Fantastic Four #32: Property Damage 40

Fantastic Four #32, page 16, panels 4-6

Fantastic Four #32, page 16, panels 4-6

Fantastic Four #31: Property Damage 40

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

The fight continues, this time at the 1964 New York World's Fair, where the Invincible Man starts ripping apart chunks of exhibits and hurling them at the team. Reed seems particularly unconcerned by the destruction, directing Ben to hurl everything right back at the Invincible Man. The exhibits go unnamed, but it would make for a nice thematic fit, both for this story and for the Fantastic Four, for them to be part of the United States Space Park.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Fantastic Four #32: Reed's Stretchy Body 91

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 91

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

And so continues the fight, but here's where things get really interesting. I've spoken and written at length how I like my Reed Richards to use his stretching powers within certain limits, such as respecting the basic layout of human anatomy. He's more of a Elongated Man than a Plastic Man, and should have certain limits when it comes to how he manipulates his body. As such, this should fall into the category of things I don't like.

But I love it. You've got break the rules every now and again, and this is one of those times. You can easily rationalise why Reed would choose this course of action. He's a scientist, he's going to have a good knowledge of potential energy, and how to use it for propulsions. He'll also understand the principles of aerodynamics. Whilst it might be more logical for him to just stretch out, this really works, both for Reed and for the reader enjoying a visually-unique depiction of his powers.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Fantastic Four #32: Reed's Stretchy Body 90

Fantastic Four #32, page 12, panel 6

Fantastic Four #32, page 12, panel 6

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 90

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

The fight against the mysterious figure who has usurped the place of Franklin Storm continues, with a few clues as to his identity starting to appear. Reed notes, as he is punched away, that the figure has the strength of The Thing, and in the next panel, the figure can set his hands on fire ("like The Torch", he handily exposits). If you're not thinking Super-Skrull at this point, then you're really not paying any attention at all. As a side-note, John Byrne claims that the ease with which he identified the mysterious figure is the reason why he stopped read Fantastic Four comics for the next decade or so.

I'm not sure why Reed decided that the best way to break his flight was to wrap himself this intensely around a lamp-post. If he had hit it, he would have stretched around either side of it, and it would have been a lot easier to just grab hold of the lamp-post. I guess committing so much of his incredible brain power to working out the mystery of the Invincible Man meant he had little left to avoid making visually-interesting and logically-unsound stretching choices.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Fantastic Four #32: Flamin' 'Eck 55

Fantastic Four #32, page 11, panel 6

Fantastic Four #32, page 11, panel 6

Fantastic Four #31: Flamin' 'Eck 55

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

When a lot of plot needs to happen, there often isn't room for tropes to make an appearance. In the intervening pages, a mysterious figure has arrived from space, taken the place of the incarcerated Franklin Storm (sending him to outer space for safe-keeping), broken free from prison, assumed the identity of the Invincible Man, and started attacking downtown New York.

How could this villain possibly be stopped? With giant flaming staves, that's how! Staves! Made of fire! With totally physical properties that prevent movement! For sure!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Fantastic Four #32: Kirby Kollage 2

Fantastic Four #32, page 3

Fantastic Four #32, page 3

Fantastic Four #31: Kirby Kollage 2

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

The second Kirby Kollage in the Fantastic Four makes a number of choices that work against the visual impact of the change of media. First, splitting the page into two separate images diminishes the 'wow' factor of changing location and media. Secondly, there's no sense of space being big and wondrous, as would be effectively portrayed by future pieces. Space is... stars and planets, with some colouring. I find it difficult to look at this as anything other than an experiment in form.

Technology isn't quite working on Kirby's side, either. There's a very noticeable dark strip down the left side of the first panel, where the reproduction process was compromised. The colouring also seems very on-the-nose, attacking the image rather than complementing it. Thankfully, this is an early mis-step on the way to astonishing images that still stand out as some of most innovative pieces of comics art ever.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Fantastic Four #32: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 11

Fantastic Four #32, page 2, panels 1-3

Fantastic Four #32, page 2, panels 1-3

Fantastic Four #32: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 11

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

Fantastic Four #32 opens with another experiment of Reed's to try and restore Ben's humanity. This time, as Johnny handily exposits in a thought balloon on the first page, he's going to alter the micro-electric waves of Ben's body. Sure he is.

Here, Kirby makes a break from the traditional sequence of transitional panels, in which an interstitial stage, featuring a part-Ben, part-Thing figure, would be seen. The focus here is on the energies changing Ben's body, with a combination of heavy inks and colours representing this.

Thanks to a switch in focus for a couple of pages, Ben remains human for an entire five pages, but a sudden bout of amnesia prompts Reed to reverse the transformation.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Nova Time 10

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 18, panel 2

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 18, panel 2

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Nova Time 10

Ruggedly Written by: Stan Lee

Robustly Drawn by: Steve Ditko

Recently Lettered by: S. Rosen

Remember when the Green Goblin used such weapons as bombs that look like ghosts from a Mario game that explode into a thick, clinging mist that surround someone to suffocate them? Aaah, the good old days, back when you could cry 'Make Mine Marvel' safe in the knowledge that nobody thought abut a villain's arsenal beyond the point of how cool it looked.

Anyway, it turns out misty ghost bombs can be neutralised if you have the power to set your entire body on fire and can focus the heat of that fire into one part of your body. So I guess that's why we never saw these weapons again.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #17 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Flame On 76

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 16, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 16, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Flame On 76

Ruggedly Written by: Stan Lee

Robustly Drawn by: Steve Ditko

Recently Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's time to take a quick dive into the world of Amazing Spider-Man. The Green Goblin gate-crashes a meeting of Flash Thompson's Spider-Man fan club (Forest Hills chapter). Despite the gullible teenagers thinking that it's all part of a stunt (and Liz Allen getting just a little too close to the truth as to Spider-Man's identity), there's one teen who sees the truth of the situation.

Johnny Storm.

Considering the antagonistic relationship at this time between the two teen heroes, Johnny doesn't hesitate to jump in and have some fun with the Green Goblin, giving us our first Steve Ditko-drawn Flame On. Considering the size of the panel, Ditko crams a lot in here, and just about avoids it feeling cramped and crowded.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #17 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: It's Clobberin' Time 6

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 5

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 5

Strange Tales #125: It's Clobberin' Time 6

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

It's poorly-drawn, stiffly-posed, heavily-inked, just about avoids showing terrible blisters on Namor's back, and is missing one of the three required words for this category, but this panel is definitely one that was published in a comic and which I have chosen for inclusion on this blog.

I won't patronise you by trying to think of something write about this incredibly boring image.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' Eck 54

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 4

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 4

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 54

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

I feel that the repeated dunking and denying Johnny of his powers through wetness (both literal and metaphorical) shows the problem with having Namor as the antagonist in a flame-powered character's solo strip. If Strange Tales hadn't evolved into having The Thing as a permanent guest star, it's hard to imagine how the Human Torch could have achieved anything in this story. Unfortunately, Marvel hadn't yet progressed to the point where they could willingly lampshade Johnny's uselessness, so even with Ben Grimm around to carry the action, everything's still played depressingly straight.

I need to talk about Johnny's power usage, however, as it's one of the most brutal and disturbing examples of what the Human Torch could (but almost always chooses not to) do. Johnny uses his heat to directly burn Namor's shoulders, shrugging off as 'king-size sunburn' what is actually a nasty contact burn. I'm rather glad this is an aberration, rather than the start of something regular.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 53

Strange Tales #125, page 8, panel 4

Strange Tales #125, page 8, panel 4

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 53

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

So, Johnny's flame powers are so weak that he cannot dry his uniform without assistance from the sun. At the same time, his flame is so strong that it can cause intense temperature change through dozens of feet of sea water, disintegrating the sea kelp that the Thing had been trapped within, and forcing Namor to retreat? 

I hate to say that this book has all the hallmarks of a rushed, space-filler, but it's clearly that nobody was paying a huge amount of attention to it before or after it hit the stands...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Flame On 75

Strange Tales #7, page 7, panel 7

Strange Tales #7, page 7, panel 7

Strange Tales #125: Flame On 75

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

Ah, this issue of Strange Tales is so redundant, even for Strange Tales. Johnny and Ben notice the Sub-Mariner heading towards New York, so they go and pick a fight with him for 12 pages before he vanishes. Reed then turns up and berates them for derailing peace talks with Namor.

It's an issue that struggles to have many interesting moments, and those that do happen tend to come about because of their complete stupidity. Yes, Johnny has a good 'Flame On' moment, but it comes straight after him standing around in the sun waiting for his uniform to get dry before after he received a dunking. Standing around in the sun. Yeah...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Property Damage 39/It's... ASBESTOS!!! 31

Strange Tales #125, page 1

Strange Tales #125, page 1

Strange Tales #125: Property Damage 39

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

Oh, hey, it's an issue of Strange Tales. It's been... some time... (one post in the best part of two years).

Oh, hey, it's Dick Ayers and Paul Reinman on artwork. And boy, does it show that they're not Jack Kirby and Chic Stone. The Thing looks crude, Johnny looks incredibly stiff. Ayers, at this stage a workhorse for Marvel, would go on to far better things on the Sgt Fury title, whilst Reinman was nearing the end of his tenure with Marvel.

Oh, hey, it's an issue starting with The Thing and the Human Torch smashing stuff up for no real reason to provide a vaguely-interesting image to start the story with.

Oh, hey, it's an asbestos rug. At least something interesting here.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: It's Clobberin' Time 5

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31: It's Clobberin' Time 5

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

Let's list the things that make this panel great.

Moloids wearing tight underwear and little booties? Check. Moloids being hurled all over the place? Check. Glorious catchphrase with special colouring for the letters and the speech balloon? Check. Insane amounts of colour bleed, making it look like Ben has literally punched the colours out of the inks? Check. Reed holding Sue whilst she simpers about being rescued?

Well, not everything in this panel is great.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 19

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 2

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 2

I'm less interested in Sue in the this panel (helpless, pinned against the wall, no sign of independence or ability to do anything other than wait for a man to rescue her) than I am in the moloids. Because I love moloids. I love their swarm-like mentality, their ability to use number to achieve their goal. I also live their curiosity - there are two in the panel above with their faces pressed against Sue's force-fields in curious wonder.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 18

Fantastic Four #31, page 17, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31, page 17, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 18

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

I wish that any live-action incarnation of the Invisible Girl realised the potential of Sue's force-fields as seen here. Kate Mara got closest, when we clearly saw her training her fields in ways that weren't purely defensive, but I'd give anything to see Sue in close-quarters combat, wielding her force-fields like a third arm. It's not the easiest thing to realise, but come the inevitable next live-action Fantastic Four film, it's something I'll be very eager to see. 

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Nova Time 9

Fantastic Four #31, page 16, panel 2

Fantastic Four #31, page 16, panel 2

Fantastic Four #31: Nova Time 9

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

The impression I got from the Fantastic Four's first journey to the Mole Man's kingdom in this issue was that it was a very long way down. So, as much as I appreciate Johnny's confidence in his nova blast to create a tunnel down to the subterranean realm in a matter of seconds, I can't help recall that this is the same Human Torch who was put out of action by a heavy dew.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 89

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 89

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

Holy colour-bleed, Batman! I guess there were production problems with this issue, as almost every page has colour-bleed of a degree, but this is particularly bad. At least Kirby's mostly working with 5 or 6 panel pages, which means that we're not squeezing the images in and reducing the legibility of them. But still, this is an issue that does affect the readability of the comic.

In terms of the story, all that time spent descending to the Mole Man's kingdom has been rendered rather useless, as the Mole Man has sent the team back to the surface. Because this is early Marvel, and Stan's very invested in the idea of a shared universe, The Avengers have noticed that two separate city blocks have vanished, leaving huge holes in the ground, and have turned up to investigate. Because this is any-period Marvel, the two teams fight for a bit. I never thought I'd see Thor defeated in such a manner, but it turns out that he's very vulnerable to having his arms pinned to his sides.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 88

Fantastic Four #31, page 12, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #31, page 12, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 88

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

Ah, the simple task of climbing from atop a building to the street level. You'd have thought that, being gifted with the power to stretch as well as an incredible intellect, Reed would choose a simple method of traversing the distance to conserve energy, and simply stretch his body until it reached the ground.

No.

Instead, Reed decides to wrap his legs around the base of a nearby lamppost, then whilst propping his torso against the parapet of the building, grab the top of the lamppost with his hands, then retract his body whilst twisting around the lamppost.

Well done, I guess...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Property Damage 38

Fantastic Four #31, page 11, panels 1-4

Fantastic Four #31, page 11, panels 1-4

Fantastic Four #31: Property Damage 38

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

I normally try not to show more than a couple of panels at once, but I couldn't resist this sequence in which Ben Grimm saves the Pogo Plane from crashing into a building by... er... completely destroying the Pogo Plane. The hilarity of Ben kicking his leg through the hull so that he takes the impact, as if that would stop the plummeting plane from destroying the building below, is wonderful. And as for Ben's aversion to doors... well, there's no excuse for ripping the plane to pieces just to get outside.

Also, lots of great colour bleed here. I love it!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm