web stats

CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Thor Nuked China

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.

Today we take a look at Journey Into Mystery #93, scripted by Robert Bernstein, plotted by Stan Lee, drawn by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. In this story, Thor nukes China!

In Journey Into Mystery #93, Thor has a brief encounter with the Communist Army of China when they try to prevent an American medical mission (which included Don Blake) in India. As a quick aside, Don Blake has a bad limp – he needs a cane to get around and yet he travels the world on humanitarian missions, risking his life all the time. Dude’s a hero, right? Just keep that in mind for later in the story.

So anyways, after Thor kicks the Red Army’s butt, they regroup and try to figure out a way to stop him as, after all, it is only a matter of time before the Commies attack America…

So the scientist becomes the Radio-Active Man and heads to New York where he takes on Thor. Thor counters with his “out of nowhere” electricity powers…

But then the Radio-Active Man uses radioactive…hypnosis?!?

Don Blake goes diving for the hammer, which is somehow still a hammer and not turned back into a cane…

Then, of course, Thor nukes China…

I love that that is just the end of the story. Thor just nukes China. Hilarious. Captain America, meanwhile, cried about this event for five issues of Tales of Suspense. Oh wait, never mind, he didn’t care.

As a kicker, check out the ending…

How do you give Don Blake shit, Jane?!? The dude is a total badass!!!!


Not only does the hammer not turn into a walking stick, it also doesn’t return when he throws it?

some stupid japanese name

January 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I just read that issue a few days ago!
Being that my comic love started in the late 80s/ early 90s, I never really appreciated the silver age stuff. So now I’m trying to read through some of the series I really liked when I first got into comics. It’s neat seeing how all this stuff originated.

Captain America kills Nazis with his bare hands…Thor vaporizes the Chinese masses…just par for the course in the Marvel Universe.

Actually, I’m confident Thor set off the Radioactive Man in a remote, uninhabited part of China. Just like Cap didn’t kill anyone in cold blood. If there’s no hard evidence in the comics, it didn’t happen.

Silver Age superheroes had an unfortunate tendency to get hypnotized at the drop of a hat.

There’s still the matter of fallout, Rob. Even if no one died in the blast, the cancer rates in the surrounding regions are going to skyrocket.

some stupid japanese name

January 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Also: MOLECULES! Everything is electrons and molecules. Need to find something? Follow it’s electron trail.

Don Blake’s scientific genius subconsciously controlled Thor’s creation of the tornado, so that Radio-Active Man landed in a place where no one would be hurt, including Radio-Active Man himself!

Hey, it worked for Hulk under Byrne.

Wow, Thor could have at least flown the Radioactive Man over the ocean or something instead of dropping him off in a populated area. It’s a good thing those Chinese military guys assumed the explosion was Radioactive Man and not a preemptive strike from the US or Thor would have started WWIII, and been responsible for the annihilation of humanity.

Silver age women always gave the heroes a hard time.

This almost seems like a Silver Age Superman story. Maybe because “Robert Bernstein” was the alias used by Jerry Siegel during his stint scripting for Marvel.

Just think of the dinosaur fossils that the explosion must have vaporized!

“That’s YOUR problem.”

No, Thor, you just made it everybody’s problem.

Thor counters with his “out of nowhere” electricity powers…

I dunno…sure, Thor hadn’t demonstrated a previous ability to hurl lightning bolts, but it’s not the weirdest power for the god of thunder to have, especially early on when they’re still defining his power set.

He didn’t even nuke the ‘Red masters’ but some poor mountain villagers. My god, Thor, that’s cold!

“Captain America, meanwhile, cried about this event for five issues of Tales of Suspense. Oh wait, never mind, he didn’t care.”
Keep milking that Gruenwald debate, Brian! :)

always found it interesting that thor even after being warned by the radioactive man that if he sends him back in the tornado he will explode still does it plus his hammer does not return to being dons cane.

How is “*poof*” the sound of an H-Bomb?!?!

randypan the goatboy

January 27, 2012 at 7:32 am

I love the guy doing play by play. After watching a guy who is admitedly throwing radiation into the area fight a guy with lightning comming [out of his ass apparently]out through his hands . it is only after the radioactive man uses his radiation to uhhh hypnotise[really?] Thor that he decides the area is unsafe[really?]. it only goes to show you that silver age comics were still being written for kids. I got into comics after the silver age silliness gave way to bronze age slightly less silly silliness. I can imagine that in those days a grown man with a comic collection would be laughed out of the room. only after the breakthroughs of Dark knight and the Watchmen and of course the X-men did comics become more adult fare. i have to admit that not everything to come out of the silver age was this goofy. But even the stuff that is lauded today is still kids fare[silver age classics i mean]

My favorite odd dialog is that the “tornado is heading for yonder mountains!”
Really, Stan? “yonder mountains?” English speakers weren’t saying “yonder” in ’60s, I doubt the Chinese were. But I guess when you get into fake Shakespearean it’s hard to stop.

And while the first guy is surprised the tornado is heading for the mountains, The Great One just thinks the tornado looks odd. He’s not at all surprised it’s heading for yonder mountains.

Wow. Brian could easily do a “Five Goofiest Moments” just based on the panels in this entry. In fact, I will, in order of appearance:

5. “We can make free men tremble by destroying their hero-protector…” Seriously, staunch believers in Communism referring to others as ‘free men’? His next line should have been “That’s why I love Communism, the absolute lack of freedom! Hail Mao!”
4. “Stymied, eh?” The Chinese-born scientist is so familiar with the English language that he casually tosses off slang-terms like ‘stymied’?
3. Radio-Active. That’s adorable.
2. The aforementioned battle-narrating spectator. I’d like to think that he stood there the entire fight and did that. “Now Thor’s punching him! Now the Radio-Active Man is punching Thor! Now they’re taking a short break because they’re tired! Now more punches!”
1. Even three exclamation points do not make up for how incredibly unconcerned those two Chinese guys are about an atomic explosion within viewing distance of them. “Oh, dude, there’s an atomic explosion over there.” “Oh yeah, I guess Radio-Active Man failed. Lame.”

It’s a very loud “Poof,” Stickmaster.

Captain America, meanwhile, cried about this event for five issues of Tales of Suspense.

I think I have those issues… they were pretty good issues IIRC.

(Wow, you are determined to prove your point, huh Brian?)

@ Adam Farrar: My favorite odd dialog is that the “tornado is heading for yonder mountains!”
Really, Stan? “yonder mountains?”

The script is from Robert Bernstein.

My favorite bit is “Yes master, I do not know who I am.” Goofy.

Thor doesn’t seem to be doing the Shakespearean dialogue yet — was that not until Stan scripted him, or until Avengers, maybe?

Jane gives shit to Don Blake because she obviously hates the handicapped, which makes her choice of career an odd one. She had some legal stuff to take care of one time, walked into Matt Murdock’s office, then walked right back out. Cold!

Captain America crying about it needs to be in every post. The final Line it is Drawn test should be to have the try-out people do their best to depict Cap crying over the death of villains. He should team up with the Native American from the old PSA (Cody Iron Eyes, I believe). He should have a cry-off with Superman. There should be a cover theme game where the answer is “3 comics where Cap ISN’T crying about killing bad guys”. There should be Name the Artist that drew Cap crying.

OK, that’s enough.

That seemed to be a common comics view of nukes at the time – controllable, and usable in combat. There’s some fascinating late ’50s war comics to this effect, but sticking to this period in Marvel, FF 4 has the FF setting off a nuke in New York City (the moderately famous “strap a nuke to Ben’s back and have him walk into a monster’s stomach” scene), while when the Human Torch first appears in FF 1, the army fires a nuclear missile at him pretty much right over Central City.

When Thor turned back into Blake after being away from the hammer too long, the hammer didn’t turn into a cane! It happens even in Thor’s origin story, check it out.

(Yes, I know that the hammer turns into a cane as many times as it doesn’t in stories where that is a plot point, like Beta Ray Bill’s first appearance. But on those early stories the hammer only turned into a cane when Thor did it on purpose!)

Mark, that’s why the FF isn’t in Central City anymore…

“Your own private tornado”…at least Thor didn’t make him travel in an economy class tornado!

Hell, True Lies was 30 years later and they set off a nuke in the Florida Keys. But it’s not causing any damage because it wasn’t inhabited! Thank you, James Cameron.
My favorite line is Mao screaming that “No, communism is the mightiest force on Earth!” The line about making “free men tremble” is bad, but it’s not out of character for anti-American villains (Commies and WW II villains alike were fond of discussing how much they hate democracy and wish to destroy it).
Minor note, I think this story was drawing on current events, as China and India were having a border dispute at the time.

What is the deal with silver age writers and last-panel irony from snide girlfriends? If it’s not Jane Foster, it’s Iris West or Carol Ferris mockingly comparing her boyfriend to a superhero’s latest exploit. Is this just a lame joke or was it some kind of practice among couples in that era? “Oh Stan, look! While you spent another weekend publishing brain-rotting picture-books for juvenile delinquents, this Armstrong fellow flew to the moon and planted an American flag to humiliate the Communists. Imagine that.” “Heh-heh, what Joan doesn’t know is that secretly I am Neil Armstrong! And I am banging her sister like a cellar door.”

Just once I’d like to see a guy turn that around. “Oh Barbara, have you seen the paper? While you were dressed like a bespectacled librarian on our date last night, that foxy redhead in the skin-tight Batman ensemble was out shaking her thing on the rooftops.” “Well Dino, we can’t all be huge sluts.”

Let’s assume Thor sent the radio-active man back to the location China did its land-based nuclear tests (Lop Nur, I presume)…. actually it’s not implausible, as that’s probably where they’d do their radioactive man research.

Re. radioactive hypnosis: it’s at least a well-known pulp trope connected to china: Fu Man Chu was reknowned for it, and “chinese brainwashing” was a big red scare thing.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives