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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange #1

This is the first in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces looking at instances in comic book history where somewhat strange occurrences took place. The slightly odd stuff like, say, Luke Cage telling Doctor Doom “Where’s my money, honey” after Doctor Doom stiffs him on a gig. Stuff that is not BAD, per se, but it’s still odd, hence “I love ya, but you’re strange.”

Today, we look at Stan and Jack taking Thor to…the Vietnam War!!

Loki has hidden the magical norn stones (the same ones that were a big part of Bendis’ Avengers and Siege stories) and Thor must find them.

His journey takes him to Vietnam, during the middle of the Vietnam war!!

A mortar shell from the Viet Cong knocks Thor out of the sky. He ends up being sheltered by a rebel family.

Later, while searching for the shells, Thor decides to switch to his human form, Don Blake, to better search through the brush (not a smart move, Thor!!!). Loki is watching all of this, and he maneuvers Don Blake into being capture by the Viet Cong!!

Pretty trippy stuff, huh?

But all told, Stan and Jack still tell a pretty strong story, despite the oddity of it.


Buy, the DID have it against comunists, didn’t they?

Stan was really a Cold Warrior back in the day. Look at how many Soviet villians every character fought in those days.

Good for Stan. Combined, the Soviets and Red Chinese killed over 100 million of their own people.

For the record, I’m not saying the issue is strange for the Communist stuff. As we all know, early Marvel was heavily anti-Communist, so that’s not surprising. The weird thing here is Thor actually getting involved in the Vietnam War! Jason Aaron mentioned this issue a few years back when he wrote a cool article for this here site about how the war was depicted in comics.

“A mortar shell from the Viet Cong knocks Thor out of the sky.”

Deep within the bowels of the fledgling DARPANet project, a nerd goes online to post a rabid tirade about how Stan Lee hates Thor.

Cory!! Strode

June 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm

In a lot of ways, I think that they were trying to tie back into the WWII type of super-hero stuff with the Vietnam War standing in for WWII. A couple of years later, they knew it was a much different situation.

Cory!! Strode, I think you hit the nail on the head… John Wayne made the same mistake with The Green Berets.

But yeah, Stan really loved that topical stuff and it worked well for Marvel during WWII with Cap punching Hitler in the face and all that. It’s pretty clear that he wanted to repeat that in the Vietnam era.

Ethan Shuster

June 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I noticed here that we actually have Asian characters not drawn as freaky cartoon stereotypes, as they would be during World War II. Granted, some of these authors may slightly more enlightened, but now I suppose it’s because were were allied with one side of the natives during this war.

Travis Pelkie

June 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm

What year did this come out, Brian? I can’t tell, but based on the issue number, it’s 64, 65 maybe (I could be way off).

I do know that there was a Spirit story that took the Spirit to Vietnam in 1950. It’s in one of the old Spirit mags I have, and I’m 90% sure it was something Jules Feiffer wrote.

Why would switching to his mortal form, who is crippled, right, be better for searching through the brush? Oh Thor, why would you do that?

Nitpick, but if those guys are wearing uniforms, they are NVA regulars, not Viet Cong.

And why is Cho wearing a blue bathing suit?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Curiously, there’s a revisting of this premise in which one the Norn Stone lands in Southeast Asian country which Communist troops have overtaken from a later Thor arc in Journey Into Mystery #123-4 or so that is remarkably different in its execution.

There, a local tribesman opposed to the Communist troops gets the Stone and uses its powers to drive them off, rather as Thor trashes the Communist troops here. But then the tribesman — now called the Demon becomes power-mad, and Thor shows up to stop him and retrieve the Stone. I suppose you could read the later story as a comment on the sort of allies we’d made in South Vietnam, but who knows what Stan and Jack did or didn’t intend.

Too bad Stan didn’t take the time to learn some actual Vietnamese names. But I’ve seen much worse. Kim and Cho are both common Korean surnames so they really seem out of place here.

This looks like a fun series,Brian. a few random comments:

1. “A mortal shell from the Viet Cong knocks Thor out of the sky.” Brian, I think that you mean a “mortar shell.”

2. Anti-Communism:Strangely (pun not intended), Thor, in the early days, spent a fair chunk of his time battling the Soviets/Chinese/NVA/Viet Cong/Communists:

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY # 84: In his second appearance, takes on the Castro-esque Executioner.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY # 87: Takes on the Soviets.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY # 93: Thor stops the Chinese when they attempt to invade India.In response, Mao orders the Radioactive Man to take out Thor.

Likewise, the FF had their fair share of Communist entanglements (Red Ghost, etc.), while Iron Man was pretty much a full time Cold Warrior. Oddly, Captain America was not as active on the anti-Communist front as one might have expected. If memory serves, he only went up against Cold War antagonists on two occasions during his TALES OF SUSPENSE DAYS. In TOS # 86, he invades the Yashonka Arms Works, and, in TOS # 61, he rescues a downed American pilot in Vietnam. Stan Lee’s reluctance to fully deploy Cap against the Reds might have been motivated by the failure of the character’s 1950s revival, with its “Captain America…Commie Smasher” rhetoric.


June 14, 2010 at 5:56 am

But yeah, Stan really loved that topical stuff and it worked well for Marvel during WWII with Cap punching Hitler in the face and all that. It’s pretty clear that he wanted to repeat that in the Vietnam era.

That’s probably true, but I wonder if it was just a sales idea, or was Stan trying to emulate the way it was ‘back in the day’ – he started around, or just after, that time, and would have heard Goodman, Simon and Kirby reflecting/talking about those books fondly.

On the other hand, it could well have been Kirby who brought it into some of the books – he did draw Capt. America punching Hitler and fight in the war – perhaps until he and the public learned more about Vietnam, he was just putting the superheroes where he thought they should be.

I noticed here that we actually have Asian characters not drawn as freaky cartoon stereotypes, as they would be during World War II. Granted, some of these authors may slightly more enlightened, but now I suppose it’s because were were allied with one side of the natives during this war.

I’m sure someone probably has some links to prove me wrong, but it could just be Kirby – I’m not too aware of the King doing racial caricatures.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 14, 2010 at 6:23 am

Simon and Kirby were responsible for Whitewash Jones.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 14, 2010 at 6:28 am

Sorry, I mean Lee and Kirby, of course.

Simona d Kirby were responsible for The Black Talon, a villain whose origin was that he became a murderous Nazi supporter after an African-American murderer’s hand was grafted to his arm.

@Ethan: Actually, in WW2 China was part of the Allies, hence it’s Security Council seat at the UN.

It’s funny that the most active commie-smasher of all was a norwegian dude…(everybody knows Asgard is an U.S-inspired peace-loving democracy).

I remember a Gene Colan issue from a few years later in wich Cap simphatized with some students in an anti-war rally…Stan Lee really knew how to please his public!

P.S. I’m still waiting for a “mistakes of a past history” post about offenses againts our great eastern comrades!!!

I hear ya Jaime, but not nearly as funny as the idea of Norwegian gods fighting in WWII on the side of the Allies. Take a look at David Brin’s novella “Thor meets Captain America.” http://www.davidbrin.com/thor1.htm


June 15, 2010 at 4:19 am

Omar…. Sigh.
I’d really hoped he hadn’t.

June 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Good for Stan. Combined, the Soviets and Red Chinese killed over 100 million of their own people.”

Except this isn’t China or the Soviet Union. It’s Vietnam, where the vast majority of suffering in the late sixties and early seventies at that point was the product of US intervention.

Oh, and 100 million? What do you base that number on? Stalin’s totals don’t come close to that.

And incidentally how much death has been caused by US intervention around the world in the last two centuries? That includes direct troop presence, military aid, installation of brutal dictators, enforcement of extreme poverty (e.g. Haiti and Nicaragua), the toxic legacy of chemicals like Agent Orange, sanctions, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure like desalinization plants?

Once you step back from the ideologically driven propaganda it’s pretty clear that there’s no shortage of blood on the hands of all the superpowers and the people of the developing world paid the price.

Personally, I’m an anarchist. Being an anarchist, despite the propaganda of the enemies of this world view, doesn’t mean I support chaos or disorder or violence or nihilism. It means I don’t trust capitalism OR the state. I have much more faith in small, egalitarian, collective self-management, not a society based on competition or a central authority. Both of those systems have proven to lead only to suffering and both need to be abandoned as relics of the bloodiest century in human history.

randypan the goatboy

August 2, 2011 at 5:22 pm

and nothing says anarchy like posting at a comic book website…douchebag

I wonder how Adam (not so) Weissman would like the world he’d be living in now had the U.S. not “intervened” in WWII…

You guys. 2:-)

I don’t think Marvel was anti-commie so much as they made for very convienient villains/plot devices.

In fact, Marvel was always pretty trippy and left-leaning – hipped ate that Marvel stuff up in the Sixties.

Communism, fascism, the “left vs right” puppet show…it’s all the same – plain old authoritarianism. It’s hilarious that people still argue over “commies” when the current US government, which are heavily lobbied by corporations and bankers, are a much bigger threat to our freedoms today. Mark my words, the rioting in London will look like a picnic compared to what will happen in the US.

“It is a puzzlement!” Yes, all Asians talked like Yul Bryner in “The King and I”

@Jamie F: Technically, Thor would go after communists, considering the fact that the Soviet Union had invaded Finland, which has always been the Norse domain, before and after World War II, in order to expand its hegemony.

@Joe Doe: The problem with your assessment is that corporatism is beyond right and left. Meaning, whoever is in power, the corporations will be in bed with, be they right or left.

@Adam Weissman: First, Tbob said “Combined, the Soviets and Red Chinese killed over 100 million of their own people”, with the operative word “combined”. You forget how many people were murdered when the Lenin and company first took over, followed by the campaigns to expand their influence (including the deaths of millions of Ukrainians through starvation). Combined that with the tens of millions of Chinese murdered through the consolidation of power and the Cultural Revolution by the Communists, you will get 100 million. Then factor in the spread of the influence of the Soviets and their allies throughout the Cold War, you get millions of more deaths in the name of “progress”. Keep in mind that while I don’t appreciate the lawlessness of what the US did in order to “defend against the threat of communism”, the Soviets and their allies are worse because they should have known better.

Pretty obvious re-use of layouts. But then, every single Marvel hero had to have his “commies capture/torture our hero” story.

(Ps–One example of the recycling in this story: look at the end. Then look at the end of the first HULK story.)

I suppose we should be grateful that, for the most part (with the exception of some Frank Miller crap) comics are not the obvious propaganda tools that they were back in the day.

I remember reading this story as a reprint forty years ago. The early runs of the Marvel characters featured a lot of communist adversaries.
I can remember Iron Man, the Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp going against communists. There was an issue of Daredevil where Matt went to Vietnam as part of a USO tour for American soldiers. Interesting stuff.
It’s also cool to read some of the letters columns from the Sixties and see letters from servicemen stationed overseas.

So, Lil Kim is from Vietnam?

@DS Wynne: So, the Soviets invaded Finland. What of it? Finland invaded the Soviet Union as well (google “The Continuation War”). Furthermore, Finland was NEVER a part of the “Norse domain.” Yes, the Kingdom of Sweden controlled Finland for several centuries, but that was more than a century after the “Norse gods” had been displaced by the Christian God. (As an aside, before the Swedish invasion, the Finnish people had their OWN mythology which can now be enjoyed through the Kalevala. As a major difference, the major deity is Ukko who more closely parallels Thor than Odin.)

Additionally, Russia had controlled Finland from 1809 (after it had been captured from Sweden) until the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution in late 1917 (after the Czar had been ousted earlier that year, Finland’s status was in question since, as a Grand Duchy, the Czar was Finland’s Head of State; once the Bolshevik leadership took control, the right-wing Finnish government declared unilateral independence). As to WWII, bear in mind that Finland had joined the Axis powers and, aside from ceding some territory to the Soviets, was NEVER invaded or occupied by the Soviets “after the war.” (In 1944, there was a small bit of land at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland that was awarded to the Soviet under a 50-year lease, but returned in full to Finland by the end of 1955.) Even more, Finland was the Soviets’ major non-Communist trading partner throughout the existence of the USSR (and the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a major economic downturn in Finland).

Basically, your analysis of Thor vis-a-vis the Communists is complete and utter BS. (As is your reply to Joe Doe about corporatism. Show me when ANY corporatist has aligned with “the left” BEFORE there’s been a social or societal need. Yes, Henry Ford could be described as being “the left” with his truly radical idea of paying a living wage to his employees, but he was also notoriously racist and anti-semitic; of course, racism and anti-semitism were prevalent on BOTH sides of the political aisle in that era. Contemporary corporate structure prefers conservatism over liberalism, and older corporatists preferred right-wing fascism over left-wing communism. And, just as a technicality, most of the Communist countries operated under a very conservative power structure.)

I would rather have a free market instead communism. I don’t want the government to own comicbook publishers. I dont like comics to have alot of propaganda and if the government owned the comicbook publishers they would flood the comics with propaganda more so than ever. I just want to read an interesting story and not be spoon fed a bunch of bullshit i work for the government I hear enough of it at work already. Free market, free speech.

Many super heros came to Vietnam in Vietnam War : Dr. Manhattan, Thor, Logan….. Anyone else?

There was an interesting Avengers story called “A quiet half hour in Saigon” (Avengers 131) that was interesting in taking place in 1975, immediately after the US had pulled out.

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