Marvel Madness

That Time Loki Pranked New York

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Typically when I write one of these Marvel Madness posts I go for a really long and fun story, or a particularly well-told one. More often than not the stories take place over a couple issues and tell one huge, bonkers story. But that’s not going to be the case today. This is honestly just a 14 page story from the early days of Thor. Which isn’t usually what I would do. But I’ve been reading the early Thor appearances lately, and when I came across this issue, I just had to talk about it. It’s crazy. Honestly, I just kind of want everyone to read it, because I would seriously put up 90% of these panels if I could. It’s just gold. Solid gold. Which is interesting, because I never really associated Thor with the crazier stories. But I haven’t really read that much of him. I checked out most of the classic Simonson run a couple years ago, and plan on going all the way through the series now, so I’m sure there’ll be more and more Thor stories up here if they continue to be this crazy.

I suppose we could use a little backstory before we get into the plot of this issue. This is one of the earliest stories featuring Marvel’s Thor, so not a lot has happened, but I feel like it’s always nice to remember how insane old Thor comics are. Nowadays we just think of him as Thor, a god who was sent from Asgard to Earth to learn humility and whatnot. But back in the day Thor had an alter-ego in the form of frail Dr. Donald Blake. Blake was a skinny little doctor with a bad leg who found a magical cane that transformed him into Thor whenever he tapped it on the ground. Yeah, Thor had a human counterpart for way longer than you’d think before they just made him Thor 24/7.

Anyway, the story starts off with Loki complaining that Thor had been able to best him in their last encounter, and he starts spying on Earth to find a weakness in Thor. And while spying he happens to come across Thor transforming back into Donald Blake when he stopped holding Mjolnir for a minute. So with that knowledge Loki turns himself into a snake and sneaks past Heimdall and heads down to Earth. And once down on Midgard he gives himself a set of Earth clothes and the face of an old man to sneak around unrecognized. So with his new clothes and face he heads down to the practice of Donald Blake and gets to work hypnotizing nurse Jane Foster into helping him out. And once that’s completed he goes in, scares the hell out of Donald Blake and then makes a deal to have a final showdown in the park. So Thor heads down to the park and attacks Loki with his only weapon…

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So the fight is on. But obviously Loki isn’t going to play by the rules, so he just starts diving out of the way of Mjolnir until Jane wanders up as her hypnosis demanded. And once she’s on the scene, Loki’s true plan comes to fruition and he uses his magic to turn a tree in a tiger, and gets it to attack Jane. Thor freaks the hell out about this, and leaps into action to start wrestling the lion, not realizing that in his haste he dropped Mjolnir. And when Loki sees that, he runs over to the hammer and places a magical barrier around it, so that neither Thor nor Donald Blake can pick it back up. Which is bad new for Thor, whose bizarre time-limit has just been reached, and he returns to being Donald Blake.

So Loki wins! And in his celebration he laughs at puny Donald Blake, turns into a pigeon, and flies off to cause havoc. And this is where the story becomes great. Because the Loki we love to hate from the Marvel movies would probably take this chance to start subjugating humanity or something. But not this Loki. No, this Loki’s whole plan is to stark pranking the hell out of humanity. He starts flying around, turning people into negatives of themselves, turning portions of the city into candy, messing up nuclear bomb tests, and makes the Army’s gun grow wings and fly away. All while cackling like a madman, just pleased that he’s causing a little chaos.

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Meanwhile, Donald Blake is getting pretty depressed. He knows that this chaos is all his fault, and also knows that there’s nothing he can do to help the world. He let his love of Jane Foster overcome his duty and let Loki get the best of him, and now everyone is doomed. And it doesn’t make matters better that everyone is desperately wondering where Thor is, and why he isn’t helping. Which is finally enough to spur Blake into figuring a way out to trick Loki.

So while Loki is parading around the city, being a dick to people, he suddenly hears everyone saying that Thor has been spotted in the park. This is pretty baffling to Loki, so he runs over to check things out. And when he gets there he’s stunned to find Thor standing right next to the magical barrier that should have Mjolnir in it. Loki freaks the hell out, having no idea how Blake could have possibly gotten the hammer, and releases the barrier to check and see what happened. And when the barrier is gone he’s shocked to see that the hammer is still there, and that as soon as it’s down Donald Blake come running from around Thor, and grabs the hammer. Turns out that the Thor Loki was so scared of was a dummy, and that Blake was just hiding behind it. C’mon Loki, you have to scope these things out. Anyway, Blake turns back into Loki, Loki turns into a pigeon, and Thor uses the power of peanuts to find which pigeon is Loki, since he’s the only one not going after the peanuts. Thor is then able to capture Loki, and brings him back up to Asgard to await the next time he sneaks down and starts some shit.

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So there you have it, just a fun little tale about two brothers squabbling. I just loved this story so much, and I had to talk about it, even though it’s so brief. I really like Thor, and look forward to checking out his original stories, especially if they’re this odd. The Simonson stuff I read a few years ago were some really great comics, featuring some wonderful action and storytelling, but nothing this silly. I just find it fascinating that they decided to give Thor this incredibly complicated alter-ego in Donald Blake. The way they handle things now, where Thor is just Thor all the time is definitely the way to go. Although how crazy would it be if the Thor movies had Donald Blake and all the weird rules that came with Mjolnir? Those movies would be even stranger and less comprehensible. But at least we can read these fun old stories, see Thor in his real costume, and see Loki make a land of candy!

Journey Into Mystery #88 was written by Larry Lieber and penciled by Jack Kirby, 1968.

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