• Welcome to Talking Time's third iteration! If you would like to register for an account, or have already registered but have not yet been confirmed, please read the following:

    1. The CAPTCHA key's answer is "Percy"
    2. Once you've completed the registration process please email us from the email you used for registration at percyreghelper@gmail.com and include the username you used for registration

    Once you have completed these steps, Moderation Staff will be able to get your account approved.


Power is fleeting, love is eternal
Many years later, in an issue of Marvel Knights 4, Sue recalls their first visit to Wakanda (drawn in a lovely silver age homage style), including the fact that she went skinny-dipping with T'Challa, and they almost considered having an affair, since she was fed up with Reed's shit. But in the end, nothing happened.



Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We learn that Reed and Sue don't have a monopoly on troubled relationships and Ben learns what happens When Strikes the Silver Surfer.

Well, the last issue mainly followed Johnny and Wyatt getting lost in one of the sandy parts of Africa, and here we find out what the rest of the team was doing back in New York; starting with Reed checking the World Famous Baxter Buildings defensive computer, being relieved that nobodys tried to secretly kill them since they left for Africa a little while ago, and then declares that he and Sue may resume their Honeymoon.

Ben, meanwhile, immediately loses all hope for humanity and the world because Alicia didn't answer the phone when he called, assumes she's left him for another man (because he's a rockman, you see, and he still doesn't realize that she knows that already? Or that the average blind woman isn't really caught up on appearances? Or because he left for Africa in the middle of the afternoon and didn't tell her?).

Regardless of the reason, Ben decides to go and pay his girlfriend a visit, and heads off to her vacation house outside the city.


A team of mountain climbers have successfully climbed a huge and deadly mountain, the first people in history to do it and, as they reach the summit... they see The Silver Surfer just sitting around up there already, bored silly. Turns out that he managed to do... well... everything in the few months since he first appeared on Earth; he's seen everything the planet has to offer and found it all pretty disappointing.

And so, kind a regretting saving the Earth if this was all he had to look forward to as a result, he decided to pay a visit to Alicia Masters; if she could make a sandwich so awe-inspiring that it made him turn against a world-devouring space-God, maybe she can find some other reason for him to enjoy about the planet.

As it would so happen, Ben arrives at Alicias house a little after Norrin does, and misreads the situation completely; decides that Alicia is in love with the Surfer instead of him, and punches him through a wall.

To be fair to Ben, he did just walk in to see his girlfriend strumming a guitar with a naked man saying things like "I can believe in [the beauty and goodness of Earth], when I gaze at you, and hear your voice so gentle and full of kindness". I can see the reason for the confusion.

On the other hand; literally everything about this situation

Anyhow, this (naturally) leads to a fight between the Surfer and Ben that takes up 11 pages out of a 20 page comic. And it started on page 6.

And normally, I love Ben Grimm, Huge Scale Jack Kirby fights, Ben refusing to back down even when hopelessly outgunned, and dialogue like "I must take extreme measure and increase my energy to ATOMIC STRENGTH", but nothing about this situation sits well.

It's like I wished for a perfect Fantastic Four issue on a Monkeys paw.

Anyway, the fight ultimately ends when Sue and Reed show up; turns out Alicia called them for help because her boyfriend just went *SICKNUTS* and violently assaulted a guy she was talking to and busted up her house in doing so; and also the Surfer is powerful enough that he could have taken out the entire Eastern seaboard without trying if he was actually taking the fight seriously; Norrin was more confused than anything else about the whole situation.

Ben realizes he's the bad-guy in this situation (no friggin' kidding) and apologizes to the Surfer for punching him out a window, and throwing a couple of buildings at him, and trying to break his Board, and the Surfer gives him a bouquet of flowers to give to Alicia, hoping that'd be enough for her to overlook the domestic assault he just did.


And speaking of "woof", wealso check in with Johnny and Wyatt still heading to Attilan where they come across a village fleeing some greatbeast that's plagued them recently, and it turns out it's Lockjaw! Who apparently was the only one who realized that... well... you don't have to break down a Negative Zone Barrier if you can just teleport around it. It's been *months*; you'd think that someone would have pointed that out before now.

No mention yet on what happened when Blackbolt screamed, by the by. I'm sure it was nothing.

NEXT TIME: Hold it, fellas. I'm afraid you're just too darn loud.

Johnny Unusual

And so, kind a regretting saving the Earth if this was all he had to look forward to as a result, he decided to pay a visit to Alicia Masters; if she could make a sandwich so awe-inspiring that it made him turn against a world-devouring space-God, maybe she can find some other reason for him to enjoy about the planet.
The Surfer is now basically just Beerus.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Well, the last couple of issues kinda stunk, so it's time to turn things around with Klaw: The Murderous Master of Sound!

Spoiler alert; but I think *somebody* isn't quite as dead as everyone thought they were.

Anyway, we're kicking off with the FF (sans Johnny) are in the World Famous Baxter Building busying themselves with some weird science; Reed and Ben are taking another whack at exploring the Subspace Negative Zone (through a TV screen this time, not just hopping in there and seeing what's up) and Sue is... wandering the building because nobody told her what they were doing. The main takeaway from this (other than setting up the Negative Zone as being a weird place full of space-bugs) is to keep the team separated. And this is relevant because, wasting NO time in making his appearance known, is this months villain.



Not too often I get to do two of these for the same guy! Klaw (in his beefed up super-villain form) is a villain I have an inordinate amount of affection for. And I have no idea why; he rarely gets to headline any stories, usually being a lesser-part of villain teams; which is a shame since his powers are pretty rad; his body is made entirely out of hardened sound, which lets him control all noises around him, either to deafen or overload peoples senses, and can create powerful shockwaves, in addition to being intangible.

Also, while his name is Klaw and he has an artificial arm, it's a satellite dish! I love that!

Anyway, Klaw wastes no time in reminding the reader of his origin, or at least the parts of his origin that have come up since he was killed fighting the Black Panther a few issues ago; with him climbing into his Sound Converter weapon and using its energy to save his own life at the expense of his humanity, and now he wants to kill the Fantastic Four. You'd think he'd want to kill the Black Panther first, since he was the one that left him for dead in an exploded mountain but, well... that's what seperates a supervillain from just a regular criminal; they always zig when you expect them to Zag.

Klaw begins his attack by seperating Sue from the rest of the Team via ultra high frequency walls of solid noise; and Sue realizes that her own powers are kind of useless against this new and improved Klaw; he can increase the volume of her every step and heartbeat to make her easy to find if she turns invisible, and while her shields can repel most attacks, they aren't much good when it comes to protecting you from damagingly loud noises.

Sidebar, but it's really clear that Stan did not quite get what Jack was going for with these pages; the art makes it abundantly clear that Klaws attacks are devastatingly loud, and Sue can barely stay on her feet with the intensity of them, and none of the dialogue conveys any of that. It's like two entirely different comics are happening at the same time.

Reed and Ben, meanwhile, realize that somethings wrong when a sonic boom explodes their lab and Reed quickly whips up some Science to let Ben break down the sound barrier (oh! I JUST got that) while he tries to work out a more permanent solution to the Klaw problem

"This will be dangerous for you, Ben, you're the only one who can withstand the force needed to breach the barrier"
"...how come you never invent something that hurts the guy who stretches?"

Ben rushes in just before Sue can be... you know... splattered by a couple million decibels and decides to fight Klaw himself. Which... does not work, because, as we all learned in Kindergarten; You Can't Punch Loud.

This does get us another couple pages of Jack Kirby fight, however; with Klaw cranking up the volume so much that every light bulb on the block simultaneously explodes.

Comics may have broken Jack Kirbys heart, but they did nothing to dampen his love of drawing WILD fight scenes.

Eventually, Klaw beats down Ben just as severely as he did Sue and heads off to kill Reed, just as he gets a special delivery from Wakanda; turns out that T'challa beat Jeff Bezos to the punch by a good 60 years and already has drone delivery technology; and in the drone is a pair of brass knuckles. Well... Vibranium Knuckles; and Vibranium, as previously established; can't produce sounds.

And so, Reed just beats the ever loving garbage out of Klaw. Usually, Reed beats the villains by inventing some Weird Thing, if he's using his stretchy powers in a fight, it's to protect or restrain someone; it's rare to see him use it offensively; but that's what we got here. Just long-range Queensbury Rules boxing, as he punches all the vibrational energy out of Klaws body and he passes out; and is consequently hauled off to jail. Which is also one of the first acknowledgements in the Marvel Universe of the police needing to build specialized cells for supervillains.


In Attilan, we find out that Blackbolt just passed out after trying to sacrifice his life to break the Negative Zone Barrier a couple of issues ago; which kind of goes against what I thought was going to happen when Blackbolt screamed. And what happens every other time Blackbolt has ever screamed. They were still figuring the character out, I guess.

Wyatt and Johnny decide to befriend Lockjaw and hopefully convince him to help them rescue the rest of the Inhumans (Wyatt kind of lays out some borderline Magical Native American stuff that I'm assuming felt less suspect in the 1960s)

And in Europe, the leader of a small Balkan nation sees the Silver Surfer cross the border.


Next Time: Oops! All Johnnies!

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Well... okay, can't say I'm not a little disappointed here; not with this issue in and of itself, it's fine, but the last main issue was setting up what might actually be my favorite Marvel storyline of the 60s, and the one I was most excited to re-read. And then an Annual popped up and I had to read it first. And unlike the other Annuals, which were either capstones to long building storylines, or just huge-scale expansions to the universe, The Torch That Was... kind of feels like it was written to renew a copyright.

In fact, based on some evidence, that may very well have literally been the case.

Anyway, we kick off in the Wolrd Famous Baxter Building where Ben, Sue and Reed are answering fan-mail, which partly exists in order to put in this months quota of casual misogyny (Sue spent a lot of money shopping, and is dreading the credit bill! HILARIOUS!) and partly to establish that Johnny isn't the original Human Torch, there was one in the 40s as well!

And speak of the devil, the present day Human Torch, Johnny then appears, alongside Wyatt and Lockjaw, in the living room; and they briefly recap what they've been doing since the team separated, just after the Black Panther story; they're trying to use Lockjaws teleporting powers to rescue the Inhumans, but they can't because they can't control Lockjaw, he goes where he wishes. So, briefly happy to see his family, but disappointed that he can't actually accomplish any of the goals he has set for himself, Johnny sulks off to the desert (outside of... New York?) where he decides to make the most of a bad situation and practice incinerating things.

And speaking of rampant fiery destruction, we now cut to the secret underground lab of The Mad Thinker! Who's had a bit of a career change since the last time he showed up; instead of being absurdly detail oriented to a borderline clairvoyant level (and who stole a robot), now he's just a full on mad scientist who specializes in robots. I am not sure if Stan forgot or figured this pivot was easier to keep track of narratively. Dude was writing a LOT of comics at the time and he was known to jump at the chance to streamline things.

Anyway, Mad Thinkers been busy and has two new robots to his name, neither of which are Andy; starting with the Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organism (or Quasimodo)


Quasimodo is... if I'm being honest, near the bottom of my list of favorite evil robots in Marvel. And my list of Guys With TV Screens For Heads. He's basically AM from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, except he's *very* sad instead of enraged. The millions of miles of wafer-thing circuits that comprise him all say "Aww man". Dude just wants to have a body instead of being a large TV set with a distorted face on the screen. And the Thinker is just OVER his whining about it.

Much more relevant to the story is that this is also the silver-age debut of Marvels... third string Golden Age hero;



The other Human Torch was, along with Captain America, Bucky and Namor, one of the few World War 2 era heroes that Marvel still uses today; originally a robot that was built with the pretty serious design flaw that his body instantly combusts when exposed to oxygen. But despite that, Jim managed to be a major force for the Allies during the war, and is, canonically, is the guy who killed Hitler.

I believe they've since retconned that to being Ghost Rider, but that story was pretty apocryphal, so who knows!

Anyhow, Thinker found Jims deactivated, extinguished, body somehow and figures "Hey! Cool! A guy in tighty-whities!" and works on trying to get him reactivated, and, fortunately, he succeeds AND ALSO Jim has amnesia, since he's been turned off since 1945; and the Thinker manages to convince him that he's actually a criminal, and there's a second Human Torch out there stealing his fame! Which is all the incentive Jim needs to fly off to the desert and try to beat the crap out of Johnny.

So they find each other and being two superheroes meeting for the first time, immediately start fighting. And, as is expected, it's mainly Jack taking the drivers seat in order to draw a REALLY COOL fight scene, so it works pretty darn well (helps that Jim is a much more visually interesting Torch than Johnny is), and Johnny is at a disadvantage because an android is inexhaustible, far more experienced a fighter, and able to generate much more heat. Also he's Older and therefor Bigger, as Stan helpfully points out repeatedly.

Eventually the rest of the FF shows up because... Lockjaw teleported them all there on his own accord and collectively they're able to calm down Jim enough to talk to him, and they all learn that the Mad Thinker is the actual villain and travel to his hideout. The Thinker, realizing that he's about to get really badly beaten up, has Quasimodo activate Jims self-destruct, then skeedaddles away while everyones is distracted by that.

And so Reed eulogizes a robot who tried to kill his brother-in-law and also burned Hitler to death, Johnny and Wyatt are teleported away with Lockjaw again to resume their amazing adventures of trying to convince a dog to do what they want and Quasimodo starts screaming in horror realizing he's been left alone in an underground lab with his battery running low.

NEXT TIME: Surf and Turf
Last edited:


Power is fleeting, love is eternal
I really love how Kirby manages to draw the two Torches differently, so that it's never confusing who is who when they're fighting.

Also, is "Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organism" a prototype for MODOK?

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
I believe so, I don’t believe MODOK showed up for about another year.

The Thinkers interactions with Quasimodo are wild. He objects to the fact that Quasimodo gave itself a human (ish) face, and that he abbreviated Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organism to an actual name, because he’s angry he built a sentient AI.

Also, it’s entire reason for existing is to shoot a laser at one button positioned directly in front of it, just in case Jim gets rowdy and needed exploding. This is literally all it is capable of doing, despite an issues worth of build up

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Something I didn’t notice as it was happening but did pick up on now; just after the Galactus story is where modern comic storytelling actually starts.

Up to that point, there were multipart stories, and the lead up to Galactus had comics that directly lead into one another as opposed to just the team sitting around waiting for an alien to show up or whatever.

Now we’ve typically got two or three stories simmering in the background, and we get monthly checkups with the Inhumans or Johnny and Wyatt, or the Surfer, or Reeds experiments with the Negative Zone and they rarely intersect with the main story that month.

Key difference between then and now is that present day writers have a template they’re working toward and coordinate with other Marvel writers to try to keep things from getting out of control. Back then it was mainly Stan, and he was pretty clearly overworked trying to keep the universe coherent, and making things up as he went along. Maybe thinking one issue ahead.

Sidebar, but Around the same time, the (original, non Watergate) Secret Empire storyline was also going on elsewhere in Marvel, wrangling together Cap, SHIELD, Namor and Hulks comics into one huge crossover extravaganza. Which was far less elegant than juggling three concurrent stories in FF, but certainly very ambitious.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Okay, here we go. There are three big storylines people remember form the Lee/Kirby FF run; and we've seen two of them already (The Inhuman Saga and the Galactus Trilogy), and this, Enter... Doctor Doom! marks the start of the third, and dare I say, best, of them all. It's easily in the running for being my favorite silver-age storyline overall, in fact.

But first, let's focus on the FF themselves, since it's their name on the masthead and everything; even if they ain't got a lot to do in this issue. And the fact that the FF aren't very relevant to the issue is nicely summed up by how INCREDIBLY FAST PACED it all is; the FF sans Johnny all head to the prison, as they want to be on hand for the Frightful Fours parole hearing, and they arrive just in time to see Sandman and The Wizard engineer a jailbreak. Wizard is quickly recaptured, but Sandman escapes since... well... he's REALLY hard to confine anywhere; it's kind of his entire deal.

And it turns out that the Wizard really only wanted Sandman to escape; having given him instructions to rob the World Famous Baxter Building of several items in Reeds lab; a task which he accomplishes, and Reed can only wonder aloud what a thug for hire like Sandman could want with his inventions; as it's not like he took any of the flashy or useful ones.

And we'll get the answer to that question in a few months; spoiler alert; it's a REAL disappointment.

Anyhow, the bulk of the story concerns the Silver Surfer, who has just received a personal invitation to dine with the monarch of the country he just landed in. A country named Latveria, and a monarch named Doctor Doom!

Now, it's been a *minute* since the last time Doom showed up; about a full year since he tried to ruin Reed and Sues wedding (which he didn't even get directly involved in), and a solid 17 issues since his last main-series appearance. A far cry from the early days when Doom was showing up just about every other issue. This is him making up for lost time, and acknowleged within the issue itself; because Dooms been keeping a low profile since before the Surfer showed up, Norrin has NO IDEA who this guy is, and is happy to be given some actual respect for once and happily accepts Dooms invitation to Castle Doomstadt.

And Doom is an extremely gracious host to the Surfer. Conspicuously grateful even. Norrin isn't accustomed to people being nice to him in general, let alone the very concept of having ulterior motives, so while this entire dinner leaves him uneasy, he has no idea why.

He gets a slightly better idea why Doom makes him uneasy when a servant accidentally bumps into him, and Doom practcally kills the guy on the spot, remembers what he's supposed to be doing, and then changes emotional gears immediately.

And he has an even better idea still when he starts saying things like"[With power like yours]... I could control the world," Even the accursed Thing would be powerless before me" and "CLUMSY DOLT! YOU DARE LAY A HAND ON YOUR SACROSANCT LORD AND MASTER?!?!".

These are all pretty big red flags, but before the Surfer can say "Hey, thanks for the meal but... I don't eat, so... I'm gonna bounce" Doom distracts him by showing him the 1960s Latverian equivalent of those Hubble Deep Space images; and the Surfer is so captivated by the sights of the universe he's been denied he doesn't notice what's happening behind him;

"Words can do no justice to the wonder you are about to behold..." says Doom

Who then blasts the Surfer with a specialized machine that transfers all of the Power Cosmic out of the Surfers body and into his own;




Doom immediately makes the most of his newfound omnipotence by exploding out of Doomstadt castle and devestating the countryside, even blasting his own countrymen (Jack just draws the HELL out of these panels) announcing himself the undisputed master of the World/

In Attilan, Maximus finally reveals how to bring down the great barrier; Blackbolt has the power to speak and all he has to do is say the word, but he won't for some reason.

And Lockjaw takes Johnny and Wyatt to meet some dinosaurs.

NEXT TIME: Total Party Kill

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

The Dismal Dregs of Defeat might be a clunky title, but there is a distinct lack of clunk in its pages! It's ALL KILLER, NO FILLER!

Picking up immediately after the end of the last issue; with the newly borderline-omnipotent Doctor Doom doing exactly what you'd think he'd do when Dr. Doom becomes omnipotent; taunt the Fantastic Four. But with even more aplomb and pageantry than usual. Bear in mind that this is a guy who yanked a building out of the ground like a turnip instead of saying "hello" in his first appearance.

In this case, he causes a localized thunderstorm to appear over the world famous Baxter Building, with lightning that forms his own massive, ghostly visage.

Even by Victor Von Dooms lofty standards, this is some showmanship.

Reeds reaction to seeing a lightning ghost formed out of a tiny thunderstorm is to say "Huh, that's weird. Oh well, probably nothing to be concerned about.", which everyone ASSUMES is him just putting on a stoic face so as not to worry the rest of the FF. But given how much thought Reed puts into other peoples feelings so far, that's an awful generous read of him.

Doom, meanwhile, is happy to know that his terrifying giant lightning ghost made an impact on the FF, and decides to let them stew in their fear, before getting to destroying them directly.

...for about three seconds; he is like an excited child on Christmas morning being told that he has to wait for his dad to have a cup of coffee before he can start opening presents.

He only stops to taunt the Silver Surfer, who he has chained in his dungeon, to brag about how much more creative HE is with the Power Cosmic than the Surfer was.

Back at the World Famous Baxter Building, Reed figures that, well, it's been minutes since a giant lightning ghost in the form of his deadliest enemy threatened him and nothings happened, so obviously there's nothing to worry about, so he and Sue are going to take another whack at having a honeymoon and leave Ben alone while they head into the country.

Not before Reed pranks his best friend, who is already visibly scared reading a book of ghost stories.

Want, again, to remind you that this is canonically the Nicest Possible version of Reed Richards in the multiverse.

Anyway, Reed and Sue barely have the door closed when the entire wall of the World Famous Baxter Building is yanked out of the foundation by Doom. And who then proceeds to Jack Kirby Fight the hell out of Ben. Doom is still pretty sore about how the last time they fought, Ben broke his arms, and rather than using his omnipotence to end the fight instantly, decides to simply pound on Ben like a rented drum for a while, before deciding to get a bit more creative and freezing him in place by stopping all his molecules in place and putting him in the middle of Central Park as a living statue.

Around this time, Johnny and Wyatt appear in the Baxter Building again, since this is where Lockjaw sent them this month, and Johnny realizes there's something wrong when Lockjaw didn't take them where they wanted to go; the domed city of Attilan. And Wyatt realizes somethings wrong because a wall was torn out of the side of a building and there's a trail of destruction through Manhattan.

Oh Johnny... you... do your best.

Johnny heads off to find Reed and Sue since he's working under the assumption that whatever blew a hole through the Baxter Building probably involves Reed in some way, just as Doom himself shows up in the house Reed and Sue rented in order to try honeymooning again. Dooms battle against the two of them is less Jack Kirby-y but certainly more imaginative; as he uses the Power Cosmic to incapacitate Sue with precision tornado attacks, and Reed by... err... using lots of scotch tape.

Johnny shows up then and also tries to fight Doom, and immediately loses, like the toasty fail-son he is, when Doom uses the Power Cosmic to turn Hot to Cold and his flame instantly freezes him instead.

It's acknowledged that Johnny COULD have defeated Doom, but he would have needed to crank up his flame powers to a supernova-level that would vaporize half the planet, and even then, he only "probably" would have won.

Right around this time, Wyatt finds and revives Ben thanks to a Molecule-Accelerator he dug out of the ruins of Reeds lab (when you're friends with the FF, you tend to pick up on what Molecule Accelerators look like pretty quickly), and also a handful of Reeds super-weapons he had laying around, and the team re-assembles and hit Doom with a jerry-rigged Gravity Cannon that leaves a massive crater the heart of midtown.

And which fails to even scuff Dooms armor.

All of which makes Reed say "I never thought I'd say this but there's nothing we can do. Doom is Unbeatable. He can't be stopped!"

And saying that... does work. Doom is pleased as punch to have Reed admit which of the two of them is superior, and decides to leave the FF alive so they can witness him taking over the world and knowing that there's no way they can beat him!

It, of course, was a ruse on Reeds part, knowing that while Dooms body might be indestructible, his pride is as vulnerable as ever, and if the fight went on any longer Doom would have *definitely* killed everyone, but now they have an opportunity to find some means to fight back.

Next Time: Everyone Gets a Free Shot


Power is fleeting, love is eternal
Love all the panels of Doom bullshitting Surfer, especially the one where he seems to be rolling his eyes at his own overblown speech.


Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We can finally put a recurring storyline to bed with DOOMSDAY. Which otherwise pretty much a victory lap for Doom. A Victor Von Lap, if you will!

You probably shouldn't, but you may.

We pick up right where we left off after the last issue, with the FF having been thoroughly clowned by Cosmic Doom (shortly after having been thoroughly clowned by the Sandman, which is far less understandable), and Reed has called up Literally Every Country in order to stress that Doctor Doom is borderline omnipotent, and a direct existential threat to the entire human race, and that all nations, regardless of political leanings or past animosity needs to come together and work as a single unit in order to defeat him.

But this is a comic written in the 1960s, so, naturally those Pesky Reds ignore Reeds dire warnings and decide to attack Doom themselves for the sake of propaganda.

And it works about as well as you'd expect, and Cosmic Doom... err... dissolves Russias entire air force with a gesture.

Vic don't shiv, son.

Doom takes the assassination attempt in good humor, and is happy that at least SOMEBODY is taking him seriously as a global power-house, but being targeted by a mere ONE global super-power isn't nearly enough, so he declares it DOOMS DAY, and travels the world, using the Power Cosmic to inflict cataclysms all over over this big blue marble we call the Earth; he causes perpetual night over Switzerland, flash-freezes Greece, causes volcanos to erupt over Hawaii and... makes some gorillas turn red in Africa.

Meanwhile, back at the World Famous Baxter Building, Reed has an idea to defeat Doom (after Ben punches him in the face a bunch to get his creative juices flowing) and ultimately comes up with a solution; a small bat-like robot drone that hurts pretty badly if it explodes on you, and it makes people angry. He tests this by throwing it at Ben in order to hurt and anger his friend. (Reed is a good friend and husband) and immediately starts work on a full-scale version as means to defeat Cosmic Doom.

Around this same time, Reed also gets a call from Wyatt Wingfoot, who is just chiming in to let Reed know that he *tried* to convince his friend not to do the most suicidally incompetent thing he's done in his life, but no amount of common sense has ever affected Johnny Storm before, so why should it start now. Johnny assumes it's all up to him to defeat Doom, and has the clever idea of just... taking another whack at it and hoping he gets lucky.

"Sometimes a fella just has to do things his way. Whether it's right or wrong" says Johnny, in what is perhaps the most insightful thought of his life.

Stan also pipes up in a narration box to point out what model of car Wyatt is driving, because he didn't feel like Jacks research should have been wasted without comment.

Meanwhile, in Attilan, Blackbolt orders all the captive Inhumans to hide in the safety shelters beneath the city; he's about as done with this Negative Zone Barrier storyline as the readers are and is finally going to do something drastic about it. Maximus pleads with his brother to not do what he's about to as the cost would be too high, but Black Bolt shields his brother, in a fairly nice moment, and then proceeds to Yell.

Despite there being a big to-do about him Screaming earlier and nothing happening, Blackbolts speaking voice is considered to be one of the strongest forces in the Marvel universe; a whisper can bring down a mountain, a shout can be heard clear through the void of space. And a yell like this can completely unravel all the laws of physics; Attilan is completely leveled and the Great Barrier dissolves!

The (surviving) Inhumans stay behind to begin rebuilding their city, while the Royal Family (except Maximus) head out into the wider world in order to see if there is truly a place for the Inhumans to be safe and free, and Crystal heads out to find Johnny so they can have a second date.

Maximus is delighted that his brother left so he can take another try at taking over the throne, but nobody is willing to accept him as any kind of leader, and being that close to ground-zero of Blackbolts Shout rattled his mind enough that he can not concentrate on inventing anything to help him to that end.


Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

You've got ringside seats to the Jack Kirby Fight of the century in The Peril and the Power.

Still using the momentum that the last issue left on, Doctor Doom is still using the Power Cosmic in order to perform massive, unprecedented calamities all over the globe, for no reason other than to show that he CAN, and to rub his victory in Reed Richards' stupid face. And once he starts running low on ideas (creating mountains under cruise-liners, while impressive, is a bit less dramatic than melting an entire military division). While Reed is able to take Dooms gloating in stride, the rest of the team is not, and he has to physically restrain Ben from running out of the room in order to try to stop Doom himself.

He explains that the device he built in the last issue is a key to defeating Doom, and he's relying on the American Military Industrial Complex in order to create a fully functional one, in a scant few hours, in order to put into an action that will ensure a victory and strip Doom of his power for certain.

Unfortunately, Johnny wasn't in the room when Reed explains this, and wouldn't have listened anyway, and has, true to his nature, decided to fight Doom all by his lonely self.

Like Leeroy Jenkins back from the grave, Johnny flies off to confront Doom in the mountains of Latveria and well... he does precisely as well as you would expect; having apparently forgotten that Dooms armor is fire-proof even when he isn't hopped up on Surfboard Energy, and having All of the Silver Surfers powers on top of that sure didn't make him any more flammable. Johnny does consider bringing out his Supernova Flame against him, as, while that WILL vaporize an entire hemisphere, it's not like he's on the side of the globe that all Johnnys stuff is on.

This is considered deep strategic thinking on Johnnys part.

Fortunately for... ermmm... Europe, Doom is way better at wielding Cosmic Powers than Johnny is at enacting plans, and manages to defeat him by throwing tornados at him.

Reed realizes around this time that preventing Doom from killing his brother in law is probably an extreme enough reason to get involved with fighting him even without the weapon being completed, so, using that floying car that Black Panther gave him a half-dozen issues ago, the rest of the FF arrive at the battleground and let Doom have it!

And hey, this fight goes precisely as well for them as every other fight against a Power Cosmic-infused demi-god they've had so far. In fact; probably worse; the Surfer was confused when Ben fought him and didn't think to fight back; and the FF was so far beneath Galactus' contempt that he didn't even acknowledge them. Doom is driven purely by his own ego and he HATES these people more than anything in the world. The only advantage they have is that Doom is more invested in humiliating them than hurting them.

The ensuing fight, which, I can not stress enough, is a LOT of fun to read; is so lopsided that The Watcher has to turn away and find some other planet to start Watching, since obviously Earth isn't going to be around much longer.

To be fair, Sue acquits herself very well in the fight, using her powers in inventive ways to score a few solid hits on Doom. And it's all undercut by the fact that Reed is (off panel) yelling instructions at her, because the idea of a woman thinking for herself was foreign to Stan Lee.

Anyway, for as much fun as Jack was having drawing the hell out of a huge superhero fight, eventually the page limit started creeping up, and they didn't want to make the Cosmic Doom story a five-parter, so Doom defeats the FF and is on the verge of killing them out of boredom, when the device the army was building for Reed finally arrives; the whole fight against Doom up until this point was more about buying time than actually trying to defeat him! The flying machine shoots Doom a few times which... just bugs him. But it REALLY bugs him.

Some kind of combination of "mosquito bite right in the thickest part of your hair", "popcorn caught in teeth" and "Sneeze that doesn't happen".

It is so annoying and distracting that Doom ignores the FF in favor of chasing down this STUPID little flying drone and tearing it apart with his bare hands. Which is exactly what Reed was hoping would happen; as the drone was programmed to fly into outer space after shooting Doom; and while Doom took all of the Surfers powers; he also wound up getting his one great limitation too; he Can Not Leave the Earth.

As soon as Doom breaches the magnetosphere, there's a massive explosion visible across the globe as all the Power Cosmic immediately leaves him and flies back into the Surfer, leaving Doom... presumably to plunge to his death (it's a while before we see him again).

The Inhuman royal family freaks out some hunters. This takes up a few pages that would have really better been served showing that happens in the end of the fight against Doom, instead of just having Reed dump some exposition. AH WELL

He's got a new hat!

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Remember how The Sandman broke out of jail and IN to the World Famous Baxter Building and store a number of Reeds inventions... and then everyone just ignored that for a while because Doctor Doom got the Power Cosmic and that was a MUCH higher priority (it happened in post #71, true believers -Outrageous Octo)? Well, Stan Lee didn't, and we have the exciting conclusion to that captivating plot thread in... Where Stalks the Sandman!

We open with a bang this time, as the FF return home to the World Famous Baxter Building after having barely defeated Cosmic Doom in the previous issue, and all of Reeds home defenses activate and try to kill them. *At some point* Reed and Sue are going to successfully have a honeymoon, but it plainly ain't happening today. It doesn't take long after disabling and destroying the various traps for Reed to realize that someone has broken into the building and has hijacked the security system since this is... at least the third time this exact situation has occurred.

However, it IS the first time it's happened since Reed built a Negative Zone Portal, so he's a bit more worked up than usual about someone making a ruckus in his lab, as misusing that thing could be slightly more apocalyptic than anyone would like.

And so, running into his lab with Ben and Sue in tow, we meet this months villain, again, The Sandman! And we also learn that with all that gear that he stole from Reed last time, he built himself a stupid looking suit of armor! Just cruddy. I believe I've proven time and again that I love everything Jack Kirby has ever designed, but, man, this is just awful. I hate this stupid thing.

Also, I like Sandman in general. But he's a shape-shifting Bank-Robber, and even this early on, that is really not in the FFs wheelhouse, and he is absolutely not in a position to fight them solo.

Everyone else in the room is substantially more intimidated and concerned that Sandman broke in than I am, however, and, as expected, they fight. And also as expected, since this is the first issue of a three-parter and Sandman has a fancy new set of clothes to show off, it goes badly for the FF. Turns out he installed a belt-buckle into the armor that lets him change the property of his sand-nodules (which sounds kind of gross), letting him freeze or electrify people in addition to changing his density and shape. He can also make slippy-sand, which is probably really fun to play with.

Anyway, the Worlds Greatest Superhero Team really does not live up to their appellation, and are completely outclassed by Sandman making himself slippery, so, with no recourse left, Reed flings open the Negative Zone Portal with the intent to blast Sandman clean out of this universe and leave him to be destroyed by the antimatter-barrier that separates the two universes.

Reed, it is the Sandman who has made himself slippery; at worst he's going to rob some heavily insured banks; this is overkill.

Ol' FLint thinks so too, and he scramooses out of the Baxter Building as soon as all the Kirby Krackle starts impacting visibility, but unfortunately, Reed was standing a lot closer to the portal and was sucked in before the labs safety measures could deactivate it; and the rest of the team finally break into the sealed lab just in time to see Reed flying into the Negative Zone, beyond all hope of rescue, and flying towards the antimatter-barrier, and have no choice but to watch their best friend and the guy Sue married in their last moment of life.

That's a good cliffhanger, but let's see what else was happening to other characters in this issue;

The Inhumans are still concerned that Non-Inhumans (Outhumans?) might want to kill them, so they're hiding in an underground safehouse. Real good thing you broke down that dome, guys. Your life has changed greatly. Crystal has swapped out of her dress and is wearing her familiar yellow body armor and weird hairband thing though. She also takes Lockjaw and decides to speed up her hunt for Johnny

Wyatt Wingfoot is sitll not playing football, and Stan and Jack are still convinced this is a compelling story hook.

The Silver Surfer gets his board back after Dooms apparent death last issue, and proceeds to completely obliterate Doomstadt in revenge for all the torture Dooms guards were subjecting him too, and he vows to never again trust any member of the human race. Understandable, really.

Next Time: No Indoor Voices


Power is fleeting, love is eternal
For some reason, the scenes of the Silver Surfer being tortured and then getting his revenge really sticks with me. There's something magnificently melodramatic about it, a tragedy on a grand scale.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Most of the torture is shown by the guards holding up pictures of outer space to taunt him, too.

I mean, and beating him with clubs, that part is less whimsical though

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Okay, two things. First, when you see every comic cover laid out side-by side it really illustrates how dang amazing they all look. And second, I'm not so proud as to not admit when I've made a mistake, and the "Next Time" blurb on the last post doesn't really fit this issue; I thought the character it was in reference to had a much bigger role to play in this issue, where we see that One Shall Save Him.

Anyhow; we're kicking off right where we left off last ish; with Reed flying off to his certain doom in the Negative Zone, since he figured that was an acceptable price to pay for kicking Sandman out of his home; and Ben grabs the dimensional communicator that Reed had on his work-bench (every surface in the FFs home probably has one of those) and asks Reed for some clever tips on how to invent some way to save him before he's disintegrated by anti-matter.

And Reeds basically checked out at this point; he's skipped the first four steps of grieving and has completed accepted his face of having every atom in his body annihilated by a dimensional barrier (it's also how I expect to go) and decides to give a quick eulogy for himself and say goodbye to Ben and Johnny.

He also doesn't bother talking to Sue, and instead asks Ben to pass on his regards to his impending widow.

Sue takes the fact that her husband basically said "Take 'er sleazy" to her before dying with ALL THE RAGE, GRIEF AND SORROW Jack was capable of producing on a printed page.

And, in perhaps the mother of all wild coincidences (for... this issue. On this page.) and also the record for least success at reading the room, this is the moment that Crystal, with Lockjaw in tow, teleports into the World Famous Baxter Building and is so excited to see Johnny again! And Johnny ignores her in favor of mourning the soon-to-be-deceased stretchy man his sister is about to be widowed to; leaving Crystal to piece together what's happened from Context Clues.

It's about the worst possible way they could be reunited, really. Also, Crystal acts like she's never heard the term "Negative Zone" before. Which really just adds to my confusion about that barrier over Attilan.

Anyway, Crystal remembers that she's part of the royal family of a super-advanced civilization of super-humans, and figures she'd go off and ask one of them for a hand saving Reed. It's they least they could do considering how Reed previously... err...


I'm just now realizing that Reed did nothing at all in that whole arc. He wasn't even in the same building when Blackbolt dealt with his treasonous brother. At best, he kind of pestered one of Maximus' underlings.

Well, Crystal seems to think that was enough to risk an Inhumans life on, so she goes off to visit Blackbolt with Lockjaw in tow.


Reed gives himself a soliloquy about, while he may die, others will pick up the torch of scientific adventure and probe ever deeper into the mysteries of the universe and whatnot, but nobody hears it because Ben already wrecked the Dimensional Radio in frustration.

But more importantly, we find out that it's not just weird bug creatures and stuff that exists in the Negative Zone; a spaceship zips by and dumps a dangerous criminal in the path of the Anti-Matter Barrier as a means of execution; everything else they've done to try to restrain, let alone, execute him has failed, and whatever it is is too dangerous to leave alive by anything other than complete disintegration. And by what even Stan admits is a bit too wild a coincidence to swallow, the asteroid they elect to leave their captive on is the same one that Reed landed on, just on the opposite side so that neither group saw each other.

Reed is briefly interested to learn that their is life in the Negative Zone, but he's more concerned with his impending death, and decides to dwell on that some more.


The rest of the Inhumans are having a fun time completely destroying an invading force from some unnamed military country (I... think they're from France?) and nothing about this sequence makes a lick of narrative sense, except for reminding everyone of the Inhumans' respective power-sets, when Crystal teleports in and explains to everyone else that she has to explain the situation to Blackbolt to get his input;

"SPEAK THEN," says Gorgon, "Blackbolt has assumed the stance of FULL ATTENTION!"

Blackbolt, having given his sister-in-law his FULL ATTENTION (which is so uncommon it requires a pronouncement) and elects to send Triton with her back to the Baxter Building, since, well... Space is basically the same as Underwater, so y'know... the skill sets probably overlap. And the rest of the FF can't think of any reason to argue; after all the teams Smart Guy is dying in Negative Space right now. Worst case scenario; they'd only be down one unpopular side-character.

Fortunately, it turns out that against all logic, The Negative Zone is exactly like water, so Triton can navigate it easily, and quickly finds Reed and rescues him before he can fall into the Explosion Area. UNfortunately, the rescue effort also jarred loose that prisoner that Reed was stranded with and was unaware of; and they wake up and follow Triton and Reed back through the Negative Zone Barrier and back to Earth.

Meet your new fur-baby;


BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB BURST is another one of those characters whom I love and couldn't tell you why. It could be the fact that his name is BLASTAAR, and he describes himself as a living bomb-burst. Maybe its the fact that he's an exploding space-bigfoot. He ain't a subtle guy, that BLASTAAR, as indicated by his honorific (Living Bomb-burst) and his job (exploding things). He's also the clear lesser of the ruling powers in the Negative Zone, and we don't get to meet the cool one for at least another dozen issues.

The rest of the FF is so overjoyed that Reed was safe that they didn't notice the GIGANTIC BEAR MAN that came with them, and, not wanting to make the situation awkward when they do, BLASTAAR decides to jump out the window, where he is immediately waylaid by the Sandman, thinking that one of the FF decided to jump out the window of their skyscraper home instead of using the door (to be fair, that's usually a safe bet); and after the requisite first-meeting battle, Sandman and BLASTAAR agree to team up, as they have so much in common. Such as their love of committing crimes and wreckin' stuff.

And now we're out of pages, so we'll have to wait until next issue to see what that entails

NEXT TIME: How Do You Stop An Exploding Bigfoot?

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

Well, if you didn't know the name BLASTAAR: THE LIVING BOMB-BURST before sitting down to reading BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB-BURST, good news. You will be hearing BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB-BURST quite a lot before these 22 pages are over.

We're picking up things on the opposite side of the ceiling where we left off last time; with the FF being overjoyed to be reunited with Reed (for some reason) and Crystal (more understandable)... for about two seconds, before a massive explosive blast tears down through the World Famous Baxter Building from the roof; and Reed gets blasted in the face with a second one when he goes up to investigate; and he wastes no time in putting together the pieces; during the split second when everyones back was turned and before the Negative Zone Portal closed, an exploding space-yeti followed him home and teamed up with the Sandman, who was waiting on the roof.

I'd say it's a good guess, but, well... he's Reed Richards, stuff like this happens all the time.

Triton calls "dibs" on the supervillain fight; excited that he's finally getting a chance to do some superhero-ing for once in his life, but unfortunately, because he's so unaccustomed to superhero fights, he doesn't realize that the first fight always ends with the villain winning, and BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB-BURST beats him easily.

BLASTAAR is caught completely off guard by the fact that Triton *punched* him, however. In all his years as a murderous Negative Zone Warlord, nobody ever invented that particular technique. Which is right up there was the Surfer being completely dumbfounded by a sandwich for being my favorite bit of goofy Stan Lee dialogue;

"MORTAL FOOL! You think BLASTAAR can not fight equally well? I have never fought with my knuckles bent into the shape of FISTS before, but now that I have learned the way of it, there is NO POWER that can match the bludgeoning might of BLASTAAR!"

And then the rest of the FF decide to take a crack at it, and Stan doesn't even have time to finishing asking Jack if he'd like to draw a bunch Ben Grimm fighting a shapeshifting bank-robber and an exploding bigfoot before Kirby grabs the reins and fills the next 18 pages with precisely that.

Some highlights;
BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB-BURST being kind of confused and assuming that every human being must has super-powers, given the sample size he's seen
Ben offering a pretty solid set up for telling BLASTAAR what time it is (Clobberin')
Ben beating Sandman by throwing him into the river before punching him; and the current disperses him faster than he can reassemble.
BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB-BURST gets a pretty dramatic speech considering how he's just a guy with laser-fingers;

"BACK, YOU FLAMING FOOL! No matter what the extent of your mortal power may be, it is AS NOTHING compared to the MIGHT OF BLASTAAR! The might of ULTIMATE DESTRUCTION lies within my hands!! The Power to wipe out an enemy -- to devastate AN ARMY-- TO OBLITERATE A WORLD!! I FEAR NOTHING! I CAN NOT BE STOPPED!! I AM A LAW UNTO MYSELF!! I AM SUPREME!! I! AM! BLASTAAR!"

And Sandman assuming everyone is more concerned about him walking down the street because he's robbed some banks than they are about the screaming explosion-yeti beside him.

Anyway, between BLASTAAR THE LIVING BOMB-BURSTs constant speeches about how humanity is pathetic because the number of people with explosive powers is comparably low, and Rock-v-Sand brawls, Reeds had enough time to find a helmet he'd previously built that can cancel out explosive internalized pressure in living things (Reed... is hard to catch off guard) which he slaps on to BLASTAARs noodle when he's distracted, which cancels out his bomb-burst ability and just leaves him a mere super-strong bear-man from space.

But that's not the kind of problem that's even worth commenting on as far as the FF are concerned, so they easily truss him up and huck 'im back into the Negative Zone, no fuss, no muss.

NEXT TIME: "This is, by a wide margin, the least likely thing that's ever happened"

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

We've got the start of a new story arc, the introduction of another major part of the Marvel universe, more of Reed being just the absolute worst husband and the debut of the someone nobody would have guessed would be the most influential character of all in... The Sentry Sinister.

Which is also another cover that is a close-up on a guys butt.

Anyway, inspired by the whole ruckus with BLASTAAR last issue, we open this time on Reed and Ben finishing off some upgrades to the Negative Zone Portal; making sure that it's only a one-way only, making sure that any Negative Zone Aliens won't be able to sneak into the regular universe (or "Positive Zone", as I'm surprised they don't call it). News which comes in the form of a catty response from Sue.

Turns out she's MIGHTY SICK of her husband constantly interrupting their honeymoon in order to do some science, or because a Godlike Being of infinite destructive power showing up, or her brother being kidnapped by an exiled king of a super advanced civilization, or her husband being shot into an exploding alternate dimension, or being targeted by a suddenly omnipotent science-wizard, or because her husband friggin' sucks and has no redeeming personal qualities.

And Reed realizes, hey, she's right (well, about five of those six points, Reeds not big on introspection), and decides that *come hell or high water* they are FINALLY going to have a honeymoon. And he's going to invite Ben along too.

Also, Ben is going to pick the destination, and he's not allowed to invite Alicia...

Furthermore, Ben picks their honeymoon destination by blindfolding himself and throwing a dart at a map of the world. Fortunately, the random patch of ocean that Ben hits does just happen to have an island on it.

For the record, they DO also invite Johnny, Crystal and Triton, but they can't go because Johnny and Crystal have been barely coming up for air from their non-stop make-out sessions and Triton is busy dog-sitting while they do so.



In what is perhaps the single least plausible coincidence in all my years if reading superhero comics (a medium that exists entirely on coincidence), we cut to that exact same island that Ben threw a dart at while blindfolded, where Some Science Nerd and his guide have just struck land; the Scientist (who is not named), as it turns out, has been searching for this particular island for years, as he's translated some ancient texts that indicated that Humans weren't always the dominant life on the Earth, and a race of beings called The Kree, possessing vastly advanced and unknowable powers, ruled the world before man evolved; and this island was their main stronghold.

In more recent days, the Kree are one of the big players in Marvels cosmic stories; and not *quite* the worst ones, but boy do they make a good showing of it. They're an expansionist military empire whose obsession with their own eugenics program to produce Perfect Citizens wound up backfiring in a big way, and gave the entire species lasting genetic damage; losing the ability to evolve naturally. Most of their conquests were to the end of trying figure out some way to undo that damage.

What's also interesting is it's pretty clear that Jack had some different, grander plans in mind for the Kree, but Stan was the guy handling scripts and trying to keep the overall Marvel Universe as coherent as possible, and it didn't take long for them to go from msyterious and ominous figures with their hands in everything, to Bad Space Guys (blue). Other writers (including Jack himself) managed to do a good job of salvaging the wasted potential, however.


The Scientist, as it would happen, was totally correct about everything; which he learns when he lifts up a broken arm of a Kree statue he got... somewhere (no explanation for this) and the light from it reactivates the bases technology; after millenia of disuse. And, more importantly for the sake of this issue; it also reactivates the outposts lone guardian;



You would be forgiven for not knowing who Sentry 459 is; it's not a memorable name, and he's never been a headlining character. And he is one of the most important characters in the Marvel universe, entirely by sheer coincidence. His reactivation in this issue winds up drawing the attention of the rest of the Kree empire to Earth (as we'll see in the next few issues), and his ultimate destruction is what brings the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell to Earth, as well as empowering the current Captain marvel, Carol Danvers. Furthermore, Sentry 459 is also revealed to be responsible experimenting with Terrigen on primitive humans, creating the Inhumans.

He even was the title character in an episode of the Earths Mightiest Heroes cartoon, and his destruction there inspired nearly the entire second season of that show.

As for the character himself; he's a big blue cyborg with a football helmet; what you see is what you get.

I also expect he sounds like D'Arcy Carden, but that's mainly because he keeps telling everyone he's not a robot.

Anyway, 459 blasts the scientist and the guide with a laser-box, and then resumes reactivating the Kree Outpost in order to reestablish contact with the Kree Homewold in order to get updated orders about what to do with the human race.

Meanwhile, Reed, Sue and Ben attempt to make landfall on the island for their completely randomly decided upon throuple-honeymoon and run into a bit of trouble courtesy of the islands defensive systems. After an emergency landing (consisting of them nearly crashing into 459, and him crabbing their plane out of the sky and tossing it away like a tin-can) the FF react to the sight of a huge robot casually mentioning how its power is supreme the same way you might expect them to, and they start fighting it.

And I've complemented Jacks action scenes a LOT during these write-ups, my bias is showing, and my love of everything the guys ever drawn is earnest and heartfelt, and when Joe Sinnot is inking, it stands another mile above, but believe me when I say that this issue might be one of the best drawn fight scene the guys ever made.

As clunky as the Sentry looks, and the fact that most of the fight is it simply slamming its bulk into things, it's an extremely dynamic fight; it nearly beats Ben to death before opting to simply drown him, its able to detect Sue when invisible, and Reeds stretching doesn't even slow him down. The FF wind up getting whomped so badly they have to use their planes emergency radio to contact Johnny, mid-smooch, in order to have him tag in to help with the fight (he arrives quickly because of Lockjaw).

Unfortunately, 459 is as fireproof as he is everything-else proof, but for once, Johnnys tendency towards extreme collateral damage pays off, and after missing the Sentry with beams of "multiple laser intensity" he winds up accidentally burning a hole straight through the island, badly damaging the outposts power source; the intensity of which causes the entire island to start disintegrating.

While running back to Lockjaw to evacuate the island, Ben also finds and rescues the scientist from earlier, presumably because the Comics Code wouldn't have let the book be published otherwise. And Sentry 459 stays behind; its entire reason for being is to protect the base, and it actively dissolving into a cloud of Kirby Krackle isn't any reason to abandon it.


Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

There are no dance-contests when you travel... From Beyond This Planet Earth

Jack ain't wastin' this month, as we open with the FFs sleep being interrupted by them all sharing a nightmare of massive, lovecraftian monster; a giant grub with a human face, covered in tentacles;


The Supreme Intelligence!

The Supremor (if you're being casual) is the absolute lord and master of the Kree; an immense bio-organic computer created from the assimilated brains of every Kree citizen to show any distinction in any field. It is, unsurprisingly for a gestalt entity that embodies a fascist space empire, kind of a dick.

More to the point, the Supreme Intelligence doesn't even bother introducing itself, saying that unevolved primitive beings like humans wouldn't be able to appreciate it, and also psychically scanning the FFs brains in order to prove their guilt of the unpardonable sin of defacing Kree property by accidentally destroying the Sentry that was actively trying to kill them last issue; and so they are now due to be executed.

And, because everyone in the Marvel Universe is weirdly incredulous at all times; the FF think nothing of sharing a horrifying vision of a cosmic nightmare demanding their deaths. Odds are good that, like all things in life, it was just a nutty publicity stunt, or else that menace, Spider-Man was behind it.

Sue, however, realizes that they live in a comic book, and takes the shared nightmare prophecy much more seriously; right up to the point of having a full on nervous breakdown, leading to what is perhaps the single most flagrant "Reed is a Bad Husband" moment seen yet;

"I've been a blind, inconsiderate fool. But I'm going to make up for it! I'm going to buy you a whole new wardrobe!"
"Oh darling, I don't know what to say..."
"Good! Wives should be kissed, and not heard!"

Once more, canonically, this is the Best Of All Possible Reeds.

Also taking the Supreme Intelligences threat very seriously is this issues OTHER, much more corporeal villain;



Though in this first appearance, he's caucasian, and not a healthy powder-blue. Ronan is the head of the Krees Accuser Force; which means he's basically the outer space version of Judge Dredd. Any judgement he renders is death, as any crime against the Kree is unforgivable to him.

Ronan is slightly reluctant to carry out the execution of the Fantastic Four, despite his orders, but it's less out of any kind of sympathy for them, and more because the outpost on Earth was abandoned millenia ago and they'd forgotten about it; surely there's a better use for his time than sending him off to crush some backwater evolutionary throwbacks like humans.

When he arrives in New York, however, he changes his tune after he realizes that over the last few thousand years, humanity has evolved juuuuuuust enough to warrant some degree of contempt (he ranks us a 2/10 as far as civilizations go) which means the FF can be held accountable for that most punitive of crimes; vandalism; and he strikes his Universal Weapon (hammer) on the ground and summons the FF before him to hear the charges the Kree Empire has laid against them, and also show off how cool his hammer is.

To be fair, it's a pretty cool hammer.

Reed and Johnny try to mount some kind of legal defense for their destruction of Sentry 459, since it was actively trying to murder them, nobody knew it was there in the first place, and killing it was entirely accidental, but they give that up when they realize that Ronan isn't actually holding any kind of trial; he's just informing them why he's about to execute them.

Naturally this leads to a Jack Kirby fight and, for once... it's kinda mediocre?

We're... informed that he's even tougher than the Sentry was, but little about the fight really makes than clear; the most impressive part of the fight was Ronans hammer rearranging the molecules of the FFs clothes so they're in their usual outfits. And maybe Ben getting to his feet when the Universal Weapon increases his gravity to the point he has the weight of the planet on his shoulders.

But that's what Ben does all the time anyway.

Eventually the fight stops when the team manages to force Ronan to the ground on top of the Universal Weapon just as it discharges a lethal blast which... sends him back to the Kree Homeworld instead of killing him... because Stan had to think of some way to side-step the comics code. And Reed is concerned because, sure, they did manage to survive execution from a deadly space enemy, but they're still TECHNICALLY guilty of something that warrants execution in the eyes of an unstoppable cosmic empire and they know now that the human race is capable of fighting back.


Alicia is moping around her apartment, not being quite aware that a beefy spaceman is trying to hammer her boyfriend to death when she's confronted by an unseen figure with Weird Wristbands who invites her to walk through a wall. Which she does.

Well... that was weird, I'm sure it's nothing portentous.

NEXT TIME: Weird Science

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption

I can't prove it one way or the other, but I really get the impression that Jack was the one in the drivers seat with What Lurks Behind the Beehive. Which also feels like a rough draft for what Kirby would do later with Jimmy Olsen.

Anyhoo; the FF are still riding high after their defeat of Ronan the Accuser last issue, and decide to pay Alicia a visit. Mainly because they can corroborate Bens story about missing a date with her because a beefy spaceman tried to murder them with a hammer. But it turns out they needn't have bothered; Alicia isn't home. And while there's plenty of reasons for Alicia to not be home at any given moment (Sue and Reed both offer many examples of them) Ben automatically assumes that she's left him and is happier in the arms of another, non-rocky man; as he tends to assumes happens every time she's outside his eyeline; and he goes off to mope alone in Central park and... err... contemplate suicide. Which certainly isn't the kind of content you'd expect from a Silver Age comic.

Luckily, Central Park was completely full of exuberant Ben Grimm fans, and ladies who want to smooch him and a non-stop parade of genuine praise and affection for a guy who has VERY PUBLICLY saved the planet a whole bunch is enough to turn his frown upside down, and he heads back to Alicias apartment to see if he can't figure out where she went, or at least wait for her to come home.


Hey... where IS Alicia, anyway?


Alicia, as it happens, was taken to a secret complex which is alternatively called The Citadel of Science and The Beehive. Or at least, a narration box, and the cover of the issue call it The Beehive. If you gave me a thousand ways to describe it, "Beehive" would not be one of them. Maybe "Acropolis, if it were a Toaster full of diamonds" or possibly "Mega Man boss you can live inside"


It's a really cool looking secret base, for what it's worth.

And once she arrives in The Beehive, she meets the lead scientists in charge; The Enclave, consisting of Dr. Shinski, Dr. Hamilton, Dr. Zota and MORLACK, MASTER OF NUCLEAR POWER.

One of these names doesn't quite match the rest and, believe it not, that is of no consequence.

The Enclave is, like Sentry 459, more important to Marvel lore than you'd think, in fact, they first appeared in Marvel Comics #1 back in 1939, then known as The Scientist Guild. Despite this, they're INCREDIBLY obscure. And it seems that this cabal of super geniuses find themselves in a bit of a pickle, and they need a Blind Lady to help out.

It seems the Enclave put their genius brains together in order to do something GOOD for the world; they were going to destroy all war, crime, illness and greed from the world by creating a Perfect and Ultimate Life Form, a being known only as Shadow the Hedgehog HIM!

Unfortunately they weren't... paying super close attention when they were gene-splicing together an Ultimate Life Form, and have no idea whatsoever what it is that they've created. And whatever He looks like, it's burning with such incandescent power that looking at Him is enough to completely destroy your eyes. And I guess they don't have any cameras. He is usually depicted in this issue as a massive glowing eye in a cloud of Krackle; so... that's pretty cool.

Also, He wields overwhelming psionic power and doesn't seem to care much for the lives of others. So, naturally, the Enclave is kind of worried they've created a deadly menace for the world. And they need Alicia since she's got a real knock for making sculptures and is already blind, so she can recreate His appearance, so that the Enclave can... err...


You know, I have NO IDEA why they care what He looks like. They really have bigger problems to deal with than that, it's not like an incandescent cloud of Krackle can hide itself.

Anyway, it's not like Alicia had any other plans today, so she suits up in a space-suit and heads into the lab with a brick of clay on her back with an armed escort, and immediately runs into problems when a massive flame wall approaches them!


Ben returns to Alicias apartment where he finds that Reed and Sue (and Johnny, who also showed up) have been busying working out how to figure out why Alicia isn't home in the MOST BONKERS WAY POSSIBLE; Reed built a device that is capable of measuring the body heat of everyone who was in Alicias living room over the past 24 hours and with SO MUCH DETAIL that Reed is able to make out the circuitry on the wrist-band of the guy who walked through her wall and left alongside her, realizing it's a teleport device, and let him recreate it himself in his lab to mount a rescue operation. Which he kind of assumes she needs since she needs rescuing from weird scientists a lot.

NEXT TIME: Adam And His Amazing Technicolor Meat-Coat