Monday

OMU: Thor -- Year Three

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby continued to explore the double life of The Mighty Thor throughout the third year of the thunder god’s career as a modern-day superhero. Thor divides his time between adventuring as the Prince of Asgard and treating patients in his mortal guise as surgeon Donald Blake. However, having lost his human love, Jane Foster, Thor increasingly treats the Blake persona as the empty shell that it is. When he finally learns the truth about Don Blake’s enchanted origins, Thor seems to start spending less and less time living this phony life.

We also reach the end of Jack Kirby’s run on Thor, as he grew dissatisfied working at Marvel and decided to seek his fortunes elsewhere. Neal Adams stepped in to finish the last storyline Kirby started. However, as with Fantastic Four, Kirby’s unique artistic vision would remain an influence on the book for many years to come.

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.


Let the tale be told of... The True History of the Mighty Thor!


January 1964 – Donald Blake continues to rebuild his medical practice in New York City, focusing primarily on low-income patients. Having chosen to no longer staff his private practice, he uses his offices mainly for medical research. A gifted surgeon, Blake routinely performs difficult operations at various Manhattan hospitals, where his skills are in high demand. He keeps himself so busy that he leaves little time for his Asgardian alter-ego, Thor, god of thunder. In fact, when the Avengers request his presence at a team meeting to discuss making an offer of membership to the former spy known as the Black Widow, Thor declines to attend.

However, Thor leaps into action when a powerful robot called Replicus goes on a crime spree. As they battle in the city streets, the thunder god finds Replicus to be a surprisingly formidable foe. The robot even manages to seize Thor’s enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, but then suddenly crumples to the ground, rendered totally inert. Thor is perplexed, but he suspects the notorious mob boss “Slugger” Sykes may have been involved when he learns that Sykes died in a mysterious explosion at the precise moment Replicus collapsed. Nevertheless, Thor is credited in the media with stopping the rampaging robot.

Thor considers taking action when he hears the terrorist organization HYDRA threatening to release a deadly spore into the atmosphere unless the nations of the world surrender to them. Luckily, HYDRA is quickly defeated by the forces of the counterintelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Later, Thor is angered when an impostor is seen bounding around the rooftops of New York. He quickly tracks down the phony thunder god and discovers it to be Daredevil in disguise. Daredevil explains he was trying to draw out Thor’s old foes Mister Hyde and the Cobra. Thor tries to dissuade Daredevil from taking on a villain as powerful as Mister Hyde, but is impressed with the masked mortal’s fighting skill. Thor decides to leave him with a stern warning to stop impersonating the Prince of Asgard.

March 1964 – Learning that the Executioner and the Enchantress have returned to Earth, Thor goes to Avengers Mansion to warn his former teammates. There he finds Iron Man, Goliath, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Hercules. The team is informed by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury that several of their old enemies have launched a coordinated attack in different locations around the globe. Thus, Thor and Hawkeye travel to Léopoldville, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to capture the Living Laser. Unexpectedly, the two heroes also face the gigantic blue android Ultimo, whom Thor recognizes from Iron Man’s reports. After the villains have been defeated, Thor and Hawkeye rendezvous with their teammates to storm the space station headquarters of the Mandarin, the mastermind behind the scheme. The Mandarin bathes the Avengers in “hate rays” from his latest weapon, causing them to turn on one another. Overwhelmed with loathing for each other, Thor and Hercules battle savagely until the Wasp destroys the weapon. The Mandarin’s next offensive goes awry, blasting a hole in the hull of the space station. The villain is swept out into space, but Thor and Hercules are able to seal the breach before anyone else is lost. Finally, the Avengers rig the entire orbiting facility to self-destruct and take their leave. On the way back down to Earth, Thor and Iron Man agree to rejoin the team on reserve status.

The following weekend, Thor joins Iron Man, Goliath, Wasp, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Hercules in Central Park for a ceremony to honor the Avengers. As various city officials arrive, Hawkeye and Hercules start showing off to entertain the crowds. Thor is annoyed, feeling that their antics are beneath the dignity of the Avengers. When the ceremony is delayed until Captain America can arrive, Thor decides he’s wasted enough time there and departs, claiming to have urgent business elsewhere.

A few days later, Thor battles the Super-Skrull, whom he remembers brawling with at the wedding of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Girl last summer. Although the alien possesses all the powers of the Fantastic Four, Thor is able to hamper his fighting ability by summoning a raging storm with fierce winds and torrential rains. After beating the Super-Skrull nearly senseless, Thor uses Mjolnir to generate an energy vortex that carries his foe back to his orbiting spaceship. Thoroughly defeated, the Super-Skrull retreats to his home galaxy.

April 1964 – While investigating a strange spaceship hovering over New York, Thor meets the alien being called the Collector. Thor is slipped a powerful drug and finds he cannot interfere as the alien kidnaps Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye. Then he is compelled to assist the Collector in attempting to restore Goliath’s size-changing powers, since the alien does not want a “defective” Avenger in his collection. When the Collector detects Iron Man in the vicinity, he sends Thor out to capture him, and the thunder god is unable to disobey. However, though Thor quickly defeats Iron Man, the Collector’s influence suddenly wears off. Returning to the Collector’s ship, Thor finds that his three teammates have gotten free and wrecked the place. They fly clear just as the ship is destroyed in a tremendous explosion.

Later, having regrouped at Avengers Mansion, the team is contacted by Captain America, who recommends they induct the African superhero known as the Black Panther as his replacement. Satisfied that Cap would vouch for him, the Avengers agree. However, Thor is disturbed the following day to read in the newspaper that the Black Panther has allegedly murdered Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye. The thunder god is relieved to learn soon after that his three teammates are still alive, and the Black Panther has rescued them from the machinations of a villain called the Grim Reaper.

May 1964 – Sif and Balder come to Midgard to warn Thor that the Enchanters, a trio of sorcerers from the realm of Ringsfjord, have attacked Asgard. Following a visitation of the Living Talisman, a magical entity that serves the Enchanters, Thor and his friends face off against two of the sorcerers, Magnir and Brona, in the streets of Manhattan. The Asgardians are nearly defeated, but Magnir and Brona grow weak when their brother, Forsung, siphons off their power to use in his own battle against Odin. When the Enchanters are defeated, Odin summons Thor, Sif, and Balder back to Asgard. However, Thor insists on remaining on Earth, so Odin angrily strips Mjolnir of its enchantments and banishes him from Asgard. Thor finds he is left with nothing but his natural Asgardian strength and durability and his time-honed skills as a warrior. Mjolnir has become an ordinary mallet.

Without his godly powers, Thor realizes he cannot transform into Donald Blake, and so must find some other way to assimilate into American society. Thus, he dresses in ordinary clothes and answers an advertisement for a strongman at a traveling circus. There, he encounters Princess Python, who introduces him to her fellow performers, Ernesto and Luigi Gambonno, the Human Cannonball, the crafty Clown, and their boss, the Ringmaster. Impressed by his raw strength, the Ringmaster offers Thor a job on the spot. Thinking that impersonating the superhero Thor is part of his act, the Ringmaster also provides him with a cheap, gaudy imitation of Thor’s normal attire. While doing his first show, Thor is surprised to spot his former love, Jane Foster, in the audience with her new boyfriend, Dr. Keith Kinkaid. Thor is glad she has found someone who makes her happy.

After the show, Thor is confused when he suddenly finds himself in a museum at night, carrying a huge golden idol of a bull, with the other circus performers running around shouting as policemen shoot at them. He drops the heavy idol, accidentally pinning Princess Python against a wall, and realizes he must have been hypnotized into assisting with a robbery. Undaunted by the barrage of gunfire, Thor lifts the Golden Bull, thus freeing Princess Python, and carries it back to its pedestal. Though the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime manage to escape, Thor surrenders to the police and spends the night in jail.

The next morning, Thor is released when a mysterious benefactor pays his bail. Outside, Thor discovers that the man is really Loki in disguise. Loki takes advantage of his step-brother’s weakened state to give him a beating, but Sif and Balder soon materialize and force him to stop. Odin is furious to find the four of them brawling on Midgard and strips Loki, Sif, and Balder of their godly powers as well. Now no match for Thor, Loki runs away. Thor takes Sif and Balder back to Don Blake’s medical office, where they order sandwiches from the local deli.

While watching television later, the three exiled Asgardians see a report about a costumed criminal called the Wrecker, who claims his incredible powers were granted by the Norn Queen of Asgard. Seeing Loki’s hand in this, Thor, Sif, and Balder rush to the scene to help the police capture the masked menace. However, as soon as they arrive, the Wrecker fires a bolt of mystic energy through his crowbar that sends Sif and Balder back to Asgard. Thor attacks the villain, but the Wrecker bludgeons him into unconsciousness.

When Thor comes to, the Wrecker is nowhere in sight. But while searching for his foe, Thor is recruited to help Spider-Man defend Daredevil from the Fantastic Four. Somehow, the FF have gotten the idea that Daredevil is an impostor, and though reluctant to help in his weakened state, Thor finally agrees. Spider-Man carries him to the roof of the Baxter Building, where Thor faces off with the Thing while Daredevil battles Mr. Fantastic. Spider-Man swings off so as to draw the Human Torch away from his teammates. Even without his powerful enchantments, Thor’s Asgardian physiognomy allows him to hold his own against the Thing surprisingly well, but, inevitably, the Thing overpowers him. However, the Thing’s final blow is blocked by a force field created by the Invisible Girl. She convinces her teammates that Thor, Spider-Man, and Daredevil are not impostors, but it was all merely a scheme by Doctor Doom to set the heroes against one another. Satisfied that the situation has been resolved, Thor leaves immediately to track down the Wrecker.

Thor soon finds the Wrecker robbing a bank and leaps into the fray, regardless of being hopelessly outmatched. Using superior battle tactics, Thor leads the Wrecker into a construction site, hoping to make weapons of the heavy equipment there. Unfortunately, the Wrecker uses his enchanted crowbar to utterly demolish the building, burying Thor in an avalanche of rubble. The next thing Thor knows, his astral form is standing in the presence of Hela, goddess of death. She is ready to escort him to a place of honor in Valhalla, but Thor claims a spark of life still remains in his body, and he cannot abandon Midgard while the Wrecker still roams free. Content to bide her time, Hela allows his astral form to go in search of the Wrecker. When Thor finds his foe, he discovers his invisible, intangible form cannot intervene in the Wrecker’s battle with the police. Thus he returns to his body and, finding Hela has departed, he enters into it, regaining consciousness. Thor staggers to his feet, but when he returns to the scene of the conflict, he is astonished to find the Wrecker has been defeated by Odin’s invincible engine of destruction, the Destroyer.

Fearing the Destroyer will go on a rampage and demolish New York, Thor attacks it with his hammer. Though weakened by exhaustion, he battles on valiantly, but the Destroyer tosses him around like a rag doll. In desperation, Thor calls on Odin for aid, but fears his father has forsaken him. Suddenly, Thor feels a new power and vigor spread through his limbs, and he renews his attack. The Destroyer manages to wrest Mjolnir from Thor’s grasp, but it wrenches itself free and flies back to Thor’s hand. The thunder god immediately realizes his full powers have been restored. With joy surging in his heart, Thor presses his attack, knocking the Destroyer off its feet. As the Destroyer unleashes its deadly disintegrator beam, Thor tries to keep if too off-balance to aim properly. Suddenly, it gets Thor in its sights and prepares to fire at point-blank range, only to pitch over backwards and lie inert on the sidewalk. Though some policemen run up to congratulate him on his victory, Thor knows the true reason for the Destroyer’s defeat lies in Asgard.

Just then, a nimbus of mystical energy transports Thor to Nornheim, the realm of Karnilla, Queen of the Norns, where he finds Sif and Balder in mortal combat with Ulik the Troll. Thor immediately joins in and fights with the savage Ulik until finally sending him careening into the bottomless Abyss of Shadows. However, Thor quickly realizes the battle with Ulik was just a diversion so Loki could steal Mjolnir. Karnilla explains that Loki overcame the hammer’s protective enchantments by stealing a portion of her mystic powers. Thus, she agrees to weave a spell of teleportation so Thor and Sif can follow Loki. They materialize in New York City, but sixty seconds later, the thunder god reverts to his mortal guise of Donald Blake. As they search for Loki, Sif informs Blake that it was her life force that had been animating the Destroyer, and though she tried to resist it, she could not prevent it from attacking Thor. She had been tricked into doing so by Karnilla and Loki.

Suddenly, Loki emerges from an alley, waving Blake’s walking stick and taunting them. Sif leaps forward to attack him, but Loki strikes her down with a devastating energy blast, knocking her out. Then, Blake surprises Loki by jumping on him and manages to wrest the walking stick from his hand. Blake strikes it on a nearby wall and is instantly transformed back into Thor. Despite Loki’s enhanced power, Thor still defeats him. But, he finds that Sif has been badly injured. She is taken to a nearby hospital, where Blake prepares to perform a life-saving operation. At the critical point in the delicate procedure, Loki materializes in the operating room, but one of Blake’s assistants knocks him out by spraying a huge dose of ether in his face. As Sif is wheeled to the recovery room, Blake remains in the O.R. to deal with the “costumed madman” whom the others assume to be an escaped mental patient. He transforms back into Thor and brawls with Loki on a nearby rooftop until Odin forces them to stop. Sneering, Loki teleports away to safety. Thor returns to the hospital to check on Sif.

June 1964 – Thor becomes increasingly concerned that he has heard nothing further from Odin while Sif has been convalescing. When she is sufficiently recovered, they return to Asgard and are shocked to find that Loki has assumed the throne while Odin slumbers in the mystical Odinsleep. However, an ancient enemy of Asgard, the monstrous Mangog, has broken free of the prison Odin had condemned him to and is advancing on the Golden Realm. Ignoring his step-brother’s posturing, Thor rides out to battle the unstoppable Mangog. When he reaches his foe, Thor joins his old friends, the Warriors Three—Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun the Grim—in trying to halt Mangog’s progress. Their best efforts come to nothing, and soon Mangog invades the city, intent on reaching the palace and unsheathing the Odinsword, thereby bringing about the destruction of the universe. The assembled warriors of Asgard, led by Balder the Brave, attack Mangog, to no avail. Loki flees for his life, but the injured Thor joins Sif in the chamber of the Odinsword. The thunder god is surprised to find the Recorder, his robot friend from Rigel, is present to observe these momentous events. Moments later, Mangog smashes into the chamber, grasps the hilt of the Odinsword and begins to draw it from its scabbard. Amidst the cosmic shockwaves that are released, Thor generates a fearsome storm, powerful enough to at last awaken Odin. The All-Father appears suddenly and blasts Mangog into nothingness. He commends Thor for fighting so valiantly against so powerful a foe, and leads the warriors of Asgard in celebrating their great victory.

July 1964 – Thor stays in Asgard for a while to recuperate and spend time with Sif. The Warriors Three regale Thor with exaggerated tales of their encounter with the Hulk a couple of months ago. Then, during a banquet, the Silver Surfer appears and challenges Thor. Curious, the thunder god invites the silver-skinned alien to dine with them and explain his grievance, but the Surfer merely observes the proceedings in silence. At the conclusion of a wrestling tournament, the winner attacks the Surfer in the name of Thor, starting a huge brawl. Having little choice, Thor battles the Silver Surfer, until they discover that Loki set them against each other through cunning. Calling an end to the hostilities, the Surfer suddenly dematerializes. Later, Loki refuses to admit anything.

Thor returns to Earth and resumes his mortal guise as Dr. Don Blake, but he becomes preoccupied with questions about the true nature of his dual identity. Odin at last reveals to Thor how the “Donald Blake” persona was created by his enchantments to teach the reckless, headstrong thunder god the value of humility and compassion.

August 1964 – Thor attends a special meeting at Avengers Mansion to discuss making the android known as the Vision a member of the team, joining Iron Man, Goliath, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther. After investigating the android’s mysterious origins and determining that his brain patterns are based on the recording they made from Simon Williams last year, the team votes to induct the Vision into their ranks.

When Thor sees a familiar-looking alien spaceship of the roof of a building, he flies over to investigate. There he is met by Tana Nile, the Rigellian colonizer he met last autumn. She asks for his help against a terrible menace. Thor agrees, boards her ship, and they blast off into outer space.

September 1964 – On the 800-light-year journey to Rigel, Tana Nile explains that the menace she enlisted Thor to fight is none other than Galactus, who is known to be in the vicinity of her own solar system. Having previously considered Galactus to be merely a legend, Thor vows to hunt him down and make him pay for his crimes after encountering a massive fleet of spaceships carrying survivors of Galactus’ world-destroying hunger. After conferring with the Grand Commissioner on the Rigellian homeworld, Thor meets up with the Recorder again and they take a specially outfitted ship to the nebula known as the Black Galaxy, wherein dwells Ego, the Living Planet. Upon arrival, they find Ego engaged in fearsome combat with Galactus. Thor’s ship is destroyed, but he and the Recorder are rescued by one of the ships of the survivor fleet. These Wanderers, as they are called, volunteer to aid Thor in the battle against Galactus. Working together, they manage to turn Mjolnir into a weapon powerful enough to give even Galactus pause. When the world-devourer retreats from that sector of space, Thor leaves the Wanderers to settle on Ego’s surface and returns to inform the Rigellians of his victory.

Thor uses Mjolnir to transport himself directly to Asgard, where Odin uses his viewing crystal to learn more about Galactus and his ancient history. During a break, one of Odin’s advisors informs Thor that Sif has disappeared after going to Midgard to investigate some looming menace. Thor departs immediately to search for Sif on Earth.

Shortly after Thor arrives in New York, he learns that Captain America has been reported killed in battle with HYDRA. At Avengers Mansion, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Vision try to learn what happened from a distraught Rick Jones. A short time later, Thor attends Captain America’s funeral along with his teammates, Cap’s grieving girlfriend Sharon Carter, Nick Fury, and other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Nick Fury’s eulogy is interrupted when a powerful knock-out gas spews from the casket. The next thing Thor knows, he is awakening in a coffin next to an open grave at Drearcliff Cemetery. Captain America, still alive, and Rick, dressed as Bucky, have saved the Avengers from being buried alive by HYDRA. The duo pursues the fleeing HYDRA agents, and Thor resumes his search for Sif.

Thor soon learns from some National Guard troops that Sif disappeared into a strange energy vortex surrounding an atomic research center. After penetrating the vortex and rescuing Sif from a band of savage mutates, Thor finds that the vortex is a time-funnel that has transported them into Earth’s future. When they locate the atomic research center, Thor and Sif discover that the time-funnel is the work of Pluto, the Greek god of the underworld, who desires revenge on Thor for his interference in Pluto’s schemes last year. Pluto then leads the mutates in an invasion of 20th century Earth, only to be stopped by Zeus, who forcibly returns Pluto to Hades and undoes the damage his warriors caused during the battle.

Having been joined by Balder the Brave, Thor and Sif enter the atomic research center to investigate a sleeping figure that Pluto had seemed to fear. They find the being has awakened, a tall, powerfully built man with golden skin, blond hair, and strange glowing eyes. The man says he has no name, but is referred to only as “Him.” After recounting some of his vague memories, Him suddenly decides he wants Sif to be his mate, so he grabs her and teleports away. Thor uses Mjolnir to create a spacetime vortex so he and Balder can follow. They nearly catch up to Him and Sif on a barren alien world, but are distracted when Haag, an old crone who serves Karnilla, tries to abduct Balder. By the time Thor has driven Haag off, Him and Sif have disappeared. Thor goes into a rage and pursues his quarry to yet another planet, where Thor attacks Him with savage ferocity. Overcome by a berserker rage, Thor ignores Balder’s attempts to calm him down. Unable to withstand Thor’s onslaught, Him forms a protective cocoon around himself and escapes into space. When the “warrior madness” leaves Thor, he is ashamed of his behavior and returns to Asgard, accompanied by Sif and Balder.

Odin is not pleased that a Prince of Asgard would allow himself to be consumed by a berserker rage when fighting a single foe and orders Thor to undertake a dangerous mission alone in the depths of outer space: to track down Galactus so the world-destroyer may be subjected to the judgment of Odin. Thor accepts his father’s command as a form of penance, but, not knowing how long such a mission would take, he requests one brief visit to Midgard before he departs. Odin grants his request and returns Thor to New York. There, Loki attacks as soon as Thor transforms into Don Blake, but Odin quickly puts a stop to Loki’s scheme. Blake finds he must perform a life-saving operation on Balder, who was injured by Loki. Finally, leaving Balder to recover, Blake changes back into Thor and returns to Asgard. He soon sets off in a special spaceship created by Odin. To Thor’s surprise, Galactus soon finds him, weary of battle and wanting only to talk. Thor agrees to listen as Galactus relates the tale of his true origins. At the conclusion of Galactus’ reminiscences, Odin manifests himself and says he has learned what he needed to know, thus Thor’s mission was successful.

Odin transports Thor directly back to New York to assist the Warriors Three in battling a rampaging 25-foot robot called the Thermal Man. After a fierce battle, with some assistance from the National Guard and the Air Force, Thor generates a powerful hurricane that sweeps the Thermal Man out to sea. Afterwards, Thor changes into Don Blake and returns to his apartment, only to find that Volstagg has accidentally broken all his furniture. Not long after, Thor is lured into Hades when Pluto kidnaps Jane Foster. Though forbidden by Zeus to attack Thor directly, Pluto has allied himself with Loki to get revenge on the thunder god. They teleport Ulik the Troll into Hades to battle Thor, but their plan goes awry when Ulik decides to kill Pluto first. Thor saves Pluto and sends Ulik to battle Loki. In gratitude, Pluto returns Thor and Jane to Earth, with the memory of the terrifying experience erased from her mind.

Donald Blake treats a wealthy African American businessman named Lionel Dibbs, though he must amputate Dibbs’s right hand. Nevertheless, Dibbs has only a few months to live before he dies of cancer. Blake becomes concerned when he learns that Dibbs once made a vow to see the slum where he grew up demolished before he died, and worries that the dying man will try something desperate.

Thor joins the other Avengers aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to test samples of a super-metal called adamantium. Thor finds that Goliath has adopted the new identity of Yellowjacket and Hawkeye has traded in his bow-and-arrows to become the new Goliath. Iron Man, Wasp, and Vision are also in attendance. Thor is amazed when even his enchanted hammer is unable to dent a cylinder of the new metal. Hours later, the Vision betrays the team to deliver the adamantium to his creator, Ultron, who builds a new, indestructible body for himself. After the Vision redeems himself by shaking off Ultron’s mind-control, Thor and the other Avengers battle Ultron at the United Nations building and destroy his adamantium body by shorting out his molecular rearranger.

Don Blake labors to save the life of civil-rights leader Pedro Luis Lopez, the victim of an assassination attempt. The surgery is interrupted when the Wrecker threatens to destroy the hospital. Blake hurriedly changes into Thor and goes to stop the Wrecker, leaving his patient in the care of his assistants. Within 15 minutes, Thor defeats the Wrecker and returns to the operating room, where Blake finishes the procedure. Lopez recovers, sparing the city from a race riot that would surely have followed had he died.

October 1964 – When Tony Stark is hospitalized for heart failure, Thor rushes Dr. José Santini to the scene. However, the Growing Man, Kang’s size-changing android, kidnaps the comatose Stark. Thor, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Captain America, Goliath, and Vision follow him to Kang’s fortress in the 41st century, where they meet up with the Black Panther. There, Kang the Conqueror explains that he has chosen the Avengers to represent him in a contest with an alien called the Grandmaster. If the Avengers win, Kang’s lover Ravonna, held in suspended animation at the brink of death, will be restored to full health; but if the Avengers lose, the earth will be destroyed. Naturally, they agree to cooperate, on the condition that Stark be returned to the hospital to undergo a life-saving operation. The Grandmaster then appears and teleports Thor, Captain America, and Goliath to a barren landscape, where they are joined by Iron Man. There, they are confronted by four costumed supervillains: Hyperion, Nighthawk, Doctor Spectrum, and the Whizzer, known collectively as the Squadron Sinister. The Avengers split up, teleported to four different locations around the globe. Thor finds himself in Egypt, in the shadow of the Sphinx, where he defeats Hyperion after a brief battle. They are then teleported back to Kang’s fortress and held in stasis while Yellowjacket, Black Panther, and Vision participate in phase two of the contest. They are soon revived by the Wasp and the Black Knight, who has followed them into the future by his own means. Immediately, the heroes storm into Kang’s throne room and battle the time-traveling despot, to the Grandmaster’s great amusement. Once Kang is defeated, the Grandmaster teleports the Avengers home. Thor joins his teammates in extending an offer of membership to the Black Knight.

Dr. Keith Kinkaid asks Don Blake to contact Thor, as Jane Foster has been kidnapped by a reclusive billionaire named Kronin Krask in order to force Kinkaid to conduct a dangerous experiment. Thor soon flies out to Krask’s vast estate and battles his security guards, only to fall victim to a hallucinogenic mist. When Thor regains consciousness, he finds that Krask is attempting to hijack the thunder god’s body. So as not to endanger Jane, Thor engages in psychic combat with Krask’s mental essence. Krask is defeated, and the psychic shock causes him to keel over dead. Thor directs Kinkaid to dismantle Krask’s mind-swap machine, then says goodbye to Jane.

Thor helps the Avengers travel to the extradimensional realm of Polemachus to rescue the Scarlet Witch and a number of top nuclear scientists. Joined by Iron Man, Captain America, Goliath, Quicksilver, Black Panther, and Vision, Thor battles the barbarian king Arkon and his horde of warriors. Arkon abandons the fight when Iron Man and Thor construct a device to revitalize the life-giving energy rings that surround Polemachus. Soon after, Thor stops the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime from using Ulik the Troll to steal a new government supercomputer. Then, Thor and Iron Man lend a hand when the Avengers must search for a group of villains called the Lethal Legion. Though Thor’s search is fruitless, he learns later that his teammates found and defeated the villains. A few days later, Thor prevents a bitter scientist named Jasper Whyte from using his robot, the Crypto-Man, from holding New York City hostage. Thor convinces Whyte to have a change of heart, and he sacrifices himself to stop the Crypto-Man.

After a contentious meeting during which the Avengers meet the Native American superhero Red Wolf, the team decides to split its forces. Goliath, Scarlet Witch, and Vision agree to help Red Wolf oppose a ruthless business tycoon named Cornelius Van Lunt, the Black Panther goes off on his own to combat inner-city crime, while Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Quicksilver focus on the international crime syndicate Zodiac. Thor and his three teammates are captured by Zodiac when a fast-acting knock-out gas is pumped into Avengers Mansion. They are revived a day later by the Black Panther and Daredevil, finding that Zodiac has staged a full-scale invasion of Manhattan Island. When Zodiac’s leader, Aries, makes a hasty retreat by aircraft, Thor pursues him. However, when Aries turns his mysterious weapon, the Zodiac Key, on innocent bystanders, Thor summons down a lightning strike that blows up Aries’s skyship, killing the villain and his henchmen. After helping repair the damage Zodiac caused to the bridges and tunnels leading to Manhattan, the Avengers learn that their three separate cases were in fact part of a larger whole.

November 1964 – Following the election of Senator Morris N. Richardson as the next President of the United States, Thor returns to Asgard at Sif’s request. Odin has entered the Odinsleep again, since his last attempt was interrupted by Mangog, leaving the realm undefended. When they arrive, they find Loki has staged yet another coup d’état. This time, Loki has transported Odin to the Sea of Eternal Night, where he lies within a stasis tube. Thus, the Odinsleep will last indefinitely. However, this act has weakened the spell imprisoning the fire demon Surtur, and he breaks free and attacks Asgard, setting the realm aflame. Thor, the Warriors Three, and the legions of Asgard wage a hopeless battle against Surtur until Balder the Brave tracks down Odin and awakens him. Thor is on the verge of defeat when Odin appears and re-imprisons Surtur. During the victory celebrations, Thor is suddenly teleported to the prison planet of the Stranger, where he battles the Abomination. When Thor returns to Asgard, he decides to spend some quality time with Sif.

December 1964 – Thor returns to Earth to search for Loki, who has been hiding out there since fleeing from Surtur. However, Loki surprises Thor with a magic mask that swaps their identities. Trapped in Loki’s body, Thor has a difficult time convincing Sif and Balder that he is not the villain he appears to be. Just as he is getting through to them, Odin transports him to Asgard. Thinking Loki is lying to avoid punishment, Odin ignores Thor’s protests and banishes him to Mephisto’s realm of Hell. Mephisto is initially eager to work with Loki, until he realizes it is really Thor, whose goodness is anathema to him. Thor’s spirits are lifted when Sif, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun the Grim appear and battle Mephisto on his behalf. Thor finally manages to wield Loki’s magic well enough to amplify the aura of goodness and nobility in his soul until Mephisto is forced to eject them from his realm. Materializing on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor sends his companions on to tell Odin what has happened, then returns to Earth to confront Loki, who is wreaking havoc in Thor’s body. After an extremely mismatched battle, during which Thor receives a savage beating, he manages to separate his body from Mjolnir for sixty seconds. When Odin’s enchantment then causes him to revert to his mortal form of Don Blake, Loki’s spell is broken and they are forcibly returned to their own bodies. Blake immediately changes back into Thor, but, seeing he has been defeated, Loki teleports himself to safety. The thunder god then assures the delegates at the United Nations that the “Thor” who demanded dominion over the earth was an impostor.

Thor and the Black Panther journey to Polemachus to rescue Goliath, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision from Arkon and the Enchantress, who have joined forces. Thor is caught off guard when he is attacked by the Black Knight, who has fallen under the Enchantress’s spell. Using the mystical Ebony Blade, the Black Knight manages to separate Thor from Mjolnir. However, less than a minute later, the Black Knight regains his senses when the Enchantress is distracted by her battle with the Scarlet Witch, allowing Thor to retrieve his hammer. Seeing the tide has turned, the Enchantress teleports away, abandoning Arkon. He calls an end to the hostilities, but the Avengers refuse to listen to his explanations. Instead, Thor uses Mjolnir to generate a spacetime vortex to get them home, calling upon the power of Odin for assistance. Thor and the Black Panther materialize in Central Park, right across the street from Avengers Mansion, but they can find no trace of their teammates. Before they can mount a search, the two heroes remember they are due to participate in a Toys-for-Tots program sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. For the next few hours, Thor, Black Panther, Captain America, and Spider-Man distribute toys to underprivileged children.

Later, Thor uses the energies of Mjolnir to power an interdimensional scanner that Iron Man has brought over from Stark Industries to search for their missing teammates. After many hours, the missing Avengers are located and brought home. They relate how they had somehow been diverted to a parallel world, where they saved the earth alongside heroic versions of the Squadron Sinister called the Squadron Supreme. Then, the Black Panther regales his teammates with tales of his African homeland, Wakanda, and the story of his origins.

The Avengers are scheduled to participate in a Christmas charity appeal on television, but Captain America asks Thor, Iron Man, and Goliath to remain on-call at the mansion in case the United Nations needs them to protect an experimental weather-control station that is due to be tested. The trio is soon called to action when the installation is threatened by the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer. When they arrive on the Caribbean island where the project is located, the three Avengers scuffle with the super-powerful misfits until Atlantean scientists prove that the experiment is too dangerous to continue. Fed up with the human race, the Hulk and the Silver Surfer go their separate ways, but Namor remains behind to introduce the Avengers to his fiancée, Lady Dorma. Thor is impressed with her beauty and regal bearing. After the Atlanteans withdraw, the three Avengers jet back to New York in time to participate in the team’s third annual Christmas charity benefit at the mansion. Thor is introduced to Captain America’s new partner, the Falcon. The thunder god enjoys the party, and he looks forward to another year as Midgard’s champion.


Notes:

January 1964 – Thor’s adventures resume in Thor #141 and following. The thunder god declines to participate in the meeting to discuss the Black Widow’s membership in Avengers #38. He makes a quick cameo in the S.H.I.E.L.D. story in Strange Tales #156, then guest-stars briefly in Daredevil #30.

March 1964 – Thor rejoins the Avengers to battle the Mandarin and his cronies in Avengers Annual #1. The city in which Thor and Hawkeye battled Ultimo and the Living Laser was not specified, but in 1964 this was the chief diamond-producing center of the region described in the story. It is now known as Kinshasa. The subsequent festivities in New York’s Central Park are seen in Avengers #45.

April 1964 – Thor meets the Collector, one of the Elders of the Universe, in Avengers #51. During these events, the Hulk is rampaging through Asgard, as seen in Tales to Astonish #101–Hulk #102. Thor reads in the newspaper about the “deaths” of his teammates in Avengers #52.

May 1964 – Thor, Spider-Man, and Daredevil take on the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #73, which takes place during Thor #149.

July 1964 – Loki tricks the Silver Surfer into attacking Thor in Silver Surfer #4.

August 1964 – Thor votes to induct the Vision into the ranks of the Avengers in Avengers #58.

September 1964 – Since Thor is traveling through space with Tana Nile, he is unable to attend the wedding of Yellowjacket and the Wasp. Thor also missed Galactus’s visit to Earth last year, as he was laid up in Asgard, recovering from injuries sustained fighting Hercules and Seidring the Merciless. This accounts for Thor’s statement in Thor #160 that he’d heard of Galactus but always considered him a legend. As seen in Fantastic Four #235, Ego the Living Planet absorbs all the Wanderers into himself, killing them, sometime after Thor leaves. Captain America’s faux funeral is disrupted by HYDRA in Captain America #113 and the flashback in Avengers #106. “Him” will eventually adopt the name Adam Warlock. Jane Foster’s kidnapping by Pluto, drawing Thor into a fight with Ulik in Hades, is revealed in Thor #279. Don Blake treats Lionel Dibbs in a flashback in Amazing Adventures #8. The Avengers battle Ultron-6 in Avengers #66–68

October 1964 – The contest between Kang and the Grandmaster, another of the Elders of the Universe, occurs in Avengers #69–71. In Thor #172, Dr. Keith Kinkaid is misidentified as “Dr. North,” variously called “Jim” and “John.” Clearly, Stan Lee couldn’t remember what the character’s name was supposed to be. The Avengers’ first battle with Arkon is depicted in Avengers #76, and Thor and Iron Man go on a wild goose chase through Greenwich Village in Avengers #79. The team’s confrontation with Zodiac spans Avengers #80–82.

November 1964 – For the full story of President Morris N. Richardson, see OMU: POTUS -- Part Three. Surtur’s attack on Asgard in Thor #177 causes an unseasonable heat-wave on Midgard. In the following issue, Thor uses his hammer’s enchantments to create a time-warp that erases most of the story’s events from the timeline. As far as the Abomination remembers, Thor materialized, punched him in the face, threw him in a cell, and departed before the Stranger returned.

December 1964 – This brings us up to Thor #181. Thor returns to Polemachus to rescue his teammates in Avengers #84. When he invokes his father’s assistance in transporting the Avengers home in the next issue, I suspect it is actually Odin who causes Goliath, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision to materialize on the world of the Squadron Supreme, and prevents them from being rescued until that Earth has been saved. I find this more palatable than a string of wild coincidences. After the four time-lost Avengers are rescued in Avengers #86, Thor hears the Black Panther’s origin story in the following issue. Just before Christmas, Thor joins Iron Man and Goliath in facing down the “Titans Three,” a precursor to the Defenders, in Sub-Mariner #35.




Next Issue: I, Magneto



Friday

OMW: Bova

The latest in our series of portraits of Obscure Marvel Women from the Original Marvel Universe brings us a unique female whose lifetime of selfless devotion to serving others gives new meaning to “the milk of human kindness.”



Bova began her life as an ordinary Guernsey cow. In 1948, she was purchased by an armor-wearing scientist calling himself the High Evolutionary and taken to his Citadel of Science high on Wundagore Mountain in the tiny Balkan nation of Transia. There, she was placed in a machine of his own invention, a Genetic Accelerator, and transformed into an intelligent humanoid creature capable of speech. The High Evolutionary intended to take advantage of Bova’s maternal instincts by using her as a midwife and nanny for the race of “New Men” he was creating out of various animals.

As Bova adjusted to her new existence, she met the High Evolutionary’s two human associates, Baron Gregor Russoff, a werewolf, and Dr. Jonathan Drew, who claimed to be possessed by an ancient wizard named Magnus. Bova found them both to be a bit intimidating and tended to avoid them. She was chilled by Drew’s tales of a mighty demon named Chthon who was trying to break out of the mountain and destroy the world. Bova was pleased, then, when Drew convinced her master to train the growing numbers of New Men as gallant knights to combat this evil.

During a fierce winter storm in February 1950, a pregnant Gypsy woman named Magda arrived at the Citadel suffering from exhaustion. Bova nursed her back to health over the course of several weeks, and soon determined that Magda was carrying twins. As they got to know each other, Magda told Bova that she had fled from her husband when he suddenly developed supernatural powers and murdered dozens of people. Though he had been unaware that she was pregnant, Magda remained terrified that he would hunt her down and hurt the children she was carrying. Bova vowed she would never let that happen.

In March, just as Magda went into labor, the High Evolutionary led his Knights of Wundagore into battle with the demon Chthon on the mountaintop outside the Citadel. Bova nervously watched the lights from their supernatural warfare through the windows of the birthing suite as she helped Magda deliver her babies. She was startled when the female infant seemed to glow with the same mysterious light that danced across the sky, but when it faded, the child seemed normal. Bova gave the twins to their mother and, with tears of joy, Magda named them Wanda and Pietro.

After a few hours, the Knights of Wundagore returned in triumph, although the battle cost the lives of almost a third of the New Men as well as Baron Russoff. Convinced that the threat from Chthon had been ended, Dr. Drew bid farewell to the High Evolutionary and departed from the Citadel. A few days later, Bova was saddened to discover that Magda had vanished into the night, leaving her children behind. She sought the advice of her master, and the High Evolutionary promised to find a proper home for the infants. He summoned a traveling couple, Robert and Madeline Frank, from a nearby village, knowing that the wife was experiencing severe complications with her own pregnancy. The High Evolutionary planned to have the Franks raise the twins alongside their own child.

Unfortunately, despite Bova’s great skill as a midwife, Madeline Frank died after a grueling labor that lasted over 20 hours. Her child was horribly deformed and stillborn. Hoping to make the best of the situation, Bova presented Robert Frank with Wanda and Pietro, claiming they were his children. She said Madeline named them with her dying breath. However, overwhelmed with grief at the loss of his wife, Robert Frank fled from the Citadel with astonishing speed. Disappointed, the High Evolutionary developed a new plan upon learning that the shaman of a local Gypsy tribe had lost his own twin children some years previously. Thus, Bova and her master took Wanda and Pietro to the Gypsy encampment and charged Django and Marya Maximoff with raising them. The astonished couple gratefully agreed to do so. Bova was satisfied that the babies’ monstrous father would never find them.

A year later, the High Evolutionary revealed to Bova that he had been keeping Dr. Drew’s daughter Jessica in suspended animation while treating her for severe radiation poisoning. Every four years, he would revive her for several months so she could undergo experimental treatments in the Genetic Accelerator. During this time, he explained, Bova was to act as her nanny. But, for reasons he could not determine, the cryogenic process completely erased Jessica’s memory every time. Bova agreed to do whatever she could for the poor child, who had the body of an eight-year-old but a mind that was a blank slate. Bova grew very attached to Jessica and was heartbroken when, four years later, the girl emerged from stasis with no idea who Bova was. In this way, Bova came to understand why the High Evolutionary remained so aloof toward Jessica Drew.

Another four years passed, but this time, when Jessica was brought out of suspended animation, the High Evolutionary declared that she had finally been cured of the radiation poisoning. Bova was delighted that Jessica, now physically a ten-year-old, could truly begin her life at last. But, despite having no memory of her previous existence, Jessica soon realized she was unique among the New Men of Wundagore and began to feel isolated and lonely. Bova did her best to care for Jessica and educate her, but was frustrated that the High Evolutionary still kept Jessica at arm’s length. Bova knew that what Jessica really needed was to live among other humans.

Therefore, when the High Evolutionary eventually decided to launch his Citadel of Science into outer space and remove the New Men to another planet, Bova elected to stay behind with Jessica. The pair took up residence in a small cottage on the slopes of Mount Wundagore. Almost immediately, Bova learned to her delight that Wanda and Pietro had become famous heroes known as the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and were at that moment vacationing in one of the villages near the mountain. Given the circumstances of their birth, she was not surprised that the twins had developed superhuman powers, and she felt proud they had chosen to use those powers to serve humanity. Despite keeping her distance from the people of the village, Bova nevertheless learned all she could about the twins’ career in the Avengers.

When spring came, Jessica decided the time had come for her to live among her own kind, so she left Bova and took up residence in one of the nearby villages. Bova was saddened as she soon lost touch with Jessica Drew, and wondered what became of her. As the years passed, Bova dedicated herself to doing good deeds for wayfarers and orphans, and many local legends spread about “the old woman on the hill” who kept her face hidden with a thick shawl.

Then, in October 1969, Bova encountered Wanda and Pietro again when Chthon attempted to use the Scarlet Witch as a conduit to Earth’s dimension. With the help of their teammates, Captain America, Wasp, Wonder Man, Beast, Ms. Marvel, and Falcon, the twins prevented Chthon from escaping the mountain, though their foster-father, Django Maximoff, died during the battle. Learning from Pietro that the twins had not yet discovered the truth about their biological father, Bova warned them against searching for his identity. As Chthon’s scheme had left his hapless pawn, known as Modred the Mystic, with the mentality of a small child, Bova volunteered to care for Modred. The Avengers then returned to America, leaving Bova wishing she’d had the chance to get to know Wanda and Pietro better.

Two months passed, and then Bova and Modred received a visit from the Thing, a famous member of the Fantastic Four, and his girlfriend, the blind artist Alicia Masters. They were searching for Alicia’s father, who had disappeared in the area the night before, but a bad storm descended on the mountain, forcing them to seek shelter. Bova revealed herself to the unusual couple and told them something of her history. She was delighted to learn that both the Thing and Alicia had recently met the High Evolutionary, having often wondered about the fate of her former master. That night, they found that Modred had magically shrunk Alicia’s father to doll-size and trapped him in his toy box. He attempted to do the same to the Thing, but Bova and Alicia convinced Modred to return the two men to normal size. When the three travelers left in the morning, Bova gave them some Christmas cookies to take with them.

Two years later, during another fierce snowstorm, Bova’s worst fears were finally realized. A mysterious stranger she welcomed into her cottage turned out to be Wanda and Pietro’s biological father, still searching for what had become of his lost wife. Unwittingly telling the man about Magda and the twins, Bova realized her mistake when the man suddenly grew angry and demanded to know the twins’ names. She tried to honor her promise to Magda to protect the children from their father, but he unleashed his terrible power, completely destroying her cabin. When Bova still refused to name the children, the stranger used his power to torture her. Unable to stand the excruciating pain, she revealed they were called Wanda and Pietro. Exultant, the stranger rose into the sky and disappeared into the storm. Terrified, Bova told Modred to cast a spell to warn the twins. She watched with confusion as he sent a bolt of magical energy lancing upwards towards the moon. Bova then tried to create a crude shelter against the storm out of the wreckage of her home, but suddenly suffered a severe stroke and collapsed. As she lay helplessly, Modred wandered off into the mountains.

Bova was found days later, partially paralyzed and suffering from exposure, and taken to an elderly doctor in a nearby village. The doctor realized this strange creature must be “the old woman of the hill” who was so renowned for her kindness, and, not wanting to make a spectacle of her, treated Bova in a back bedroom of his own house. As her condition stabilized, Bova learned that the twins’ father, whose power had directly caused her stroke, was none other than the infamous mutant terrorist known as Magneto.

After nine months, the bedridden Bova was visited by Pietro, who had tracked her down after discovering the shattered remains of her cottage. He was infuriated when he learned what his father had done to Bova and vowed to make Magneto pay for his crime. Quicksilver promised to return soon with a plan to restore Bova to health, but before he managed to do so, she suffered another massive stroke and died.


First Appearance: Giant-Size Avengers #1

Final Appearance: Avengers #245