Friday, August 4, 2017

...To Battle Magneto!

OR: "Is There A Doctor In The Sub?"

When it comes to resourcefulness, Magneto--the mutant master of (what else?) magnetism--shouldn't be underestimated. Coupled with his deadly power, Magneto is capable of prevailing over even the strongest foe, as even Phoenix discovered. But would even Magneto be resourceful enough to overcome the sheer power of the God of Thunder, Thor, in a one-on-one clash? We discovered the answer in late 1964, when these two proud and powerful figures met in pitched battle for the first time--with Magneto, believe it or not, poised to triumph!

Like many of you, if I had to make a choice, I'd have to give the edge to Thor, whose power and own resourcefulness has allowed him to walk away from battles with the Celestials, whereas Magneto would likely find himself a red and purple blot under just one of their alien heels in short order. But in this story, technically we'd have to award the first round to Magneto, even though he wasn't even aware that he had Thor at his mercy.

To find out the meaning behind that, let's go back a bit to where this story has these two meeting. Magneto, alone in his camouflaged submarine base in the waters outside of New York's harbor, has sent his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants--the Toad, Mastermind, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch--to locate the X-Men, whom he suspects are somewhere in the city. While he waits for a report, he decides to flaunt his power--and a certain physician and his nurse are among those who catch a mid-day view of the incredible.

Making an excuse to slip away, Donald Blake switches to become his powerful alter-ego and begins searching for the source of the attack--and the time comes when the soon-to-become adversaries are meeting and taking each other's measure.

We don't know yet if this is a clash of titans, but it's already undoubtedly a clash of egos, with Thor and Magneto posturing in front of each other and asserting their superiority with arrogant pride and grandiose words. Neither of these individuals is intimidated by the other--but where Thor sees a possible adversary, Magneto sees what he believes is another mutant, and an opportunity to expand his Brotherhood with a new and powerful ally. Cliché as it sounds, he truly has no idea who he's dealing with.

Whoops--looks like the meet-and-greet is over! Was the wine that bad?

Given his confidence in his own power, it's no surprise that Magneto tries the direct approach with Thor in order to subdue him. But Thor has every intention of capturing Magneto, and he responds to Magneto's arrogance in kind.

Magneto's style of fighting has at times reminded me of Darth Vader, who uses his own power over surrounding objects to make practically anything into a weapon to be sent hurtling toward his enemy in order to give him time to deliver the coup de grâce. In a submarine, his resources will be limited--but he demonstrates that he's no stranger to delaying tactics, and in this case they yield unexpected success, even though he isn't yet aware of it.

Suspecting that Thor is attempting to lure him back into the room in order to trap him, Magneto instead moves to his master control panel and begins activating hidden weapons in order to attack Thor from a safe distance--unaware that it's Donald Blake who is now fighting for his life.

Eventually, the very mortal and lame physician is soon exhausted from fending off Magneto's array of deadly weapons, and finds himself on the verge of losing consciousness. But he gets an unexpected reprieve when Mastermind and the others fall under attack by the X-Men in the city and plead for Magneto's help. And while Magneto is engaged in communication with his underlings, Blake, still out of sight, retrieves his walking stick--and almost instantly, Magneto finds himself facing a fighting-mad Thunder God; or, put another way, reinforcements aren't going to be arriving for the Brotherhood anytime soon, if at all.

It would turn out that this just isn't Magneto's day. Believing himself safe from Thor for the moment, he prepares a final and deadly surprise for his foe (again, it's not wise to count this man out); but the surprise is on him, when he discovers the X-Men have traced his communication signal to his flunkies back to his sub, where they arrive to render Magneto's bomb inactive and proceed to high-tail it after Magneto himself, who launches an escape sub.

Thor, above, spots the escaping vehicles through a viewport--and while he's unsure of what's taken place, he's come to the firm conclusion that this base of Magneto's, like the man himself, has caused enough trouble.

All in all, a decent match-up between two of Marvel's most powerful figures, though Thor owes his near-defeat once again to the nonsensical enchantment that deprives him of his form and power if his hammer has been out of his grasp for more than sixty seconds.  (Villains everywhere certainly owe a collective high-five to Odin.)

Journey Into Mystery #109

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Chic Stone
Letterer: Sam Rosen


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I always thought the artwork was odd on this one. Chic Stone is credited as the inker but this doesn't look like his other jobs on Kirby. It's as if he's trying to mimic the inking if Coletta with its scratching ss and lack of background detail.

Anonymous said...

Who'd have believed in those days that Jane Foster would be Thor in 2017. But who'd have thought that Dr. Who would be a woman...the times they are a'changin'.

Kid said...

Though not necessarily for the better, CJ. I first read this tale in the 1968 Fantastic Annual. It definitely looks like Chic Stone inks the to me, but they've used an inferior set of proofs in this reprint, going by the dodgy quality of reproduction.

Comicsfan said...

dangermash, admittedly it's a rare day when I find myself appreciating a Chic Stone finishing job. It often seems that whatever he adds to the work, he leaves it in a somewhat dilapidated state. For example, his inks over both John Buscema and Keith Pollard on the Celestials stories in Thor from '79 take care of the assignment, but his work is very minimalist. In the span of over a decade, he appeared to have progressed very little in terms of style or contribution.

Anonymous said...

Thor had magnetic powers of his own.
In an early issue of Thor (technically a late issue of Journey Into Mystery) Thor "magnetized" a strangely man-sized Surtur to an asteroid.
Surtur later got loose of course, presumably not in the best of moods.
And then he started working out, and got 300 feet tall.


Warren JB said...

I'd say it's an unusually handy trick in this instance, M.P, to cancel out that 'sixty seconds and your time's up' goofiness with the hammer. Almost the superpowered version of 'I'm rubber, you're glue'.

Jared said...

This story is ok. It is definitely evidence that Magneto was originally just a cheap knock off of Dr. Doom. The truly great Kirby Thor stories took a while to get going.