Saturday, January 1, 2011


  • Fantastic Four #11
  • Strange Tales #105
  • Tales to Astonish #40
  • Journey Into Mystery #89

Fantastic Four #11
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
"The Impossible Man!"
"A Visit With The Fantastic Four!"

The opening story is mostly fluff. The Impossible Man, a nameless alien from the planet Poppup, arrives on earth for a vacation. He's got the ability to instantly "evolve" into any form, making him the most powerful being on the planet. Because, you see, he can change into anything he wants and is virtually impervious to harm. Just don't ask where the water came from when he turned into a giant water balloon and douses Johnny.

"I'm mortified," indeed.

Luckily, the Impossible Man is a bit of a dork who just wants to be entertained.


  • Fantastic Four #10
  • Strange Tales #104
  • Tales to Astonish #39
  • Incredible Hulk #5
  • Journey Into Mystery #88

Fantastic Four #10
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
"The Return of Doctor Doom!"

Welcome to the weirdest issue of Fantastic Four yet.

Now we've already talked about moments where Marvel Comics have been incorporated into the narratives that Lee and Kirby were putting together, with Johnny Storm reading the first issue of The Incredible Hulk and recognizing Namor from the comics. I've treated this as a unique occurrence, but according to some internet research, it's not so unique. Apparently across town at DC, the idea that there were comics being written about the characters that were being read by the characters was old hat.


  •  Fantastic Four #9
  • Strange Tales #103
  • Tales to Astonish #38
  • Journey Into Mystery #87
Fantastic Four #9
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
"The End Of The Fantastic Four!"

This is a valiant effort that ultimately falls short of working, mainly because of the absurdity of the plot.

The Fantastic Four are bankrupt after Reed, the smartest man in the world, makes some bad financial decisions and invests all of their money in the stock market. In events eerily familiar these days, the market crashes and the team ends up selling off all their cool gadgets, being evicted from their headquarters, and temporarily breaking up. These folks have such a hard time staying together. Seems like whenever there's any hardship, somebody flies the coop.

This time out, it's Ben who quits. He ends up hanging out at, his "friend," Alicia's apartment until she guilts him into going back to be with the team. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the damage he had to be doing to her ordinary human plumbing.

Her apartment's plumbing, I mean, you dirty children.


  • Fantastic Four #8
  • Incredible Hulk #4
  • Journey Into Mystery #86
  • Strange Tales #102
  • Tales to Astonish #37

Fantastic Four #8
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
"Prisoners of The Puppet Master

This month we get a bit of a throwback to Ben Grimm's earlier characterization, as he gets pissed and storms out, apparently quitting the team. Of course, it doesn't last, but it's good to see that Lee and Kirby haven't forgotten that one of the things that made Ben so interesting was his psychological reaction to being the monster of the group, as well as his tenuous grip on his temper. For a few issues now, he's been a pretty confident and clear-thinking fellow, and, for me anyway, was beginning to lose what made him special.

You see, Reed's working on something secret and Sue and Johnny are trying to keep Ben from knowing what it is. This, of course, sets Ben off and after some roughhousing with The Torch, Reed breaks them up and Ben storms out. It's an effective reinforcement of Ben's mental issues, and provides a nice opportunity for the introduction of Alicia, the blind step-daughter of the FF's newest villain, The Puppet Master. And could she be a possible love-interest for Ben? Hmmmmm. Perhaps.

It probably doesn't hurt that she looks enough like Sue that with an FF costume and a wig, even Johnny and Reed mistake her for Sue.


  • Fantastic Four #7
  • Strange Tales #101
  • Tales to Astonish #36
  • Journey Into Mystery #85

Fantastic Four #7
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
"Prisoners of Kurrgo, Master of Planet X"

If the title of this one didn't make it plain, the Fantastic Four are dealing with another alien threat this month, but there's a nice twist this time around. Instead of having to stop an alien invasion, Kurrgo, Master of Planet X, needs their help to save his planet, so we get an interesting little story where Reed finally gets to take center-stage and actually save the day.

Otherwise, though, this issue marks a drop in quality from the previous few issues. I suppose that's not surprising, really, given the high standards established by the introductions of the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom, and their subsequence team-up, but I wasn't really expecting some of the sillier aspects of this issue.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


  • Fantastic Four #6
  • The Incredible Hulk #3
  • Journey Into Mystery #84
  • Tales to Astonish #35

Fantastic Four #6
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
"The Captives of the Deadly Duo!"

Lee and Kirby up the ante once more, building on the previous two issues, the best so far, and tops them both. How, you ask? Did you not see that cover? Doctor Doom and Namor, The Sub-Mariner team up to defeat the FF! Who wouldn't snatch that book off the shelves?

I've been a trifle remiss in not talking up Kirby's art in the last couple of columns. The first issue or two of Fantastic Four were okay, but didn't seem to be getting Kirby's full attention. However, with the last couple of issues, Fantastic Four has become a joy to look at. Issue 6 really drives this home. From the detailed variation of the New Yorkers in the crowd scenes and the realistic New York City backgrounds, to the undersea creatures that swim around and interact with Namor, Kirby is bringing his A-Game this book and making it look like "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" for sure.


  • Journey Into Mystery #83
  • Amazing Fantasy #15

Journey Into Mystery #83
Plot: Stan Lee
Script: Larry Lieber
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inker: Joe Sinnott
"The Stone Men From Saturn!"

Wow! This is an interesting debut for a number of reasons. Not only does Earth seem to be such prime real estate that we're a favorite target for alien invasion (this is Invasion Attempt #3 for this year, and the second in two months!), but it also introduces a very interesting element to the Marvel Universe: Gods. That's plural. Oh sure, Thor's the only god to show up this issue, but there's an entire Norse pantheon that, by extension, is just waiting in the wings.

But more on that in a moment. I find it intriguing that Marvel's most traditional "Super Hero" is the Norse God of Thunder. There's no ambiguity about his morality practically from the moment he first appears. He's a good guy, through and through. The contrast between this character and the Hulk is shocking, really. Especially since there are some basic similarities in the way Lee and Kirby have designed the characters.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

JULY 1962

  • Fantastic Four #5
  • The Incredible Hulk #2
Fantastic Four #5
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
"Prisoners of Doctor Doom!"

After last issue's run-in with the Sub-Mariner, it looks like the FF have their plate full yet again with the arrival of Doctor Doom. From the very opening page Kirby lets us know that Doom is someone to be reckoned with, not only because of his intimidating armor, but he also has a vulture by his side and books called Demons and Science and Sorcery on his desk. This is an interesting departure from our previous antagonists, particularly from The Miracle Man of issue 3. If you remember, that was the first story to insinuate that there was magic in the Marvel Universe, only to reveal in the end that all the miraculous things Miracle Man did were the product of hypnotic hallucinations.

Well, here we are getting actual references to "Mystic Rites," "sorcery," and "black magic." And while we don't actually get a taste of Doctor Doom's sorcerous side, he clearly believes he has dark skills to balance out his scientific genius. How do we know he's a scientific genius? Well, not only does he have a giant, electrified net, a time machine, a flying harness, death traps, and robot doubles, he also went to school with Reed, who recognizes his voice! Interestingly enough, Reed knows all about Victor Von Doom and his tragic, disfiguring accident; knows enough to realize that he's the real deal and maybe their "most dangerous adventure" yet.

MAY 1962

  • Fantastic Four #4
  • The Incredible Hulk #1

Fantastic Four #4
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
"The Coming of ... Sub-Mariner!"

This issue opens shortly after the conclusion of the previous issue. Johnny is missing, Sue is worried, Ben is glad he's gone, and Reed not only tries to make Ben feel worse about himself, he seems to have built up Johnny's contributions a little more than they actually were. Granted, Johnny is the one who's been getting things done, but he's not all that. I don't think the burning down of the fake monster last issue was real, but Reed seems to think so. The search for Johnny is kind of silly, but we do get another Ben Grimm transformation scene. He only reverts to human for a minute or two, but if it keeps up, he's seriously going to lose his mind. Johnny, meanwhile, ends up in --- The Bowery!

Something strange goes on this issue, and it's something that, while hinted at in the Skrulls issue, is made explicit here. Comic books, particularly Marvel Comics and their previous incarnations, Timely and Atlas, exist in the Marvel Universe. It was one thing when Reed used monster pictures from Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery to fool the Skrulls, as those were clearly presented as fantasy comics. But this issue, Johnny is casually flipping through an old copy of a Sub-Mariner comic and then moments later, discovers Namor in the flesh. Sure, he's got amnesia and is living as a derelict bum, but it's him. A comic book character come to life.

MARCH 1962

  • Fantastic Four #3

Fantastic Four #3
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
"The Menace of the Miracle Man"

This is easily the weakest issue so far. One would think that with a bi-monthly schedule, the stories could be a little better thought out. The Miracle Man turns out to be (surprise!) a hypnotist who just makes people think they're seeing giant monsters and amazing displays of power. That's all well and fine, but it doesn't explain how the giant monster actually accomplishes the theft of jewelry or the atomic tank. Does that mean that when the Human Torch burns it to the ground, he really burned nothing? Is the monster still standing back at the theater? Seems like it would be, but that doesn't look to be the case. That's just not very well thought out. And I guess The Miracle Man is just running around discreetly filling his wheelbarrow with trinkets and loading the tank into the back of his semi by himself.

That's pretty much all there is to this story: some bad plotting that doesn't hold up to even the barest of attention and a silly villain with melodramatic, goofy plans. On the plus side though, we do get some interesting developments with the team and how they're seen by the public.