The Return of Talking Time

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  #31  
Old 09-24-2018, 02:54 PM
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Wow!

Also, the guy really used to be a chatter-box, eh?
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  #32  
Old 09-25-2018, 09:49 AM
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That Groot is technically not the same Groot who first appeared in Abnett and Lanning's Guardians of the Galaxy who can only say "I am Groot"
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  #33  
Old 09-28-2018, 05:09 PM
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GAH!

I thought the Comics Code was created to keep kids away from images like that?

Next up is Prisoners of The Puppet Master (boy... the FF sure got held prisoner a lot), which introduces both the friggin' creepiest looking dude ever, and also continues the Lovable Grumpening of Ben Grimm by giving him a lady-pal.

Well, eventually, first Ben learns that he's not allowed into Reeds lab while he's conducting an experiment, and he flips out in his typical (for single-digit FF comics) rage, threatening to quit the team and storming off, after nearly murdering Johnny with a punch. And Sue runs off to try to calm him down. A task she doesn't succeed very well at.

But while they're out and about, word comes in that a man, seemingly in a trance, has climbed up to the top of the Brooklyn bridge in order to jump right the heck off it. A fate that Johnny saves him from. The man, as it happens, was just some random pedestrian, and the first victim of The Puppet Master a guy who, until Purple Man took over the spot, was probably Marvels single creepiest creeper of a supervillain. Though, in fairness, look at him.

No one is allowed to be surprised that a guy like that is creepy.

Puppet Masters (real name; Philip Masters) entire deal is pretty simple, he's a puppet-maker who found some specially radiated clay that has unusual property of giving him complete bodily control of anyone he builds a replica of out of it. Personally, if I had a big chunk of nuclear mud, my first reaction wouldn't be to build action figures out of it to see how they affect people, but I guess that's just why I'm not cut out for super-villainy.

Anyway, Puppet Master decides that if he can almost successfully make one guy commit suicide, then he's clearly ready for the big-leagues of Supervillainy, and crafts a puppet of The Thing, and marches him right into a tiny replica of his own apartment, and the Real Ben promptly does so too, with Sue following behind him (though she's more concerned for the well-being of a friend than supernaturally compelled). Unfortunately, even invisible, Sue can't hide from the heightened senses of Puppet Masters blind adopted daughter, Alicia Masters.

They share the same last name, but Puppet Master is very (and abusively) quick to point out that they are not blood-related, he's only her step father.

Anyway, Sue is detected and promptly knocked out by the canister of chloroform Puppet Master has hooked up to his apartments ventilator (there are so... so many deeply uncomfortable implications about Puppet Master), and then he notices that Alica and Sue look similar enough that he could probably just throw a wig on her and change their clothes around and Reed Richards would lower his guard, not recognizing his own fiance.

And... yeah... fair enough. That sounds like Reed.

It's not quite clear if Alicia is acting on her own, or if she's compelled to help her step-dad in his plan to kill the FF via Puppetry, but she does go along with the plan seemingly of her own volition just to spend more time with Ben, hoping to protect him because, being blind, she can tell his inner kindness and not his giant rock monster exterior.

This is a pretty blunt metaphor, but it works. Also, she is fully aware he's a rock monster, Alicia is not an idiot.

At the Baxter Building, Reed, indeed, fails to notice that he was not engaged previously to anyone except Susan Storm, and lets Alicia and the whammy'd Ben in, and Ben promptly goes sicknuts on him (not really doing any damage, though, as Reeds flexible body also makes him nearly invulnerable). The fight is only stopped when Reed lures him into his lab and throws the experiment he was working on earlier on him; a serum designed to reverse his transformation.

Besides changing him back to Ben Grimm for a few minutes, and making the Thing realize that the FF truly do care for him and are trying to help him, it also breaks Puppet Masters control over him; as he only built a replica of a giant orange rock-man, not a regular dude. Just then, Sue wakes up and shoots a flare over the city, so the rest of the team knows where she is and could they please come over and beat the garbage out of this creep-ass creeper who is presently kidnapping her and preventing her from otherwise moving.

And they oblige.

Well, they beat up the giant robot he has in his studio apartment, at least. Philip makes a getaway on a jet-powered Pegasus he has on hand for just such an occasion (I... guess that's the sort of thing you never know why you have it until you need it), and distracts the rest of the FF from pursuing him by using a puppet of the prison warden to engineer a mass jail-break.

And the rest of the issue is mainly occupied with the FF dealing with the ensuing prison riot while Puppet Master, and Alicia head back to his apartment while he puts his finishing touches on his masterpiece; a puppet of himself as King of Earth, which will make him undisputed master of the entire world.

Or it would have, but Alicia tripped and knocked the puppet out of his hand. Which then caused Puppet Master himself to go ahead and fling himself out the window.

And then the FF show up and Reed says "Huh... I wonder how accidental that was."

And I really wish it was one of those comic book deaths that actually stuck, because MAN this guy was a friggin' creepo.
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  #34  
Old 09-30-2018, 06:56 PM
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That's a pretty embarrassing way to get taken out. I love it.
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  #35  
Old 10-05-2018, 05:29 PM
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I've been doing my best to point out the first appearance of major characters, and even minutia so far, so I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the first appearance of one of the most inexplicably recurring plots of Silver Age Marvel in... The End of the Fantastic Four. Which is also a pretty friggin' weird-ass story, truth be told.

As it opens up with... well... the End of the Fantastic Four. Turns out the team is completely out of money after Reed gambled everything they had on the stock market and lost everything. The team doesn't have the money needed for the upkeep on their gear, or to pay their rent, and they have to sell everything they own just to cover their debts.

The repo men suggest chopping up their Fantasticar and the intercontinental ballistic missile they have for spare parts and... I am reasonably sure that's the a very unsafe idea.

Their debt is so bad that the FF considers using their talents to make money, but Reed vetos that because "[He's] not going to let you rent themselves out to a freak show, and the only other way to cash in on our super powers is through crime. Which is unthinkable!"

Reed may be the single smartest human being of all time, but he kind of lacks imagination.

Fortunately, when things seem their bleakest, hope is offered; Reed is given a letter from the head of S-M Studios, a movie production company that will pay One Million Dollars Each for the FF to star in their up-coming blockbuster film! And so the FF is off to Hollywood! By hitchhiking!

And so, amidst the glitz and glamour of tinsel-town (including Jack Kirby doing some surprisingly solid caricatures of 1961s hottest celebs, like Jack Benny, Art Carney and Alfred Hitchcock), the FF find the owner of S-M Studios. And they find out that S-M, in fact, stands for Sub-Mariner!

And not something else that could possibly be brought to mind when one is desperate for money and is asked to star in an S-M movie.

As it turns out, Namor heard about the FFs financial woes on his under-water TV (remarking "well, isn't that mighty interesting?") and wants to help out his old buddies. Kind of over-optimistically hoping they've forgiven him for trying to murder them and forcefully marry Sue a whole bunch. Also, it turns out that Namor is loaded, as Atlanteans have been secretly stealing treasure from pirates for centuries.

Anyway, Reed really wants some money, so he agrees, and he, Johnny and Ben are sent off to film their respective scenes. Namor is the monarch for a vagrant nation of fish-men and not a writer, so his movie doesn't have a script, or even any kind of plot, he's just going to throw the three of them into dangerous situations and tells them to improvise things beyond that.

Secretly, of course, he isn't actually filming a movie, he's just trying to murder everyone under the flimsiest pretext of all.

That's right, it's a "Heroes are tricked into starring in a movie except its a trap to kill them!" plot!

These happened all the friggin' time in the Silver Age. I think 10% of Hollywoods studios actually produced movies back then. All the rest were elaborate ruses to kill gullible superheroes.

Anyway, the traps are imaginative, at least; Johnny is lead to fight a tribe of South Pacific Islanders who all know the secrets to become fire proof (Johnny figures they may be fireproof, but they aren't VOLCANO proof, when he makes the island erupt.) and Reed is lead into battle against an animatronic, stop-motion Cyclops (actually a real Cyclops, who is Namors buddy. I want to know everything about this.) And The Thing... well... Namor just opts to beat the hell out of him with his bare hands.

Namor does win that fight, but only because Ben was struck by lightning in the middle of the fight (!) and that made him turn back into a human (?!?!). To which Namor quips "By the Trident of Davy Jones!", leading me to question how much nautical knowledge he even has.

Anyway, pretty confident that he killed the three of them, Namor sidles up to Sue and asksher if they can be married now, please. And Sue responds by saying "Eww, no" and then they fight. And its one of those things where Jacks art is selling a pretty tense standoff between Sue and Namor and them being on roughly equal footing thanks to Sues ingenuity... but all the text is her talking about how Reed will save her and Namor explaining every single thing he's doing .

Then the rest of the FF busts down the door and is about to gang-up on Namor, when Sue talks them down, and gives Namor a stern talking to, saying that he promised to give them each a million dollars in exchange for starring in his movie, and sure, the movie was a pretext to kill them and marry her, but a deal is a deal.

And Namor can't really argue with tyat, so he pays them and releases what footage he actually recorded in theaters, then returns to the oceans depth.

And the Fantastic Four return to New York as celebrated heroes, because they were paid handsomely to survive a lackluster assassination attempt.
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  #36  
Old 10-05-2018, 05:32 PM
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There really needs to be a story where Namor finds out that S-M Studios is actually doing really well without him and Namor realizes he's rich on the surface world and wackiness ensues.
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  #37  
Old 10-06-2018, 02:26 AM
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Hell, the very first Green Goblin story is about him luring Spider-Man to Hollywood to kill him.
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  #38  
Old 10-06-2018, 05:51 AM
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I’m honestly not sure which was the bigger problem in the 1960s between homicidal movie shoots and criminal circus troupes.
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  #39  
Old 10-06-2018, 08:42 AM
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There really needs to be a story where Namor finds out that S-M Studios is actually doing really well without him and Namor realizes he's rich on the surface world and wackiness ensues.
I would maybe read this- wasnt Byrne's Namor series about the dude as some kinda corporate raider? Or was that just surface fluff for otherwise standard heroics?
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  #40  
Old 10-10-2018, 04:02 PM
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Okay, first off, The Return of Doctor Doom is a solid comic, and it has one of my favorite openings. Second, DAMN, that's an awesome cover. Kind of spoiled a bit by Jack and Stan explaining the plot but otherwise, that's an all-time best contender right there.

And it begins with Reed taking pictures of his wife, while shes invisible, and Johnny has his flame cranked up right beside her for no reason! Well, nominally, he's taking photos of an invisible Sue because he's studying her invisibility, but Johnny being torched up has no baring on anything. And the photo-session is abruptly called off when The Fantastic Four alert-flare appears over the city and the team is off! Or they would be except that Reed accidentally locked the door behind them and they're trapped.

Johnny offers to burn his way out, but Reed tells him not to, because the door is nuclear powered (....WHAT?!?!) and hitting a nuclear door with fireballs is a terrible idea. But when he can't figure out where the lock on the otherwise is when he stretched his way out, he figures "why not" and Johnny learns how to turn his finger into a blowtorch that isn't hot so he can melt his way through a nuclear reactor without igniting it.

This is HARDLY the only bit of shaky science in this issue.

Anyway, we have another montage of the FF running through the city and freaking people out because they forgot about their powers (Sue nearly gets run over because she didn't think to turn visible while crossing the street) and they find Ben, who sent the distress call while on a date with Alicia. And she just wanted to show off some sculptures she made of the FFs greatest enemies, and thought they'd appreciate it. Reed gives Sue a stern talking to when she admits that she doesn't consider Namor to be an actual villain, which doesn't look good, but as you can tell from the cover, it's not really the worst thing that Reed does in this issue.

And then, well, Stan and Jack kind of run out ideas for the story.

No, seriously. That's not me being flippant. That is textual.

We cut to Marvel Comics Studios where Stan and Jack are spitballing ideas of where the plot can go from there and coming up with nothing, and complain how it's too bad that Dr. Doom was sent into space after being killed by meteors, because they've never come up with a better villain than him (...granted) and they're just spinning their wheels even trying. And the real FF haven't fought any decent new villains since then either for them to write stories about.

GOD I love this weird-ass bit of world-building.

And then Dr. Doom (the real one, not the comic-within-a-comic one, that would be a bit too weird) wanders into the Marvel offices and demands that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee call up Reed Richards and invite him over to pitch new comic ideas, and they oblige because friggin' Doctor Doom is not someone you antagonize.

Anyway, Reed shows up in the Marvel offices, and Doom knocks him out by whacking him in the head with a fire extinguisher.

It's... a bit less creative than his usual plans, but it works.

When Reed recovers, Doom explains to him that yes, he was sent into deepest space after getting whacked in the stomach by a meteor, but it didn't take long for him to run into some kindly, giant-headed aliens who returned him to earth when it became apparent he was a jackass. But not before they revealed to him how to MINDSWAP, as that is something that species can just teach to people. And now that he has this ability, he's just going to put his EVIL brain into Reed Richards' body and then kill the Fantastic Four through the most convoluted means possible after abusing their trust!

Practical upshot to all this is that Jack is plainly having a ball drawing countless pictures of Reed Richards snarling like a madman.

Anyway, Reed/Doom calls on the rest of the FF and they immediately attack Doom/Reed, knock him the hell out, and lock him in an airtight chamber while they decide what to do with him without killing him.

Should be noted that Reed/Doom is the only one who knows its air-tight, everyone else just thinks it's very hard to break.

Shortly thereafter (and the chamber only has an hours worth of air, so VERY shortly), there's a news bulletin that all the animals have been stolen from the New York zoo. This is because Reed/Doom stole them all. And he stole them because he needed test subjects for his latest invention; a shrinking ray. And what better test subjects than hundreds of stolen zoo animals?

As for why he needed a Shrinking ray, he said it's to help the FF by increasing their powers. How does a shrinking ray do that, you may ask? I'll let Victor himself answer that one;



Look, that seems ridiculous to you or I, but Doctor Doom is the second smartest human being to ever live, I'm going to defer to him on this. And besides, his plan is to leave them in the Shrink Ray too long until they blink out of quantum existence.

Anyway, while the FF fight amongst themselves to be first to be shinky-dinked into non-existence, Doom/Reed is busy trying to escape the chamber he's in before he suffocates; which he manages via ingenuity/stupidity on Dooms part; he uses Dooms mask to crack the chambers walls a bit, then wedges one of the two oxygen tanks he was supplied with in and chucked the other oxygen tank at it until it exploded, breaking the wall.

A plan which works without killing him somehow. And he runs off to Alicas house, figuring that if she can see past the rough exterior to the kind heart within a giant rockman, she can probably do it with an evil science-wizard too. And, luckily, she can. But unluckily, the rest of the FF is in her apartment too (for some damn reason...) and they attack again. Holding off when they start to figure that maybe there's something to Doctor Doom not attacking and screaming "No, don't! I'm Reed, Doom swapped minds with me". As that doesn't seem like Dooms usual behavior but stealing animals and building lasers does.

So they bring Doom/Reed back to the lab with Reed/Doom and come up with a little test to figure out who is who. Johnny uses his flame powers to create a hologram of a stick of dynamite that was being used by a roadcrew a couple of blocks away; and see how Reed and Doom react; when they see Doctor Doom jump on it to shield everyone else, and Reed run away to save himself, they figure out which is which; and the strain of trying to hold off all four members of the FF at the same time is enough for him to break the concentration he needed to maintain to use his mind-swap technique, and he and Reed immediately revert back.

Another, brief, fight breaks out (Doom reveals that his armor contains LOTS of built-in weapons, and I bet Reed felt pretty dumb for not thinking of using any of them when he was trying to escape), but its a fight that ends pretty decisively when he accidentally wanders into the path of the Shrinking Laser, which was turned up too high and he's immediately Shrunk out of the Material Universe.

Well, I'm certain he's dead this time.
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  #41  
Old 10-10-2018, 04:22 PM
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That triceratops looks like a domestic house cat. Love it. Also, excellent reasoning, doctor.
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  #42  
Old 10-11-2018, 03:51 AM
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Practical upshot to all this is that Jack is plainly having a ball drawing countless pictures of Reed Richards snarling like a madman.
Hell yes! That's the thing I really love about this issue.
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  #43  
Old 10-11-2018, 01:41 PM
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Hell yes! That's the thing I really love about this issue.
I would agree with you, but only up until I saw the Astro-saurus
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  #44  
Old 10-17-2018, 08:41 AM
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Welp, this one had to come up sooner or later. On the plus side, issue #11 has two stories in it. On the other hand, they kind of both stink?


Anyway, A Visit with the Fantastic Four is an expansion on an earlier idea; the FF staying at home reading their fan-mail and kids running around the streets talking about how cool and far-out these new comic-mags from Marvel are. One kid is wearing a Thing cosplay that is basically a pile of full garbage bags. So that's something.

And then the real FF shows up to point out that their costumes suck and they can do all that stuff much easier because they have superpowers and don't have to pretend. Friggin' kids, these days.

Anyway, as the FF answers their letters we're finally introduced to Willy Lumpkin (looking, prophetically, like Present-day Stan Lee), the official mailman to the Fantastic Four. And also, Reed reminisces about how he and Ben met (they were roommates in college, and were both drafted into World War 2... that's... the entire story. Kind of feel like that last bits probably been retconned by now). There's also another recap of their origins, and Sue is given a different reason for showing up at the rocket test site (she wanted to goad Ben into piloting the ship, by threatening his masculinity. Not sure if that's better or worse than "because my fiance is going".)

And then Sue gets depressed because most of the teams fanmail is addressed to everyone else, she only gets hate-mail because, well, she's kind of useless on their crazy space adventures. To which Reed Richards faces the camera and says "Hey, you know who else was great? Abraham Lincoln. And do you know what he had? A Mother. Think about it, you ingrates!"

Which... works and makes her feel better?

Ben also suggests "If you readers want to see women fighting all the time then go see some lady wrestlers!" ANd then the issue ends with Sue being given a birthday cake.

Anyway... the second half of the issue is The Impossible Man, which isn't that much better. It opens with some professional hobos being visited by the green-skinned aline from the planet Popup; The titular Impossible Man.

The Impossible Man, is basically (well, almost exactly. And possibly canonically) the Superman villain Mr. Mxyzptlk; a reality warping obnoxious little jerk who bugs the heroes out of sheer boredom. The key difference between them (besides general appearance) being that Impossible Mans powers only affect him, while Mr. Mxys can affect anyone. Also, presumably tricking Impossible Man to say "Kltpzyxm" won't banish him back to his homeworld, but nobody ever even tries so maybe it would.

That's the first thing I try when confronted by someone who is bugging me, at least.

Anyway, Impossible Man isn't familiar with Earth customs like "don't rob banks" and "don't hassle the vagrant nation of train-hopping hobos", so soon the police are called in. And that's almost immediately upgraded to "call in the Fantastic Four" because the police aren't trained to deal with aliens.

Anyway, Reed tries to talk to Impossible Man rather than just shooting him with no warning like the police were doing, and Impossible Man gives his origin in brief (the planet Popup is insanely dangerous, and his species evolved the ability to instantly mutate themselves to deal with any danger, and came to Earth to relax on a planet where the entire biosphere won't try to kill him). Which gives Reed the clue he needs to defeat the Impossible Man;

Just Ignore Him Until He Gets Bored And Leaves



Anyway, word goes out across the world; "Please Disregard this green jackass", and in no time, Impossible Man is soooo bored he vows to leave the Earth and never return.
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  #45  
Old 10-17-2018, 01:12 PM
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Reed reminisces about how he and Ben met (they were roommates in college, and were both drafted into World War 2... that's... the entire story. Kind of feel like that last bits probably been retconned by now).
Fortunately, there's always some war in a distant country that americans can be veterans from!
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  #46  
Old 10-17-2018, 01:42 PM
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The first arc of the new 2-In-One series depicts Victor winning an award in college in the year 1998.
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  #47  
Old 10-18-2018, 01:54 PM
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Apparently, Marvel was quick to acknowledge that a story about how you shouldn't complain about the Invisible Girl being a poorly written character because Abraham Lincoln wasn't immaculately conceived was not the kind of thing their fans wanted to read. And that brings us to Mission: Stop the Hulk.

Also, full disclosure, I was originally very excited when I sat down to read today because I thought this issue was the next one, and that one is extremely Octo-Good. Not that there's anything wrong with an inter-company crossover at this early stage of the game.

Anyway, the issue opens, as all the greats do, at the grand ol' oprey, where Alicia and Ben have been on a date (Ben grumbles that he prefers Jazz, which, honestly, is a bit of character development that caught me completely off guard), when he is suddenly attacked by a company of soldiers walking down fifth avenue.

Turns out the soldiers were on the hunt for The Incredible Hulk, as a nationwide manhunt has been put out for him, and the only information they have to go on is that he possesses superhuman strength.

Okay, a lot to unpack here.

First and foremost, I know it's subtle, but there's a second way to identify The Hulk, other than him being very strong.

Secondly; I can't really help but think that the army is bringing out laser guns and tear gas grenades against everyone who is above-average in strength.

Anyway, while the soldiers apologize, Ben is in a typically grumpy mood by the whole experience and sulks his way home, where he finds that General 'Thunderbolt' Ross is in the living room talking with Reed! Turns out that the reason for the nation-wide manhunt for the Hulk is because there's been a string of accidents at army bases in the desert that can only be the work of someone with extreme strength, and Ross doesn't really ever blame his problems on anyone except the Hulk. And since the army has completely failed to ever even slow the guy down, why not enlist the aide of a group of four Adventure-Scientists. Well... one Scientist, a Strongman-pilot, a teenager and a stay-at-home wife.

Three of the FF are excited by the prospect of helping stop a menace like the Hulk, and immediately start brainstorming how they'd beat him. Except for Sue, as her only power is "Hard to see", and so she can't really help fight a rage-fuelled muscle-giant.

"Harrumph, Miss Storm, a pretty lady can always be of help- just by keeping the mens morale up" says General Ross, because he sucks.
"That's how we feel about Sue too, General" replies her actual fiance.

Sue... you can do better.

Anyway, with Sue being patronized badly, the team is off to the army base, thanks to their recently rebuilt Fantasticar;



Which Johnny rebuilt after getting complaints from fans about the flying bathtub not being cool enough. Fans were much happier with this one, as this design was kept around until fairly recently, though Wikipedia doesn't tell me when, exactly, it was replaced.

Anyway, at the Base, Ross introduces the FF to the rest of his support staff; the bases head scientist, Bruce Banner, Bruces assistant, Rick Jones, and some guy named Kord (kind of looks like Clint Howard, if that affects your judgement of him in any way).

Anyway, while Reed, Banner and Ross confer in secret (and Johnny and Ben start horsing around outside), Banner explains that while he's certain that The Hulk can't be responsible for the sabotage (apart from the fact that The Hulk isn't really much of a 'sabotage' guy), he can't explain why he knows that (secretly: Bruce Banner IS the Hulk). And outside, Kord drops his wallet, and Rick Jones chases after him with it.

Except, being a nosy teen, he can't help but look inside, where he discovers that Kord has a membership card to a foreign spy organization!

That... seems like the sort of thing they tell you not to keep in your wallet on day 1.

Anyway, Rick Jones immediately confronts Kord, and Kord threatens him with an atomic ray-blaster and holds him hostage, AND leaves a threatening note to Banner to make him convince the FF to leave or else it's CURTAINS for the #teen!

Advice that Banner barely takes to heart, giving the most half-assed effort ever to make the team leave, before running off and using a machine he invented to turn into The Hulk and save Rick himself!

I'm not super informed on Hulk lore but... I don't think he usually needs outside help to do that.

Anyway, Hulk figures that Kord is probably holding Rick hostage in the emergency tunnels under the base, so he smashes his way in;

,

and the FF ALSO head into the tunnels because they also assumed that Hulk Underground, and since neither group is particularly stealthy, they quickly meet and, this being a superhero crossover, they immediately start fighting.

And it's a pretty great fight; all the FF (except Sue) brings their A-game to the table trying to fight The Hulk, and Hulk is strong enough for that not to matter much.

In fact, the fights a stalemate until the the force of their battle winds up breaking into Kords hideout, where the FF quickly realize that the Clint Howard-looking guy pointing a laser at a teenager and who had a Hulk-sized digging robot directly underneath all the crime scenes is more likely to be the saboteur than the screaming rage monster, and they go ahead and arrest him instead. And the Hulk, being forgiven for any wrongdoing, but still not kindly disposed towards the FF or army, just jumps away.

Next issue; things go bananas

Last edited by Octopus Prime; 11-07-2018 at 07:02 AM.
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  #48  
Old 10-18-2018, 04:04 PM
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I'm not super informed on Hulk lore but... I don't think he usually needs outside help to do that.
Early Hulk stories went through many different ways for Bruce to turn into the Hulk before settling on "get angry". For example, in the very earliest issues, he became the Hulk only during night-time.
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  #49  
Old 10-21-2018, 12:18 PM
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[CENTER]

"Harrumph, Miss Storm, a pretty lady can always be of help- just by keeping the mens morale up" says General Ross, because he sucks.
"That's how we feel about Sue too, General" replies her actual fiance.

Sue... you can do better.

I'm going to say Johnny and the Thing can do better, too. Don't speak for them, you jerk!
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  #50  
Old 10-24-2018, 07:04 AM
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On April 10th, 1963, the most Fantastic Four-ass comic ever was published. It is titled The Red Ghost and his Indescribable Super-Apes. This is what happens in it.

Remember how the FF got their powers as a result of trying to beat The Reds in the space-race? Well, Reed sure didn't; he's been spending his time building a new and better rocket ship, using a new fuel he invented from distilling a meteor; as, since meteors come from space, surely they contain the secret to getting back into space. And the FF are keen to test this theory by exploring the mysterious Blue Area of the Moon! An area of the moon that... is mysterious and blue.

Meanwhile, across the Iron Curtain, an Evil Scientist, and three trained apes, are working on a similar scheme, except that he took his meteor from the Tunguska Explosion;

"Only a genius such as I, Ivan Kragoff, could have trained a gorilla to operate a space ship!"

Ivan built his own rocket to the moon in secret, after having studied the Fantastic Fours original craft, and built his to be even more vulnerable to cosmic radiation; as, if a small dose of strange Cosmic Rays gave the Fantastic Four super powers, than a HUGE dose of cosmic radiation applied to three apes would grant them EVEN GREATER powers. And with his Super Apes, he can conquer the moon for Mother Russia!

This... issue is pretty Cold War Panic-heavy, by the way. Not sure if you picked up on that.

Anyway, this plan works and gives Ivan and his apes super powers (as opposed to all of the cancers); Ivan himself gained the power of intangibility and renames himself The Red Ghost, the gorilla becomes One Hundred Times Stronger, the Baboon became a shape-shifter and the Orangutan ("the most brainless of all!") gained the power of personal magnetism! Which is like regular magentism, except if affects people instead of metal. They just call it magnetism though.

Anyway, the FF and the Red Ghost both reach the moon at about the same time, and land in the mysterious Blue Area, and are shocked to find that the reason that part of the moon is blue is because it is a vast dead city built by some long-extinct race. Well, Ben, Johnny and Sue are shocked. Reeds reaction is non-plussed. Kind of a "Oh, a Necropolis... obviously that's why it's blue."

What catches Reed more off guard, however, is the other building on the Moon; a crystal fortress just outside the Blue Area that seems to be inhabited. And while he, Sue and Johnny go off to epxlore that, they leave Ben behind; and he runs afoul of... The Red Ghost and His Super-Apes!

And they would probably have killed him then and there if not for the timely intervention of The Watcher.

With a gesture, The Watcher brings the FF and Red Ghost together, presumably so he doesn't have to explain himself twice; he is a completely impartial God-Like alien from a distant planet, and his species monitors everything that has ever, and will ever, happen across the universe. Watch. But not not interfere.

You might argue that he is interfering right now, and fifty years of hind-sight show that he interferes a LOT. But he's a hyper-intelligent super-being from beyond the farthest stars, so I would say he'd win that particular argument.

Also, not certain, but in part of his montage of showing all the species he's personally Watched, we have what is possibly the first appearance of the Kree. But this collection is in black and white, so it could just be some other aliens with a similar taste in headwear.

Anyway, Watcher noted that conflicts like those between America and Russia have obliterated entire planets in the past and he he never really care about that in the past, but now the two of them are fighting in his front yard, so he's going to have to be the tough parent here; he's going to put the FF and Red Ghost in different parts of the Blue Area and make them fight; winner gets the moon.

That's right, the comic just became Rocky 4! In Space!

God, I love this comic.

Anyway, there's still about half a comic to go, so the Super-Apes win the fight and also go ahead and kidnap Sue using Orangutan-born magnetism (that's a fun sentence), but rather than kill anyone, The Red Ghost opts to continue exploring the Blue Area, hunting for technology and weapons he can bring back to Russia.

Sue, for her part, doens't actually take this sitting down, and first figures out how Ivan managed to control the apes (a combination of starvation and mild telepathy that he apparently also got from the cosmic rays)

"These apes are like the communist masses, innocently enslaved by their evil leader"

And, to that end, she shorts out the cage that the Apes were penned in to and leads them to the Ghosts food stores and, after having reunited with the rest of the FF, she helps them avoid the traps Ivan set using her invisibility.

Sue... saved the day on her own, without stopping to talk about how great her fiance was for teaching her how to do things, or patronizing her.

Sue... is acting like a superhero!



Anyway, the rematch against the Red Ghost goes much worse for him, as he's lost his apes to the siren call of free bananas and Johnny figures that even if his flames can't hurt the Ghost physically, he still probably can't handle heat, so he cranks up the temperature in the room to a dangerous degree.

The Ghost flees and decides to sneak into the Watchers fortress in order to steal some of his technology and get revenge. To which the Watcher replies "Do you have even the slightest inkling of how little regard I have for you?", before giving a brief demonstration of what he would do if he considered the Ghost to be even the most remote threat (mainly an excuse to let Jack Kirby just go nuts on a few panels. And I welcome those excuses) before flinging him out of his fortress like DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Meanwhile, Reeds figured out how to operate some of the Blue Area technology to create a device that can paralyze intangible molecules (he's Reed Richards, so that really wasn't difficult) and he gave it to the newly freed Super Apes so they can get revenge on Ian for mistreating them. And the Watcher declares America the winner of the Moon, before opting to just leave the Moon forever (not forever), because, now that people can actually visit him, he can't really remain undisturbed.

Next time; The Sub-Mariners Ass!
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  #51  
Old 10-24-2018, 07:17 AM
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[CENTER]

The Ghost flees and decides to sneak into the Watchers fortress in order to steal some of his technology and get revenge. To which the Watcher replies "Do you have even the slightest inkling of how little regard I have for you?", before giving a brief demonstration of what he would do if he considered the Ghost to be even the most remote threat (mainly an excuse to let Jack Kirby just go nuts on a few panels. And I welcome those excuses) before flinging him out of his fortress like DJ Jazzy Jeff.


Lesson here, don't fuck with the Watcher.
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  #52  
Old 10-24-2018, 09:57 AM
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The Watcher's appearance sure has changed over the years. He started off with really long arms and yellowish skin, but he was later drawn more proportionate to a human, with a smaller head. Sometimes he was drawn as a fat bald guy. Sometimes he had muscles! Only later was his appearance really codified as the skinny giant with massive head.

In conclusion, the Blue Area of the Moon is a land of contrasts, thank you.
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  #53  
Old 10-24-2018, 11:08 AM
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If I may venture an opinion, do not like Muscle Baby Watcher.

Gimme Big Headed Skinny Guy any day of the week.
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  #54  
Old 10-25-2018, 11:02 AM
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Also; I was curious as to why half this issue looked weird and bad and it turns out that it’s because they had Steve Ditko handling the inking, instead of the ol’ standby Dick Ayers.

(Bad is a bit harsh, but Steve makes Ben look all wrong and it was really offputting)

And that also lead me to go back and double check, and it turns out that A Visit With The Fantastic Four was the first story where Stan credited people besides himself and Jack in the credits.

And I bag on Stan a lot (it’s all in love though, well... mostly), but I can’t really help but applaud making those credit boxes. You don’t really notice inking unless it’s bad, or lettering unless it’s realy good, so seeing it be credited this early on is commendable.
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  #55  
Old 10-31-2018, 06:37 AM
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The story goes that, in the Silver Age, DC comics would have something weird on the cover, like Superman forcing his friend to marry a gorilla, or Batman dressing like a Zebra, in order to entice readers in just for context. Whereas Marvel comics would have a dramatic or exciting preview of the story grabbing your attention with what promised to be an exciting story.


And sometimes they just had an extreme close-up on Namors butt.

Anyway, The Submariner Strikes picks up second after the last issue ended, with the FF returning from defeating the Red Ghost and winning the Moon for America, and the resulting media blitz that follows 1.) The First Return Trip from the Moon, 2.) America winning the Space Race via the proclamation of a giant bald spaceman and 3.) LOCAL CELEBRITIES SPOTTED!

Seriously, it's like Hard Days Night.

Back at the World Famous Baxter Building, Reed writes up his report on how to do space travel correctly for NASA, and can't find Sue to write it up and mail it for him (remember last issue how Sue was a super-competent, proactive and resourceful hero who saved the day? Well... I guess that was a fluke.) and instead he gets a stern lesson in heartache, as he finds her using a roving deep-sea surveillance drone to scour the oceans depths for the Sub-Mariner

Bearing in mind that still nobody picks up on the fact that Sue herself is pretty clearly not interested in Namor romantically, she's just sympathetic to him.

Meanwhile, across town, a the Puppet Master is released from the asylum where he was just declared cured of insanity! Apparently he did not die when he jumped out that window, but absolutely no explanation for how is offered. And for his first act as a newly sane man, he's going to use his radioactive clay to control another supervillain to kill the Fantastic Four once and for all!

I don't want to pass judgement, but I question the expertise of the mental care workers he was working with.

Puppetmaster dismisses a few options out of hand (Moleman and the Skrulls were both beaten too easily, Doctor Doom is not in the material universe anymore, Red Ghost is too far away and only Alan Moore gives a damn about Miracleman) before settling on Namor. He also briefly considers just making puppets of the FF and killing them really easily that way, but dismisses it because it felt kind of like cheating.

Namor, for his part, is having a really good day; he's found some abandoned temporary shelters from the lost Atlantean people so he's actually made some headway in returning to his nomadic kingdom. And then Puppet Master takes control over his body and he grabs a handful of psychic fish and heads off to hypnotize and kidnap Sue Storm.

Well, it was a good day up until that point, at least.

After knocking out Sue with the aid of what appears to be one of those eyeball monsters from Zelda 2, Namor announces to the rest of the FF via hologram ("You know that creating video images of himself is one of Namors powers" explains Reed, glossing over the fact that, no, it's not) that he's kidnapped the team mom and will kill her unless they all get together for one big big to the death.

Which is notably out of character for Namor; as Sue is the only one he doesn't have a weird compunction about killing. He only has a weird compunction about marrying her.

Anyway, the remaining Fantastic Three (and Alica Masters, who tags along for no friggin' reason at all) all head off to the bottom of the ocean in a borrowed Navy bathysphere hunting down Namor. Which seems kind of fruitless because Namor can't find an entire nations worth of of fishmen, and they're looking for one specific one.

However, Namor is actually hunting them (with the aide of a giant Scavenger Clam that exhales chloroform) and wrangles up them adventure-scientists really easily before dropping them into his throne room, where Sue is being held captive by The Worlds Strongest Octopus, where they can fight to the death properly.

And then they do.

And, once again, Jack knocks Stan aside and says "I'll take things from here, Flashman" and Jack Kirbys the hell out of the rest of the issue; the FF goes all out trying to fight Namor, and Namor is grabbing weird sea monster (a fire-eating anemone bo-staff! Those glue-ball things from The Incredibles! A knife-urchin!) and chucking them out willy-nilly to beat them. It's great.

While Namor and Reed are struggling (he stretches out crazily and turns into a living maze), Ben jumps into the water tank where Sue is imprisoned and throws the Octopus away before rescuing her and returning to the fight.

And the fights at a bit of a stalemate; despite Puppetmasters control, he can't bring himself to kill anyone (he wants to beat up Reed Ben and Johnny, mind, but that's all) and the FF can't beat Namor when he's got the home-field advantage like he does.

And just then, that octopus that Ben threw away earlier finally crashes through the ceiling of Namors palace and then keeps on going and smacks right into Puppet Masters submarine, destroying it.

No, I don't know where he got that either.

And yes, he does try to quickly sculpt a clay octopus so he could control that, but he was under something of a serious time constraint, and also because octopi aren't smart enough to succumb to telepathy.

And so, newly freed from Puppet Masters control, Namor is confused why three guys he hates, a girl he has a crush on, and another woman he's never seen in his entire life are all in his living room ready to punch him, and he just says "Sue, unless you're here to marry me, I'm not in the mood today, okay?" and makes them leave.

Next time: Andy!
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  #56  
Old 11-02-2018, 05:06 PM
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I don't want to pass judgement, but I question the expertise of the mental care workers he was working with.
Incompetent mental health workers is a staple of superhero comics, including classics like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen.
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  #57  
Old 11-02-2018, 05:14 PM
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Granted, but they usually at least wait until they’re not in the same room as the head administrator.
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Old 11-07-2018, 06:58 AM
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Man, I've never been so disappointed that Googling could not turn up scans of a comic book...

Anyway, this time it's The Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android, which is a bit of a misnomer since the Awesome Android only shows up for, like, one page, but look how smug he is on that cover. I love it.

Anyway, the issue opens, as it traditionally does when Stan and Jack can't think of anything more dramatic; with the 4 appearing over the skies and everyone stopping what they're doing to run over to the World Famous Baxter Building in an over-dramatic fashion that displays their powers; Johnny nearly incinerates his date as he flies off, adding "I hope you know how to drive, baby" as he abadons her, Ben is going to throw an entire garbage truck at some kids who were teasing him, and Sue... is at the hairdresser, and turns invisible so nobody would judge her for wearing curlers. And Reed is busy in the lab after having discovered DNA, and worked out how to use it to create his own new life-forms, that he then purposely watches die.

Reed... you be you.

Anyway, the reason for the alert is because the chief of police wanted the FF to be on alert; every crime lord in America is on their way to New York and that means that something big is happening!

And, indeed, across town, every crime lord in America has come together to meet... THE MAD THINKER! The Mad Thinker has some backwards character development over the years; now when he appears (if he appears at all), he's just a typical mad scientist (albeit an anal-retentive one) more notable because of the charmingly goofy robot than anything else. In this first appearance, however, he's a high-ranking mobster who is so analytical that he's able to Final Destination people whenever he wants, thanks to his entire hideout being one big calculator that analyzes everything.

And he's called all the gangsters in America together because he has a fool-proof plan to get rid of the FF, take over the city and have himself appointed king. Then take over the world after having other gangsters start handling the army like a protection racket ("nice country you've got here, be a shame if anything happened to it" says a cigar-chomping James Cagney, confronting a dignitary).

And, with a level of attention to detail that exceeds omniscience; the Thinker makes the Fantastic FOur all opt to simultaneously go on vacation; Reed gets a job as the head of R&D at General Electric, Sue lands a starring role in a major motion picture, Ben becomes a professional wrestler and Johnny... runs away and joins the circus.

Note that it's been like ten minutes since the FF were told to be on high alert for a criminal assembly the likes of which the world has never seen. They get bored of waiting that quickly.

And with the FF gone, the next part of the Thinkers plan goes into motion, as he planned, a meteor lands in the New York Harbor to nothing more than mild annoyance to the rest of the city (Marvel Comics New Yorkers are... extremely hard to startle) and that the mild damage wrought by the meteor impact knocked out the power to the Baxter Building. which lets the Thinker and his enforcers break in and start stealing Reeds inventions and blueprints.

And, again, the FF JUST left. They can probably still see their home if they were to turn their heads slightly.

They are just astonishingly bad at being superheroes in this one.

Anyway, a few days later, the FF are already bored on their separate vacations; Sues movie about the first woman in space is pretty hokey considering how she's been to space on four separate occasions and fought some apes on the moon, Ben outclasses his opponents in the ring so badly he can't even keep up the pretext of the show, Johnny is bored playing for sell-out crowds and Reed is completely unlikable and nobody wants to work with him.

DOOM WAS RIGHT!

Anyway, they all independently cut their vacations short and return home to see if anything ever came up of that Criminal Empire thing that was forming; and low and behold, there was; the Mad Thinker took over the Baxter Building and turned it into his new headquarters, and coated it in an unbreakable crystal shield (no idea what the other tenants thought about this), and projected his own holographic head over the door taunting the Fantastic Four. And he also used a hypno-ray so that nobody else in the city would notice the giant head gloating over a giant crystal spire thing.

And the rest of the comic is spent with the FF making their way through the Baxter Building, fighting off gangsters and dealing with the just completely disproportionate level of ordinance Reed had installed to deal with intruders (Reed is also a big believer in the castle doctrine), up to and including the issues other headliner; The Awesome Android;



If The Mad Thinker got less interesting over time, then his Awesome Android just got more compelling; as you can tell, he's a giant grey skinned humanoid entity, (and was made from Reeds notes on creating life earlier in this issue), but as time went on, he was revealed to have his own hopes and dreams, eventually settling down and getting a 9-5 job in She-Hulks law office and fell in love with Mallory Book before losing her to a time-travelling cowboy.

Tale as old as time.

But that's, like, fifty years later. Right here he's a big ol' boss monster for the FF to beat up. And beat him up they do. Or rather, Sue does; she's able to find his off-switch and is able to discreetly press it while it's busy fighting the rest of the team. Hey! That's 3 times in 15 issues that Sue did something even tangentially heroic! She is every bit as important as Abraham Lincolns mom!

Anyway, with Awesome Android down, all that's left is the Thinker himself, armed with all of Reeds very deadliest weapons!

...and not-a-one of them works.

Seems that, at that very moment, the Fantastic Fours personal mailman Willie Lumpkin (I keep saying Lowman, no, that is a very different guy) pressed the doorbell; and the doorbell automatically disables all the weapons in the building so that Willy won't get blasted by anti-matter bombs or the like.

...I really want to know how long it was before Reed thought to do that.

Anyway, as he was caught off guard by the unpredictable element of a mailman not wanting to be obliterated by super-science weapons, the Thinker is left defenseless, and he is now a guy with all the powers of "Looking kind of like Jack Nicholas" against the assembled Fantastic Four, and he is immediately carted off to jail.

Proving, once and for all, that the real heroes are Americas Mailmen.


Neither Wind Nor Rain Nor Dark of night

Next time; Terror comes form Tiny Town!
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  #59  
Old 11-07-2018, 10:18 AM
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I feel there's a lot from Dan Slott's She-Hulk run that has been disappointingly not touched upon again since it's end. The superhuman law firm GLK&H (later GLK&B), Holden hunting for his supervillain granddaughter... but the lack of a return for Awesome Andy is a disappointment.

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Old 11-07-2018, 10:51 AM
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He emotes so well considering how his head is a featureless cube
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