Fantastic Four #2   Leave a comment

The Fantastic Four #2

No official credits given in this issue.

Stan Lee: captions and dialogue

Jack Kirby: pencils.

Lee and Kirby: co-plotters

SYNOPSIS:

As the issue begins, we are treated to scenes of members of the Fantastic Four committing various crimes. The Thing destroys an off-shore oil tower, The Invisible Girl steals a diamond valued at $10 million, the Human Torch melts a priceless statue at it’s big unveiling and Mr. Fantastic stretches his arm out into a power plant and flips a switch, knocking out power in the entire city. It is revealed that these acts were not, in fact, committed by the FF, but by a group of shape shifting aliens called the Skrulls. The Skrulls have plans to invade Earth and feel the only thing standing in their way is the Fantastic Four. In order to eliminate the threat of the FF, the Skrulls decide to use their shape shifting ability to make the people of Earth believe the Fantastic Four are criminals. After the humans hunt down the FF, there will be nothing standing in the way of the Skrull invasion.

Meanwhile, in a remote hunting lodge, the Fantastic Four learn that they are being hunted as criminals. Realizing they are being framed, they begin to speculate on how it’s even possible for anybody to pose as them. The Thing does not take the news well and goes on a bit of a rampage, before being subdued by the others. Reed claims it is his fault they are the way they are, and we get a brief recap of their origin from the first issue.

With the explanation out of the way, the FF begin to plan their next move when they are surrounded by the US military. Not wanting to fight the entire army, the FF go along quietly, each member confined to a special cell. It doesn’t take long before each member breaks free of their prisons, giving the reader a chance to learn their powers, and make their escape.

Hiding out in one of their secret apartments, the FF formulate a plan. A new rocket is being tested and Johnny decides that if he tries to sabotage it, the other impostors might think he is one of them and come to help him. Thing says he should be the one to do it, since Johnny is just a kid and the two argue over it until Reed breaks it up. Ben bemoans his fate as Johnny goes to the launch site. Once there, he melts an unfinished launching platform and is quickly picked up by the Skrulls, who think he is one of them. They bring him back to their hideout and quickly discover he is the real Human Torch, but not before Johnny can shoot off a flare gun, alerting the other three members of the FF to his presence.

Torch fights off the Skrulls, when the fourth member of the alien group arrives, stopping Johnny. They are about to shoot him when the rest of the Fantastic Four arrive. The FF quickly subdue the aliens, then learn of the Skrull invasion force ready to invade Earth. Pretending to be the aliens, the FF members go to the Skrull mother ship and tell the Skrull leader the Earth defenses were far more advanced than originally expected. Realizing they could not defeat the humans, the Skrulls prepare to leave. The FF, still posing as the Skrulls, offer to stay behind and erase all evidence of their coming to Earth. Moved by their sacrifice, the Skrull leader gives them a military award for honor and leave the Earth.

As they pass through outer pace, the Thing begins to change, reverting again to the human form of Ben Grimm. Upon landing on Earth, the FF are met by the police and Ben has a moment of joy as he realizes he is no longer a monster. However, his happiness is short lived, as he quickly reverts back to his monstrous Thing form. The cops arrest the FF, but Reed asks for a chance to explain. He brings them to their apartment, where the Skrulls are being held captive. Seeing the shape changing aliens try to escape and be subdued once more by the FF, the Fantastic Four’s name is cleared.

The only loose end is what to do with the Skrulls. Since they can change shape and size, it would be practically impossible for any cell to hold them. The Skrulls, totally defeated and cowering for their lives, claim they hate being Skrulls and would live contentedly as anything else. Reed hatches a plot that will insure the Skrulls live out their and cause no more trouble. Reed has them transform into cows and the hypnotizes them into forgetting they are Skrulls. Believing they are actual cows, the Skrulls are last seen in a field, munching on grass as the FF wonder what is in store for them next.

COMMENTS:

The second issue of the Fantastic Four is even stronger than the first, building on themes that were touched on in the debut story. We see Thing as a bitter, angry man, who hates the fact that he has been transformed into a hideous monster. His quick temper boils over several times in this issue and he fights with his fellow teammates, especially Johnny. We also get our first glimpse of Reed’s tremendous sense of guilt, since it was his rocket that was improperly shielded from the cosmic rays that transformed them into the Fantastic Four. What makes it even worse is that Ben was the one who warned Reed about the cosmic rays, but Reed, in his arrogance, didn’t listen, and it was Ben who suffered the worst fate of the four as a result.

Once again, the FF are not in costumes, which was very unusual for a super hero book.  The book also didn’t present itself as a full-blown super hero book for the second issue in a row. Instead it is almost more of a science-fiction/adventure book, as the FF face not a super-villain, but an alien invasion force. This issue also introduces the Skrulls, who will make many, many more appaerences, not only in the Fantastic Four but in other Marvel titles as well. The Skrulls have been a mainstay of the Marvel Universe since their very first appearance and have played a major role in several very famous story lines throughout the fifty year history of Marvel comics.

This second issue of the Fantastic Four was a very strong continuation of the first, proving that the first issue was no fluke. The characters are beginning to how the personality traits that have made them favorites with readers for five decades. I also really like the “cow solution” to the Skrull problem. It’s fun and original and not the kind of thing you usually see. it’s a good testament to the creativity of Lee and Kirby. This issue showed that  The Fantastic Four comic book was a legitimate great title in it’s early stages and there was nowhere to go but up.

Advertisements

Posted April 19, 2011 by John V. Ferrigno in Fantastic Four

Tagged with , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: