In "When We First Met," we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, based on a suggestion from my pal Chris N., we look at the first time that Thor's hammer was referred to as "Mjolnir."
Many years ago, I discussed the amusing state of affairs that led to Larry Lieber, scripter on the early issues of Thor, to come up with a name for Thor's hammer despite Thor's hammer already HAVING a name, which is Mjolnir...
One of the interesting things about working with characters that are already famous myths is that a lot of the groundwork has already been done, like the names, the adversaries, etc.
However, when it came to Thor's mighty hammer, Mjolnir (as seen here in a piece of art from Bullfinch's Mythology)...
Larry Lieber decided to go in a different direction and just decide to come up with a name on his own for the hammer, and he went with the uru hammer, and it is name that has partially stuck ever since!
Lieber and Roy Thomas discussed it in a great interview in Alter Ego #2 for TwoMorrows....
Lieber: One incident I remember with you and me was: I was in the office, and you came in. You'd been poring over Bulfinch's Mythology or something, and you said, "Larry, where did you find this 'uru hammer' in mythology?" And I said, "Roy, I didn't find it; I made it up." And you looked at me like, "Why the hell did you make it up?" You went and found the hammer's original name, Mjolnir.
Thomas: But I kept your name for it, too, because I thought "uru" could be the metal it was made of.
Lieber: I kind of liked it; it was short. It's easy on the letterer; they're going to be using it all the time. I don't know where the hell I came up with it.
Thomas: Stan said he always thought you got it from a mythology book. I'd been trying to track it down before I talked to you.
Lieber: I used to get names out of the back of the dictionary, from the biographical section where you have foreign names, Russian, this and that. I used to go to it and gets parts of names to put together.
Amusingly enough, "uru" actually IS a word in a number of ancient languages, and some of them even have definitions that are pretty good for Thor (stuff like "great," "large," etc.).
But when did it first move from uru to Mjolnir in the comics?