Thursday

OMU: Thor -- Year Two

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby continued their landmark run on The Mighty Thor as they chronicled the next twelve months in the thunder god’s tenure as Champion of Midgard (Earth). The book really hit its stride during this period, as its creators began to explore the potential of the premise beyond the standard superhero/super-villain punch-ups. Thor’s reputation as the golden boy of Marvel’s superheroes was also tarnished a bit as he suffered a string of very public defeats, with few public victories to compensate. This kept the character more in line with Marvel’s other “hard-luck” heroes, despite being a paragon of nobility and virtue. Remarkably, Stan & Jack also provided a satisfying conclusion to the long-running romantic subplot involving Thor and his mortal love-interest, Nurse Jane Foster. The resolution of this storyline underscored the sense that the world being depicted was a dynamic and evolving place, unlike today’s Marvel universe.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.

Hearken ye to… The True History of the Mighty Thor!


January 1963 – Thor is increasingly frustrated that his father, Odin, has forbidden his love for the mortal nurse Jane Foster. His teammates in the Avengers try to intervene when one of the thunder god’s temper tantrums gets out of hand in the streets of Manhattan. Thor gives them the brush-off, then returns to Asgard to confront Odin. However, he quickly learns from Heimdall, guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, that his father has banished him from the realm and cut his power in half. Dejected, Thor returns to his mortal identity as Donald Blake, MD, knowing that Odin is punishing him for persisting in his love for Jane.

When his old foe Zarrko, “The Tomorrow Man,” returns and wreaks havoc with a giant robot, Thor flies out to challenge him. Unfortunately, the thunder god’s reduced power is insufficient to overcome this menace from the future and he is ignominiously defeated. To prevent the robot from being sent on an unstoppable rampage, Thor swears an oath to help Zarrko conquer the 23rd century. The public is horrified to see Thor thus brought to heel. After traveling to the year 2263, Thor fulfills his oath by enabling Zarrko to intimidate the world government and to seize control of the Master Machine that rules the planet. However, having fulfilled his pledge, Thor then turns on Zarrko and easily defeats him. The would-be conqueror is taken into custody, then Thor uses his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, to create a time vortex to return to the 20th century.

A day or so later, an incredibly beautiful woman demands to see Dr. Blake, and Jane reluctantly shows her into his office. Blake immediately recognizes her as the Asgardian vixen Amora, nicknamed the Enchantress. She tries to seduce him, but he resists her charms. Jane interrupts, pricked by jealousy, and finds them in an awkward embrace, kissing. She runs out and Blake breaks away from the Enchantress to follow her. However, after hours of searching, Blake is unable to find Jane. Continuing his search as Thor, he soon comes across the Asgardian thug Skurge, known as the Executioner, arriving in time to see the villain send Jane into Limbo with his enchanted battle-axe. Unable to defeat Thor in combat, the Executioner offers to return the girl in exchange for Thor’s hammer. The thunder god agrees and surrenders Mjolnir, knowing that, due to Odin’s enchantments, the Executioner will not be able to lift it off the ground. Jane rematerializes and runs off as the Enchantress suddenly appears to punish the Executioner for his failure. Helpless in the face of her spells, the Executioner begs Thor to save him, releasing him from his pledge. Thor picks up his hammer, just seconds before he would have reverted to his mortal form, and creates a vortex that carries the evil pair back to Asgard. Then, as Blake, he catches up to Jane and they make up on the walk back to their office.

The next day, after the traumatized Jane has been given the day off, Thor learns from his old friend, Balder the Brave, that Odin has come to Midgard. In the All-Father’s absence, Balder warns, Loki has set two deadly foes after them, the fire demon Surtur and Skagg the Storm Giant. Informed of the danger, Odin uses his powers to protect the human race and shield the city from destruction while the three warriors battle the monsters in the harbor. Balder and Odin defeat Skagg while Thor fights Surtur. Then, with Odin temporarily exhausted, Thor takes his father’s sword and uses it to banish Surtur to an asteroid in another galaxy. Though they are victorious, Odin is annoyed when Thor refuses to return to Asgard. Since punishing Loki is his first priority, Odin leaves the matter unresolved. As he and Balder depart, Odin removes his protective spells, and the human race is left with no knowledge of the battle.

Thor ponders whether he could renounce his godly heritage to live with Jane as a mortal man. However, his musings are interrupted when the Cobra and Mister Hyde come for revenge. The thunder god chases them into an exhibition of heavy machinery at the New York Coliseum, where the villains manage to snatch Mjolnir out of Thor’s hand using a powerful hydraulic hoist. The hammer is lost inside the machine’s inner workings, and so, sixty seconds later, Thor reverts to Don Blake. The villains search the crowd for Thor without success, until the police announce they have the building surrounded. Growing impatient, Mister Hyde threatens to attack the crowd unless Thor shows himself. Blake then comes forward to cut a deal with the villains: he will betray Thor’s hiding place if they will get his “antique” cane out of the machine. The crowd is horrified that Blake would betray the Avenger to his enemies, especially when the police are right outside. Nevertheless, Mister Hyde tears the machine apart until the cane is found. Blake grabs the cane and bolts into the crowd, causing a panic as an enraged Hyde chases him. Turning back into Thor in the confusion, the thunder god presses his attack, defeating the Cobra as the police storm the building. Mister Hyde seems to suddenly disappear, but after Thor leaves the Coliseum, he strikes again, knocking Mjolnir from Thor’s grasp with a lamppost. Annoyed, Thor decides to let it lie where it fell, challenging himself to defeat Hyde in hand-to-hand combat in under one minute. Their battle is savage but brief, and Thor is victorious. As Hyde is taken into custody, Blake returns to his office, where he finds Jane watching the evening news. She has just seen the report of the incident at the Coliseum, including Blake’s apparent betrayal of Thor, and she is disgusted with him and his cowardice. She storms out in tears, and Blake is more frustrated than ever.

Soon after, Thor, Giant-Man, and the Wasp are irked when they are unable to contact Iron Man, needing him to deal with a new super-villain called the Unicorn. After learning that Iron Man later battled the Unicorn but let him escape, the Avengers convene a special board of inquiry into their teammate’s behavior. Since Iron Man refuses to offer any real explanations, citing only “personal problems,” the Avengers agree to suspend him from the team for one week.

A day or so later, Thor falls under the spell of the Enchantress, and she causes him to believe that the Avengers are his mortal enemies. He attacks Giant-Man and the Wasp, battling them on the rooftops of the city. Iron Man soon arrives, in spite of his suspension, and manages to break the spell using bright strobe lights. Suddenly, they are fired upon by Baron Zemo in a heavily armed airship. But then Zemo unexpectedly veers off, as his ship seems to go out of control. Remembering that it was the Enchantress who set him against his teammates, Thor leads them back to her penthouse apartment. They arrive in time to see Zemo’s ship making a fast getaway. Thor whips up a space-time vortex to banish the ship to parts unknown. Thor is concerned that the Enchantress and the Executioner have joined forces with Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil.

Don Blake finally redeems himself in Jane’s eyes by defeating a super-villain called the Grey Gargoyle while in his mortal form. The French fiend defeats Thor by turning him to stone, but the petrification effect is reversed when the rigid thunder god tips over and his hammer strikes the ground, transforming him into Don Blake. Afraid that he will become stone again should he change back into Thor, Blake collaborates with a journalist friend to mount a Stark Industries 3-D projector onto a motorcycle in order to create the illusion of Thor flying above the streets of the city. The Grey Gargoyle takes the bait and gives chase, but soon realizes he is fighting a mere projection. Angered, he steals a truck and pursues Blake, who rides out onto a wharf on the Hudson River. Without slowing down, Blake rides off the end of the pier, and the Grey Gargoyle can’t brake in time. The truck crashes into the pilings, sending the Gargoyle plunging into the water. The weight of his stone form pulls the villain down to the bottom of the river as Blake swims back to the pier. The doctor’s heroic deed is celebrated in the newspapers, causing Jane to forget all about the incident at the Coliseum.

After leaving a training session during which the Avengers again discuss what they should do about the Hulk, Thor receives a psychic cry for help from Doctor Strange. He finds the sorcerer badly wounded following a magical battle at his Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village. Thor reverts to his mortal identity to perform emergency surgery to save Strange’s life. During the procedure, Blake realizes his patient is fading fast primarily due to the powerful enchantments he has suffered, and uses his Asgardian knowledge to counteract the spells. Later, in the recovery room, Doctor Strange expresses his gratitude to Blake, and offers to return the favor someday. As it turns out, Blake has need of the sorcerer’s help that very night after Loki throws Blake’s cane out a window while kidnapping Jane. In his ghostly astral form, Strange leads Blake to his cane, which is being used as a fishing pole by a couple of vagrants. Thor immediately assumes his godly form and tracks down his adopted brother to battle him while Doctor Strange protects Jane in Limbo. Thor finally defeats Loki and forces him to send Jane back to Earth. Refusing to accept defeat, Loki attacks Thor again, only to be forcibly returned to Asgard by Odin. Thor carries Jane back to their medical office before she regains consciousness.

Thor visits the site of the upcoming New York World’s Fair for a preview of the statue of himself made for the Hall of Heroes exhibit. He is also shown statues being made of the other Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Daredevil, and Spider-Man, whom he just passed while flying through the city. Thor is impressed with the artistry and promises to try to attend the opening ceremonies next year if he can. Then he returns to his medical practice as Don Blake and sees to his patients. Later, a strange magnetic phenomenon leads Thor into battle with the mutant terrorist Magneto in a camouflaged submersible craft out in Upper New York Bay. Thor forces his way into the ship’s control room and meets Magneto, who assumes the thunder god must be a mutant and tries to recruit him for his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Thor rejects the offer and drives his foe to abandon ship. Seeing that Magneto’s one-man sub is pursued by another vessel, Thor decides to destroy the villain’s larger craft, letting its wreckage sink to the bottom of the bay. He then goes to Jane’s apartment, turning back into Don Blake, to make up for having to break their dinner date earlier. Over the next few days, Blake attends an out-of-state medical conference.

Early one evening, Thor joins the Avengers for a special conference-call with the top brass at the Pentagon, where they learn of the menace of Kang the Conqueror. Traveling to Virginia aboard a specially-chartered DC-8 from Idlewild Airport, the Avengers find Kang relaxing outside his massive time-ship. Thor is disturbed by the conqueror’s air of absolute confidence. When Iron Man questions him, Kang announces that he has claimed their world for his dominions, and he then easily repels the Avengers with his fantastic technology. Soon, an undersecretary from the Defense Department arrives on the scene and takes charge, prompting Kang to reveal that he is a time-traveler from the far future, who had been known in the distant past as Pharaoh Rama-Tut. After a chance encounter with Doctor Doom, Kang explains, he decided to assume a new identity and conquer the 20th century. Having heard enough, the Avengers charge again, but Kang captures and imprisons them within his ship using various energy beams. Many hours later, the paralysis ray holding Thor prisoner is suddenly switched off, and he smashes out of his holding cell. He is surprised to discover that he owes his freedom to Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade. The Avengers storm out of the ship, finding it is now morning, and attack Kang once again. This time they succeed in overcoming his defenses and manage to drive him off. Kang flees into his ship and escapes into the timestream. Confident that Kang has been beaten, at least for a while, the Avengers return to New York.

At their next regularly scheduled meeting, the Avengers discuss Spider-Man’s recent public act of cowardice during a fight with the Green Goblin. Iron Man is worried that it reflects badly on all superheroes. Thor finds the occurrence disappointing, but the Wasp dismisses Spider-Man as creepy. They also review the threat posed by Baron Zemo & the Masters of Evil and their concerns that Captain America is becoming obsessed with Zemo’s capture. Thor reminds his teammates that the spacewarp he used to dispatch Zemo’s craft could have carried it anywhere in the universe, or even into another dimension. A couple days later, the Avengers are scheduled to attend an out-of-town charity benefit show. Thor is annoyed when their departure is delayed by the Wasp’s primping. Finally, she is ready to go, so Thor flies his teammates to their destination while Iron Man remains behind on monitor duty. Afterwards, Don Blake returns to his medical practice.

New York is rocked by what seem to be earthquakes one morning as whole city blocks vanish into the ground, leaving behind only huge, deep shafts. The Avengers assemble to investigate, and at the site of the second disappearance they find Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch, who explain that the Mole Man is responsible. The Avengers try to take charge of the situation, but the FF stop them, explaining that the Mole Man is holding the Invisible Girl hostage. Though irritated at being manhandled by the FF, Thor agrees to give them 24 hours to stop the Mole Man before the Avengers intervene. Several hours later, after the city blocks have returned to their proper places, the Fantastic Four report that they defeated the Mole Man and his underground kingdom was destroyed by a chain-reaction of explosions.

While stopping a bank robbery being committed by Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, and the Executioner, the Avengers meet a new superhero calling himself Wonder Man. So overwhelmingly powerful is this interloper that Baron Zemo calls a retreat. After the villains escape, the Avengers question Wonder Man, who claims to have come from the heart of the Amazon jungles, and says he wants to join the team. At Avengers Mansion, Wonder Man reveals that he was empowered by Zemo but escaped, and now needs the team’s help to find a cure for a rare disease that is killing him. The Avengers are glad to offer their assistance. Thor takes some tissue samples to his medical practice to study them as Don Blake. Jane is sorry to hear that this patient’s prospects appear grim.

A few days later, Thor receives a message from Iron Man that Wonder Man and the Wasp have been captured by Zemo and are being held prisoner in South America. The thunder god flies down to the coordinates given and finds Iron Man and Captain America battling the villains. No sooner has Thor landed by Wonder Man than the new hero betrays him, knocking Thor into a deep pit and causing him to drop his hammer. Wonder Man covers the pit with a large boulder and, sixty seconds later, Thor reverts to his powerless Don Blake persona. However, several minutes after that, Wonder Man pushes the boulder away from the top of the pit, and Blake can hear that he has now betrayed the Masters of Evil and is fighting to save the Avengers. Blake scrambles up the side of the pit and manages to grab his cane. Becoming Thor again, he hurls Mjolnir at the Executioner, hitting him in the head and stunning him. Seeing the tide has turned, the villains flee and seal their escape tunnel behind them with a massive explosion. The Avengers find Wonder Man lying on the ground near death. He tells them he wanted to do one noble thing in his life before he died. Finally, the toxins that Zemo used to empower him take their toll, and he dies in Iron Man’s arms. Sadly, the Avengers return Wonder Man’s body to the United States, where Iron Man and Giant-Man make a recording of his brain patterns.

While leaving Avengers Mansion, Thor and Iron Man spot a heist in progress, as a gang of crooks tries to steal a collection of expensive fur coats. The heroes easily disable the truck, overcome the crooks, and turn them over to the police.

The Cobra and Mister Hyde kidnap Jane Foster from Blake’s medical office and Thor, unwilling to place Jane in further jeopardy, accedes to their demands and lets them escape. However, Thor reasons that, of all his enemies, only Loki knew what Jane meant to him and must therefore be the mastermind behind the kidnapping. He returns to Asgard to confront his wicked adopted brother, only to find that Odin has once again barred him from the realm. Heedless of this edict, Thor battles his way through the city to Odin’s palace, where he confronts Loki. The crafty trickster god admits nothing, but agrees to help by conjuring an image of where Jane is being held prisoner—a lonely mansion in New Jersey. When a raging Odin enters, Thor avoids his father’s wrath, but is sent directly back to Earth, appearing within sight of the house Loki showed him. Thor storms the mansion, but the ensuing battle with the Cobra and Mister Hyde causes a gas main to rupture, resulting in a massive explosion. Thor emerges from the rubble and is horrified to see that Jane was also caught in the blast and has been mortally wounded. He generates a time vortex around her with his hammer to stabilize her condition while he defeats the Cobra and Mister Hyde. When the villains have been captured, Thor returns to Jane’s side, grimly realizing there is no hope of saving her. And he knows he must soon disperse the time vortex before it damages the fabric of space-time. Thor cradles her broken body, deciding that he will become Don Blake again for the few moments of life she has left. However, the moment time has resumed its normal flow, the sword of Balder the Brave materializes out of thin air, with a vial of Asgardian medicine tied to the handle. Thor quickly administers the potion, and Jane begins to revive as her injuries are miraculously healed. Thor is overjoyed that Odin has showed mercy on the hapless mortal girl, and he gently carries her back to the city.

Soon after, Thor questions Iron Man following Tony Stark’s mysterious disappearance. Iron Man swears he has not betrayed his employer, despite being the prime suspect, and Thor insists that the cloud of suspicion over him be lifted as soon as possible. Later, Thor tells a group of teenagers about his fight with the Hulk at the Rock of Gibraltar when he comes across them arguing about which of the two is the stronger. Ultimately, Thor refuses to say who has the greater physical strength, since power without wisdom is meaningless. At the next Avengers meeting, Thor considers Iron Man’s proposal that they give Rick Jones some kind of costume and make him an official member of the team. However, Captain America is not ready to take on that responsibility, so the motion is put on hold, much to Rick’s disappointment.

When Mjolnir detects emanations of great evil, Thor leads the Avengers to a mountainous area in the Balkans, where they come across the X-Men. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman tell the Avengers not to interfere, as they are already on the case. Thor convinces his teammates that the threat is too great to leave it to the teenage mutants, so the X-Men attack, trying to drive the heroes away. The Avengers attempt to defeat the X-Men without hurting them, until Thor suddenly receives a telepathic transmission from their leader, the mysterious Professor X. Thor learns that the menace he detected is an alien called Lucifer, who has keyed a powerful thermal bomb to his own heartbeat, and the X-Men were trying to delay the Avengers until the professor could find a way to stop Lucifer without setting off the bomb. Now that that has been accomplished, there is no further need for battle. Thor senses the truth in Professor X’s words and informs his teammates. The Avengers agree to leave Lucifer to the X-Men and return to New York.

February 1963 – At the Avengers’ first meeting of the month, they vote to give the missing Iron Man a temporary leave of absence in the wake of the reported death of Tony Stark, assuming he must be tracking down his employer’s killers. However, they are later informed by Spider-Man that Iron Man is being held captive in Mexico by the Masters of Evil. When Thor arrives in Mexico, he finds Spider-Man battling Giant-Man and the Wasp and realizes the wall-crawler has led them into a trap. Spider-Man manages to snare Mjolnir in his web and spins a web cocoon about Thor. When the thunder god reverts to his mortal identity sixty seconds later, he lacks the strength to free himself. However, Blake eventually manages to reach his walking stick and turn himself back into Thor. He rips through the webs with his bare hands and locates his teammates, learning that they had actually been fighting a Spider-Man robot, most likely created by Kang, which has been destroyed after a pitched battle with the real Spider-Man. Realizing they may have misjudged Spider-Man, the Avengers make their way back to New York.

After another argument with Odin about his relationship with Jane Foster, Thor resolves to renounce his godly heritage in order to marry her. He returns to Earth, assumes his mortal form, and meets Jane at the office. He immediately tells her that he is really Thor, but she thinks he’s delusional from overwork. To prove it, Blake stamps his cane on the floor, but, to his surprise, nothing happens. Jane insists she loves him just the way he is and he doesn’t need to make up wild stories about secret identities. He realizes Odin must have stripped him of his powers. Suddenly, the Grey Gargoyle smashes in through the window, looking for revenge. Blake and Jane make a run for it, but the villain pursues them relentlessly through the streets. Finally, in a shadowy alleyway, Blake’s bum leg gives out and he collapses. Jane faints from fright. However, an Asgardian warrior appears and grants Blake to ability to become Thor for thirty more seconds. The thunder god attacks the Grey Gargoyle furiously, defeating his foe in record time. Thor then collapses and reverts back to Blake, feeling utterly helpless and vulnerable. A moment later, however, he senses the enchantments returning to his walking stick, and knows his powers have been restored to him. He realizes he was a fool to think he could give them up, even for love. Blake revives Jane and tells her that Thor saved them from the Grey Gargoyle, and she is relieved his delusions have left him. He is frustrated, though, knowing now that becoming mortal to be with Jane is out of the question.

Thor’s foul mood leads him into a bitter argument with Giant-Man at the next Avengers meeting when his teammate announces he has received a call for help from the ants. However, Thor later regrets his attitude after Giant-Man disappears and his unlikely-sounding theories appear to be correct. The Wasp is able to trace Giant-Man’s cybernetic signals to the Mole Man’s vast underground kingdom of Subterranea, and the Avengers make their way down there to rescue him. Once there, Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America find themselves battling the Red Ghost in addition to the Mole Man and his hordes of Subterraneans, while the Wasp frees Giant-Man. When the team is reunited, they destroy the Mole Man’s doomsday weapon and drive the villains to flee into the tunnels. Thor then causes shockwaves that destroy the Mole Man’s citadel and all its armaments. Back at Avengers Mansion, the team offers Giant-Man an official apology for doubting him earlier.

Soon after, the Avengers lose 24 hours when they are hypnotized during a charity event hosted by Count Luchino Nefaria, who has had his castle transported stone-by-stone from Italy to the New Jersey Palisades. As they return to the city, the team is suddenly attacked by the U.S. Army and a squadron of Air Force fighter jets. Confused, the Avengers defend themselves and disable the military’s weapons as best they can without injuring any of the soldiers. Unwilling to fight American forces, Giant-Man calls for a full retreat. The Avengers soon reconvene in their secret emergency headquarters, which is hidden in an abandoned, camouflaged railway tunnel deep in a forest. Listening to radio news reports, they learn that they are wanted for treason after trying to seize the reins of power from the government yesterday. Thor speculates that some evil group impersonated them, and they decide to begin their investigation at Nefaria’s castle. Despite the national state of emergency and the declaration of martial law, the Avengers make it back to the castle without being captured, but Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man are quickly paralyzed by Nefaria’s defensive systems. Captain America succeeds in getting inside the castle, but long, frustrating minutes pass before Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade escape the castle to free the Avengers. Learning from the boys that Nefaria is actually head of the infamous international crime cartel the Maggia, the Avengers smash their way into the castle’s dungeons, rescue Cap, and defeat the Maggia gunmen there. Army troops invade the castle in time to hear Nefaria’s confession, and the Avengers are cleared of any wrongdoing. However, they discover the Wasp has received a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Avengers race the Wasp to the hospital, where they learn that her condition is critical. Thor flies to Norway to fetch a Doctor Svenson, a pioneer in lung restoration surgery. However, once he has been brought in to examine the Wasp, the uncooperative Svenson turns out to be an alien in disguise. When his mask is removed, the alien quickly dies of asphyxiation, unable to breathe Earth’s air. In desperation, the Avengers search the globe for the alien’s secret base, where his people are holding the real Svenson. The team finally locates the aliens near the North Pole, where they have constructed an enormous city inside a cavern of ice. However, the Avengers are captured and taken before Ogor, ruler of the Kallusians. He explains that his people are a peace-loving race from a distant galaxy, driven to take refuge on Earth by an intergalactic war, even though they found the atmosphere to be poisonous to them. Svenson had stumbled upon their city while on a research expedition and had agreed to help the aliens with their respiratory problems. Ogor refuses to turn over Svenson, prompting Thor to break free and attack. He forces Ogor to release the rest of the Avengers and the team valiantly battles the Kallusian militia. However, Svenson appears and stops the fight, telling the Avengers he had agreed to remain with the Kallusians because they intend to leave Earth as soon as their extraterrestrial enemies finish searching this sector of space. When Giant-Man explains why they need Svenson to come to New York, the surgeon is torn by his dilemma. The matter is resolved suddenly when an alarm sounds—the aliens have been discovered by their enemies. The Kallusians prepare to make a last stand on Earth in a battle that would surely devastate the planet, but Thor threatens to destroy their weapons unless they depart for outer space immediately. Knowing they can’t waste time fighting the Avengers now, Ogor relents. As they get ready to leave Earth, the Kallusians use a teleportation device to send Svenson and the Avengers back to New York. They rush to the hospital where Svenson performs the operation that saves the Wasp’s life.

With the Wasp convalescing, Giant-Man steps down as Avengers’ chairman, and Thor is elected to take over those duties. He soon finds it is more difficult than he expected to maintain order and discipline at the team’s often contentious meetings.

March 1963 – After an uneventful few weeks, Thor joins Iron Man, Captain America, Giant-Man, the Wasp, and Rick Jones at the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building headquarters for a party to celebrate the engagement of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl. The X-Men are also in attendance, as are some of Reed Richards’ scientific colleagues and Sue Storm’s society friends. Thor offers his congratulations to the happy couple, but privately he broods over whether he and Jane Foster can ever be married.

April 1963 – At the Avengers’ next regularly scheduled meeting, Rick Jones trips, hits his head, and blacks out for a few minutes. Convinced that Rick is only a clumsy child, Thor decides to keep Iron Man’s recent motion concerning Rick’s membership status off the official agenda. At the end of the month, Thor steps down as Avengers’ chairman and Captain America is elected as his successor.

May 1963 – After effortlessly capturing an enemy agent, Thor is called to an emergency meeting of the Avengers. Captain America has spotted the Enchantress and the Executioner nearby, so the team prepares for an imminent attack. Then, Rick Jones is kidnapped right outside the mansion and whisked away in Baron Zemo’s airship. The Avengers give chase, but are soon intercepted by the Masters of Evil. Thor battles the Black Knight, Iron Man fights with the Melter, and Giant-Man and the Wasp confront the Enchantress and the Executioner, while Captain America pursues Zemo. The Melter attempts to use his energy beam on Thor’s hammer, but the rays have no effect on the uru of which it is composed. The heroes manage to corral their foes on a Manhattan street, but realize an all-out battle there would be too dangerous to the crowd of bystanders milling around. Thus, Thor creates a transdimensional vortex around them all, though the Enchantress and the Executioner recognize what is happening and manage to escape. Finding themselves in another dimension where their technology does not function, the Black Knight and the Melter immediately surrender. Thor then returns everyone to Earth, where the two super-villains are taken into police custody. While his teammates go back to Avengers Mansion to await word from Captain America, Thor returns to his medical practice as Don Blake.

At his office, Blake treats a reporter, Harris Hobbs, for a sprained elbow, and learns from him that an escaped convict with super-powers is hiding out in the Black Mountain swamp area in the Adirondacks. Intrigued, Blake decides to investigate as Thor. Easily overtaking the train on which Hobbs is traveling to the swamp, Thor arrives and is soon attacked by the convict, Crusher Creel, whose body can take on the properties of any substance it comes into contact with, including Thor’s uru hammer. Hobbs arrives and interferes, allowing Creel to escape. Thor quickly tracks him down and their battle drags on for several hours, during which Creel refers to himself as “the Absorbing Man,” but they are too evenly matched. Finally, a mystic fog envelops them and Thor finds himself transported to the Rainbow Bridge, where Balder is waiting for him.

Balder reveals that Loki has kidnapped Jane Foster, so Thor immediately heads for his brother’s remote stronghold to rescue her. Their fight is interrupted by the arrival of Odin. Jane is overwhelmed by the experience and faints, and Loki immediately claims that Thor brought her to Asgard to marry her. Thor calls him a liar, and seeing no other recourse, Odin decrees a Trial of the Gods to settle the matter. Thor asks to be allowed 48 hours to return Jane to Earth and finish his battle with the Absorbing Man before submitting to the crucible. Though Loki objects, Odin agrees. Thus, Thor carries Jane back to her apartment, wiping her memory of the experience. Then he flies upstate to track down the Absorbing Man.

Reaching the Adirondacks, Thor finds Hobbs and a State Police dragnet searching for Creel. They soon find him terrorizing a wealthy couple in their mansion on Lake George. Bravely, Hobbs enters the house and taunts Creel, drawing him outside to a confrontation with Thor. The thunder god and the Absorbing Man resume their previous battle, but Creel is still a match for anything Thor throws at him. Finally, when Creel begins growing to monstrous proportions by absorbing various properties of the ground simultaneously, Thor creates a vortex around the villain that rips apart the molecules surrounding him, reducing them to helium atoms. Creel then accidentally absorbs the properties of helium and quickly rises high into the atmosphere, where he is trapped in a gaseous state. After explaining what has happened to Hobbs and the police, Thor flies back to the city. He stops by Avengers Mansion for an update and mentions the Trial of the Gods to the Wasp before rushing off again. After a quick detour to check on Jane, Thor returns to Asgard for his battle with Loki.

Thor surrenders his hammer to Odin and is then transported with Loki to the deadly realm of Skornheim for the Trial of the Gods. However, he quickly learns that his evil brother has no intention of honoring the rules of their contest, and has brought along a whole bag of magical Norn stones to help him cheat. Loki immediately uses one of the stones to conjure an image of Jane being menaced by the Enchantress and the Executioner, hoping that Thor will lose heart. Nevertheless, the thunder god valiantly battles his way through one menace after another, and nearly catches up to Loki near the finish line. However, Thor is so weakened by his ordeal that Loki is able to knock him down and sprint to the dimensional boundary. Thor staggers to his feet and follows the victorious Loki back into the realm of Asgard. There, he tackles his brother, trying to get the bag of magic stones to prove Loki cheated. Unfortunately, Loki manages to recite a simple spell that sends to stones to a hidden location on Earth. Thor is nearly overcome with rage when Odin’s guards appear to escort them back to the throne room. Though Loki naturally denies any wrongdoing, Thor convinces Odin to give him 24 hours to find the stones and bring them back to Asgard, before final judgment is passed on the matter. Odin dispatches Thor to Earth at once. Thor arrives in New York City to find Balder the Brave fighting with the Enchantress and the Executioner as they try to kidnap Jane. Thinking Loki has betrayed them, the villains push Jane at Balder and make a fast getaway. Balder wipes Jane’s memory of this latest incident and takes her home while Thor sets off in search of the Norn stones.

Using his enchanted hammer, Thor tracks the stones’ magical emanations all the way to Vietnam, where he is fired upon by Viet Cong soldiers. An exploding mortar shell blasts Thor out of the sky, but he is tended to by a widow and her two children. When Thor revives, they ask him to free their village from the tyranny of the communists. Thor is sympathetic, but decides he must find the Norn stones first. Finding he can maneuver through the dense jungle better in his mortal form, Thor changes back into Don Blake, only to be captured by the VC and taken into their underground headquarters. Blake is interrogated by their commander, Hu Sak, but refuses to answer any questions about Thor. Then, the family who helped him is marched in as hostages to be shot one-by-one unless he cooperates. However, Hu Sak is shocked that this is his own mother and siblings, giving Blake a chance to make a run for it. Once out of sight, he transforms back into Thor and routs the VC troops. The thunder god discovers the bag of Norn stones resting on a cache of artillery shells and ties it to his belt. Returning to aid the family, Thor learns that Hu Sak has already executed his mother and brother. Thor manages to save the girl, Kim, before the guilt-stricken commander sets off a series of explosions that destroys the entire installation. Thor then leaves Kim in the care of a company of American soldiers and streaks off into the sky.

Some miles away, Thor lands to inspect the Norn stones, but is suddenly knocked unconscious by a gas grenade. When he comes to, he finds he has been taken prisoner by a big game hunter named Buck Franklin. Thor easily frees himself and tracks Franklin into the jungle, where he is astonished to discover that the Temple of Darkness, created by Odin centuries ago, has been unearthed. To Thor’s dismay, he sees that Franklin has inadvertently activated the Destroyer, an all-powerful robot created by Odin as the ultimate weapon against threats from outer space. The thunder god tries to subdue the Destroyer, only to learn that it can use his hammer against him. Franklin, whose consciousness is animating the Destroyer while his physical body stands rigidly by, is drunk with his newfound power and viciously battles Thor. In the melee, the Destroyer fires a disintegrator beam that slices off part of Mjolnir’s head, forcing Thor to take desperate measures. He threatens Franklin’s mortal form, causing the hunter to return to it long enough to move behind the Destroyer and away from Thor. Seizing his chance, however, the thunder god strikes the floor with his damaged hammer, causing a cave-in that separates Franklin from the Destroyer’s now inanimate armor. Thor grabs Franklin and carries him outside as the entire Temple of Darkness collapses into a pile of rubble. He decides to let Franklin go free, knowing the hunter was merely a hapless pawn in his conflict with Loki. Then, Thor tries to see if he can still use Mjolnir to fly. Though he launches himself into the air, he finds he cannot control his flight and crashes down to earth in a most undignified manner. Thor resolves to repair his damaged hammer, and uses one of the Norn stones to levitate himself across the Pacific Ocean, back to the United States.

After repairing Mjolnir in the forges of the Paretta Steel Mill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Thor takes the Norn stones back to Asgard, unaware that he has accidentally left one behind on Earth. He thus vindicates his honor by proving that Loki cheated in the Trial of the Gods. Odin is outraged and sentences Loki to perform menial labor for the royal warlock Ularic. Following a couple days of peace and quiet in Asgard, Thor gets bored and requests Odin’s permission to return to Earth. His father dispatches him at once to New York City, where Thor at last returns to Dr. Blake’s medical practice. However, he finds the place deserted and soon discovers that Jane Foster has disappeared. Worried, Thor goes to enlist the aid of the Avengers, but when he arrives at the mansion, he learns that the roster has completely changed in his absence. Iron Man, Giant-Man, and the Wasp have resigned and Captain America has replaced them with Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. Not wanting to deal with these young unknowns, Thor decides to take inactive status as well and departs.

Thor spends several hours searching the city for Jane, until he is suddenly attacked by the Absorbing Man, who has been rescued from the upper atmosphere by Loki. Their battle rages through the streets of Manhattan, demolishing several buildings as the police hastily try to evacuate the area. Finally, when the Absorbing Man is on the verge of surrender, the villain is suddenly transported to Asgard. Before Thor can follow, he is distracted by an explosion in a high-rise apartment building. He flies up and smashes his way in, only to find Jane, overcome by smoke inhalation. Fearing she is hurt, Thor transforms back into Don Blake. Suddenly, Harris Hobbs steps out of the shadows and reveals that he caught the whole thing on film. He had kidnapped Jane as part of a scheme to discover Thor’s secret identity, and has succeeded. Blake puts off dealing with Hobbs until later, so he can get Jane to the hospital. When she awakens a few hours later, doctor and nurse are happily reunited. Then, Blake tells Jane he will return soon and goes to meet Hobbs as the god of thunder.

Thor expects Hobbs to try to blackmail him and decides to teach the foolish mortal a lesson. He dismisses Hobbs’s demands and generates a time vortex with his hammer that carries them first back to the age of the dinosaurs and then millions of years into the future. Hobbs is shaken by Thor’s threats to leave him stranded in some far-flung era, but still promises to destroy the film only on one condition: that Thor take him to see Asgard. Hobbs argues that it would be the greatest story ever gotten by a reporter in the history of mankind, and, impressed with the mortal’s dedication to his craft, Thor reluctantly agrees to the deal. They arrive on the Rainbow Bridge to discover Heimdall has abandoned his post, and the streets of the Golden Realm are likewise deserted. As Hobbs tags along, Thor soon learns that Loki and the Absorbing Man have defeated Asgard’s warriors and are even now attacking Odin in his throne room. Thor arrives on the scene in time to see Odin surrendering his Scepter of Supremacy to Loki. However, the Absorbing Man decides he wants the scepter for himself, and the two villains turn on each other. As each tries to wrest the scepter from the other’s grasp, they suddenly find they cannot let go of it. Odin then renders them both weightless and sends them flying out into the universe beyond Asgard’s boundaries, to drift helplessly for as long as Odin sees fit. Odin salutes his noble warriors, but is annoyed that Thor has brought Hobbs into his realm, and orders the mortal removed immediately. The thunder god escorts Hobbs back to Earth, telling the reporter that his “great scoop” is pure folly because humans have known about Asgard for thousands of years but insist on thinking it is merely a legend. Leaving empty-handed, the dejected reporter agrees to keep his side of the bargain.

June 1963 – On his way to attend the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm at the Baxter Building, Thor is attacked by the Super-Skrull, who possesses all the abilities of the Fantastic Four, and more. Their battle rages on for a while, and Thor notices a veritable army of super-villains is attacking the FF’s headquarters, including the Cobra, Mister Hyde, the Enchantress, the Executioner, and the Grey Gargoyle. They are being countered by the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men, and agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Thor and the Super-Skrull land in the thick of it and continue to fight. Finally, Mister Fantastic produces a strange device that creates a time-displacement vortex that envelops the super-villains, dispatching them. Thor then joins his super-hero comrades in the building’s chapel for the ceremony, followed that evening by a lavish reception in the ballroom. The joyous occasion convinces Thor that he must reveal his true feelings to Jane Foster without delay.

Thor goes to the hospital to see Jane in his mortal form of Don Blake, and is distressed when he finds her on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Realizing his secret is destroying their relationship, Blake commands Jane to look at him, then stamps his cane on the floor, transforming into Thor before her startled eyes. She is astonished, but suddenly everything that’s happened in the past year suddenly makes sense. Hearing a nurse approaching, Thor swears Jane to secrecy, then changes back to Blake. He leaves, promising to visit her tomorrow. However, the next morning, news reports of the mysterious conqueror known as “The Demon,” who has been pillaging across Burma, Laos, North Vietnam, and China and building an army of thousands, convinces Blake that he must take action as Thor to stop this latest threat. He sets off across the ocean at tremendous speed. Thor finds the Demon and his rag-tag army attacking a fortress just a few miles west of Hong Kong and sees that his foe has somehow come into possession of one of the Norn stones, which has given him superhuman power. Nevertheless, Thor easily defeats the Demon and confiscates the Norn stone. He leaves at once to return the magical item to Asgard.

When he enters Odin’s royal palace, Thor finds his father is furious that he revealed his secret to a mortal woman. Odin orders every warrior in the realm to attack Thor, but the thunder god fights his way through them to the Rainbow Bridge and travels back to Earth. There, he is stunned to find Jane flirting with the Greek demigod Hercules at a soda fountain. She is angry with Thor for leaving her again without a word of where he was going or when he would return. They start to argue, then Hercules interrupts, remembering Thor from their last encounter, centuries ago. Thor ignores him, and Hercules takes umbrage, which quickly escalates into a brawl. Their destructive battle quickly moves to a construction site, where a crowd of onlookers gathers around. Thor unleashes all his pent-up anger and frustration, but Hercules’ cocky impudence further drives the thunder god into a paroxysm of rage. But then, Thor suddenly feels his power cut in half, leaving him far weaker than Hercules. He knows it is the punishment of Odin, but he refuses to surrender. Hercules is finally forced to beat Thor into unconsciousness, face down in the dirt. When Thor revives a few minutes later, he finds that Hercules has left, and the few stragglers from the crowd taunt and mock Thor for his humiliating defeat. Jane runs up, saying she was only trying to make him jealous, but Thor tells her they cannot be together until he has reclaimed his honor. Burning with shame and thoroughly disgusted with himself, Thor flies out to a lonely promontory in the Atlantic Ocean to brood.

With a heavy heart, Thor returns to Asgard, only to discover that the realm’s greatest warriors have all been defeated and imprisoned, and Odin himself has been dethroned. The usurper is not Loki, however, but one of Odin’s closest advisors, Seidring, known as “the Merciless,” who has somehow gained a portion of the unconquerable Odinpower. When Thor refuses to serve the new regime, Seidring launches a blistering attack that the thunder god barely survives. In desperation, Thor races into the chamber containing the fearsome Odinsword and threatens to draw the gigantic sword from its scabbard, thus unleashing the forces of Ragnarok, unless Seidring divest himself of the Odinpower. Unwilling to take the chance, Seidring yields. As the power flows back into Odin, Thor collapses on the brink of death.

July–August 1963 – When he finally regains consciousness, Thor learns that he has redeemed himself in Odin’s eyes, and Seidring has been banished from Asgard forever. Odin restores the strength that was taken from Thor, but the thunder god still faces a long and difficult recovery from his near-fatal injuries. As Thor slowly recuperates, Balder the Brave watches over him. Eventually the two friends go on an ice-fishing expedition, but Thor’s strength is still not quite up to the challenge.

September 1963 – When he has at last fully recovered, Thor asks his father for permission to return to Midgard to regain his honor in battle with Hercules. Odin gives Thor his blessing and transports him directly to Hercules’ current location. Thor materializes at a movie studio in Los Angeles and finds Hercules in the midst of battling an overwhelming number of demonic warriors from Hades, while Pluto and his accomplice, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, look on. Thor is offended by the cowardly tactics of the demons and leaps into the fray, quickly proving the true extent of his might. After Pluto and Hippolyta retreat, the demons are driven back to their infernal realm. Thor then learns that Hercules was tricked into signing an unbreakable Olympian contract to replace Pluto as ruler of Hades. Sympathetic to his rival’s nightmarish plight, Thor declares that their personal enmity can be set aside for the time being.

Thor finally returns to New York and is pestered by pedestrians on the street. News has reached them of some sort of re-match between Thor and Hercules in Los Angeles, but details are sketchy and Thor refuses to clarify matters. He makes his way to Jane Foster’s apartment, and she is thrilled that he has returned at last. Thor also meets Jane’s new roommate, the strangely alluring Tana Nile, whose regal air impresses even Thor. When they are alone, Thor tells Jane he has decided to do whatever is necessary for them to marry, even if it means renouncing his godly heritage and spending the rest of his life as Don Blake. Jane is a bit overwhelmed as Thor leaves for Asgard to settle the matter with his father once and for all.

However, upon his arrival, Thor finds that Odin will not discuss the matter until after the thunder god performs a mission to fulfill the ancient prophecies of the Day of the Three Worlds. Though frustrated, Thor knows he must do his duty to Asgard, and so allows his father to transport him to Limbo. After waiting some immeasurable time in that bizarre dimension, Thor finally hears the voice of Hercules carried on the wind, seeking a champion. Thor realizes that he must fight on behalf of his Olympian rival, and decides that there could be none more deserving of his efforts. Thor is then drawn through the swirling mists to Olympus itself, where he finds Pluto gloating as a helpless Hercules is dragged off to Hades by demons. Thor announces that he will fight on behalf of Hercules, no matter the odds. Pluto accepts Thor’s challenge and transports him to Hades, where Thor wreaks such havoc and devastation upon the Underworld that Pluto is soon forced to intervene. He tears up the contract he used to trick Hercules and releases the son of Zeus from his realm. Feeling his power returning, Hercules declares Thor to be his new best friend. Together they return to Olympus, and after a brief argument with Ares, Thor makes his way back to Asgard.

To Thor’s surprise, he finds that Odin now approves of his relationship with Jane, since it has persisted despite every obstacle. Overjoyed, he barely hears Odin mention that certain conditions must yet be met, as he races back to Earth to share the good news with Jane. However, when he reaches her apartment, Thor discovers that Jane is missing and Tana Nile is really an alien colonizer who has staked a claim to the earth. She reveals that she sent Jane away, hoping Thor would waste time searching for her while Tana’s claim was approved, but now the inspection team is nearly ready to make their decision. Thor is enraged, but Tana uses her mental powers to force the thunder god to kneel before her. With great effort, he overcomes her influence, only to be trapped in a force-field by the inspectors. They decide to take Thor back to their home planet, Rigel III, for further study. The alien bureaucrats then approve Tana Nile’s claim to the earth, giving her control of a “space-lock” weapon to destroy the world if her rule is challenged. The two inspectors load the imprisoned Thor into their spaceship on the roof and blast off.

Once out of Earth’s atmosphere, Thor hears the two inspectors discussing a fearsome enemy from the so-called “Black Galaxy” who can overcome their mental powers, as Thor had. They hope that by studying the thunder god, they will find some way to combat the mysterious menace. Thor decides he has heard enough and smashes out of his prison and batters the two Rigellians into unconsciousness. However, he realizes that only by going to Rigel III can he destroy their “space-lock” weapon and free Earth from Tana Nile’s claim, and so Thor settles in for the trip across nearly 800 light-years of space.

October 1963 – Thor eventually arrives in the Rigellian star system and causes chaos and destruction until the Grand Commissioner of Rigel steps forward to make a deal. He promises to release the earth from Tana Nile’s claim if Thor will defeat the mysterious enemy within the Black Galaxy. Intrigued by the challenge and convinced that this menace will someday also threaten the earth, Thor accepts the terms. A robot called the Recorder ferries Thor to the Black Galaxy, which turns out to be more of a nebula, and as they enter, the thunder god is astonished by the absolute strangeness of that sector of space. The Recorder observes that the bizarre phenomena they are witnessing are biological in nature. Finally, in the very center of this “bio-verse” they encounter Ego, the Living Planet. Undaunted by the scale of his foe, Thor vows to stop Ego’s plans of conquest, and overcomes the numberless horde of humanoid antibodies that attack him. Finally, Thor uses the enchantments of his hammer to summon the fury of the storm, which gives Ego a nasty shock. Chastised, Ego forswears leaving the Black Galaxy or attempting to conquer any other worlds. Triumphant, Thor and the Recorder return to Rigel III. There, the Grand Commissioner congratulates Thor on his victory and says the order to free Earth has already been given. A pair of colonizers is assigned to escort Thor back to Earth and to bring Tana Nile home. They depart in one of the Rigellians’ fastest ships and make the 800-light-year return journey.

November 1963 – Finally back on Earth, Thor and the two Rigellians find Tana Nile at a New York police precinct, trying to convince the skeptical cops that she is the planet’s new ruler. Thor confronts her and she is disappointed to learn that her claim has been cancelled. When Tana reveals that she has no idea where Jane Foster is, one of the colonizers gives Thor a Rigellian locator device to aid in his search. Thor thanks them as they escort Tana Nile back to their ship and blast off for outer space.

The alien tracking device leads Thor across the Atlantic Ocean to the small Balkan nation of Transia, where, on the slopes of Mount Wundagore, he comes into conflict with a group of armored knights on flying metal “steeds.” Knowing Jane is nearby, Thor allows himself to be captured and taken inside their citadel near the mountain’s peak. Once there, Thor discovers that these Knights of Wundagore are not human, but “New-Men” artificially evolved from animals by their master, the High Evolutionary. The thunder god confronts the High Evolutionary in his laboratory, and the armored figure directs him to where he can find Jane, who has been recruited to teach the New-Men about the world beyond the mountain. Thor convinces Jane they should leave immediately, but on the way out they are accosted by the Man-Beast, an experiment to create a hyper-evolved wolf that has gone terribly wrong. Thor then joins forces with the Knights of Wundagore to defeat the Man-Beast. The High Evolutionary is convinced that there is only one way to safeguard humanity from his experiments, and so, after Thor takes Jane to safety, the entire complex blasts off into deep space, leaving behind only the wreckage of the citadel’s outer shell. Not wanting to waste any more time, Thor takes Jane directly to Asgard to meet with Odin.

As Thor and Jane materialize upon the Rainbow Bridge, she is startled as a host of Asgardian warriors ride past them on horseback, heading into battle with the Trolls. A Troll prisoner is wheeled by on a cart, and Jane is horrified by the monstrous creature. She then recoils in fright from the imposing figure of Heimdall. Throughout, Thor tries to reassure her. They soon enter Asgard’s royal palace and find Odin reviewing battle plans against the Trolls. Odin takes a moment to meet Jane, and she is overwhelmed. Suddenly, the All-Father transforms her into an Asgardian, with the power of flight and the raiment of a goddess. Before she quite knows what she is doing, Jane is soaring high into the sky. However, she quickly loses her nerve and falls, forcing Thor to save her. Magnanimously, Odin offers her a second chance. All she need do is demonstrate her courage in the face the Unknown, a shadowy monster from the depths that causes even Odin’s servants to quake with dread. Thor reassures her as she is shut in a dark room with the Unknown. Naturally, Jane is overcome with panic as soon as the creature appears and screams for rescue. Thor smashes his way into the chamber and fights off the Unknown. Jane is now hysterical and demands to be sent back to Earth, away from the insanity of Asgard. Thor is distraught as Odin benevolently grants her wish. Jane reverts to her normal form and dematerializes. Thor turns to his father in rage, calling the whole thing a set-up. Odin angrily chastises him, saying that deep down Thor knows that Jane could never withstand the stresses of Asgard, any more than he could forsake his power to live as a mortal. Knowing his father is right, Thor is utterly heartbroken.

However, since the Unknown is now running around loose, Odin immediately dispatches Thor to guard his sacred Glade of Crystals. Thor materializes in the glade, hoping that he will die battling the Unknown and thus see an end to his troubles. Within a matter of minutes, the Unknown attacks, but Thor finds he has lost the will to live, much less fight. Suddenly, another Asgardian warrior intervenes and stirs Thor to battle before the monster kills them both. Unwilling to let another die due to his inaction, Thor fights back with renewed spirit and quickly loses himself in the bliss of unrestrained violence. When he finally emerges from his berserker rage, Thor finds the Unknown has been driven off. He turns to his companion and discovers it is Heimdall’s sister, Sif. It takes Thor a moment to recognize her, as he has not seen her since she was a child, and he is surprised to find she has since matured into a stunningly beautiful woman. She clearly adores him, and so they stroll back to Asgard together to get reacquainted.

Thor remains in Asgard to nurse his broken heart, and, to cheer him up, Odin declares a Tournament of Champions to be held, with warriors drawn from throughout the Asgardian dimension. The night before the battle tournament is to begin, Thor’s oldest friends, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun the Grim—known collectively as the Warriors Three—induce the thunder god to join them in revelry and carousing. At a tavern, they get into a fight with four brash foreigners who have come for the tournament: Brok the Crusher, Tyr the swordsman, the cudgel-wielding Galp, and the troll-like Drom the Spirit-Weaver. At the tournament the next day, these same four troublemakers defeat Thor’s team in the arena through trickery and deceit. Thor challenges them to personal combat, but the grudge-match is interrupted by the arrival of the Destroyer, now animated by Loki’s consciousness. The entire host of warriors attacks the Destroyer at once as it relentlessly advances on Odin, but it shrugs them all off, including Thor, who is momentarily knocked unconscious. When he comes to, the groggy thunder god sees the Destroyer about to fire its disintegration beam at Odin, but suddenly the astral form of Balder the Brave appears, reporting to Odin the exact location of Loki’s body, which is still drifting in deep space alongside the Absorbing Man. Armed with this information, Odin is able to blast Loki’s consciousness back to his physical form, leaving the empty Destroyer to pitch forward into the dirt. Odin then commends all the warriors for their bravery against such fearsome odds. A cheer issues forth from the assembled throng, and the tournament resumes.

Following the Tournament of Champions, Thor continues to hang out with Sif, and realizes he is smitten with her. One day, while trying to impress each other with their skill with weaponry, Thor and Sif are suddenly attacked by a contingent of Trolls, who manage to carry Sif off to their subterranean realm of Nornheim. Thor pursues them, but is confronted by Ulik, the Troll champion. After a fierce battle that rages through the network of caverns, Ulik overpowers Thor, and is about to deliver a killing blow when he suddenly vanishes in a nimbus of light. Thor is confused until a projected image of the Troll king, Geirrodur, informs him that Ulik has been sent to Midgard, where Sif is being held hostage, while the Troll legions mount an invasion of Asgard. Given the choice of defending the realm or rescuing Sif, Thor departs at once for Earth.

Thor soon locates the Trolls in an old, abandoned area of the New York subway system and resumes his battle with Ulik. Infuriated by Ulik’s designs on Sif, Thor fights with greater ferocity than before. After taking some staggering hits from Ulik, Thor breaks away from the Trolls for a moment’s respite. Entering an adjacent chamber, he finds the unconscious Sif being held within an ovoid shell of an unknown substance. While he is examining it, the Trolls manage to capture his hammer using a strange egg-shaped device. The Trolls brag about the amazing weapons provided by their mysterious benefactor, “Orikal.” But before Thor can reach them, the Trolls return to Nornheim through an interdimensional tunnel, leaving the thunder god stranded on Earth. Sif’s prison suddenly dissolves and she revives. Thor explains that, in less than a minute, he’ll be trapped in his powerless mortal form. Thinking fast, Sif uses her own powers over time and space to transport them back to the Asgardian dimension, where Thor can remain in his godly form indefinitely. They materialize near the location of Mjolnir in the heart of Nornheim.

After making their way through the Trolls’ tunnels, Thor and Sif come upon an armory of fantastic weapons. In an adjacent chamber, they spot Ulik and Geirrodur examining a replica of Mjolnir created by Orikal. Thor immediately seizes his hammer and attacks Ulik. Sif draws her sword and fights off the rest of the Trolls in the cavern as Geirrodur slips away. When the Trolls try to capture them in a levitation beam, Thor smashes into the adjoining cavern, where they discover Orikal, a gigantic being from another universe who has been imprisoned within some mystic flames. Orikal assures Thor that he had no choice but to aid the Trolls, and so, when Ulik enters and tries to kill the alien out of sheer jealousy, Thor knocks out Ulik with a hammer-blow to the face and shuts off the flames, allowing Orikal to escape. As soon as the alien has returned to his own universe, all the weapons he created are rendered inoperative. Deprived of his tactical advantage, Geirrodur is forced to surrender to Thor and withdraws all his troops back to Nornheim. Thor and Sif follow the Trolls’ invasion tunnel up to Asgard, where they find Odin and his battle-weary warriors. Thor presents Geirrodur’s document of surrender to his father, and the Asgardians head home to celebrate their victory with a lavish pageant.

After the ceremony, Thor secures his father’s permission to return to Earth to continue to serve as its champion. Odin grants the request. Later, as Thor is preparing to depart, Sif asks him if she might accompany him to Midgard. Thor puts her off, knowing he still must come to terms with the end of his love affair with Jane Foster. Sif’s pride is bruised, and she leaves in a huff. Odin says his son still has a lot to learn about women, then sends him on his way. Thor materializes in the skies over New York and finally returns to Don Blake’s medical office and resumes his mortal form. Blake finds that, after being absent for about five months, he will have to rebuild his practice virtually from scratch. While he’s settling in, Blake learns of a size-changing android, dubbed the “Growing Man,” that has been on a rampage. Turning back into Thor, he finds the Growing Man battling police in a suburban park and attacks, but discovers that his blows only make his foe larger and larger. During the fight, Kang the Conqueror shoots Thor in the back with an energy beam, bragging that the Growing Man is his ultimate weapon against his enemies back in the 41st century. The time-traveling despot had hidden the android in the 20th century until it was needed, and has now come to collect it. Kang shrinks the android down to doll-size and carries it aboard his camouflaged time machine. However, Thor recovers just as the ship is dematerializing, and uses Mjolnir to create a time-space vortex around the ship, damaging its systems and sending it off course.

Not long after, Thor attends a special executive session of the Avengers. The team is debating whether to make an offer of membership to Spider-Man. Also in attendance are Iron Man, Goliath (formerly Giant-Man), Wasp, Captain America, and Hawkeye. When they are unable to decide, Hawkeye suggests they consult Daredevil, who is more familiar with the web-slinger. Daredevil gives Spider-Man his highest recommendation, so the Avengers unanimously vote to give Spidey a readiness test. While his teammates scour the city for the reclusive hero, Thor locates Spider-Man and makes the offer, though he is somewhat taken aback when the wall-crawler proves less than enthusiastic. Nevertheless, Spider-Man arrives at Avengers Mansion the following day and is greeted warmly. However, he loses his temper when he learns the Avengers have still not decided on the exact nature of the test, which quickly escalates into a fistfight with the hot-headed Hawkeye. Still, Thor is impressed with Spidey’s courage and spirit, though not so much with his wisecracks. Iron Man suggests that he try to capture the Hulk and bring him to their headquarters, as the green behemoth’s been spotted lurking in the city lately. Spider-Man agrees and sets off at once, brimming with confidence. However, several hours later, Spidey returns, claiming he was unable to even locate the Hulk, then quickly leaves again. The Avengers are surprised, somewhat disappointed, and Thor especially is a little bit suspicious that there’s more to the wall-crawler’s failure than meets the eye.

Days later, Thor is shocked when President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The Avengers go on full alert, but ultimately allow the authorities to deal with the situation. The social and political uncertainties that follow the assassination are especially troubling to Thor, as he is accustomed to the eternal reign of the immortal Odin and the unchanging status quo of Asgard.

December 1963 – Thor finds he must rehabilitate his reputation as a hero in the eyes of the public, since he disappeared for several months after his humiliating defeat at the hands of Hercules. Even his recent victory over Kang was publicized as a failure, since the villain apparently escaped. Nevertheless, he spends most of the month as Dr. Don Blake, trying to reestablish his medical practice. Due to his frequent and sudden absences, he decides it best not to hire a new nurse to replace Jane. Since most of his middle-class clientele have all found other doctors, Blake focuses on low-income patients and putting in more hours at the hospital. He uses his private practice primarily to do research. Still, Thor makes a point of attending the Avengers’ second annual Christmas charity benefit, though he’s not ready to place himself back on the active roster.


Notes:

January 1963 – Thor’s adventures resume in Journey Into Mystery #101 and following. His unsuccessful attempt to contact Iron Man regarding the Unicorn is seen in Tales of Suspense #56, followed immediately by Avengers #7, where the Enchantress turns him against his teammates. The team discusses the Hulk while working out in Tales to Astonish #59. Thor then has a brief fly-by in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Later, when the Avengers are menaced by the Chameleon in Tales of Suspense #58, they claim Thor is “out of town,” so I speculate that Blake was called away to a medical conference. Following the battle with Kang in Avengers #8, Thor has a cameo in Amazing Spider-Man #18. His brief appearances in Tales of Suspense #59 and Fantastic Four #31 interweave with events in Avengers #9, in which they meet Wonder Man. Thor is then seen returning Wonder Man’s body to the United States in a flashback in West Coast Avengers #2. The fur-coat heist is foiled at the beginning of Avengers #13, but clearly takes place some weeks before the events in the rest of that issue. Thor grills Iron Man about Tony Stark’s disappearance in Tales of Suspense #60. After the team meeting in Avengers #10, Thor joins the others in battling the minions of Immortus, master of Limbo, as well as Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil. However, at the end of the story, the Enchantress creates a time-warp that erases the events from history. Thus, in the normal timeline, none of it ever happened. Then, at the end of an extremely busy month, Thor and the Avengers meet the X-Men, as chronicled in Uncanny X-Men #9.

February 1963 – Thor and his teammates are menaced by Kang’s Spider-Man robot, battle the unlikely duo of the Mole Man and the Red Ghost, fight with Count Nefaria and his Maggia goons, and race to find Dr. Svenson to save the Wasp’s life in Avengers #11–14.

March 1963 – Thor’s first stint as Avengers chairman is relatively uneventful. The engagement party for Reed Richards and Sue Storm is celebrated in Fantastic Four #36.

April 1963 – Rick Jones knocks himself out in an odd little back-up story in Captain America #221. Like Iron Man and Giant-Man before him, I maintain that Thor served a two-month stint as team chairman. Circumstances would force Captain America to serve a much longer term.

May 1963 – Thor ends his association with the Avengers for the time being in Avengers #15–16, which had the benefit of allowing Lee & Kirby more free rein with the character in his own title, as they were moving away from standard tussles with super-villains and getting more into tales of cosmic grandeur. Buck Franklin’s name was revealed in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. The steel mill in Pittsburgh where Thor repairs Mjolnir is identified in Avengers #192.

June 1963 – Thor battles the Super-Skrull and attends the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm in Fantastic Four Annual #3. Then, with issue #126, Journey Into Mystery was finally retitled Thor, though the numbering was unchanged.

November 1963 – Following her nightmarish ordeal in Thor #136, Jane Foster was transported to a new job at a hospital on the west coast of the United States, where she could fall in love with Dr. Keith Kincaid, Odin’s original model for Thor’s false Don Blake persona. Odin also obscured her memories (yet again) to give her a second chance for happiness. One must wonder if there was any psychological fallout from all the tampering that was done to Jane’s memory over the last year and a half or so. Strange recurring dreams, at least? Thor is reunited with the Warriors Three for the Great Games of Asgard in Thor Annual #2. The battle with Kang and the Growing Man brings us up to Thor #140. Then, the Avengers put Spider-Man through his paces in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3. The assassination of President Kennedy occurs behind the scenes, naturally.






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