This issue of Journey Into Mystery opens with Thor being his usual heroic self and rescuing a bus that has plunged off a bridge into the water. Although the whole shtick of Thor tying his hammer to object and launching them into the air and having them land perfectly in a spot he can’t see has always been ridiculous, and this scene with the bus is no exception, especially when you think about the fact that he could have just lifted the bus out of the water. After rescuing the bus, Thor rushes back to his office to turn back into Dr. Blake only to find himself chewed out by his nurse, Jane, for bailing on his patients for mysterious reasons. While I can understand that have a secret identity can help add tension to a story, with a character like Thor is just doesn’t make much sense.
The issue then cuts away to a museum opening up Merlin’s coffin and being shocked to find him perfectly preserved. Naturally, they decide to leave the room to discuss this discovery, because to Lee this would make perfect sense. It is also at this point that I really started getting a sense of déjà vu, because soon Merlin begins to stir and it is revealed that he wasn’t really dead, but instead merely took a potion that would make it appear that he was. The reason this felt familiar is because it was the same exact plot with the Mad Pharaoh in Tales of Suspense.
Anyways we are soon treated to another weakness of Lees, which is basically have characters talk to themselves about what their own powers are. This is exactly what Merlin does, who soon reveals that he isn’t really a magician, but rather a mutant that has the power of levitation and telepathy, although later on he clearly shows off the power of telekinesis and teleportation. Anyways, naturally now that he’s in modern times Merlin wants to assume power once again and thus heads to the White House to confront the president.
This eventually leads to a confrontation with Thor, which was entertaining, but it is also another flaw. During this confrontation, Merlin launches the Washington Monument at Thor, brings the statue of Abraham Lincoln to life and drops the Pentagon on him and yet the results were not only no damage to Thor, but no damage to the monuments as Thor is able to not only save them, but put them back in their place. This leads to another lackluster ending. I mean seriously this is a constant theme over and over again in this series, which really makes it hard to feel that anything is at stake because by the end everything will be back to normal.
In the end, Journey Into Mystery #96 is an entertaining and cheesy issue that ultimately does not add anything to the overall series or progress Thor’s character in anyway.
- Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
- Writers: Stan Lee
- Pencilers: Joe Sinnott
- Inkers: Joe Sinnott
- Letterers: Artie Simek