Comic Browser:


Journey Into Mystery #96: Review

Sep 1963
Robert Bernstein, Joe Sinnott

Story Name:

Defying the Magic of...Mad Merlin!

Review & Comments

2 stars

Journey Into Mystery #96 Review by (July 6, 2011)
Review: The story starts off on a promising note with the prospect of Thor facing the mighty wizard of legend but by the end the story falls prey to stupidity. The three ludicrous landmark battles are hard to take but when Thor cows a powerful telepath with a lame trick the reader can only wince. Don’t worry, these get better soon with the return of Stan and Jack.

Comments: AVENGERS #1 appeared this month. This Merlin later becomes an X-Men villain under the names Warlock and Maha Yogi. Jane Foster is finally fed up with Don Blake though nothing changes. Though supposedly of superhuman stamina, Thor can’t hold his breath very long. Cameo appearances by President John F. Kennedy, his daughter Caroline, and Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, with a mention of Caroline’s pony


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Journey Into Mystery #96 Synopsis by Arcturus Jackson
Thor returns from a rescue mission and changes back into Dr. Donald Blake in his office. His nurse Jane Foster is angry with him since his sudden disappearance for half and hour (supposedly locked in his lab) left her to make lame excuses to his patients until they finally got fed up and left. As she berates him for his lack of responsibility, he reflects on the irony that he had to leave because he heard on the radio of a bus that had gone off a bridge. He locked himself in his office, changed to Thor and dove to the bottom of the river where he attached his hammer to the bus and hurled it out of the water all the way to the bus terminal. To compound the irony, Jane hears of Thor’s rescue on the radio and holds him up as an example of responsibility. 

The next news story is a report that the stone tomb of Merlin the wizard of Arthurian lore has arrived in New York. The next day, scholars and scientists gather at the museum for the opening of Merlin’s tomb and are astonished that the magician’s body is perfectly preserved after one thousand years. When the scientists leave to discuss this mystery, Merlin rises from his coffin and reveals (to the reader) that he placed himself in a state of suspended animation, to be awoken only when the crypt was opened. He tells us he was a mutant with great powers of telepathy and teleportation (the Maha Yogi -- Julio) but masked his innate abilities as magic to fool the knights of Camelot and become the power behind King Arthur’s throne; his new scheme? To become the power behind America’s throne, which he discovers from a newspaper is held by "the President." 

To test his long-unused powers Merlin teleports to Cape D’Or (the one in Nova Scotia?) and causes a missile to go off course then heads out to seize power in modern America. Don Blake hears the news of the malfunctioning missile and changes to Thor so he can save it from destruction. Discovering that there is nothing wrong with the rocket (another med school elective) he stops by Asgard to ask Loki if he is responsible. Loki finks on Merlin and Thor goes after the villain. But Merlin has teleported to Washington DC where he walks into a police station and demands that they summon Thor for a fight to the finish. The police dismiss him as a nut. So Merlin teleports to the White House and demands that Press Secretary Pierre Salinger take him to see the President. When Salinger likewise calls him a crackpot, the wizard vanishes and searches the White House for the President. He spies John Kennedy with his daughter Caroline but decides this man is too young to be the nation’s leader and moves on. Thor arrives at the White House, having been summoned by the FBI and crashes through a window to confront the menace. He hurls his hammer but Merlin tricks him by creating the illusion of a twin. Merlin then hypnotizes Thor into immobility and uses the Washington Monument as a javelin to impale the hero (sometime in the last couple of minutes they must have moved outdoors). Thor throws his hammer so that its strap catches the tip of the flying monument and flips it back into place (nice shot!) Merlin then levitates the Pentagon and drops it on Thor who hastily cracks open the earth to squeeze into. The evil wizard brings the Lincoln statue at that  President’s Memorial to life but our hero simply spins his hammer creating a strong wind to blow "Abe" back into his chair. Thor responds with a trick of his own: he turns back to Don Blake and tells his foe that he has the power to change into any one of a thousand forms. The frightened wizard begs for mercy and Don orders Merlin to put himself back into stasis for another thousand years.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Joe Sinnott
Joe Sinnott
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Plot: . Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Loki Laufeyson)


Plus: Maha Yogi (Merlin the Magician), President John F. Kennedy (John F. Kennedy).

> Journey Into Mystery: Book info and issue index

Share This Page