Saturday 27 November 2010

Journey Into Mystery #83. Rocky times for the Stone Men from Saturn.

Journey into Mystery #83, Thor's first ever appearance, and origin
Hold onto your hammers because it seems it's gonna be Thor Week here on Steve Does Comics.

I could claim this is down to me being as topical and in touch as always and therefore foreshadowing the Thor movie that's due out come May.

It wouldn't be true.

It's because I've been reading two of the Essential Thor books in the last few days and, verily, I'm fully Thor'd up.

Admittedly, when I say, "week," I can't guarantee it won't be longer or shorter, or that every post'll be about Thor. Such is the ramshackle and uncoordinated nature of this blog. But, as with my schoolboy days as a wizard of the wing, I shall set the ball rolling and see where it takes me.

I can't deny Thor's origin's always been my favourite of all the main Marvel heroes. I suspect it's because it's a lot more concentrated than most. In Fantastic Four #1, we get two stories in one, the tale of how they became the Fantastic Four and then the tale of their first meeting with the Mole Man. In the Hulk's debut, we get the origin of the Hulk and then his encounter with the Gargoyle. In Amazing Fantasy #15, we get the story of how Peter Parker's a social outcast then how he gets spider powers then how he uses them to make money and then the twist that finally turns him into a super-hero.

Journey into Mystery #83, Don Blake finds a stick
There's none of that messing about with Thor. With Thor's debut, from the first page to the last, the whole thing's devoted to the Stone Men and their attempt to take over the world. Don Blake even gets his powers directly as a result of the Stone Men's invasion. The only other Marvel origin I can recall, off the top of my head, that's as concentrated in its story-telling is Iron Man's but, as Iron Man's just up against normal people, it doesn't have the sense of magic and fantasy that Thor's origin does.

The second reason it's always grabbed me's probably that it's the only major Marvel origin that, as a kid, I could see happening to me. Even at a very young age I knew the chances of me being fired into space, FF style, were a little slim, as was the chance of me being bitten by a radioactive spider. As for the likelihood of me getting caught in a Gamma bomb blast...

Journey into Mystery #83, Invincible
Still, finding a stick. I could do that. In fact, I used to find sticks all the time. Admittedly none ever gave me super-powers but, still, at least the opportunity was there.

But most of all, my love of Thor's origin has to come down to one thing.

Its bad guys.

I'm not going to hide it for one second. I love the Stone Men from Saturn. They were made of stone. They could uproot trees with their bare hands. They hung around in fields, talking to themselves. They had spaceships and a robot.

Journey into Mystery #83, Thor's first ever appearance, and origin, the Stone Men from Saturn and the Mechano Monster
Spiritually, of course, they didn't come from Saturn. Spiritually they came from those old monster mags Stan Lee and Jack Kirby'd been churning out before Marvel'd turned its gaze back towards super-heroes. Still, that didn't mean I didn't love them.

Now, I'm not oblivious to the prospect that this might not be a universally held view. The fact they were neither seen nor heard from again until 1977 tells me all I need to know about their popularity at the time but I think of it this way; virtually all  Marvel's Silver-Age heroes encountered aliens very soon after they were created and, of that wave of would-be invaders, the Stone Men were easily the best.

Not for them the silly antics of the Skrulls, the Toad Men, the Tinkerer's little helpers or of whatever those aliens were supposed to be that set a robot Neanderthal on Iron Man. Oh, no, the Stone Men just turned up with their fleet and started invading.

Journey into Mystery #83, Thor, Stone Men from Saturn
And yes I know people'll be pointing out the obvious problem - that we know there are no Stone Men on Saturn.

Well, I don't know it. Until they land a man on Saturn and he's not greeted by rocky men and their Mechano-Monster, I'll refuse to know it.

But, beyond that; the last time I looked, there were no Norse gods on Earth, and that never put us off the mag, therefore why should the alleged absence of Stone Men on Saturn?

So, no matter, what anyone else says, I say hooray for the Stone Men from Saturn, and for the hours of fun I had behind settees, pretending to be Don Blake fleeing them when I was a child.


If only I'd had a stick.


Simon B said...

So I wasn't the only one who used to bang random sticks on the ground in the hopes of gaining god-like powers? Wasn't too fussed about gaining the Thor haircut, though.....

Kid said...

I had a stick - a gnarled tree branch that was the double of the stick in JIM #83. I'd pound it on the ground then toss it aside, producing from behind my back a home-made hammer. I WAS THOR - anybody else was an impostor.

I recently bought the official THOR hammer(cheap version) and snuck up one night to my old neighborhood where I used to live, just so I could run about what was left of the field in which I played at being THOR as I kid. (I'm going to regret admitting that, I'm sure.) It's a wonder I wasn't arrested. Felt great 'though.

Interesting you should mention IRON MAN - THOR and IRON MAN are two of my favourite origins, both being scripted by STAN'S brother, LARRY LEIBER - 'twas he who came up with the names DON BLAKE, TONY STARK and HENRY PYM. That's why they're not alliterative.

Have a look through my blog for my own posts on THOR.

Steve said...

My own Thor hammer, when I was a kid, was made from a wooden ruler and a sucker-tipped arrow, held together with sellotape. I'll bet the Stone Men from Saturn would've quaked in their boots if I'd come at them with it.

Kid said...

Mine was an oblong bit of spongey, blue cloth-covered material with a cane stuck through it. The cane was painted black, with the "wrap-around" thong painted on with blue paint. It may not have been accurate as far as the colour scheme went, but things like that don't matter in fantasy-land, To me, it WAS the hammer of THOR.

When I wanted to change back to DON BLAKE, I'd stamp my hammer on the ground, retrieve my "cane" from where I'd tossed it, and stick the hammer behind my back again. Ah, I wish I wish I was 8 years old again.

Kid A said...

Wow, those stonemen look eerily similar to the stone heads on Easter Island. Perhaps that was their final resting place? I bet they are biding their time until the next wave from Saturn arrives. Gentlemen, all your Thor hammers may soon come in handy.

Steve said...

Kid A, I'm speaking off the top of my head here, so I could be completely wrong but I'm pretty sure Jack Kirby did a monster story a few years before this, in which it was "revealed" that the stone heads on Easter Island are really alien invaders awaiting their chance to invade, and I've got a feeling it was later retconned that those characters were an advance guard for the Stone Men from Saturn.

Not that I'm worried. As long as I have a ruler and a sucker-tipped arrow, those stone men can never win.

Steve said...

PS. You've got a blog of your own? How come I never noticed that before?

Anyway, I've just added it to my bloglist. :)

Kid A said...

That's interesting about the aliens if it's true. As far as my blog, it's like that age old conundrum about the tree falling in the woods: if I write a blog and nobody reads it, does it really exist? I'll leave that to wiser men than me to decide.thanks for adding it to your list. That may be just the incentive I needed to update the thing.