Friday, February 19, 2016

The Distant Thunder of June 1962

In June 1962, I celebrated my 8th birthday, receiving what would be a trio of perfect presents. The first comic books featuring Spider-Man, Ant-Man and Thor were all cover-dated that month.
In Journey Into Mystery 83, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s thunder god would stylize the basic concept of a character who had once been the most popular superhero in comics, but who’d vanished nine years before (an eternity to an 8-year-old).
The idea of a small, weak person changed by magic lightning into a super-strong flying champion would be further electrified by Kirby’s art, so eloquent in displaying both angst and dynamic action. The magic word “Shazam” would solidify into a cane that symbolized disability, then transform itself into a hammer that symbolized power.
In his first adventure, Thor repelled the Stone Men from Saturn. Alien invaders have the damnedest luck. So many of them land on this planet, brimming with that vast, cool and unsympathetic confidence, bristling with eerie super-weapons and eager to scrutinize and humiliate a typical earthling, only to discover that he’s an invincible superhero who can single-handedly kick their asses. 
I mean, what are the odds?

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