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When We First Met – Thor’s Supporting Cast

Every week we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!’” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

Today we look at the supporting cast of the Mighty Thor!

First up is Nurse Jane Foster, who is Doctor Don Blake (Thor’s human persona)’s nurse. In Thor’s second appearance in Journey Into Mystery #84, the dynamic between Don and Jane is quickly established…

This set-up would drive many early Journey Into Mystery stories. “Oh, Don, if only you weren’t a wimp.” “Oh, Jane, if only I could tell you I am not a wimp!”

Next is Thor’s evil brother, Loki, who debuted in Journey Into Mystery #85, along with the first appearance of another Asgardian, Heimdall (anyone who guessed “Heimdall” as the first heroic Asgardian to appear in an issue of Thor, congrats, you were improbably correct!)

Later in Journey Into Mystery #85 we ostensibly first meet Balder and Odin…

That seems like a bit of a cheat, though, doesn’t it?

The next issue gives us a proper introduction to Odin…

Balder has to wait until the Tales of Asgard back-up in Journey Into Mystery #102 to get his proper introduction…

and even there, that’s not really much in the way of a PROPER introduction. So I think the main feature in Journey Into Mystery #104 is REALLY Balder’s first appearance…

That same back-up story in #102 is also Sif’s first appearance…

but when she makes her first PROPER appearance in Thor #136, that earlier story is practically ignored (note that Thor remembers her as raven-haired, not blonde)….

Finally, last but certainly not least, the Warriors Three!

They debuted in the Tales of Asgard back-up in Journey Into Mystery #119…

but it was not until a letters page in Thor #244 (over a HUNDRED issues later!) that they are first referred to as the Warriors Three…

And their solo feature in Marvel Spotlight #30 is their first proper introduction as the Warriors Three…

One thing I was unable to find out (and I was sick of flipping through Thor back issues to find it) was when they were first identified INSIDE of a comic as the Warriors Three. If anyone knows, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com and I’ll add it into the piece (crediting you, of course)!

If you have suggestions for FUTURE When We First Met features, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

27 Comments

Wow, that’s a pretty sweet logo the Warriors Three got there. :)

“This set-up would drive many early Journey Into Mystery stories.”
Actually it drove several of Marvel’s Silver Age romances. Matt Murdock (“If only I weren’t blind!”), Scott Summers (“If only I didn’t have rays coming out my eyes!”), Bruce Banner (“If only I weren’t … the Hulk!”), Ben Grimm. And they tried it again in the lamentable 1970s It, the Living Colossus.

Fraser made the point I was planning to. As a kid this put me off many early Marvels.

By the way, was that Tales of Asgard the first appearance of Hela?

Who wouldn’t trust Magrat the Schemer? Calling himself that seems pretty transparent and open.

Ah, but that was all part of his cunning scheme, Cattleprod. For who would suspect?

Wasn’t the whole thing over Sif’s hair because some god (Loki?) cut it off as revenge for her loving Thor, so the dwarves made her new hair, which was black? Forgive me if that’s incredibly wrong, I’m going off memory of a trivia question in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

Also, I highly recommend that Warriors Three comic. It’s awesome.

I wonder…is that guy with the strapped on monacle goggle gizmo in that panel from Journey Into Mystery #119 the first occurance of that particular eyeware sci-fi trope? It seems like a typical cool looking but nonsensical Kirby invention and it became rife in the eighties and nineties particularly with 2000AD artists and reached its apotheosis with Locutus of Borg but I’ve always wondered where it first appeared.

Drax, I think that story of Sif’s hair was a retcon years later. IIRC.

So is the saga of Sif’s hair an early Abandoned An’ Forsaked?

@ Anton (“…particularly with 2000AD artists”): are you thinking Bad Company and Kano? I’ve frequently thought that Ewins & the McCarthy brothers’ (Jim & Brendan, I think) stuff up to the early 90s contained a sort-of Kirby-meets-2000AD vibe.

I’ve always thought Balder of the Marvel comics isn’t a son of Odin and Frigga like he is in Norse mythology, but Wikipedia claims that he is! If that’s true, why don’t Marvel comics ever seem to acknowledge this? For example, during Simonson’s run he is made the king of Asgard, but there’s no mention he has a birthright to that title.

Matthew Johnson

November 6, 2012 at 8:32 am

So Thor is exiled for years and years, or whatever, and meanwhile Loki is imprisoned the whole time. Then Thor comes back and they can’t keep him locked up for a week. Nice going, Thor!

In fact, there is a genuine Norse myth about Loki cutting off Sif’s hair, and then being sent to the home of the Dwarves to get them to make some new hair for her. But in these legends her hair is blonde, and the new Dwarf hair made from gold. I guess Marvel tweaked the legend to make her new hair Black. And why not? It contrasts well with Thor’s own golden locks (which were red in the myths).

In fairness to Jack and Stan, there’s nothing to indicate Magrat took “Schemer” as a nickname by choice. Maybe that’s how the other Norse gods made fun of him in grade school. Tuomas I haven’t read Thor 500 which is where Wikpedia credits Balder being identified as Thor’s bro, but there was never anything previous to show them as siblings rather than just good buddies.

In the Marvel comics, Balder is a bastard son of Odin (so, not of Frigga) and that was established by JMS.

Those first Kirby pages were a lot better and more dynamic than the last Kirby pages!

Kirby had a lot of helping hands early on because he was doing covers and layouts for so many different books.

I always liked how he drew Hera so much taller than anyone else, and her weirdly elegant headdresses. Look at those creepy long hands!

not really…..that’s part of the reason Ganky…the real reason is Vince Colleta F*$#@% up kirbys work with his shitty inking.One of the worst inkers in history.

From another perspective Colleta was considered one of the great inkers because he delivered on time. People just love dumping on him.

“He delivered on time” would be reason to call him one of the timeliest inkers of all-time, but not one of the greatest.

I do wonder if that first panel that introduced Odin and Balder had them more pronounced before Colletta erasing, given that they weren’t too critical to this specific story (pure speculation, nothing to back it up, could also just be that Stan and Jack didn’t realize how important they’d become to the mythos).

For a look at Vince Colletta’s career from both sides I recommend Twomorrow’s The Thin Black Line by Robert L. Bryant.

The first panel was inked by Dick Ayers.

In fairness to Colletta (he was both super-timely and could be super-shitty) a lot the artwork in Thor and the Tales of Asgard featuring his inking is some of the best-looking Kirby artwork of all time. Here’s Eddie Campbell on Colletta: http://eddiecampbell.blogspot.com/2007/05/vincent-colletta-my-favourite-1960s.html

I remember a backup story in Thor “Tales of Asgard” where they did the hair cut off (I believe it was Loki’s jealously for the reason) and replaced with gold spun by the Dwarfs. However they used another completely unknown character/citizen of Asgard, rather than Sif. Basically wanting to tell the Asgardian legend, but it didn’t fit with what they had already set up with Sif, so they just replaced her with a random.

Thanks for this! I’m going through Simonson’s Thor right now, and there are points where I can’t tell what he’s made up and what’s actually from Norse myth. Of course, there are points where the myths get weirder than anything mere fiction writers could come up with, like Njaglfar, the ship made out of warriors’ toenails. Which later gets sunk by the Executioner throwing his axe, forcing him to pick up M-16s, and we know where that goes…

By the by, did Simonson invent Gudrun, Hildy and the rest of Volstagg’s family? I think I vaguely remember him referring to having a wife and kids before Simonson’s run.

The first Warriors Three appearance specifically refers to Volstagg wanting to go on the quest as a break from his wife and 15 kids (basically he’s a once mighty warrior who got married, put on weight and is now past his prime, but doesn’t admit it). I don’t know if they appeared before Simonson.

My opinion has always been that Vinnie was the absolute best of all the inkers who worked with Kirby. Joe Sinnott was next then Frank Giacoia but Colletta was tops in my book. Shitty reprints of their collaborations just murdered the art and it was Vinnie who took the hit.

I never much cared for Vince C as an inker. Faces got mushy, and soft. Details were altered and omitted. And it got much worse at DC after Jack left Marvel. If THOR had been inked by Sinnott it would be as fondly remembered (not that it isn’t anyway) as the FF stuff. As to Kirby inking? SInnott is clean…but does become a fusion of Kirby/SInnott too much at times for those that like pure Jack. I love a lot of the issues that Chic Stone inked (FF) as that seems to read as purer Jack. And I also love the few issues of THOR that Bill Everett inked…..no one really seems to appreciate those enough-the stories sadly were part of Marvel’s short lived “one and done” era…..but I love the art combination.

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