Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last Issue Special # 18: Journey Into Mystery [Comics]

SERIES: Journey Into Mystery

DATE: 1998


Journey Into Mystery has an interesting history. It started in 1952 as a weird/horror anthology series, and early issues had primitive prototypes of concepts that would eventually become Marvel mainstay characters like the Hulk (# 62), Spider-Man (# 73), and Dr. Strange (# 78). In 1962, the series introduced a certain Norse thunder god and its course was set for decades. After issue 125, the series was renamed simply Thor, and continued that way for another 378 issues until finally falling prey to the Marvel sales slump and near bankruptcy of the mid- to -late 1990s. The people upstairs took drastic action, however, and with # 503 Thor once more became Journey Into Mystery, and this time a variety of new features appeared: Shang-Chi, the Lost Gods, and, near the end, Hannibal King ("Vampire Detective"). The sudden change of course lasted less than two years, however.

In the "Fear-Filled Final Issue" (# 521), King is tortured by an evil vampire named Navarro and forced to drink the blood of a homeless man in order to survive. King escapes Navarro's clutches, and teams up with a CIA agent in order to stop Navarro's plans to unleash a deadly biological agent--but the CIA agent is almost killed, and King decides to turn her into a vampire in order to save her life.

The letters page acknowledges the cancellation, but states "we went out with a bang!" It concludes with a note that Journey Into Mystery subscribers would shortly receive copies of the new Thor book instead. "That's right! The thunder god triumphantly returns to his very own title next month, and you'll be there from the very beginning. Face it, True Believer--you've definitely hit the jackpot!"

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