Issue: Journey Into Mystery #90
Name: Trapped by the Carbon-Copy Man!
Published: March 1963
Writer: Stan Lee and Larry Lieberman
Artist: Al Hartley
Letterer: Terry Szenics
The Good: Thor, Jane Foster, Odin
The Bad: Ugarth, Zano, Xatran soldiers
The Undecided: Mayor Harris
The story begins with Ugarth of Xatra embarking on his final conquest mission before retiring and he wants his son, Zano, to take over after he’s done. They’re headed to Earth with a fleet of Xatrans. Meanwhile, on Earth, Dr. Blake has finally decided it’s time to let Jane know how he feels about her but first he’s gonna tell her he’s Thor. Before he can talk to her though, Odin appears to him and tells him never to reveal his secret to mortals – great now Dr. Blake refuses to tell Jane anything.
As he heads to the charity ward of the hospital, he sees a number of strange things going on around town…cars driving on the sidewalk, a bridge painted with polka dots…and when he returns to his office, Jane is pissed he wasted his time helping people who can’t pay for it. Things are definitely wrong so the doctor turns into Thor and heads to the Mayor’s office to see if he’s got any insights. Nope, Mayor Harris actually calls his guards (I thought they were police) to arrest Thor. Time to think about what’s going on.
As Thor heads to the outskirts of the city, he spots some spaceships and heads to investigate. Yup, alien origin, so he drops his hammer to feel for the door…oops! He gets magnetized to the ship and after a minute becomes helpless Don Blake who is easily taken captive by the Xatrans. They reveal their ability to impersonate anyone and their war plans to take over the planet, but Mayor Harris exclaims that they’ll never succeed as long as Thor is around. Thinking quickly, Dr. Blake offers to take the Xatrans to Thor so they can capture him but once he’s outside he misdirects the aliens and grabs his hammer…boom, Thor again.
Zano challenges Thor and quickly turns into an frozen warrior and encases the Thunder god in ice. Thankfully though, Thor threw his hammer before he was fully incapacitated and when it comes back, it shatters the ice. He then defeats the prince with his hammer’s thunderbolt but that’s not the end of the fight as Ugarth soon joins the fray. He uses his ability to turn invisible and starts beating on Thor without being seen. How can our hero stop someone he can’t see? He uses his hammer to create a rainstorm and starts punching where the absence of rain indicates there must be a person. Soon, he’s captured Ugarth and throws him off into space and with their leader leaving Earth, the rest of the Xatran invaders do to. Well, almost all of them. The few who remain, without ships, are convinced to impersonate trees and as trees, Zano along with them are unable to transform into anyone further.
What did I learn:
- Thor is never gonna learn that when he puts down his hammer he’s not gonna be able to get back to it for a while.
- For some reason Odin doesn’t want Thor to let anyone know his secret identity.
- Dr. Blake can’t tell Jane he loves her because he can’t tell her he’s Thor.
- It seems like every alien species we run into is able to shape change into anything, how’d humanity get short changed?
My main thought is that perhaps the Xatran trees can provide shade for the Skrull cows – a reference back to Fantastic Four #2. I suppose it’s been a little over a year and 40 some-odd issues, but Stan seems to have run outta ideas. this issue is pretty much a carbon-copy of that Fantastic Four issue and I wonder if perhaps Stan was going back over the old issues before he pumped this one out. I don’t know, but while it worked decently the first time (I gave that issue a B+), this go around wasn’t so good. I suppose the best part was when Dr. Blake was gonna confess his love for Jane, but then Odin stepped in and ruined everything.
The art’s pretty good but I think Al Hartley has drawn Don Blake way too thin. He looks like he just got off a hunger strike or something. I mean, I know they want to show a difference between Blake and Thor, but just show Thor as more buff, don’t let the doctor waste away.
On the whole, I didn’t really like this issue.