Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 95

Fantastic Four #33, page 19, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 19, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 95

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

With Attuma and his electro-antennae defeated, the Fantastic Four need to make a swift exit from Atlantis. As Yazz and the Plastic Population said, the only way is up, so Reed uses his body to stretch the Fantastic Four to the surface. Paying attention, of course, to the bends (although the use of the oxo spray should have gone some way to countering this).

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 94

Fantastic Four #33, page 17, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 17, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 94

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Oooh, can you spot the horrendous piece of over-writing? I'm very glad that Attuma's men have been trained in instant narration during combat situations, as I'd never have worked out that Reed had snuck in front of their high-tension titanium wire launching device and used his body to absorb the cable.

Still, how glorious is this? You really get the sense of the momentum of the cable battling against Reed's body, whipping it into these terrible perversions of the human form. It's a shame that the second panel over-eggs the pudding by having Reed smother the soldiers as well as using his body to entangle them.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Sue's Force Fields Of Awesome 20

Fantastic Four #33, page 15, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 15, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 20

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Another great use of Sue's fields in a moment very in-keeping with the style of this issue. With the Fantastic Four stealthily supporting Namor without his knowledge, Sue comes up with a great way to use to her force-fields to take out a sound-wave machine (and it's Attuma-supporting operators) without anyone knowing it was her.

A tactical Sue isn't one we see often in the pre-Byrne era, and it's always a cause for celebration when she gets to flex the full potential of her powers and her abilities.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 93

Fantastic Four #33, page 11, panel 3

Fantastic Four #33, page 11, panel 3

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 93

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Reed Richards: Aquatic Marsupial

I can't help but break into a huge grin at this panel. Yes, it breaks my personal rule for Reed's stretching - this certainly doesn't keep to the basic layout of a human body. And yet, it's awesome. 

It makes perfect sense that Reed would adopt the form of a ray to best navigate the currents and speed towards Atlantis. Creating a pocket in his chest to carry the rest of the team - and Lady Dorma - along with him? That's the detail that tips this into 'hilarious' territory.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 92

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panel 5

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panel 5

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 92

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

"Get a load of that! How corny can ya be!"

Well, Ben, it can be very corny. But it doesn't stop it being fun! The normally stoic and sensible Reed leans into the ridiculousness of the Fantastic Four, hopefully with a wry grin on his face, and it's something that I love.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

The Fantasticast Episode 1: Special Edition

The Fantasticast Episode 1: Special Edition

The Fantasticast Episode 1: Special Edition

Welcome to the special edition of The Fantasticast Episode 1. This is the first in a series of re-releases of our early episodes, tidying up the editing and improving the audio quality as much as possible. In addition to this, we've discovered a couple of outtakes that never made it into the original episode and, at the end of the episode, Steve provides a Producer's Commentary on the episode, explaining why a special edition has been released, and giving an update on the current status of the podcast for new listeners.

You can find the update episode at http://www.thefantasticast.com/podcast/2016/1/25/the-fantasticast-episode-1-introductions-origins-and-fantastic-four-1 or on our podcast feed.

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 59

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 59

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

I feel like the ridiculousness of Johnny being able to flame on underwater has already been covered, so let's give a quick examination to his activities, and answer the burning question (pun intended): Can you make steam underwater? I looked at three pages of google search results, and the answers were inconclusive. Although I do have some good recommendations for subaquatic computer games available on an online game distribution platform.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Kirby Kollage 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 8

Fantastic Four #33, page 8

Fantastic Four #33: Kirby Kollage 4

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Here, we see the difference between the internal printing and the cover printing seen last week. The detail of the collage is lost, requiring the fluorescent colour highlights to lend definition to the murky image. Being an underwater collage, at least the murkiness and the spot colours evoke what it's depicting, but that feels more by luck than design (not a phrase I would like to use often with Kirby!).

Unlike the earliest collages, which just ran with the idea of 'weird', this page has a clear design to it, utilising some great pictures of underwater life (although the giant prawn is a little suspect). Working within a clear design concept strengthens the collage at this stage, and it feels that following this issue, the collages are a lot more focused in what they are depicting.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 58

Fantastic Four #33, page 7, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 7, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

The conceit of this issue has the Fantastic Four battling to save Namor and Atlantis from invasion by Attuma, but without Namor ever knowing that he had assistance. To save time getting the team underwater, and to do so without giving them lots of breathing equipment, the creators come up with an aerosol spray that allows them to breathe underwater. But breathing is one thing - what about Johnny's flaming powers?

Thankfully, Reed's oxo-spray also resolves this. Thanks to the extra oxygen which has permeated his skin (and definitely not been used in any metabolistic reactions), Johnny can now flame on underwater (and extra-flame on out of water). As the title of this trope states, flamin' 'eck.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir! 

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 57

Fantastic Four #33, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 57

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Normally, I'm calling Johnny out for unlikely or downright stupid uses of his flame powers. Today, I'm crediting Johnny with using some intelligence. Thankfully, this is Fantastic Four issue - I point blank refuse to credit Strange Tales Johnny with any intelligence whatsoever.

Having been tasked with scouting the New York coastline for unusual marine activity - a job resulting from the discovery of an unknown underwater creature from the deepest part of the ocean, which makes me think that this is less 'critical reconnaissance' and more 'keep the boy busy' - Johnny notes that it's getting dark, and sets up some flares to help him search. It's not showy, it's grounded in as much realism as you can expect from 1960s Marvel, and it's good.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Kirby Kollage 3

Fantastic Four #33, cover page

Fantastic Four #33, cover page

Fantastic Four #33: Kirby Kollage 3

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

The third outing for Jack Kirby's photo collages sees them arrive on the cover to Fantastic Four #33. There is plenty of talk about what makes a cover eye-catching and distinctive, and I can only imagine the impact of seeing this mixed-media collage on the comics racks in 1964. In the realm of 1960s Marvel Comics, only Jim Steranko's collages work in the same area, and these were used to deliberately invoke a psychedelic, altered perception feel for his Strange Tales and SHIELD covers.

The higher quality of printing for the cover really benefits the collage. There's no murky blacks, causing you to squint at the page, trying to work out what the image is trying to present. The printing picks up every piece of detail, presenting the richness of the underwater kingdom, even in black-and-white printing. This allows Kirby to play with the blending of the media, with some of his pencils depicting the walls of Atlantis blending effortlessly into the background.

A superb cover, and possibly my favourite seen for any issue to date.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

I can give a pass to Johnny using his flame to create a giant '4' logo above the centre of New York to summon the nearby members of the team. I'm a lot less likely to do the same for an entire message, written in the sky above the centre of New York, that can be read all the way out in Forest Hills.

Traditional skywriting letters are approximately 3000 feet tall, and last for no more than a couple of minutes. These letters are approximately two feet tall, and no indication is given as to how long they last. Assuming that they behave similarly to their smokey counterparts, then it's very lucky that Peter wasn't somewhere out of sight of the sky for those couple of minutes. Like, say the little Spider-Boy's room. And let's not get into how great Parker's eyesight is, being able to clearly read these letters from  a distance of about 10 miles...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flame On 77

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 14, panel 6

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 14, panel 6

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flame On 77

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

It's a quick dive into the world of Ditko/Lee Spider-Man. Peter Parker has given up being Spidey, and has been branded a coward by J. Jonah Jameson. For some reason, Johnny decides to stick up for the guy he's done almost nothing but fight with, and seek him out to lend support.

Ditko does pretty well with a guy that he's spend more time inking than pencilling, but less good with the rest of the team, crowded in the back of the shot there. I swear The Thing is missing the lower part of his right arm...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Strange Tales #126: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 12

Strange Tales #126, page 7, panels 1-2

Strange Tales #126, page 7, panels 1-2

Strange Tales #126: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 12

Stan Lee Is Our Inspired Writer

Dick Ayers Is Our Admired Penciller

Paul Reinman Is Our Desired Inker

S. Rosen Is Our Tired Letterer

One of the many, many frustrating things about these early Puppet Master stories is the contrived and inconsistent ways Stan has to come up with to break characters out of the mind control. Here, Ben, who has happily tried to kill Johnny, suddenly manages to break free when he sees an unconscious Johnny plummet from the Fantasticar.

Oh, and he also transforms back to Ben, because this is the first time he's encountered a moral quandry since becoming the Thing, and the arbitrary rules of transformation just can't cope with it. This lasts for an entire page, when, having rescued Johnny, he calms down and returns to the Thing. Does this make him the anti-Hulk?

Note that the Editor's note takes a yellow background, and the narration a white background... only for the rest of the narration to abscond with the yellow background, creating a conflict of omniscient voices, not helped by both boxes in the first panel ending in ellipses.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #126 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Strange Tales #126: Flame On 77

Strange Tales #126, page 5, panel 2

Strange Tales #126, page 5, panel 2

Strange Tales #126: Flame On 77

Stan Lee Is Our Inspired Writer

Dick Ayers Is Our Admired Penciller

Paul Reinman Is Our Desired Inker

S. Rosen Is Our Tired Letterer

Oh, hi there Strange Tales. You've been... missed? No, that's not quite the word... Well, there's only 8 of these to go, and then we can focus (almost) exclusively on the Fantastic Four.

In the meantime, the never-quite-potent match-up of The Mad Thinker and The Puppet Master team up to Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. The villains decide to take on the heroes, because as a team, the entire Fantastic Four is just too much for them. The plan takes the form of the Thinker calculating the exact moment that Ben and Johnny leave in the Fantasticar to pick up their girlfriends for their double-date, then causing fisticuffs to occur.

Such genius. Very clever. Wow.

Anyway, we get another orphaned 'flame on', floating unattached in the air like a clumsily-placed sound effect.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #126 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

 

 

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