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Fantastic Four #11   2 comments

Fantastic Four #11

Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

SYNOPSIS:

The cover of this issue promises to reveal more secrets about the origin of the Fantastic Four. This was a subject of many of the letters the marvel editorial staff received, so Lee and Kirby were sure to include a special segment in this issue, “A Visit With the Fantastic Four.” The story opens with the FF approaching a newsstand, where a line is flowing out the door of people waiting anxiously to get their hand on the new copy of the Fantastic Four comic book.

The FF meet a group of kids who are play acting that they are the Fantastic Four. the real FF give a short demonstration of their powers, making the kids day, before going back to their Baxter Building headquarters. There they meet up with Willy Lumpkin, the old mail-carrier who will be a recurring bit character in the FF for decades.

The FF read the letters of the adoring fans as Ben discovers a package addressed to him. Opening the box, Ben is hit in the face with a boxing glove on a spring. He flies into a rage, blaming the Yancy Street Gang, who are always trying to get a rise out of him. This is another concept that will be brought up over and over again in the coming years: the Yancy Street Gang playing practical jokes on Ben. It’s a fun concept that a lot of different writers will use over the years, most recently mark Waid who had a great, unexpected twist on it (which i won’t spoil here.)

To calm down the Thing, Reed produces yet another serum he hopes will cure Ben of his monstrous form. Reed pours the serum on Ben, who reverts back to normal. The problem doesn’t seem to be changing Ben back to human, the difficult part seems to be making the change last. This particular cure will turn out to be no exception. Not wanting to see Ben get upset when he reverts to Thing form, Johnny takes off.

To pass the time during the cure’s duration, Reed and Ben tell stories of how they met and their time together as college students. It turns out that Reed and Ben were college roommates who, although they were polar opposites with nothing in common, became the very best of friends. Reed cheered louder than anyone at Ben’s football games, and ben beamed with pride as his best friend won science awards. After graduation, both men were in the military, each serving his country with honor.

Reed also brings up that he and Sue were neighbors when they were younger and how he has loved her for years. Sue doesn’t want to talk about this, as she doesn’t know yet if she loves Reed or Namor, the Sub-Mariner. We then get a recounting of the FF’s origin shown in issue 1, and then Sue gets upset because some readers wrote in and claimed she doesn’t do enough and should be kicked off the team. Reed jumps to her defense, telling a story about how Abe Lincoln did everything he did because of his mother, and Sue plays a similar role with the FF, encouraging them and propelling them to success. They also recount how Sue helped them fight off the Skrulls and saved the other three members when they were trapped by Dr. Doom. Ben gets enraged at the letters and once again reverts to his Thing form.

Sue tells ben she should stop wallowing in self-pity and should instead be trying to comfort him, as he is one of the most wonderful people she knows. The alarm goes off, signaling trouble in the flying saucer they kept after their adventure on Planet X. The three enter, only to find Johnny with a birthday cake for Sue. It turns out the three men of the FF have been planning this for days and they celebrate Sue’s birthday as Willy Lumpkin brings in another huge sack of letters.

From there we get to the main story, the introduction of the Impossible Man. Traveling from the planet Poppup in the 10th Dimension, Impossible Man arrives on Earth, where he meets a group of hobos. Impy is starving, but the hobos won’t give away food, he has to buy it. He doesn’t know what cash is, so they tell him to go to a bank and get some. Impy transforms into a rocket ship and blasts off. He finds a bank and changes into a tiny insect, crawling under the vault door. he then steals a bunch of cash, not realizing what he is doing is wrong, and is confronted by the police. They can’t stop him, as Impossible Man transforms into bullet proof steal.

At this point, the FF are called in. They investigate, finding IM at a restaurant, stuffing his face. he explains that his home planet is so dangerous, the population has learned to evolve instantly to survive, so in effect, he can transform into anything he wants with a thought. The Thing naturally loses his tempter and attacks the alien but Impy turns into a thorn covered plant and Thing gets a bunch of thorns stuck in his hand. Johnny tries to attack him, but IM turns into a giant bag of water and douses his flame. no matter what they try, the Impossible Man has a solution. He leaves the restaurant, having had his meal, and his vacation, ruined by the FF.

When he leaves the restaurant, he realizes that human beings can’t change the way he can. He also comes to the conclusion that he is the most powerful being on the planet now. He can whatever he wants! What he wants to do first is drive a car, so he jumps in one and takes off, having a glorious time driving around. The FF find him and he gets mad at them for spoiling his good time. They once again try to stop him, but to no avail. The national guard shows up, but Impossible Man turns into a bomb and they all run away.

The FF try in vain to stop him again, but the Impossible Man has the time of his life fighting them. he hasn’t had this much fun in ages. In fact, he is going to recommend Earth to the tourist division of Poppop! At this point, reed has one of his more brilliant ideas: he just ignores the Impossible Man and shows no interest in anything he does. He instructs everyone else to do the same, and by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. The entire planet Earth just ignores the Impossible Man, no matter what he does. With his wacky hijinks getting no response from anyone, IM soon grows bored and leaves the Earth, vowing never to return and to tell the rest of his planet to also stay away from the boring Earth.

The FF have saved the day by ignoring their opponent. This was such a great solution, I wonder why it hasn’t been tried on anyone else? I would love to see an issue of the Fantastic Four where Dr. Doom proclaims he is going to take over the world and Reed responds with “Go ahead. Who cares?” It would probably be the greatest issue ever of The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!

COMMENTS:

This issue is a big step in building the relationship between Marvel Comics and its readers. That was part of the appeal of Marvel comics when they first hit the scene. All other comic companies just presented their stories. Marvel Comics attempted to create an atmosphere of fan interaction and even fan participation. Stan Lee always tried to get across the concept that the Marvel creative teams weren’t just these names that produced the issues, they were real people with distinct personalities. They weren’t presented as stuffy professionals just doing a job for a pay check. Lee always tried to make the marvel writers and artists seem like fun-loving people who were trying to make the fans happy. These were almost like your pals, writing and drawing comics just for you.

Marvel always encouraged fans to write in to the comics and made it a point to have jovial, familiar responses to fan letters. this particular issue not only shows a fan on the first page who is thrilled that his letter made the fan page of the FF comic, but it was advertised that the fan letters and post cards actually caused the first part of this comic to be written. The message here is clear: you write and we will listen. Marvel was the comic company for the fans and to an extent, by the fans. This inclusive attitude and embracing of fandom did as much to propel Marvel to the top of the industry as Stan Lee’s more believable, flawed heroes did.

This issue also does a great job of more fully integrating Ben as part of the FF “Family.” Sue and Johnny are siblings, and Reed is Sue’s boyfriend, at least when Namor isn’t around. The three have a strong bond with each other. But before now, Ben was just written as the pilot they hired to fly Reed’s space ship who stays around because he turned into a freak with them. With this issue, he is given a much stronger emotional connection to the other three as it is revealed he and Reed were college roommates and have been best friends for years. Even Sue and Johnny knew him for a long time, as Johnny remarks how he used to cheer for Ben on the football field. Portraying Ben as a close friend of Reed’s for years was a very small detail that made a huge difference in the relationship between the four. They are now not three people with a bond and some guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead, the Fantastic Four are truly a quartet and a family.

The main things that happen in this issue are all in the beginning tale. The main feature is a silly story of the Impossible Man. The story is pure wackiness, but it works because we are warned in advance the story is meant to be silly. As a short story that only takes up a few pages, it was a fun chance of pace with a creative ending. It is also a nice breather before next issue, with is the first ever encounter between the Fantastic Four and one of their all-time great adversaries: The Hulk!

Fantastic Four #10   Leave a comment

Fantastic Four #10

Script: Stan Lee

Pencilling: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

SYNOPSIS:

The story opens with a classic Fantastic Four scene: Reed Richards performing an experiment. This time he is trying to use a fancy X-ray camera to take a picture of Sue while she is invisible. In the early days of the FF, Reed was always performing experiments on his teammates, trying to get a better understanding of their powers and how they work. Johnny is there taking notes, but he “forgot” he was flamed on and the heat he is generating is making Sue uncomfortable. I know Johnny is portrayed as bit of an airhead in these early issues, but not realizing you are on fire is a bit of a stretch. Reed is able to get a faint outline of Sue with his special camera when they notice the FF emergency flare, which must have been fired by The Thing, as Ben is the only one not there.

The FF try to spring into action, but they can’t because the door is locked. Seriously. There is some nuclear powered lock on the door and it is jammed. Johnny tries to burn his way out, but Reed warns him that the nuclear lock is very sensitive to heat and they will be blown up. He then tries to stretch his arm under the door and pilot the Fantasticar to the window, but Reed, the smartest man on the planet, can’t figure out where the hangar for the Fantasticar is, ending up in the Pogo Plane hangar instead. Meanwhile, Johnny makes a discovery: he can burn his fire so hot that it doesn’t give off heat. I don’t understand that either. It’s also nice how Johnny decided to test this theory about his power on the super heat sensitive nuclear powered lock that could have killed them all.

Having finally escaped the dreaded locked room, the FF take to the streets, where they are harassed by everybody they meet. The FF use their powers to get past the throng of fans that are pawing at them as they try to rush to the Thing. They arrive at the apartment of Alicia, who is Ben’s blind girlfriend and the step-daughter of the Puppet Master. The team bursts in expecting an emergency, but instead find out that ben just wants to show them what Alicia has done. It turns out that even though Alicia is blind, she can make amazingly accurate sculptures. She has made small statues of all of the villains that FF have faced up to this point: The Mole Man, the Skrulls, Dr. Doom, the Miracle Man, Korrgo, and Namor. She seems to have forgotten her own step-father was also one of the villains the FF faced.

The team marvels at the detail and skill Alicia has shown, although Sue wonders why Namor was included in the gallery of evil, as he is not bad like the others. Reed takes this moment to finally confront Sue on her feelings for Sub-Mariner, and Sue refuses to talk about it, saying she doesn’t know how she feels.

At this point, the story is interrupted, as it is as far as Stan and Jack were able to get before they had a strange visitor at the Marvel offices: Dr Doom himself! Doom has returned to Earth after being shot into space on a runaway meteor. Doom doesn’t have time to tell the creative team how he survived, let alone returned to Earth. he has much more important things to do, and he needs Lee and Kirby to help him. They have to call the Fantastic Four and say exactly what he says, or he will kill them!

Stan Lee does as he is told, calling the FF and asking Reed to come to their office to discuss a plot. Reed thinks it’s odd, since he just agreed on a story with them yesterday. Ben complains about how ugly they make him look and Reed asks why Ben is in such a bad mood all the time. Uh, Reed? Maybe because you didn’t listen to him about the dangers of cosmic ray exposure and turned him into a deformed, stone skinned, hideous freak for the rest of his life? For somebody who is supposed to be so intelligent, Reed is pretty stupid at times.

Mr. Fantastic takes the bait and shows up at the Marvel offices, where he is knocked out with a sleeping gas gun by Doom. Doom then instructs Lee and Kirby to call the rest of the FF, who will come to save their leader. He gives the writer and artist a card with his address on it and uses mystical means know only to him to vanish. I love the fact that when Doom got back from outer space, not only did he make a new plan to destroy his enemies, he got new business cards made up.

Doom arrives at his new home, where he commands Reed to awaken and tells him his story. Doom was rescued by a super-evolved race of aliens called the Ovoids, who took him in and shipped him back to Earth. However, before Doom went back to Earth, he learned much from the Ovoids, stealing some of their technology, as well as learning the secret of “body switching.” Doom uses this power now to switch bodies with Mr. Fantastic. Doom’s mind is now n Reed’s body and Reed’s is in Doom’s. Reed tries to stop Doom, but Doom uses his new stretchy powered body to make quick work of Reed in Doom’s body. It’s interesting to note that when Doom’s mind is in Reed’s body, he can dispose of Doom’s body with Reed’s mind in two panels, yet when Doom is in his own body, he can take on the entire Fantastic Four. Maybe Doom is just better at having an elastic body than Reed is.

At this point, the rest of the Fantastic Four storm the building, smashing through the door looking for their missing leader. The find Doom and Reed and start to beat up Doom, not knowing it’s really Reed. Doom, as Reed, is urging them on, while Reed tries to tell them that he isn’t actually Dr. Doom, but Reed Richards in Doom’s body. Naturally, the team thinks it is a desperate lie and don’t believe him. They then try to come up with a variety of ways to keep Doom trapped where he won’t do any harm to anybody ever again, like keeping him a flame cage or covering him with a huge boulder. No wonder Reed seems so smart all the time, he is surrounded by idiots. “Reed” then tells them to just keep Doom where he was going to keep them, in a giant glass cage with an oxygen supply. They dump Dooms body in there and take off, leaving fake Reed to taunt fake Doom, telling him he has enough air for an hour and then will die.

Back at the Baxter Building, Doom has settled into his role as Reed Richards. The rest of the FF are hanging around when a collection of tiny animals comes racing out of Reed’s lab. Miniature bears, horses, elephants and others are running around the room as the FF scamper around trying to gather them up. Reed/Doom arrives back and sees the team collecting his tiny animals, which he shrunk with a reducing ray. He tells the team he is going to use the reducing ray to increase their powers. I know what you are thinking: how can a reducing ray make somebody more powerful? It just so happens that Reed/Doom has an answer, and its a doozy!

His theory is that the dinosaurs once ruled the Earth, but their bodies grew huge while their brains stayed the same size. If the dinosaurs were smaller, they would probably rule the Earth to this day. He then says he will shrink the FF members down to tiny sizes, but their powers will remain the same. Then, when he grows them back to their normal sizes, their powers will increase to enhanced levels. If you are thinking this is ridiculous, you are correct. You are also much smarter than the other members of the Fantastic Four, who proceed to brawl with each other hoping to be the first to get the ray used on them. Doom says he will use the ray on all of them, but he needs time to perfect it. The other members leave and Doom reveals his real plan: he will shrink them, but he will keep on shrinking them until they vanish forever. He also says he knows that his explanation was ludicrous, but only Reed Richards was smart enough to realize it. In this issue, the FF are portrayed as being really scatter-brained.

Meanwhile, Reed is trapped not only in a giant glass bowl, he is also trapped in doom’s body. He tries to smash his way out, but it is no use. he then uses the two oxygen tanks to make an explosion, freeing himself. He makes his way to Alicia’s apartment, hoping to convince her of what has happened. However, Alicia is not alone, as an invisible Sue smashes Doom/Reed over the head with a vase and knocks him out. Doom is a very dangerous man, until you put Reed’s body in him. Then he can get manhandled by anybody who crosses his path. Alicia thinks something is wrong, as she senses nobility in Doom’s body. At that moment, Thing and the Torch show up, and Ben is about to kick the Hell out of Doom, but his instinct stops him. He knows something is wrong, but not what. They toss Doom’s body in the Fantasticar and head back to the Baxter Building.

At the Baxter Building, the truth comes out. The Thing and the Human Torch get the feeling that Reed isn’t talking like Reed, and Johnny comes up with a wacky plan. There are some construction workers excavating a building foundation nearby. Johnny super heats up the air around the dynamite, creating a mirage and making it appear as if the dynamite is in the room. Why this didn’t make the actual dynamite explode and kill the workers is not explained. Seeing the dynamite, Reed, in Doom’s body, leaps on top of the dynamite to save his teammates. Doom, in Reed’s body, tries to slither up a vent to escape and save himself. Thing grabs a hold of him and drags him back into the room. The shock of being discovered snaps Doom’s mental concentration and he and Reed switch back to their original bodies.

Surrounded by the FF, Dr. Doom tries to fight his way out of the situation. He fires a blast from his armor at Reed, but Mr. Fantastic dodges it. the blast hits the reducing ray and triggers it, bathing Doom in the beam. He then shrinks down to nothingness and vanishes as the FF realize how smart Reed is.

COMMENTS:

The cover of this issue is of particular interest. Not only does it show the intriguing prospect of Dr. Doom as a member of the Fantastic Four with Reed Richards being evil, it also shows a rear view of the creators of the FF themselves, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The issue promises that Stan and Jack would be in the actual issue.

I really like that the love triangle between Reed, Sue and Namor is mentioned in this issue. When the book first started, Reed and Sue were engaged and in love. Early on, Sue became enthralled with Prince Namor and Reed didn’t seem to mind. In this issue, Lee and Kirby seem to remember that Reed and sue are supposed to be an item and have Reed finally call Sue out on her blatant lusting after another man.

I also enjoy the relationship between Ben and Alicia. Before Alicia was introduced, ben was just angry and bitter all the time, flying off the handle at the smallest provocation. After Alicia shows up, Ben begins to show the inner sensitivity and soul beneath his gruff exterior he is now known for. Alicia, being blind, can’t see how hideous Ben has become and it allows him to be himself around her. Around everyone else, he always seems self-conscious and defensive. but with Alicia, he can just be himself. Alicia isn’t bothered at all by Ben’s appearance. she only cares about what kind of man he is on the inside. There is also the interesting factor that while Ben desperately wants to look human again, Alicia actually prefers him as the Thing. They have a great relationship, one of my favorites in comics.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby appearing in the issue is a classic Marvel move. This issue establishes the concept that the Marvel characters exist in our world and the comic book that the reader is holding in their hands is based on the heroes actual exploits. ┬áIt’s an idea that will be referenced from time to time in the Marvel Universe to this day.

There are some nice little touches in this comic. The Reed/Sue/Namor stuff is nice and the Ben/Alicia relationship is always great. The introduction of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby into the Marvel U is a lot of fun. However, the plot itself for this issue is pretty weak. The science logic is bizarre and the FF are written as being power hungry idiots for most of the issue. The main thing about the plot that is good is that Dr Doom has returned to Earth, even if he was shrunken down to nothingness at the end.

We all know that won’t last long.

Fantastic Four #6   Leave a comment

Fantastic Four #6

Credits simply “By Stan Lee and J. Kirby”

SYNOPSIS:

The story begins with The Human Torch flying through the air towards the Fantastic four’s skyscraper headquarters. Pedestrians in the streets are gawking at the Torch, proclaiming him a “living legend” and amazed that they were able to catch a glimpse of him. The idea of the FF as celebrities in NYC was toyed with previously, but with this page, it seems to be becoming more of a staple of the book. The Invisible Girl is also among the crowd, wondering of Johnny has found any news as to the whereabouts of Dr. Doom. The crowd is a little unnerved that she was around and they didn’t know and she quickly leaves before the crowd turns on her.

Sue arrives at the FF headquarters, which is now given the name “The Baxter Building.” She uses a special belt buckle device to open the express elevator to the 34th floor, where the FF make their home, and we get another classic cutaway view of their headquarters and all of the various rooms and vehicles they have on hand.

With no sign of Doom, the FF start to read their fan mail. Reed realizes a sick boy in the hospital across the street is a big fan of theirs and stretches across the street into his window. This is an important conversation because it establishes the concept of “unstable molecules,” a fabric that Reed created that allows his costume to adapt and change to his stretching body. back at the Baxter Building, the Thing is challenged to a fight by The Yancy Street Gang, a bunch of teenage hoodlums who will be a thorn in Ben’s side from this point forward.

The FF continue to discuss Doom and Namor. they seem to be very worried about these two, which instantly makes them seem like legitimate threats. they comment that Doom is the more purely evil of the two, while Namor is more of a man who has just been hurt and is now angry and bitter. It’s an important distinction, as Namor has always been more of an anti-hero than a true villain, the groundwork for which is laid in these early issues.

As if on cue, we find Namor swimming in the ocean with a school of dolphin, where he is approached by Dr. doom in an “aerosub.” Doom introduces himself as a fellow man who wants revenge on the Fantastic Four and the rest of the human race. Namor quickly agrees to join forces with Doom to take on their common enemy.

Doom uses his vehicle to follow Namor to his undersea home. There, Doom claims that the surface world no longer fears Namor, as he has seemingly called off his war on the surface world. Scanning the room, doom quickly discovers the reason why: Namor has a framed photo of the object of his desire: Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl. If Namor were to do battle with the FF, it would bring him in opposition of the woman he loves. Namor is angered at Doom’s interest is Sue and Doom pounces on that anger, reminding Namor how the surface dwellers destroyed his kingdom of Atlantis with atomic bomb tests and caused his still missing people to flee their homes. Doom goads Namor, making him angrier and angrier, until Namor proclaims that while he won’t hurt Sue, he will help Doom defeat the other three members of the FF. He then shows Namor his newest invention, a “grabber” that can be sent in any direction and used to pick up and transport any object, no matter how large.

Back at the Baxter Building, Johnny discovers a photo of the Sub-mariner hidden behind some books. Sue tries to get it back, but Johnny is mad that his sister is keeping a picture of their arch-enemy. She tries to get it back but Johnny burns it to ash. Reed and Ben come in, and Johnny tells them what is going on. Reed seems mildly annoyed that his fiance is keeping a photo of another man, who just so happens to be their enemy. Sue defends herself, saying she doesn’t understand the attraction. yes, Namor tried to defeat them, but she feels something gentle inside of him. Just then, Namor himself makes an appearance. Thing tries to attack him, but Reed holds him back as Sue demands the FF allow Namor to say his piece. Johnny throws a ring of fire around Namor, but Sub-Mariner is unfazed by it.

Johnny next tries melting the floor around Namor, but Namor doesn’t fall, as the tiny little wings on his ankles allow him to defy gravity. Johnny’s own flame is extinguished, as he has run out of power. Namor claims he is there for a truce, but Reed is skeptical, even as Sue claims Namor is being sincere. Reed and Johnny run around the Baxter Building, looking for any traps Namor might have set. They don’t find anything, but just as Namor is busy telling of his plans to take Sue out on the town, the entire Baxter Building is torn off of the ground and begins to hurtle upwards into space, where Dr. Doom is waiting in a space ship. It seems Namor planted the “grabber” in a dark corner of the basement and Doom is using it to bring the entire building into space.

Namor is just as surprised and angered by this turn of events as the FF. Doom feels this was the only way to rid himself of the only people capable f stopping his quest for world domination: the Fantastic Four, as well as Namor himself! The FF and Namor don oxygen helmets, and the Torch tries to fly out the window, forgetting that their is no oxygen to fuel his fire in outer space. Reed saves him, then stretches after Doom’s plane. He almost reaches the ship, but Doom shoots him at the last second and Reed is sent back to the Baxter Building. The Thing realizes his strength is useless in space, so instead decides he will beat up Namor instead! Namor and Thing wrestle each other to a stalemate until Doom comes over the loudspeaker, announcing he is sending the Baxter Building, with the Ff and namor inside of it, straight into the sun.

Namor decides he is the only one that can save the day. He first goes for a refreshing swim, powering himself up for the trip through straight. He then goes flying out of the building, leaping from meteor to meteor until making his way to Doom’s spaceship. Doom quickly traps Namor to the floor using his amazing powers of magnetism. Doom’s magnetism devices are so powerful, they apparently don’t even need metal to make them work. Unable to rise, Namor instead focuses his strength downward, pushing open the ship and getting inside. Sub-Mariner tries to enter Doom’s captain pit, but Doom sends a blast of electricity at Namor. Namor, however, absorbs the electricity and sends it back towards Doom’s room, charging everything with electricity. With no way to pilot the ship now that he can’t touch the controls, Doom leaps out of the ship and grabs hold of a passing meteor, sailing away from Namor and the FF.

With Doom out of the picture, Namor uses Doom’s ship to guide the Baxter Building back to Earth and right back onto it’s foundation. The Fantastic Four owe Namor their lives. Thing still questions whether he wants to shake Namor’s hand or smash him, while Sue defends him. Namor, back in the ocean where he belongs, summons the “grabber” and disposes of it in the ocean, along with Doom’s space ship. He then says he may return to the surface world one day, but for now, the ocean is his home.

COMMENTS:

The first two issues of the Fantastic Four introduced villains The Mole Man and The Skrulls, both of which were quality opponents that we will see many more times in the future. The third issue had the FF go up against The Miracle Man, a generic opponents without much to offer in terms of longevity. The following issue re-introduced Namor, the Sub-Mariner, who is a terrific character with a rich history in the Marvel Universe. that was followed by the introduction of Dr. Doom, who will go on to the be the Fantastic Four’s greatest villain, as well as one of the best characters in all of comic books. This current issue is the first one to have returning villains, as opposed to introducing a new one. Both Prince Namor and Dr. Doom return in this issue to battle the Fantastic four, showing the faith that Lee and Kirby had in these particular characters as foils for the Fantastic Four.

In addition to establishing both Namor and Doom as villains with lasting power, this issue introduces some concepts that are staples of the Fantastic Four to this day. Unstable Molecules are introduced in this issue, and they are used to explain every problem a costume might cause from this point on. Unstable molecules allow Reed’s costume to stretch along with his body, allow Johnny’s costume to stay intact when he ignites, and any other issue that needs to be explained away. The Yancy Street Gang also get their first mention in this issue and will play a huge part in fleshing out The Thing’s character in the months and years to come.

This issue not only establishes both Namor and Dr. Doom as major adversaries for the FF, it also points out the difference between the two men. While Doom is a genius and a planner, Namor acts more on instinct, letting anger and rage fuel his actions. Doom wants to be in control at all times while Namor will fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. However, Doom is also the more evil of the two, while Namor is more an angry and hurt man, lashing out at the world that has wronged him. Doom is bent on world domination for purely selfish reasons, but Namor is more of a noble man, a ruler of a people who have been wronged and he seeks revenge on them to right that wrong.

This is another strong issue of the title and another important one, as it ads even more of the signature elements of a Fantastic four story. Unstable Molecules and the Yancy Street Gang make their debut. The Baxter Building gets its name. Dr. Doom is also established as the main adversary for the FF, for while both he and Namor made their second appearances in this comic, it was Namor who eventually joined forces with the FF, while Doom stayed the evil, would be ruler of the world he would always be.

Posted April 27, 2011 by John V. Ferrigno in Fantastic Four

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Fantastic Four #5   Leave a comment

Fantastic Four #5

Only credits once again “Stan Lee + J. Kirby”

SYNOPSIS:

We open on Dr. Doom standing before a chess board with pieces in the shape of the Fantastic Four. He also has a book called “Science and Sorcery” on the table, which is an immediate clue as to the nature of Doom. Doom says it is time for him to deal with the Fantastic Four, for he is the only one who is capable of doing so.

Back at the skyscraper the FF call home, Johnny Storm is busy reading the first issue of The Incredible Hulk comic book and raving about it. He compares the title character to the Thing, which leads to the usual Thing vs Torch brawl, which is broken up by Reed and Susan. As the team wonders why they spend so much time fighting each other, the poer gets cut and a huge net is dropped over the top of the building.

Dr. Doom announces he has come to defeat the Fantastic Four and he wants Susan Storm as a hostage. Reed recognizes his voice and quickly tells the other three members about his old classmate in college, Victor Von Doom, who was a brilliant science student, but also interested in sorcery and the black arts. He conducted dangerous experiments, one of which scarred his face. He was expelled from the school and last anyone heard, was wandering Tibet, still searching for dark rituals to contact the netherworld.

With Sue as a hostage, the other members of the FF are forced to board Doom’s helicopter and are then flown to his castle. There, they are sent back in time to retrieve Blackbeard’s treasure. An interesting note is that Doom’s famous sense of honor and honesty is noted right from his first appearance. No matter how evil Doom is always perceived to be, he does not lie to anyone, and if he gives his word, he will keep it. it’s one of his most famous character traits and one that was a part of him right from his very first appearance.

Fearing for Sue’s safety, the Fantastic Four go back hundreds of years in the past to search for Blackbeard’s treasure. The three quickly come across some clothing, dressing in era-appropriate outfits. They even get an eye patch and fake beard for Ben, trying to hide his strange appearance as much as possible. The three decide this is a good time to take a break and go to a tavern, where they are drugged and put to sleep. The men who were responsible for their ill-timed nap bring them aboard their ship as shanghaied crew members, but the Thing wakes up and beats up all the pirates as Johnny and Reed watch from the sidelines.

Proving his superior strength, the Thing takes control of the crew. They quickly come under attack by another ship and the FF use their powers, along with their newfound crew mates, to board the second ship and attack the crew. They find the treasure chest as their crew proclaims the Thing to be “Blackbeard,” the most feared pirate on the seas. It turns out they came back to the past not to find Blackbeard, but to create the legend themselves! Reed divides the treasure amongst the crew and fills the chest with heavy chains. he says they agreed to bring back Blackbeard’s chest, not the treasure itself. They prepare to return back to the present day, but the Thing decides he wants to stay. In their time, he is a freak and a monster, but in the past, he is a leader of men and the inspiration for a legend. he orders his crew to tie up Johnny and Reed so they can’t stop him from leaving them behind. However, a twister appears over the water and destroys the ship, washing the three FF members on shore along with the chest.

As the Thing apologizes for getting caught up in the excitement and losing his head, Doom transports the FF back to the present day. Gaining the chest, Doom reveals the gems in Blackbeard’s treasure were originally owned by merlin and that the owner of the gems will be invincible. Opening the chest and finding only chains, Dr. Doom is angered, but the FF swing int action. The Thing hits Doom over the head with a powerful smashing blow, but it is revealed Doom is just a robot. The real Doom is hidden upstairs, and he is going to drain the room of oxygen, killing the three men.

As Reed, Ben and Johnny desperately try to escape the room before they suffocate, Sue turns invisible and causes havok in the castle. First, she blows up a bunch of equipment in Doom’s room, stunning him. Then she runs down to the airtight room, finding a hidden button that opens the door and saving the rest of the Fantastic Four. The four make their escape from the castle, which Johnny decides to burn down. Doom is happy his castle will burn, since it will destroy secrets he doesn’t want discovered by anyone. Dr. Doom then flies away with the aid of a jet pack at speeds that make it impossible for Johnny to catch him.

The story ends with the four wondering what is next for them with booth Doom and Namor still on the loose after the events of this issue and the last.

COMMENTS:

This issue starts a long standing tradition of Marvel comic books appearing in the Marvel Universe. It is understood that the actual adventures the heroes of this world go on are later published in comic book form, to tell readers what happened. The comic books that exist in the Marvel Universe are the same comics that exist in our world, adding some texture to the concept that all of these adventures take place in the “real” world.

This is also the first appearance of Dr. Doom, by far the most famous villain in the Fantastic Four’s rogues gallery. No villain in the Marvel Universe is more synonymous with a specific hero or heroes than Dr. Doom is with the Fantastic Four. Doom is SUCH a great character that in some ways, he is almost TOO good of a character. He is so much more popular than the other villains in their collection of foes that many casual fans feel that he is their only real threat. The truth is, the Fantastic Four has one of the largest and richest collection of villains in all of comic books, but none are so good they approach the level of Victor Von Doom. Doom is such a perfect foil for the FF, and Reed in particular, that his presence is never really gone. Even when he does not appear in the title, there is always this subtle unease, like he could show at any time. He is so intwined with the FF that he is like a member of their own family. Every Fantastic Four fan wants more Doom, and every new writer feels th need to write their version of a Doom story. Every great super-hero has their premiere arch-nemesis and for the Fantastic Four, there is little doubt that villain is Dr. Doom.

In this issue, Doom is mentioned to be Reed’s former classmate from college. What is interesting is that there is no mention of Ben Grimm knowing him, as it will later be established that Ben was Reed’s college roommate and that is how the two of them met. At this point, nothing is known of Ben’s past, save that he had some type of experience as a pilot. His connection to both Reed and Doom will not be revealed until a later issue.

This issue establishes most of the character traits Doom will possess over the next fifty years. He is supremely confidant, highly intelligent and skilled in both science and sorcery. He is obsessed with destroying the Fantastic Four and becoming the ruler of the world. he is also a master at robotics and prefers living in a castle when possible. With his dangerous inventions, high tech battle armor, and command of both science and black magic, Doom is more than a match for the Fantastic Four, and he will be a continuous presence in the book from this point on.

Posted April 26, 2011 by John V. Ferrigno in Fantastic Four

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