I have been reading a lot of Thor comics lately, particularly the very first stories from Journey Into Mystery. Honestly, I'm surprised that the character caught on so quickly. I think we can thank Jack Kirby's art.
Not that I'm not loving these comics. I love that it's essentially just the story of a dude who really wants to marry this girl, but his dad won't let him. Thor relentlessly asks his dad if he can marry her, but because his dad happens to be Odin, the ruler of Asgard and a bit of a dick, the answer is always 'no.'
I think Journey Into Mystery #107 is a pretty good representation of the early era of Thor comics. Last we left our hero, his alter-ego Dr Don Blake was forced to appear to betray Thor in order to protect his secret identity. Naturally, this did not impress the love of his life, nurse Jane Foster.
Just to complicate things further, Blake has to keep up the act as Thor and pretend to be furious with the cowardly doctor. And he has to take out his anger on poor Jane, I guess.
This is where things get adorable. I stared at these two panels for a very long time. I just love them:
And as soon as he's out of Jane's sight, Thor starts to celebrate. It's very cute.
Man those people look terrified.
But it's not all flying backwards and picking bouquets of flowers for the God of Thunder. Even as this is happening, a sinister figure is flying into town:
How did he get away from the airport without anyone stopping him?! He's obviously guilty!
It's a long cab ride to town. Fortunately for the readers, our new villain uses the time to mull over his origin story. I'm not going to show the whole thing, but basically an experiment gone wrong gives him the ability to turn things into stone by touching them
Was he making Kool-Ade?
Anyway, this dude is stone cold (get it?) and he is in town to fight and destroy Thor because he wants his hammer. And who doesn't, really? To get Thor's attention, he turns his cab driver into stone.
The police find the cab driver first, but it's a good thing that Thor shows up because this case has clearly stumped them:
Ok geniuses. First of all, you are police officers in the Marvel version of New York City, so you have definitely seen people turned to stone or crazier before. Also...you can't dress a stone statue...with stone clothes.
Thankfully, Thor takes charge and insists on bringing the statue to Dr Blake's office for examination. And Nurse Foster proves to be more clever than the NYPD.
"Saaaaay...maybe this stone guy has something to do with those other stone guys at the airport today!"
Because everyone is so slow to crack this case, it gives our villain a lot of time to change into his costume and reveal his name to us.
The costume isn't great. And his powers are...inconsistent.
Alright, I can understand being able to climb a building using his powerful stone fingers, I guess, but being able to leap across rooftops?! That doesn't make any sense.
He catches up with Dr Blake, who he doesn't know is secretly Thor, of course. He chooses an overly complicated (but charming) way of demonstrating his powers for the doctor.
Woah! Watch out, Doc! He's not messing around! That next stone paper airplane might have your name on it!
Also, really? You didn't figure out until that moment that this guy is the one responsible for all the human statues? He's the God of Thunder, not the God of Figuring Things Out.
You can probably guess what's coming: a giant battle between Thor and the Grey Gargoyle that ends with Thor being turned into a statue. Fortunately this works out ok for Thor because the statue gets knocked over. And, of course, when his hammer strikes the ground, it changes him back into Don Blake. And if you know anything about science, then you know that this will also reverse the statue effect.
That was explained very well, Doctor. Thank-you.
Now the LAME physician, as the narrator likes to call him, has a cunning plan. He makes a phone call to a certain alcoholic robot friend and before he knows it his crazy plan is ready to roll! Literally!
Ooooo! A motorcycle! Who's lame now?!
This plan is complicated, but basically he is zipping around New York on a motorcycle mounted with a camera that is projecting a hologram of Thor. This causes the Grey Gargoyle to chase the hologram, which ends with Don Blake driving the motorcycle, and himself, into the Hudson River. Due to some poor judgement, Grey Gargoyle follows close behind:
Ooooo...guess who can't swim when he's stone?
Because the stone effect won't wear off for at least half an hour, Grey Gargoyle is pretty screwed. Well played, Don Blake.
In the end, the cab driver turns back to normal and rudely points out Dr Blake's disability.
Wouldn't you like to know, Jane. Wouldn't you like to know.