Why Did Thor's Hammer Come With a Time Limit?

This "How Can I Explain?", which is a feature spotlighting inexplicable comic book plots, like, for instance, why did Thor's hammer used to come with a time limit?

Now, OUTSIDE of the comic, this one is pretty easy to explain. When Larry Leiber, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott introduced Thor in Journey Into Mystery #83, it was a case of a dude named Don Blake finding a special hammer that transformed him and gave him the body and powers of Thor...

However, Don Blake discovered that the inscription on the hammer was oddly strict...

That set-up was fine when we were just talking about a guy who transformed himself into looking like a Norse god (with the powers to boot!). However, very soon after the series began, Lee and Kirby began to depict Thor as a distinct personality from Don Blake. Eventually, in Thor #159 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta), we discovered the new (and now the most famous) origin of Thor. As it turned out, the whole "Don Blake" situation was just Odin's attempt to test the humility of his son....


So, if the whole thing was a test of Thor's humility, why was there a time limit on his hammer? How would Odin possibly think that that made sense for an enchantment on the hammer when the whole point of the exercise was getting Thor to learn humility and be rewarded by transforming back into Thor. So why would he have a time limit?

I asked Roy Thomas if he recalled if anyone ever tried to explain this, and he did not recall anyone ever doing so, and neither do, so I think that this one just remains inexplicable for now.

If anyone else has any other seemingly inexplicable comic book plots that you'd like to see us feature here, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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