Fantastic Four 1: August 1961
Why I picked this comic: My previous post was on the dawn of the Silver Age, but as much as the Silver Age was kicked off by DC, this blog is called My Marvel Life, so we also need to look at the birth of the Marvel Age of Comics. The legend of the comic, where Martin Goodman told the dissatisfied Stan Lee to make a team of super-heroes to match DC’s Justice League. Stan wanted to quite, but his wife convinced him to try and write the comic he’d read and if it didn’t work, then quit. Taking the monster comics of the 1950’s and adding a super-hero flavour to it, enabled this epoch making creative team to produce something a little bit special. No Fantastic Four 1, no Marvel. There was no way that I wasn’t going to include this issue.
The Comic Itself:
The Fantastic Four/ Fantastic Four meet the Mole Man: written by Stan ‘The Man’ Lee with pencils by Jack ‘the King’ Kirby and inks by George Klein and Christopher Rule.
Scientist Reed Richards, summons his compatriots Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm to investigate damaged buildings all over the world. We then get a flashback of the four of them stealing Reed’s rocket and getting caught in a cosmic ray storm in orbit and crash land back on Earth, each one given strange powers. Reed becomes the stretchy Mr Fantastic, Sue becomes the Invisible Girl, Johnny becomes the flaming Human Torch, but Ben is now trapped in the rocky hide of a creature that everyone refers to as the Thing. They all vow to use their powers help mankind. Back in the present, they decide to try and solve this mystery and prevent any more harm being done.
Question 1: Have you heard of this property before? Yes, I have watched three of their movies as well as other comics with the team in.
Question 2: What were you expecting? Something tongue in cheek, bickering family and adventure, sort of a sci-fi Griswold family.
Question 3: What did you think of the cover? Why does the Invisible Girl think that being invisible with help when the monster already has a hold of her?
Question 4: What did you think of the story? Chaotic, the story veers from present day to flashback and then back again. I also had issues with the flare being set off. The Thing is in the shop easily enough, but when he sees the flare he goes out through the wall, then FOR NO REASON AT ALL destroys the floor, causing untold property damage so he can get to a room for a chat? Why is the Invisible Girl’s money visible when nothing else is? Why did the Human Torch melt what is clearly his friend’s car? Where does Mr Fantastic get the idea that he could pull off calling himself Mr Fantastic? Where does this Reed/Ben/Sue romantic sub-plot come from?
Question 5: What did you think of the art? Just like last time, the art is okay for it’s time.
Question 6: What did you think of the dialogue? It’s a bit wordy, so many words per panel, spent more time reading the panels than enjoying the art and yet…
Question 7: Does it make sense? This story made NO sense. Where did Reed get the information about an island that is essentially a myth, but they get to it’s exact location in a little over three panels? Also, lets not even get into their origin, because we’ll be here all day with that. Where did they get the idea that they are EVEN REMOTELY QUALIFIED to go and deal with this Mole Man situation?
Question 8: Was it accessible as a new reader? Yes.
Question 9: Did you enjoy it? I was bewildered by it.
Question 10: Would you read the next issue? Yes, for no other reason than to try and make sense of what I was reading?
Question 11: What would you do differently? Let’s not start pulling on that threat, so I will only say that I would streamline it a little, so that a little less happened per issue.
Other Notes: Ben is clearly being kept on the hook by Sue, she’s all “I can’t be with you….right now.”
Reed describes the rocket handling like a baby, this is clearly before he became a father himself.
Stan Lee was trying to get everything he wanted to see in a comic in here, but it felt like he left it, until about a few hours before it went to the printers, so it was all very throw it all in there and see what happens.
Next Time: We get a little Bronze Age as we step into the 70’s.