The Return of Talking Time

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Old 08-22-2018, 02:16 PM
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Default The Worlds GREATEST Comic Book Thread: Talking about Lee/Kirby’s Fantastic Four

Full disclosure, there are lots of comic book threads, despite my enthusiasm, I doubt it’s going to crack the top 50.

ANYWAY!!

Not long ago, I finished Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, a sprawling and incredibly ambitious comic epic that includes some Greatest Of All Time stories. And I loved it. And it filled me with a desire to revisit Jacks earlier work. Specifically, what I’ve often considered to be my favorite non-Spider-Man/Thor Marvel run; the first 103-issues of Fantastic Four; written (ish) by the Funky Flashman himself, Stan Lee and everything-else’d by Jack Kirby (and also Artie Simek, probably. Maybe Vince Colleta too? I’m less confidant about that).

As the story goes (and it’s Stan Lee’s story, so... you know... grain of salt), the year is 1961, the comic book Silver Age has been extant for a couple of years and superheroes were back in a big way (thanks to various factors I won’t get into), and a middle-aged Stan Lee is getting fed up writing comic book stories that his editors want him to write, regardless of his own feelings (the ironing is delicious), and he decides to quit Marvel. And his wife says “Well, if you’re going to quit anyway, why not at least make a comic you’d WANT to write?”

And Stan says “Well, hell, why not!”

So he and Kirby (they were still on speaking terms at the time) brought out the Fantastic Four. A superhero team where the characters weren’t just co-workers... they were family. A super... super dysfunctional family where damn near every issue had at least one member throw a temper tantrum and threaten to leave, and they had constant money problems. And also science-wizards and space aliens kept trying to murder them.

So it was a realistic, down to earth book, that was completely off the wall and swarming with magic robots.

Jack was completely on board with this and apparently so was everyone else, because the book was a smash hit, laid the framework that comics follow to this day, and a major contributor to Marvels success. Half of all theatre tickets sold in the past decade can be traced back to this run.

So let’s look at them one at a time, shall we?
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:33 AM
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All right, let's get cracking with their self-titled debut album Issue #1: The Fantastic Four. And I won't lie, it's a hell of a solid first issue of any comic, though it has a number of oddities to anyone familiar with present-day Marvel. For instance, Ben Grimm isn't a lovable grump, he's just a bitter monster, also way too formal. He talks like Captain Holt. Furthermore, the story doesn't take place in New York, the FF are based in Central City. Probably not related to the one that Barry Allen lives in and I suppose you could interpret that as being a weirdly-worded description of the Center of New York City, but regardless... Stan and Jack aren't trying to establish a Marvel Universe just yet (that comes incredibly soon, though), so it's just A City.

And one day, over the skies of Center City, a huge flare explodes, spelling out The Fantastic Four, which eventually changes into a giant flaming 4. And this is the first issue of the comic, so nobody has ever seen a giant flaming Four appear in the skies, and the Baxter Building is not currently world-famous, so the sight of a giant flaming numeral causes a big of a panic in the city. Except among three people who know what this symbol means, and they converge on the unassuming apartment building it lies under. Naturally, these would be the Fantastic Four, and they decide to show off their powers on their way to the Baxter Building; Ben complains furiously that the world is too small for someone as big as him as he throws off his disguise, flattens a car and smashes his way into the sewer system so he can pass unnoticed (police officers also shoot at him because he is a giant rock man smashing property), Johnny turns into a human rocket and flies over the city, causing such a panic that the mayor calls the National Guard and authorizes a nuclear strike over New York City in order to kill him (!!!!!), Reed uses his super-stretchy powers and brilliant intellect to grab the warhead and defuse it in midair and... Sue freaks out a cab driver by paying her fare while invisible.

It will be years before Sue gets any cool powers, and decades before she's awesome as opposed to an embarrassment. Though I suspect that's another thing to lay on Stans feet. Dude did/could not write women well.

As they meet in Reed Richards' apartment, we're given the teams origins;



A few other notes that have been retconned away since this issue; Reed was trying to beat the Russians in the Space Race and figured the best way to do that was to sneak on to his rocket in the middle of the night BEFORE those Commies could launch their own rocket, and while Sue would eventually be made a brilliant MIT grad and physics researcher who was an assistant to Reed, here she had no reason to be on the rocket except that she's his fiance.

No one has ever bothered to explain why Johnny was there.

The reason Reed has called the team together is because a global crisis has emerged that would require the four of them; all around the world mysterious fissures have opened up and buried nuclear power plants deep underground, and Reed has traced all the tremors paths to one place; MONSTER ISLAND.. Honestly unsure if that's supposed to be related to the Godzilla one.

The FF head to Monster Island in their private jet, and quickly find out how Monster Island got its name; volcanic features make it look like a snarling monster-head.

Also; it's crawling with Kaiju.

After killing one giant monster (some kind of a Dog-hydra thing), the island is suddenly struck by a tremor and the team is separated; Reed and Johnny are buried deep underground and pass out, while Sue and Ben are left on their own on the surface being menaced by the islands other denizens.

Underground, Reed and Johnny wake up to find themselves wearing protective garments, and in the presense of the underground king, The Moleman! A guy I could never really take seriously as a villain. Not because he doesn't pose a threat (he does have a trained army of kaiju monsters and is a god-figure to a subterranean race of troglodytes, even if he isn't physically imposing), but just because he's just so dang sympathetic. Harvey Elder (not Hans, as I always thought, and keep wanting to write) was a little guy who was constantly mocked and called The Mole Man because of his big nose, tiny eyes and love of spelunking, so, in a fit of depression he decides to travel to the center of the Earth and live in seclusion. Fortunately, he finds an entire underground civilization which quickly reverses him as a God, because hes limited faculties are all so much greater then their own and he finally finds acceptance and respect amongst the Moleoids (as he calls them).

Buuuuuut first he's going to get some revenge on the surface world real quick. You know, destroy every power plant in the world and then release a Kaiju army on a defenseless population, that sort of thing.

Fortunately, Ben and Sue wind up in the Mole Mans throne room by sheer chance right then, just after Moleman illustrates that he's adapted so well to underground life that his reflexes have become superhuman (okay...) and a quick fight against one of his guard-creatures breaks out. But before the fight can progress too far, Johnny uses the heat from his Torch-form to burn an escape tunnel from the throne-room to the surface, letting the Four escape with their lives.

Also, either burning a hole through miles of solid rock or a failsafe plan of the Mole Mans when he realizes his plan can't proceed now that it's been revealed, the volcano over Monster Island erupts, resealing the entrance to Subterrania forever.

Or until the next time Mole Man shows up, at least.
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Old 08-23-2018, 07:14 AM
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I'm into it
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Old 08-23-2018, 07:21 AM
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I like the cover implying that if Sue could turn invisible faster, this monster would already be defeated.

Also, at no point is Reed ever threatened with ropes in the book, I think he's just showing off. You know, because he's awful.
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Old 08-23-2018, 07:49 AM
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The reason Reed has called the team together is because a global crisis has emerged that would require the four of them; all around the world mysterious fissures have opened up and buried nuclear power plants deep underground, and Reed has traced all the tremors paths to one place; MONSTER ISLAND.. Honestly unsure if that's supposed to be related to the Godzilla one.
Nope. But it's similar in that it's full of monsters/is actually a peninsula.

Mostly, they just call it "Monster Isle" to differentiate it.
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Old 08-23-2018, 08:07 AM
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"I can't turn invisible fast enough" is also the motto on my family crest.
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Old 08-23-2018, 10:16 PM
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Mole Man is a versatile and tragic figure, but I should point out that he is a formidable fighter in a form of staff-based martial arts of his own invention.
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Old 08-24-2018, 09:41 AM
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Mole Man is a versatile and tragic figure, but I should point out that he is a formidable fighter in a form of staff-based martial arts of his own invention.
This is also true.

But that’s not much Of an advantage against, say, a man made of rock or fire
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Old 08-25-2018, 05:26 AM
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Important world-building abounds in THE SKRULLS FROM OUTER SPACE!

Where we first learn that, ever since defeating (well, running away from) The Moleman in the last issue, the Fantastic Four have already become world famous superheroes. Which makes it very strange when suddenly the Fantastic FOur have turned criminal! The Thing demolishes an oil rig, Sue becomes a world-class jewel thief, Johnny melts down priceless works of art, and Reed causes a city-wide black out. Issue 2 seems like it's a bit early to make a "Everyone is acting out of character" issue, especially before any of these people have characterization, but the explanation is quickly revealed, it wasn't the Worlds Greatest Superhero Team commiting these crimes, it was a squad of alien spies; The Skrulls!

Like the Moleman before them, the Skrulls gradually became more and more sympathetic as the years wore on; they typically wind up taking the brunt of any cosmic disaster, and their species is nearly extinct. They just want to live on Earth because its one of the few planets that can safely support them. That being said they're still jerks, and had enough of a history of being jerks that they don't have too many friends anywhere in the galaxy. And it's a fair few years before anything particularly tragic happens to them, so they're just evil spies here. And also idiots.

The Skrull spies explain... to one another... that they're shape-shifting aliens with advanced technology, so mimicking the FF is easy-peasy, and once the only super-powered being on Earth are safely in jail for crimes they didn't commit, the Skrull invasion of Earth can begin. A plan that works wonderfully, as the army immediately finds and arrests the FF in a hunting lodge Reed has in upstate New York.

Just before that, we have the first of what would be endless arguments among the FF, with Ben calling out Johnny for being a Hothead, and also Reed for making him a monster, and Reed feeling bad and blaming himself for the cosmic ray bombardment.

And then they get arrested and thrown into specialized jail cells designed to hold super-powered people. Which they all break out of lickety split. Well, Reed, Ben and Johnny got specialized rooms designed to counteract their abilities that failed because the army underestimated how powerful they were. Sue was just put into a nicely furnished apartment building that she could just walk out of.

Reed figures that the best way to lure out the impostor FF is to act like criminals themselves, and hope that the actual criminals get confused. A plan that works beautifully, and which leads to Johnny Storm, hero and idol to millions of teens, wrecking a NASA rocket launch (Hopefully it wasn't the Apollo mission...) and which leads the Skrulls to miscount how many spies the had on Earth (I assume) and take him back to their lair).

The rest of the FF follows and a fight breaks out (Sue is less proactive than she appears on the cover, simply tripping a Skrull that was running past), that ends with the Skrulls captive, and terrified. And Reed gets an idea of how to drive off the invasion; he poses as one of the Skrull spies and travels to the mothership, where he declares the Earth to be un-invadeable; by showing the Skrull invasion leader issues of other Marvel comics.

Which establishes that there is a Marvel Comics within Marvel Comics, except that the fictional one presents dramatized accounts of stories ripped from the headlines. Which is quite possibly my single favorite piece of world building in the whole of the MCU (the other two is the existence of Damage Control, the insurance company that exists solely to handle superpower-related damage claim)

Reed convinces the SKrull leaders to leave the Earth alone, and that he'll stay behind to buy the invader fleet time to escape (which grants him a Skrull medal of valor) before returning to Earth (on the way back, Ben is belted by more Cosmic radiation, and briefly resumes being human, but changes back as soon as he notices he isn't a rock man any more, the first of many Ben-is-human-oh-wait-nope plot devices) and the captive Skrulls try to make a break for it, but are swiftly recaptured by the FF. This is mainly so that they can expose themselves to the police, and thus clear the FF of all criminal charges.

The lead Skrull begs for his life, and Reed makes a compromise with him, they'll be allowed to remain free on Earth if they change into cows, and let him hypnotize them into only ever believing that they were always cows.

Which they accept, because they have always, and I quote, "Hate being Skrulls".

Skrulls haven't heard much about Bovine University.
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Old 08-25-2018, 09:53 AM
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This actually becomes a plot point during the Secret Invasion, as a group of vigilantes had eaten hamburger meat made from the Skrull Cows and now called themselves the Skrull Kill Crew.
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:00 AM
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This actually becomes a plot point during the Secret Invasion, as a group of vigilantes had eaten hamburger meat made from the Skrull Cows and now called themselves the Skrull Kill Crew.
I love every word of this.
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Old 08-26-2018, 08:58 AM
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The Skrull Kill Krew actually existed beforehand. Created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, they started that series had two purposes: to see what Marvel would actually let them do and beer money. Also they wanted to call it The Skrull Kill Kult but Marvel objected to "kult". Yet not to Skrull killing.
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Old 08-29-2018, 08:03 AM
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Another major milestone issue, except this time with a villain who I don't think ever even showed up again (Wikipedia confirms he did, but barely has enough appearances to count as a recurring villain); The Menace of the Miracle Man (no relation to the time Alan Moore thought he was making a deep statement by making Captain Marvel an asshole).

The issue opens up with the FF enjoying a strangely caustic stage magic show hosted by... The Miracle Man, a combination of David Blaine, Don Rickels and Count Dracula. And whose act apparently consists of finding the most famous person in the audience and threatening and insulting them to the point where I think it's legally permissible to punch him. He also invites Ben up on the stage and taunts him personally showing off how weak The Things strength is compared to WIZARD POWER. He also forces Ben to shed his disguise, and this is back when he was ashamed of being a rockman, so that's just flat rude.

Also, Jacks started drawing Ben as a rockman now, as opposed to some kind of giant walking callous, and Stans softened up his speech, talking in a much more casual, contraction-rich way. He's still quite a ways away from The Platonic Ideal of Benjamin J. Grimm (idol o' millions), but he's made his first steps on that path.

As they leave the show (in the first sppearance of the Fantasticar, usiing its original bathtub-design), Reed mentions that he's glad that The Miracle Man is just a gigantic asshole, and not a criminal, because someone that good at stage magic would be an unbeatable foe. And the words aren't out of his mouth before we cut to MMs dressing room where he proudly announces (to nobody) that now that he's embarrassed the Fantastic Four in front of a paying audience, the time has come for him to become a criminal!

But just before he does, we cut back to the World Famous Baxter Building (still not named as such, but confirmed to be half an apartment building that Reed leases out, and which is full of advanced research and crime-fighting technology. And also a single ICBM. You know... just in case.), and find out what Sues been doing in her spare time; stitching together specialized for the FF, because if you're going to be a crime fighter, you gotta have costumes.

She has no problem making costumes suitable for herself, Reed, Johnnys individual powers but her outfit for Ben is immediately shredded by his weird anatomy. And this is long before "Unstable Molecules" were the explanation for superhero costumes, so she did this all by hand... so... damn, that's crazy-impressive.

Anyway, at around this time, Miracle Man puts the first phase of his master plan (which really just seems to be "General Mayhem") into motion by bringing a giant monster marquess outside a theater to life, and having it go on a rampage through the city, and eventually attack an army base on the outskirts of town.

The FF are called in but aren't able to destroy the monster until after it manages to steal an Atomic Tank for Miracle Man. The Soldiers on the base also mistake Johnny for a second monster, and hose him down with fire retardant foam, which is really more embarrassing than harmful. And during the fight, Sue (being invisible) follows the Miracle Man back to his hideout; a crappy junkyard.

Hey, this issue is finally giving Sue stuff to do!

Her subterfuge doesn't last long, however, when Miracle Mans dog starts barking at her ("A dog would never growl at nothing" thinks Miracle Man, a guy who has never met a dog). ANd relaizing that "Hard to see" is not the best super power to bring to the table against a Wizardly Demigod, Sue calls the rest of the FF for help with her personal flaregun that shoots giant flaming 4s into the sky (it causes less of a panic this time). Also Miracle Man hypnotized her, so maybe it wasn't just self preservation. Honestly hard to say.

Anyway, the rest of the FF shows up and a fight breaks out (Miracle Man disguises a machine gun as an oversized key, and I'm just left to wonder why...) that eventually becomes a high speed chase, between Miracle Man in an atomic tank and Reed Richards in a busted up old race car, that ends when Johnny flies out ahead and blinds Miracle Man with a brilliant flash of light. Which also robs him of his powers since, as Reed explains (absurdly); if Miracle Man were a real wizard (or Miracle Man, as the book keeps insisting is the proper terminology) he wouldn't have bothered with a machine gun or running away or anything; no he was just a world-class master hypnotist, capable of putting a whammy on an entire city. And not someone with super-human abilities. And since he's blind now, he can't hypnotize anyone.

See, it's all science, not miracle.

And that would be the end of it, except that Ben and Johnny then get into an argument about who gets the credit for ctaching Miracle Man, a continuation of their argument earlier in the issue that ultimately proves to be too much for Johnny, and he quits the Fantastic Four!

COULD THIS BE THE END OF OUR HEROES?
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Old 08-29-2018, 08:27 AM
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Flying bathtub is best Fantasticar.
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Old 08-30-2018, 11:21 AM
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Flipping ahead a little bit, it’s kind of telling that deciding all on her own to spy on Miracle Man was the high point of Sues super heroic career in the first couple years of the book.

Stan... really could not write women well. I can not stress this enough.
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:08 PM
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Stan... really could not write women well. I can not stress this enough.
It makes sense when you consider that he went from romance comics to writing superheroes, and the default setting for a romance heroine was "mewling".
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Old 08-30-2018, 01:17 PM
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Huh... yeah...

That explains a lot.
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Old 09-03-2018, 06:39 AM
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[CENTER]And the words aren't out of his mouth before we cut to MMs dressing room where he proudly announces (to nobody) that now that he's embarrassed the Fantastic Four in front of a paying audience, the time has come for him to become a criminal!
A possible hint that "Who is America?" is just a prelude to a crime wave. If he needs a criminal name, I suggest Sacha Baron Coercion.
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Old 09-03-2018, 09:00 AM
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First and foremost, I love that the image URL for these comic covers are all annil.us.

Secondly...


Oh dang, we're about to establish us a Marvel Universe, Y'all! And get to enjoy our heroes standing on some seriously shaky ethical ground. All this... and MORE in The Coming of the Sub-Mariner

Picking up where the last issue left off, the remaining Fantastic Three briefly recap the to one another that Johnny, fed up with The Things short temper and constant attempts to murder him (a legitimate gripe), has abandoned the Fantastic Four forever. And they also figure that they're not nearly as effective a superhero team without him, so they mount a city-wide search for the youth. Which consists of Sue just wandering the city while invisible, looking for him (and periodically freaking people out by drinking sodas), Reed grabbing people off motorcycles and asking them if they've seen anyone with unusual abilities, and Ben bursting into the garage that Johnny spends most of his free time at, fixing up hot rods.

Awww, they fight a lot, but Bens the only guy who gets him.

Unfortunately, the reason they fight a lot is because (back then) Ben had a hair-trigger temper and is as strong as a dozen bulldozers, and it looks very much like Ben is going to murder Johnny wielding a car like a club, knowing that Johnny can't fight back because of all the gas and oil in the garage.

Aunt Petunias fav'rite nephew has... quite a ways to go to being the Lovable Grump we know today.

Johnny, again, pretty understandably, doesn't want to be near Ben at all, so he flees the garage (yelling "FLAME ON" while using his powers for the first time), runs off to a homeless shelter, where he finds a bunch of residents hassling am amnesiac, delirious man, and he calms the (increasingly violent) crowd down by explaining that the delirious homeless man just needs a haircut to become sane again (look, it was the 60s, we didn't have a good handle on mental health solutions back then), and offers to help by burning the mans beard off by turning his hand into a blowtorch.



And upon realizing that the clean-shaven homeless man looks weirdly similar to Namor: The Sub-Mariner (who Johnny knew about from stories Sue used to tell him, and also, presumably, from History classes), Johnny decides that the bset thing to do would be to toss him into the Ocean, figuring that being exposed to water would jar his memory and cure his amnesia. Or, if it's not Namor, drown him. You know, whichever.

For those not "in the know", Namor is basically exactly Aquaman, rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis, half human on their fathers side, able to replicate fish-traits and communicate with sea-life. Key difference is that Aquaman has a shirt and pants, as opposed to tiny shorts and sometimes a vest.

Fortunately-(ish), Johnny Storm did not drown a homeless man on the grounds that he looked pretty similar to a superhero nobody had seen in twenty years; the sea water revived the homeless man who WAS, as it turns out, Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner. And he quickly swims off to Atlantis to be reunited with his people... only to find the city is a radioactive ruin, completely abandoned by the leaderless Atlanteans. And he immediately declares war on the human race, and swims off to find the Horn of Atlantis, a mystic trumpet that can summon and control the gargantuan amphibious monster; GIGANTO, which he then unleashes upon New York! All within, like, four panels. It's VERY concise storytelling.

All the while, Johnny is still standing on the Shoreline, incidentally, thinking "Hmm, hope I didn't just kill an innocent man for no reason".

Anyway, Johnny quickly realizes he made a terrible mistake (in fleeing from an abusive home...) and summons the rest of the Fantastic FOur to help deal with the mile-tall whale-monster about to attack the city. Regular weapons can't penetrate Gigantos hide, so Ben steals an atomic warhead (from where?!?) and opts to hop down the monsters throat and detonate it near its heart. He also deals with some shipwrecks inside Gigantos stomach, as well as some giant bug monsters, because Jack thought this issue wasn't cramming quite enough stuff), which injures Giganto badly enough to knock it out, but not enough to kill it.

Namor isn't fazed, and is about to use the Horn of Atlantis to just summon some more giant monsters, enough to bring humanity back to the stone age with the havoc they wreak (dollars to donuts, this is because Jack wanted to draw cavemen hiding from sea monsters), when he sees Sue, and immediately falls in love; promising to stop his war on humanity if she marries him.

She's about to agree, since her happiness isn't worth the lives of the entire human race, when Johnny intercedes, by flying around Namor and Giganto fast enough to create a vortex that flings the two of them clear across the planet, losing the Horn of Atlantis in the process. Namor vows revenge/marriage on the Fantastic Four/Sue, and Johnny rejoins the team.

Awwww.

Next time we learn the secret true history of Blackbeard the Pirate!
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Old 09-03-2018, 10:15 AM
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And he immediately declares war on the human race, and swims off to find the Horn of Atlantis, a mystic trumpet that can summon and control the gargantuan amphibious monster; GIGANTO, which he then unleashes upon New York!
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Old 09-03-2018, 07:49 PM
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The fact that I only see one panel of that most of the time is a god-damned crime.

Also, other key difference between Sub-Mariner and Aquaman: Namor is an asshole and Aquaman was nice until everyone basically decided that he was also Namor. This is why this is the best Aquaman.

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Old 09-04-2018, 04:29 AM
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BatB is easily the best version of it, but Aquaman is always at his best when he’s a guy who hates his day job (King of the Sea) but loooooves his hobbies (being a superhero). Though I’ll also give the nod to the Soggy Conan some writers like to pass him off as.
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Old 09-11-2018, 08:04 AM
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A big part of the appeal of reading old comics like I've been doing with these threads, is seeing how characters have evolved over time. I've already pointed out how shocking it is to see Ben be a violent monster, when I'm used to him being a lovable grump, and Sue being a simpering doormat instead of The Best Mom Ever. But sometimes... sometimes a character is established right from the get-go. Sometimes, you learn everything you could possibly ever need to know about a character from the first panel.


And this is the very first thing we see when the Fantastic Four become The Prisoners of Doctor Doom!


It opens with a wizard wearing robot armor, surrounded by magical tomes, and a cutom chess set of the FF, created solely so that Doctor Doom, who speaks in the third person and brags about how great he is, can illustrate how they are naught but pawns to him.

Except for the vulture, if this panel showed up in a comic that came out this week, I would see nothing remotely unusual about any of this.

Anyway, one day, a typical, increasingly violent squabble between Ben and Johnny is interrupted by a giant shark-shaped helicopter appearing above the World Famous Baxter Building (still as-yet unnamed), which drops a bomb that covers the entire building in an electrified, fireproof spider-web. Which, understandably, surprises three quarters of the Fantastic Four.

Reed reacts with a somewhat bemused "Oh right, that guy.", and then explains that, back in college, his roommate was a guy named Victor Von Doom, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, and an aspiring evil wizard, who was expelled after one of his experiments backfired and left him scarred. And Doom always blamed Reed for the experiments failure and vowed revenge.

Then just plum forgot alllll about him until just now.

Anyway, Doom takes Sue hostage, so the rest of the FF will listen to his demands; first he's going to take them back to his castle of Doomstadt in Latveria (well, "Doctor Dooms Castle", and "Far away", at least), and then he's going to use a time machine he invented to force Ben, Johnny and Reed to travel back to pirate-times and steal Blackbeards Treasure Chest. Or else he will resume having successfully kidnapped Sue Storm!

And before anyone can say "Wait, you invented a WHAT?", Doom presses a button on his throne (of course Doom has a throne), and the Fantastic 3/4ths immediately find themselves in THE AGE OF PIRATES! Where Reed immediately beats up a couple of scurvy sea-dogs and steals their clothes, as giant blue onesies with a big 4 are pretty conspicuous even in 1960s New York, let alone The Age of Pirates.

The threes investigation into the whereabouts of Blackbeard, and his fabulous chest, doesn't go well, as their first instinct is to go to a bar and accept the first drink offered to them by weird, creepy old sea-thieves sitting in a shadowy corner, and are drugged and wake up in the cargo hold of a pirate ship.

This crew of pirates, however, are only used to fighting European merchants and occasionally one another, and not superheroes, so they get beat up REAL bad pretty quickly, and immediately appoint Ben their captain so he'll stop clobbering them.

And to prove his pirate credentials, Ben also immediately leads them into a victorious raid on another pirate ship, where he steals enough treasure for the whole crew, leading them to praise him father, and give him the nickname of Black Beard (because of his disguise).

Ben briefly considers staying behind in Pirate Times as he's a respected historical figure, as opposed to a furious rock monster who has a dehumanizing nickname, but the choice is kind of taken away from him because Doctor Dooms time machine wears off and the group are sent back to the present. Also, a tornado struck the ship and blew the treasure to the bottom of the sea. And also presumably killed the crew.

Back in the present, Doom is initially overjoyed to get Blackbeards treasure, as it contains some magical gems that would make him all powerful, only for Reed to reveal that Doom never said anything about bringing home the treasure, only the chest, so he dumped it all out and brought home the box. Doom is, understandably, flustered at RIIIICHARRDSSSS' actions, so he decides to just suck all the air out of the castle and murder everyone inside it.

FOrtunately, he forgot about Sue (everyone forgets about Sue), so she turns invisible and, finding Doomstadts control room, reactivates the air and disables the traps in the castle. A brief fight breaks out where Ben punches Doom to pieces, revealing him to have been a robot all along (right from the getgo, we have Doombots to blame for Dooms failures). While the real Doom flies away on a jetpack, with Johnny too exhausted to pursue.

Johnny DOES burn the castle to the ground in the attempt, and also manages to turn the moat around the castle to glass by heating it up enough which... is not how fire works.
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  #24  
Old 09-11-2018, 08:10 AM
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Thank you for your recaps. Also really love to see incongruous initial appearances of characters.
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  #25  
Old 09-11-2018, 08:32 AM
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With the Marvel Method, I can't help wondering if it was Stan or Jack who decided fire turns a moat to glass. I feel like whoever did it, the other one was too tired to complain.
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  #26  
Old 09-11-2018, 05:52 PM
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Dollars to donuts, that’s Kirby
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  #27  
Old 09-13-2018, 07:55 PM
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Our library just got the Behold Galactus collection, which is humongous. It might be the tallest book I've ever seen.
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  #28  
Old 09-15-2018, 05:17 AM
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We'll get there eventually, but yeah, that first Galactus story is a GOAT contender.


Anyway, on to The Diabolical Duo Join Forces, a clumsy, clumsy title for a disappointingly lackluster story. Though it's a Lackluster Lee/Kirby story so that means it's still pretty friggin' bonkers.

Anyway, the issue opens with the FF returning to their apartment headquarters (finally revealed the be the World Famous Baxter Building) in order to answer some fan-mail! Reed explains that the reason everyones costumes aren't destroyed by their powers is because of the Unstable Molecules he invented, and Ben get's some hatemail from the Yancy Street Gang. That's three firsts in the same issue, heck almost the same page.

But the mood is immediately soured when Reed points out that, despite being superheroes, their first two Major Villains, Doctor Doom and Namor managed to get away from them, and who knows WHAT dastardly plans they could be up to now!

Which then cuts away to Namor frolicking with dolphins. Dude just needed some time to himself to get over the grief of seeing his civilization destroyed and he calmed right down. Sadly, that doesn't last long, as Doctor Doom (still flying in his shark-helicopter) tracks him down and follows him to Atlantis.

Doom wants to team up with Namor since, out of everyone on Earth, Namor is the closest there is to a peer for him. Or at least Doom considers him the least farthest thing from a peer he could consider having. Anyway, Doom grants an impassioned speech about how tragic it is that Namor lived to see his entire civilization destroyed while he was suffering from amnesia and how its even more tragic that Namor isn't devoting himself to destroying the surface world all the time in order to avenge it, and BOY OH BOY would it set the souls of his lost people to ease to know that the Fantastic Four (except Sue, of course) were dead and buried.

Dooms laying it on kinda thick, but it has the desired effect, as before you know it, Namor is 100% in Dooms camp, and Victor reveals the secret weapon he's invented to kill the FF once and for all; a small, but absurdly powerful magnet called a Grabber.

The next day, Namor just walks up to the World Famous Baxter Building and demands to be let inside to meet the Fantastic Four in order to declare a truce between them all while declaring everyone on the street to be Peasants and fools and pretty much immediately marking him as the Namor we all know and love today. Well, some of us know and love.

...marking him as the Namor that is acknowledged, let's say.

While the FF argues amongst themselves about whether or not to trust Namor, he plants the Grabber in the corner of the room and, after Reed accepts that they should at least try to trust him, it activates, and Doom uses its irresistible magnetic pull to rip the Baxter Building out of the ground and throw it into the sun!

Namor is, understandably, kind of cheesed off that to learn that he was just a disposable pawn in Dooms revenge plan, so he makes the truce he falsely declared official, and teams up with the FF to stop the rocket Doom was controlling the magnet from. Which is handy as the vacuum of space is much more inviting for someone with aquatic powers than it is for someone with the ability to control heat, stretch far, or Is Strong.

Namor tears apart Dooms rocket (after jumping straight up to it after leaping out of the Baxter Buildings pool like a dolphin), and kicks Doom out of the airlock, directly into a speeding meteor that carries him farther away from the Earth. A fate that, even by the spurious logic of silver age comics is pretty much As Dead As You Can Be. Then Namor reverses the Grabbers pull and settles the Baxter Building gently back into its foundation, before leaving, mentioning that he's definitely going to try to kill everyone later.

And the entire population of New York collectively assumes that a building being ripped out of the ground by a Science Wizard, sent into space, and then gently replaced by the King of Atlantis was just the usual kind of stress-related mass hallucination you've come to expect from living in the Atomic Age, and go about their day.

God, I love Marvel New Yorkers.
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  #29  
Old 09-24-2018, 08:41 AM
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Early FF is a real emotional roller coaster; meaning that sometimes you get some astonishingly good Silver Age Marvel storytelling (or at least solid excuses for Jack Kirby to draw the hell out of some comic books), and sometimes... you do not.


And so, our heroes become the prisoners of Kurrgo; Master of Planet X. Which, honestly kind of feels like one of Marvels earlier Monster-comics, just with the more recognizable FF in the starring role, and also works like a kind of Reverse Day the Earth Stood Still.

The Day The Earth Sped Up?

Something...

Anyway, the issue opens in deep space, on the about-to-be-destroyed Planet X, where the titular Kurrgo brags to... his robot about how much more advanced than the Earth his people are in all fields of science, but that isn't going to do him a lick of good because his planet is about to be smooshed to death by another planet that's hurtling towards them. And while his people have perfected space travel thousands of years ago, they collectively just didn't care for it, so they only have two spaceships total that can only fit, like, a half-dozen people each. Kurrgo, despite his arrogance, admits that the problem of saving his people is beyond his skills, and he needs the Greatest Scientific Genius in the Universe, Reed Richards, to save his world.

So first instance of Reed being confirmed as being famed across the Galaxy for his brilliance. That's something.

So he sends his robot in one of the spaceships to Earth to bring the FF to his planet. His robot, incidentally, looking pretty much exactly like GORT, except as designed by Jack Kirby. And Jack plainly wasn't feeling it in this issue, so he looks different in dang near every panel.

Anyway, on Earth, we have our first instance of the prank-war between Johnny and Ben (Bens murderous rage from previous issues having been gently swept under the rug and now he's just grumpy), and also news that the FF are to be given the Congressional Medal of Valor for... you know... all the world-saving they've done. Unfortunately, the Robot lands in Washington just as the FF are receiving their award (which is a huge trophy, as opposed to a medal). And, in order to flush the team out, the Robot sends out a sonic wave across the planet, causing everyone exposed to it to go completely berserk with rage. Like a combination of The Purge and the climax to Kingsmen.

And while the entire human population of the Earth is just freaking the hell out as violently as possible, they're all ESPECIALLY cheesed off at the FF. Well, sometimes... Stan plainly wasn't feeling things in this issue either so sometimes all of humanity just hates the FF. Sometimes it's an general, all-encompassing rage.

Anyway, after fighting the entire US Congress, the FF discovers the UFO that's been broadcasting hate rays all around the world, and its Robot Occupant, who gives them the skinny; he's been sent from Planet X to retrieve the FF, and he's going to continue blasting the planet with Hate Rays until they agree to come along.

Reeds reaction is "Oh neat! I've always wanted to go to another planet" and not "My God, this robot could destroy the entire planet within hours if I don't accept". Which, to be fair, is kind of in character for Reed.

So off they go to Planet X (they briefly attempt to fight the robot when they arrive, but give up pretty quickly, realizing there really sin't any point to it. Johnny uses his Nova-Flame for the first time, if you're keeping track of the minutia like I am), and Reed quickly comes up with a solution to the problem of the planets impending destruction; he invents a Shrinking Serum and exposes it to the entire population of the planet, making them all tiny enough to fit on a single spaceship.

Ant-Man made his debut less than a month before, so I don't know if Pym Particles were involved, or if Reed just came up with his own propriety shrinking formula.

Anyway, the now-teeny population of Planet X boards a spaceship and leaves to seek out a less-doomed planet to colonize, except for Kurrgo, who stayed behind too long looking for an antidote for the shrinking serum, so he'd be able to rule his people as a giant (demanding people pay fealty to him under threat of killing them with a "fuck from my finger". Which I am 100% certain is just the ink running a little bit on the page, but which made me chuckle because I am apparently 12 years old).

And then the FF return home on the other spaceship, because the issues over, and whatever. Who cares. Next months story will be better, kids!
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  #30  
Old 09-24-2018, 01:43 PM
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MARVEL TRIVIA: Planet X was also the homeworld for what Kirby-created fan-favorite character?

Give up? Here's your answer:

It's Groot!

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