I don’t make much of a secret of my lifelong love of comics, but I haven’t really talked about it much on the blog because I have a hard enough time keeping up with all the theater I’m seeing. But I just ran across something that captures so much of what I love about comics.
I recently checked out Rodger Langridge and Chris Samnee’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger series from the library, which is a great, light-hearted all-ages comic. In recent years both DC and Marvel have put out comics ostensibly for younger readers that are just much more fun than their mainstream lines (Marvel Adventures Avengers, Jeff Smith’s Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil, X-Men: First Class, Mini-Marvels, etc.), and Thor: The Mighty Avenger certainly fits the bill. They don’t worry about fitting into decades’ worth of established continuity, just about telling fun, accessible, amusing stories that take the characters back to basics.
The series is collected in two trade paperbacks, both of which also contain some of the earliest Thor stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The last of these, in volume two, was a story called “On the Trail of the Tomorrow Man,” from Journey into Mystery #86, first published in 1962. As much as I enjoyed the new stories, it’s this old one that really filled me with glee.
Specifically, this guy:
You can tell this guy’s a scientist, because of the pipe and thoughtful expression. He’s never named because we only see him in this one panel, never before or afterward. He just pops out of nowhere to drop some science. But what I really love about him is that he’s basing this scientific reasoning solely on the fact that someone disappeared into thin air. Here’s the context:
Now, as it happens, the guy’s totally right. The vanishing man, Zarrko, is the only violent person from some kind of idyllic future in the 2360s, and he’s come back in time to retrieve weapons of mass destruction from a time when such things actually existed. But none of these people have ever seen him before, and when he disappears I love that Joe Scientist doesn’t even bother with hypotheses like invisibility or teleportation. Nope, someone vanished into thin air, so he had to be traveling in time. And because they didn’t have time travel in the past, he must have come from the future! Seriously, the theory is airtight. Don’t even try to question it. You did see his pipe, didn’t you? That means gravitas, and therefore science. QED.
Marvel often likes to single out some of its characters as among the world’s smartest men (and yeah, sigh, they’re all men): Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, etc. But let us not forget this guy–today’s GREAT MAN OF SCIENCE!