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Journey Into Mystery #116: Review

May 1965
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

The Trial of the Gods!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Journey Into Mystery #116 Review by (July 9, 2012)
Review: An exciting and entertaining tale—contests between two superpowered characters are always fun and this one has the sibling rivalry (more like sibble war) to contend with—not to mention the grim and forbidding gauntlet (just a bunch of random obstacles but cool nonetheless). Thor really shines without his hammer to help him through. The biggest surprise in the tale is that the good guy loses, setting up some interesting developments in ensuing issues. Cool! And since this is a sixties tale, depend on the plot being facilitated by a character being stupid, in this case Odin, who doesn’t bother to have Loki searched for weapons—indeed for not knowing immediately that he’s the liar. Meanwhile, I was wondering why Thor couldn’t go down the quicksand mountain on the path Loki made. But it’s moments like this that make comics fun—and comics should be fun.

Comments: The Thor story features the first appearance of the Norn Stones in the series. They are one of Loki's chief weapons and play a significant role in the recent Siege event.

Journey Into Mystery #116 Review by (July 9, 2012)
The appearance of the Avengers in this issue has to occur very near the end of Avengers #16. Thor told them he was off to the Trial of the Gods near the beginning of that issue. Their cameo here has to be after Captain America and Rick Jones return from South America, but before the other original Avengers leave the team. The original Official Avengers Index went into great detail about these interactions.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Journey Into Mystery #116 Synopsis by Arcturus Jackson

Thor and Loki have been summoned to Asgard to take part in the Trial of the Gods to determine which one is lying about having brought Jane Foster to Asgard (last issue). Odin orders the antagonists to the deadly land of Skornheim where they will have to endure a series of hardships which can kill even an immortal; the first one back to Asgard will be adjudged the victor. They are transported to a high and narrow mountain in the grim land and Thor discovers that, despite a ban on weapons, Loki has smuggled the magic Norn Stones to the trial. The trickster uses one to show Thor Jane Foster on Earth—as she is suddenly confronted by the Enchantress and the Executioner. The mountain then turns to quicksand around them; Loki uses the Norn Stone to solidify a path while the frantic Thunder God must rely on his strength to fight his way through the muck. The next obstacle is a forest of thorny plants which Loki easily passes through by becoming intangible while Thor must batter then down using his helmet as a gauntlet. Thor catches up to his opponent but they then come face to face with the giant warrior Yagg, who can shoot lightning bolts out of this electrode-like hands….

In Asgard, Balder interrupts Odin’s bath to inform him that Loki has placed Jane Foster in danger to distract Thor from the rigors of the trial. Ascertaining the truth of this, Odin dispatches Balder to Jane’s aid….

Loki easily escapes Yagg by using a Norn Stone to give him the power of flight, while Thor must stand his ground against the warrior's electrical attacks, eventually using a rock to knock his opponent out. Meanwhile, Loki has surrounded himself with a whirlwind to pass through a deadly desert and uses the magic stone to repel a patch of carnivorous plants….

In New York, the two villains have caught up with Jane as she fled though the streets but a crowd attempts to come to her rescue. The Executioner easily holds them off with strength while the Enchantress casts a sleep spell. This is witnessed by one of Rick JonesTeen Brigade who contacts Rick for help—but Rick is busy at a meeting of the Avengers (who are worried by Thor’s absence, but decide against further involvement); the Teen Brigader then spots Daredevil passing by his window, but the Man without Fear is on his way to battle the Sub-Mariner and can’t stop (DAREDEVIL #7). He then calls the Baxter Building but the Fantastic Four are not to be found—the Frightful Four, however, are attempting to seize control of the building when a sudden ball of fire lands on the roof. Assuming it is the Human Torch, the villains flee. The fireball turns out to be Balder who disguises himself as a human and goes to confront the two Asgardean marauders….

Following Loki’s trail, Thor can only depend on his superhuman endurance to cross the burning desert, and his strength to tear apart the carnivorous plants. He comes to a river and swims to where Loki is about to cross the fiery chasm which is the last obstacle. As the God of Mischief levitates across, Thor seizes him and is carried over the chasm as well. Loki can then knock down the fatigued Thor and pass through the dimensional barrier to Asgard, winning the Trial of the Gods….

Story #2

The Challenge!

Writer: Stan Lee. Penciler: Jack Kirby. Inker: Vince Colletta. Colorist: ?.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thor and Loki are sent on a diplomatic mission to the court of King Hymir to seek an alliance for Asgard. Loki, however, wants to enlist the evil King as his own ally against Asgard and offers to make Thor Hymir’s slave in exchange for an alliance. Loki suggests that Hymir challenge Thor to a task which he cannot accomplish, with servitude as the penalty for failure. The challenge is issued and Thor is honor-bound to accept. The first challenge is to bring back a fish from the Sea of Eternal Darkness. Thor takes a longboat onto the sea and discovers the trap: the fish in question are enormous monsters. Thor’s hammer proves mightier and catching a fish is no trouble for the God of Thunder. Returning to court, Thor hears Hymir’s main challenge: to break the King’s drinking goblet within two minutes. Thor suspects a trick but tries—and discovers that the drinking cup is unbreakable, even for a god. The King’s kindly sister, Princess Rinda, secretly reveals to Thor that the cup is enchanted and advises him to go through with his plan to kill the King. Thor hurls the cup at the King’s head and it shatters on Hymir’s crown which is the source of his magic powers. Hymir concludes that Loki has betrayed his secret to Thor and orders the God of Mischief out of his court. Loki continues to search for a plan to defeat his hated brother.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Jack Kirby
Vince Colletta
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Vince Colletta (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Balder the Brave)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Matt Murdock)

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Loki Laufeyson)


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Frightful Four, Giant-Man (Scott Lang).

> Journey Into Mystery: Book info and issue index

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