is cast in the mold of the spy thrillers that were all the rage in the mid-60s. And Giant-Man, too, is gone, ejected from his spot in TALES TO ASTONISH. In his place is Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, one of the most popular anti-heroes of the early Marvel era. Him getting his own series again was big news as well.

Back on Earth, Thor is in deep, deep trouble. Not only does the Destroyer posses a dazzling array of innate abilities, not only is he impervious to even the strongest of blows, but he can also pick up Thor’s hammer thanks to being similarly enchanted by Odin–and even damage it. At an unbelievable moment, an energy beam from the Destroyer slices right through the hammer, cleaving it in two and rendering it useless as a weapon. So Thor must continue the struggle bare-handed. Ultimately, the Destroyer succeeds in trapping Thor by embedding him within the floor itself–and then it unleashes powerful destructive energies at him, to finish him off. It’s at this point that the adventure is To Be Continued!

As evidenced by this other House Ad showcasing four impending covers, the entirety of the Marvel line was pretty much firing on all cylinders by this point, the firm’s early growing pains having been surpassed and exceeded. Just about every title is on the ascent at this moment.

The Tales of Asgard back-up series had started to become more ambitious in its storytelling as well, and Lee and Kirby had pulled out all of the stops, similarly embarking on a long-running serialized adventure that carried across a dozen-plus issues. Many of the improvements to the main Thor series were first road-tested in these back-ups and then implemented in the main story once they’d proven successful. the Tales of Asgard adventures were set earlier in the Thunder God’s life, and dealt entirely with matters within the Golden Realm and the surrounding territories. These weren’t super hero adventures so much as they were modern day myths brought to life. Kirby in particular was able to truly exercise his expansive imagination and storyteller’s instinct in these tales.

In this installment, having discovered that the potentially world-ending Odinsword had been damaged, Thor has been dispatched to gather a crew and seek out whatever sinister power may lay behind this act. The mystic Morduk presents Thor with a Crimson glove that compels those grasped by it to tell the truth, so that he may test his new recruits before accepting them for the mission. As expected, Loki has secreted potential betrayers among them, but none can get past the revelatory power of the Crimson Hand, and so they are ejected from the party. But Lokl recognizes the power that Thor is facing, and finds an excuse not to clasp hands with his brother. With his compliment now free of hidden betrayers (apart from the obvious Loki), Thor sets sail on his awesome mission. To Be Continued!

As a perk of joining Marvel’s newly-formed fan club, the Merry Marvel Marching Society, Stan Lee had begun to run the names of the members in assorted random issues on the nascent Bullpen Bulletins Page. Among the 25 listed this time out are future DC writer and production man Bob Rozakis, and future Charlton writer David Kaler.

Because JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY used up an extra page on story between the 16 page Thor lead and the 5 page Tales of Asgard back-up, its letters page The Hammer Strikes was only a single page in length, and thus quite cluttered with information and sell-copy. But this was a small price to pay for additional story content. This particular page spends a lot of energy hyping the two new series, Nick Fury and Sub-Mariner, making them out to be the most exciting developments of the Marvel Age. And they were–at least until the next developments came along!

4 thoughts on “WC: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #118

  1. This was my first Thor IIRC. Great storytelling, spectacular action, a solid winner. Though the serial approach, given my limited budget, discouraged me from buying Marvel — no way could I get all the parts.
    Rereading the Thor Masterworks frequently I think that Ragnarok plotline is an early example of decompression — it takes forever just to embark. Eventually when they spend what seems to be an endless string of stories with Balder sitting and blowing a magic horn, I think it ran out of steam. Maybe they did too because Odin suddenly calls them all back and announces the quest was just something to give them a challenge. It’s Odindickery!


  2. “an impressively long serialized story that ran consistently from issue to issue without a break for several years”

    Yes it did, which is why it’s always irritated me when collected editions just plonk the story from the first annual down in the middle of this, disrupting the flow. It clearly needs to appear before this sequence (I’d place it between #112 and 113 since the latter opens on Asgard) just as the story from the second annual needs to be placed after it.


    1. Mr. Cavalieri — As an aside, I did always enjoy this delightfully hammy demon you and Chuck Patton came up with in Justice League. Sorry we never got to see more of him.


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