Thor vs. the Hulk

Journey Into Mystery #112, with an epic battle between Thor and the Hulk has some of my favorite Kirby Kinetic moments. The slug fest is a carry over from Avengers #3, and is a elaboration by Thor as he tells a group of youths the story when they ask which of the two combatants is stronger.
The second panel of the page below has long been a favorite of mine because of the unusual angle. Its primary function is to draw the reader’s eye to the third panel, but it excels alone as a brilliant and unusual composition.
Most artists would probably employ a more conventional approach, that being to have the base of the panel as the floor in the picture. In other words, Giant Man would be reaching straight up at Namor. Kirby gives us a skewed but less static picture frame, and it works beautifully for the overall page composition. Thus, he has Giant Man reaching diagonally up at Namor, who is also positioned on the diagonal of the wall. These planes are offset by the diagonal of the elaborate piece of machinery in the lower right corner.
Giant Man’s pose brings the eye down to his much beleaguered figure in the panoramic third panel. The angle of his body and the legs of Iron Man bring the reader’s eye to the right hand of the panel, wherein Thor and the Hulk are engaged in combat
This story was drawn during a period when Kirby was doing art chores on more than half a dozen titles, and although it is drawn lovingly, it is a bit skimpy on backgrounds. Page seven is a beautiful sequence, but is not as well planned as Many of Kirby’s best.
There is too much dead space in panels three and four, but panel five is a stand-out. Kirby uses the huge foot and foreshortened right leg of the Hulk to offset his sweeping right cross, and the artist also employs the circular shape of the tunnel and Thor’s flung rag doll figure to accentuate the power of the blow. Also, clearly the diagonal force lines emanating from the blow are very effectively augmented by the diagonal lines that suggest the shape of the tunnel
The final page is one of Kirby’s most awesome studies in sheer ferocity. In the first panel, Thor is near collapse, stunned by an explosion, as the Hulk crouches, gloating and preparing to spring.
The bottom panel gives us a masterful example of looming horror. The monstrous Hulk’s facial expression is fierce enough, but it is his massive arms and ponderous hands that visually pin Thor to the bottom right corner of the panel. It is the left to right sweep of right hand to head to descending left elbow that squashes Thor into a cowering heap.
Let me take a moment to mention an outstanding inking job by Chic Stone in this particular panel, where the powerful lines of chest and abdominal muscles of the Hulk are wonderfully rendered by the inker.
This singular panel so impressed itself upon me when it first appeared, that I am surprised that I waited so long to showcase it. Such is the sheer magnitude of Kirby’s work that this sequence would only occur to me at this point in time.
Image 1-Journey Into Mystery#112 Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Chic Stone
Image 2 Journey Into Mystery#112 Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Chic Stone
Image 3- Journey Into Mystery#112 Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Chic Stone
All images from reprint in Marvel Tales #25

3 thoughts on “Thor vs. the Hulk

  1. Allen Smith

    The art is pretty solid on this, Norris, although I prefer inkers over Kirby who don’t use as heavy an inking line as Chic Stone did. It tends to give Kirby’s art a bit of a coloring book effect. Stone was a good inker overall, though. Royer and Sinnott were better, however. Enjoy your blog.

  2. Allen Smith

    And, as far as superhero fights: they bored me. Most of the time, when the Marvel superheroes fought, it was not well motivated. So and so thinks so and so is a villain, so they fight. I know some fans ate it up, but to me, it was a waste of space. Whether or not Thor could beat the heck out of the Hulk didn’t matter at all, because it was strictly up to the writer, wasn’t it? Again, Kirby fight scenes could be fun, but didn’t care much about the fight itself or its preordained outcome. When two Marvel superheroes fought you could count on: a tie, so that fans of one or the other wouldn’t be offended.

    1. Paul

      the final panel of the story as I recall had Thor still sitting on the steps with the people around him (as per panel 4 on first page above).
      One of the people was saying (something like):
      “But Thor which of you won?”
      “You have just been sitting there for four minutes without saying a word!”

      For me this was a fine ending/continuation of the “contest”; clever with it!


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