Archive for the ‘Namor’ Tag

Fantastic Four #14: Reed is a Pig! or A Fish for Every Need!   1 comment

FANTASTIC FOUR #14

Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering; Art Simek

SYNOPSIS:

After defeating The Red Ghost and hi Super-Apes last issue, the FF are returning to Earth. They are first humans to make a round trip to the Moon and are expecting a heroes welcome when they return. As the FF land the space ship, they see a huge mob of reporters and on-lookers gathered to witness the landing, which is being broadcast to TV stations around the entire globe.

When The Fantastic four emerge from the plane, they are met by throngs of fans, reporters and people looking to make a quick buck. Reed is grabbed by two rival factions of the Mr. Fantastic Fan Club, who are swooning over the handsome scientist/super-hero. Ben Grimm sees a promoter who is challenging Ben to take on his wrestler in a match, a challenge Ben answers in his usual fashion: he grabs the wrestler by the legs and dumps in head first into a garbage can. Sue is offered both a lifetime Hollywood contract and the chance to endorse a deodorant on TV.

For some reason, nobody seems too interested in Johnny and he uses the opportunity to try out a new trick. He flies around in a circle faster and faster, making a current of air that sucks up his teammates and flies them to the top of their skyscraper headquarters. Back inside, the four are happy to be home, when they have this glorious exchange:

Sue: Hmmm, I think I better do a little house cleaning!

Reed: Just so long as you do it silently!

This male chauvinist pig is the guy all those teenage women were fawning over two pages earlier? the Marvel universe was a very special place in the 1960s. And Reed actually wonders why Sue won’t choose him over Namor?

After this incident, Reed goes looking for Sue. Is it to apologize for talking to her as if she were an abused orphan child in a Charles Dickens novel? Of course not! Reed needs her to do some typing for him! Reed finds her looking at the ocean floor on TV, searching for Namor. Reed wishes the FF would find Namor again so they could settle their differences once and for all, then wanders off, leaving Sue to do his typing for him while he thinks about how wonderful he is and how he can do anything he sets his mind to…..except win the heart of the woman he loves. I swear I am not making this up. This is what happens in the story.

Our story then shifts to a local sanitarium, where a mysterious man is being released. The official at the looney bin says the man is cured and can be released. The man replies that he has been cured for months, but he is staying at the sanitarium so the world can forget him, something that other people would not understand. Which is clearly an indication that this man is not, in fact, sane and should not be released into society. Of course, this being the wacky Marvel U, nobody thinks this answer is strange and the man walks out, revealing himself to be the Puppet Master. PM is ready to seek revenge on the FF and he will use the Sub-Mariner to do it.

Namor is swimming under the sea, looking for clues as to the whereabouts of his lost people. He finds some evidence of their existence, but he is overtaken by the Puppet Master before he can investigate further. Namor uses his “Mento-Fish” to send his thoughts to Sue Storm, pleading with her to come to meet him. Sue receives the message telepathically and takes off, making sure she isn’t seen by her male teammates in the Fantastic Four. Sue finds Namor on a pier, where he uses a “hypno-fish” to hypnotize Sue. The fish then encases her in an air bubble and Namor brings him under the ocean to his aquatic home.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed is testing the limits of Ben’s strength, while Johnny screws around with them. Namor suddenly appears and Torch attacks him, flying straight through him. Reed informs them that one of Namor’s powers is the ability to project a holographic image of himself using his Atlantean undersea technology. Namor informs the FF that he has Sue held captive and he dares them to come and get her. The FF check to see if Sue is around, as they never notice her absence until they need the ironing done or something, and find out she is gone. This causes the FF to launch into action as the Puppet Master, in a Navy surplus sub, gloats about his master plan.

Before they leave, the FF make plans in case they don’t return. Reed and Johnny go to leave the keys to their secret files with the police commissioner while Ben goes to say goodbye to Alicia. Alicia is terrified about the FF going to fight Namor, especially in his undersea domain. Ben, feeling horrible that he made his girlfriend cry, decides to take her with them. Naturally, if I was going to fight my most powerful opponent in the environment where was at his strongest, I would bring my blind girlfriend with me too.

The FF and Alicia hop into a undersea vehicle they borrowed from a Navy Admiral and head to the ocean floor, looking for Namor. They have no clue where he is, so they just randomly explore the deepest parts of the ocean, hoping to stumble upon him. Because it’s not like the ocean is that big or anything.

They must be getting close to Namor’s undersea home, as they are suddenly attacked by super powered porcupine fish that shoot needles at them, followed by something causing an undersea tornado. The escape that only to be swallowed a gigantic undersea clam, which gives off chloroform vapors that put the FF and Alicia to sleep.

They awake in Namor’s undersea fortress, where Namor declares they are his prisoners. Reed boasts that they were not taken prisoner, but instead finally succeeded in tracking down Namor. I’m sure that bing knocked unconscious by a giant, chloroform emitting clam was all part of Reed’s master plan.

namor shows the FF that he has Sue encased in a giant air bubble, which is being assaulted by the mightiest giant octopus in the seven seas. Then, for the first time in this issue, Reed says something that actually doesn’t make him sound like either a male chauvinist pig or a total moron. He realizes that Namor actually loves Sue and would never willingly put her in that much danger. Something must be wrong here.

The insanity continues as the FF do battle with Namor, who uses various fish as weapons. He uses a flame eating fish in the shape of a two pronged battle club to beat up the Human Torch. When The Thing joins the fray, Namor first attacks him with a giant razor sharp needle fish, then throws some undersea fungus at him, which expands and hardens, trapping Ben in a giant stone like ball. Thing uses his super strength to burst free, much to Namor’s surprise.

Reed decides he will take on Namor one on one while Ben goes to rescue Sue. Reed uses his stretchy body to trap the Sub-Mariner in an elastic cage. Meanwhile, Thing jumps into the watery tank and attacks the octopus, tossing him out of the cage. He also talks a lot of trash, using his before now unrevealed power to speak underwater. Ben then rescues Sue and mentions how happy he is she hasn’t made a sound during the ordeal, observing he has never met a woman who could keep her mouth closed this long. Women’s Lib was probably started because of Stan Lee dialogue.

The Puppet Master is unhappy with how the fight is going and decides he needs to intervene. Puppet Master orders Namor to kill the FF. Namor takes his ultimate weapon, a fish that is shaped like the barrel of a Gatling gun and releases a gas that no living thing can withstand. How he plans on surviving this is something he doesn’t appear to give much thought to. Alicia senses another presence, a mental controlling power, like that of her step-father. Reed realizes that would explain everything and tries to reason with Namor, and Sub-Mariner struggles with the mental control he is under.

Namor fails an releases the deadly gas, but Reed was prepared and covers everyone face with “Flex-O-Gen” plastic sheeting. I don’t know what that is or why reed didn’t sell it to the US military for millions of dollars. I think he secretly likes to reveal his greatest inventions only in dramatic situations.

Meanwhile, as the FF attack Namor while Sue begs them not to, the giant octopus that ben flung to the ceiling crashes through the dome and into the ocean. The octopus, angry at being hurled across a high tech death palace and into the ocean, attacks the first thing it sees, which is the Puppet Master’s submarine. PM tries to control the octopus, using his clay to make a puppet of the octopus.  He is forced to use the clay that comprises the Namor puppet, as he only has seconds to make the puppet. Namor is freed from the PM’s control, but it was al for naught, as Puppet Master can not control the mind of a creature that is almost mindless. The octopus assaults the sub as Namor comes to his senses.

Sub-Mariner has no memory of what happened, but he is hoping Sue has come to share his undersea kingdom with him. Sue says her loyalty is with Reed, but her heart may one day belong to Namor. With the incident over, Namor has no desire to fight the FF. He only wants to continue his search for his missing race of “Sub-Mariners.” the FF leave the undersea domain, wondering if Namor will ever be their friend and if the Puppet Master was really behind this altercation.

COMMENTS:

This issue continues the recurring theme of Reed being, to put it bluntly, a real piece of shit. Seriously, this guy is a grade A asshole. He tells Sue if she cleans the house, she should do it quietly so as not to disturb him. Next time he goes to see her, is it to apologize? No, it’s to have her type up his report to NASA about his new rocket fuel. He berates her, gives her menial secretarial chores to do, then goes off to wonder why she doesn’t love him completely.

This issue brings forth some classic Lee/Kirby FF wackiness. The Hypno-fish and Mento-Fish are beyond strange. the gigantic clam that emits chloroform vapors is so strange I don’t even know what to say about it.

It’s nice to see The Puppet Master return, as he was a great villain and a lot of fun. Also, since Alicia has become a regular supporting character as Ben’s girlfriend, there is a nice added layer of Puppet Master being Alicia’s step-father. It makes him part super-villain, part evil pseudo-family member.

I also really like Namor back as the villain. It’s very surprising to me how Namor, and not Dr. Doom, seems to be the FF’s primary opponent. He’s a really great foil for them, as not only is he physically a match for the entire team in a fight, the Reed-Sue-Namor love triangle always makes for interesting drama. At this point in the history of the Fantastic Four, I find Namor to be, by far, their most interesting opponent. He isn’t evil, he is a confused monarch without a kingdom, looking for the rest of his people and blaming the surface world for their disappearance. His motivations are far more complex than the usual super-villain fare, and his fight scenes are always wacky fun.

Another small thing I like about this story is that while the readers know the Puppet Master was behind it all, Namor and the FF have no idea if it was really him or not. They thought he was dead after their last altercation with him. Now, they do not know if he has returned, or if their is some new menace that orchestrated events. It’s a nice little touch.

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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.  It’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 #9   Leave a comment

Fantastic Four #9

This is the first issue of Fantastic Four with actual credits, which is refreshing. I think everybody who works on a book should get credit for their contributions. The credits aren’t as extensive as they are these days, but it’s a nice start:

Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

SYNOPSIS:

We begin our story this issue with a very bizarre scene: Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is in his deserted hidden undersea kingdom watching television. Yes, Atlantis was destroyed by atomic testing, all of his subjects vanished to save their lives, but for some reason, he still manages to get reception on his underwater television set. I guess even Namor can’t spend all of his time talking to fish and staring longingly at his framed photograph of Susan storm.

Namor sees on the news that the Fantastic Four are bankrupt and will be splitting up and selling all of their possessions to pay their debts. It turns out, this is just the type of opportunity Namor has been waiting for.

We then see the FF in their home at the Baxter Building, where they are being harassed by a bunch of creditors and various people they owe money to. It turns out Reed made a fortune by selling the patents to his amazing inventions, but he then invested it in the stock market and the market cashed, wiping them out. So while Reed is the smartest person on the planet, if not the universe, even he can’t understand stocks and investment. The Thing berates him for being a big shot and wasting their fortune, and Reed warns him not to push it, or else Reed will reach his breaking point. The other members of the FF try to think of ways to earn money, but Reed tells them the only way is to disband and sell their inventions and property to make money. I get why selling the Pogo Plane and the Baxter Building would get them a bunch of money so they could pay their bills, but I have no idea why they would also have to disband. I think Stan Lee just liked the idea that the FF were constantly on the verge of breaking up.

Ben throws his usual temper tantrum and storms out, deciding he is better off without them anyway. He tries to hail a cab, but the cab driver says he knows the FF don’t have a penny to their name, and he isn’t going to get stuck with the taxi fair when The Thing doesn’t pay his bill. Ben gets mad and picks the cab up, twirling it overhead and terrorizing the driver. He then impales the cab on a big clock on a pole, destroying it. If the driver didn’t think Ben had the money for a trip downtown, I wonder how he thinks he’s going to get the money to ay for a new cab, plus lawyer fees, and whatever other damages Thing will have to pay for pain and suffering.

Not getting a ride from a cab, Thing fires the FF flare gun, summoning Johnny in a section of the Fantasticar. Ben is glad that the Fantasticar didn’t get sold yet, because he needs a ride. I am guessing Ben has never heard of the subway.

Later, Ben is in the apartment of Alicia, who we met last issue. it seems the two have struck up a friendship. Alicia made a doll of a white night for Ben, because she knows he is noble and kind and would never desert his friends. Ben says that even though Alicia is blind, she sees things much better than he does, and he feels ashamed for how he acted. He returns to the FF just as the get a telegram asking them to star in a movie, for which they will be paid a million dollars. This money would allow them to pay off their bills and get a fresh start, so they agree to go to Hollywood to do it. They have no transportation anymore (I’m assuming the Fantasticar was sold in the last 20 minutes) and traveling cross-country is expensive, so they do what any band of super-heroes in 1962 would do: they take to the highway and stick out their thumbs!

The FF arrive in Hollywood at the newly form “SM Studios,” (Get it?) and mingle with some Hollywood stars. Jackie Gleason shows them they way to the main office, where they discover the big shot producer who hired them is none other than Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner! It turns out that Namor has access to all the wealth of the sea, such as buried treasure, sunken ships, etc. He is LOADED! In his boredom, he decided to form a movie studio and make a movie about the Fantastic Four. Sue is taken in by his confidence, reminding readers the two have a strong attraction to each other.

Namor gives the FF partial payment for their starring roles, and the money seems genuine. Johnny immediately rushes out and buys a fancy sports car. Apparently, Johnny has learned nothing about fiscal responsibility. Mere hours before, the FF was bankrupt and ready to disband. They finally get some cash and instead of getting their operation up and running, Johnny buys a fancy ride and goes out to pick up chicks in Hollywood. Typical Johnny attitude! Torch gets a bunch of girls to go riding with him, but he won’t tell them his name or who he is. This doesn’t stop the girls from getting in the car with him. The world was a very different place in 1962. They cruise around a while, but when they see the road ahead is unpaved, Johnny Storm does his typical showboating and shoots fireballs out in front of him, paving the road himself! The girls realize he is The Human Torch and that makes him even better than the movie star they thought he was! This is another step towards the FF being portrayed as huge super-stars n the world.

Ben goes to the beach, but the other people having fun annoys him, so he gathers them all up in his arms and tosses them into the ocean. Meanwhile, Sue dines with Namor, who avoids the question of why he is being so helpful to the FF. Sue, being her usual inquisitive self, doesn’t press the issue, and just finishes her meal while making pupy eyes at the Prince of Atlantis.

The next day, the FF set sail on a boat for “Hidden Isle,” which really should have changed its name once Namor found out. Subby tells Reed that he is going to go battle a mechanical Cyclops on the island and Namor will film it from the boat with a telescopic lens. Reed stretches over to the island to discover the Cyclops isn’t mechanical at all, but a real Cyclops! A really cool fight scene occurs at this point, as Reed uses his elastic body to combat the towering giant. Cyclops smashes Reed with a boulder, but all it does is flatten Mr. Fantastic, doing no real damage. Reed then position himself between two tall rocks, and Cyclops throws another boulder. Reed absorbs the giant rock with his stretchy body and slingshots it back at the Cyclops. Enraged, the giant charges at Reed, but Mr. Fantastic again uses his stretchy body to trip up the giant, sending him falling down into a huge pit.

Next up is Johnny’s turn. Namor drops him on an island, where he is instructed to do battle with a group of natives. What Johnny doesn’t know is that the people of this particular island have a magic potion that makes them immune to fire! Namor, instead of using this knowledge to help the world combat the threat of fires, decided to keep it a secret in case he ever needed to hatch an elaborate ruse to kill the Human Torch.

Johnny flames on, but the natives are not afraid of his fire. With nothing else to do, Johnny just flies around until his flame dies out, and which point he is taken captive. While he is a gigantic cage, the natives mix up a new batch of magic potion and then show off their fire resistant skills, walking through flames and swallowing fire. I guess just being unharmed by The Human Torch’s flame wasn’t proof enough. Having witnessed this spectacle, Johnny has passed enough time to recharge his flame and has some tricks of his own to show off.

Johnny flames back on, destroying the bamboo cage he was held in. He then makes a bunch of flame duplicates of himself, and the natives can’t figure out which one is the real Torch (hint: it’s the one that’s talking.) Johnny can’t combat them directly, so instead he flies into a smoldering volcano, making it erupt and flood the island with molten lava. If you can’t battle a group of people the next best thing to do is destroy their entire civilization and the secret of their flame resistant magic potion. Great decision, Johnny!

Its now time for The Thing’s big scene, which is a fight on the beach with Namor himself! Ben asks what makes Namor think he can win a fight with the Thing. Besides the fact that Namor kicked the crap out of the entire FF a few issues ago that is. For an answer, Namor punches Ben in the face, knocking him for a loop. Namor pummels Ben over and over again, beating him senseless. Ben wonders why Namor never gets tired from handing out the ass-kicking of a lifetime, before realizing the water keeps Namor strong. Ben isn’t the quickest thinker around and it takes him a few panels of getting beaten half to death to figure out that the Prince of Atlantis likes the water.

Ben drags Namor away from the surf and starts to get the upper hand. Weakened by the lack of water, Namor starts to lose as thing belts him with a huge right cross. Just then, in a bizarre twist of fate, The Thing is hit by a huge bolt of lightning! The Thing, not killed by the bolt, is instead transformed back into his human form! Now a normal human, he is easily knocked unconscious by a weakened Namor, who leaves his foe on the beach as he staggers off to find water and recharge his strength.

Namor goes back to his movie studio and meets Sue, who has been sitting around waiting for the others to return. Namor informs her that he has triumphed over them all! He then unveils his master plan: Namor wanted to dispose of the rest of the FF so that Sue would be free to marry him! Susan tells Namor if he was just honest about his feelings and didn’t go through this huge charade, she might have said yes, but she will fight Namor for what he did to the rest of the Fantastic Four. Some women just don’t appreciate romantic gestures!

Namor uses “all of the powers of the creatures of the sea” to combat Sue, charging the air with electricity and using a deep sea radar sense to locate her invisible form. Just as he captures her and says he likes a woman who fights back (the creepy rapist that he is), the rest of the FF burst into the room, arguing with each other in true Fantastic Fur fashion over over who gets to hit Namor first.

Just as the guys are about to pummel Namor, Sue jumps in front of him, stopping them. She says what he did, he did for love. Plus, it is three against one and they have never ganged up anyone before. Except, or course, in every single issue of the Fantastic Four so far when the FF ganged up on the villain in that issue. Sue is always confused about things when Namor is around.

Namor promises to live up to his end of the bargain. He will finish the movie and they will get paid. Namor wanders off into the ocean, heartbroken, as the FF celebrate that they are stars of a huge hit movie and now have the money to continue their wacky adventures!

COMMENTS:

We get another page in this issue of Johnny explaining his powers to us. He says he can fly because the intense heat that surrounds his body when he flames on makes his molecules lighter than air. He also says water is his biggest enemy and he studies weather patterns to make sure he doesn’t fly into a rain storm. He practices constantly, running obstacle courses and trying to be as observant as possible, so he can help the FF with missions from his aerial vantage point. He also says he can reach speeds so fast that he can create a sonic boom, so he is careful not to fly that fast over populated areas. Johnny also explains that his flame can only burn for a limited amount of time and the hotter he burns and faster he flies, the sooner it burns out.

In the early days of the FF, Johnny was clearly the most most powerful member of the team. His flame was always able to stop Ben in their usual brawls and it was usually the most feared weapon by their opponents. marvel got a lot of fan mail supporting the Torch as a favorite character and he is clearly being made out to be the star of the book. As time went on, the focus would shift more toward The Thing, but for the first year or so, The Human Torch seemed to be the most prominent member of the Fantastic Four.

This is a very interesting story, with the plot point of the FF being bankrupt being particularly great. Having a big, high-tech secret headquarters and fantastic inventions and vehicles costs a fortune, and beating up the Mole Man doesn’t exactly earn you top dollar. It’s stories like this one that made the Fantastic Four so much more realistic than the competition’s super hero books. The Justice League of America never got notices from the electric company they were behind on their bill. But the FF not only had money problems, they had creditors beating down their door and chasing them into the streets!

The relationship between Namor and Sue is also a terrific touch. Namor truly does love Sue and she has strong feelings for him, too. In fact,  her feelings are so strong for him that she would have considered being his bride if he hadn’t beat up her friends to try to win her hand in marriage. This is a woman who is supposedly engaged to Reed Richards, yet she never shows the type of passion and longing for Reed that she does for Namor, at least in these early issues.

Namor is the perfect example of a Marvel style villain. He isn’t really evil just for the sake of being evil, like other comic book villains up to that point. He really isn’t evil at all. He just lives by different moral standards than humanity. He wasn’t trying to take over the world, he was just trying to marry the woman he loves. He doesn’t have real animosity towards the FF, he just sees them as obstacles in the way of getting what he wants and so he feels he has to eliminate them to win Sue. If his crazy plan had worked, he wouldn’t have gone on to conquer the world, he would have just lived happily ever after with Susan, probably spending his vast wealth on whatever she wanted.

This type of complexity and depth of character was something very new in comics. before the Fantastic Four came along, villains were evil basically because the writer needed them to be. But what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did was create more believable characters, with real motivations and emotions and complex thoughts. No matter that Namor has wondrous super-powers, he is still a far more human character than wat we have seen in the past.

The solicitation for the next issue mentions the Fantastic Four’s “incredible exploits and won-to-earth realism,” and that is a great description. Yes, the FF and their foes have amazing powers and incredible adventures, but it is al grounded in a realistic world that is far more similar to our own than comics had ever seen before.

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 #4   Leave a comment

Fantastic Four #4

Credits listed only as “Stan Lee + J. Kirby”

SYNOPSIS:

This issue opens with Reed, Sue and Ben talking about Johnny, who had quit in a huff at the conclusion of the third issue. The three do the usual bickering that has quickly become a staple of this title, as Ben is reminded it’s his fault that Johnny ran off in the first place. The three remaining members of the FF split up and search for him, each being shown in a short little segment that shows their powers. In each issue of the series so far, Stand Lee and Jack kirby have done a great job of showing what each character is capable of right in the beginning of the book, making each issue an easy entry point for new readers.

After Sue and Reed have no luck, Ben plays a hunch and goes to the garage where Johnny was always working on hot rods whenever he had the chance. Johnny was shown working on car engines when we first met him back in Fantastic Four #1, and he is shown doing so again now in #4. Working on cars is a passion for Johnny throughout the characters history from this point on. It is while he is working on a car that the Thing bursts onto the scene and the two fight once again. During the fight, the Thing once again reverts to his human form. Overwhelmed with joy, Ben doesn’t care that the Torch takes this opportunity to fly away/ However, his happiness is short lived, as he once again reverts to the Thing. heartbroken, the Thing falls to the ground, upset and enraged that he is once again a monster after a few brief moments of humanity. The Thing is a character who has a great sadness underneath his gruff exterior. It is a big reason he is a lot of people’s favorite member of the Fantastic Four.

Johnny makes his escape to the Bowery, hoping to hide amongst the derelicts of the city and plan his next move. He finds himself in a flop house, where he discovers an old beat-up Sub-Mariner comic rom the 1940s. Johnny enjoys the comic and wonders what ever happened to the Sub-Mariner. He is informed that one of the bums in the building is as strong as the Sub-Mariner was said to be. The other tenants harass the bum, until the shaggy, bearded guy proceeds to beat them all up with ease. Johnny uses his flame to burn off the long hair and beard of the man, revealing him to be the Sub-Mariner himself! Realizing the Sub-Mariner is suffering from amnesia, Johnny flies him out of the building and dumps him in the ocean. The water revives him and gives him back his memory, just as the Torch predicted. Remembering who he is, Prince Namor swims to his undersea kingdom, only to find it has been destroyed by nuclear testing. Namor returns to the surface, yelling at Johnny and announcing that the human race will be destroyed in retribution for destroying his homeland.

Realizing he will need help to stop Namor, Johnny summons the other members of the Fantastic Four, just as Namor does some summoning of his own, awakening the largest creature on Earth, Giganto! Giganto, who looks like a gigantic whale with arms and legs, makes his way towards New York City, which is ordered to be evacuated for the first time in history. The Fantastic Four try to stop Giganto, but they are no match for the enormous beast. In a last ditch effort to save the city, the Thing gets a nuclear bomb from a military depot and straps it to his back. (Nuclear bombs are very easy to get in the early issues of the Fantastic Four.) Thing runs inside of the open mouth of a resting Giganto, setting the bomb and barely making it out in time as the nuclear weapon explodes, killing Giganto.

Namor is unfazed by this defeat. he proclaims that with his horn, he can summon countless creatures to do his bidding. As if on cue, the Invisible Girl runs up and grabs the horn from his grasp. Namor chases the floating horn, grabbing Sue, who turns visible while struggling with the Sub-Mariner. Namor, taken in by Susan’s beauty, says he will spare the surface world if she agrees to become his bride. The other three members attempt to save her, but Namor quickly knocks them all back with ease. Sue, realizing they can’t stop the Sub-Mariner and wanting to save mankind, agrees to become Namor’s bride.

The rest of the FF won’t stand for this, and Johnny springs into action. Flying high above Namor and  going in ever increasing circles, he creates a man made tornado that sucks not only Namor, but the gigantic, dead, radioactive carcass of Giganto out of New York and deposits them in the middle of the ocean, where Namor drops the sea horn, losing it forever. Without the horn, Namor can not control the hordes of sea creatures he was going to use to conquer the world. However, he still promises he will one day enact his revenge on the surface world and defeat the FF in the process.

COMMENTS:

This is the first issue that mentions the FF living in New York. In the first issue, they were said to live in “Central City.” No mention of the city’s name is given in issue #2 or 3. In #4, we have now entered a real life city, not the made up cities that were a staple of super hero comics to this point. While DC comics were taking place in Metropolis, Gotham, Keystone, etc, Marvel Comics were now taking place in New York City, making Marvel a universe that operated in something that more closely resembled the real world. It was a subtle, but important shift in super hero books, one that went a long way in Marvel’s quest to update and modernize a tired genre.

In another first, this is also the first issue with the slogan “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” over the title. This would be used in practically every issue for decades from this point on. While that might be a bold claim, and seen as Stan lee’s famous hyperbole, the letters received from the previous three issues certainly show that some fans agree with this. The letters page is full of people who are amazed that their are actually super heros that behave more like real people, fighting amongst each other instead of acting like two dimensional do-gooders. People particularly liked when The Thing complained about wearing a costume, saying it was goofy kids stuff and he didn’t need one. It was a breath of fresh air for the comic book gnre, and one of the many little touches that put the Fantastic Four ahead of the curve when it came to modern, hip comics.

Last issue, the Human Torch underwent a drastic change in the way Jack Kirby drew him. In this issue, the Thing undergoes a bit of a change of his own. While it’s not quite as drastic as the change in the Torch’s appearance, Thing, over several issues, begins to more closely resemble the classic look he has had for the last fifty years. When he was first drawn in Fantastic Four #1, his skin was more lumpy than has been his usual look. As the issues go on, his skin tone looks more and more like interlocked bricks than the more solid rock-like look he had in his first appearance. It is a gradual change and one that gives his visual identity more personality. In another personality quirk, this is the first issue in which Johnny yells “FLAME ON!” when activating his fire based powers. It is something that will become a staple of the book, appearing in the vast majority of issues from here on out.

This issue also reintroduces Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, to the modern day marvel universe. A very popular character during the 1940s, Namor still had a place in modern day comics. Fantastic Four was the perfect place to bring him back. Not only was he a match physically for the foursome, his greatest opponent during his first run as a comic book character was against the original Human Torch. it was only fitting that the book the updated the Human Torch for a modern audience would be the place to bring Namor into the modern era as well.

The Sub-Mariner would go on to become a both a foe and an ally of the FF, as well as a major player in the Marvel universe as a whole. Sometimes a hero and sometimes a villain, Namor was a character with a great deal of depth and a personality that fit in perfectly with the new type of super hero book that marvel was putting out. After the forgettable Miracle Man from last issue, Namor was a huge step forward in the villain department for the Fantastic Four. However, the greatest leap forward of all was still to come.

Posted April 24, 2011 by John V. Ferrigno in Fantastic Four

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