Fantastic Four #34: Sue's Force Fields Of Awesome 21

Fantastic Four #34, page 8, panels 5-6

Fantastic Four #34, page 8, panels 5-6

Fantastic Four #34: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 21

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

We've not often seen Sue's force-fields in action against Johnny's flame, so it's good to here that Sue is both capable of withstanding a blast from her brother, and find a way of removing him from the conflict without causing destruction. I rather like the expanding bubble of force field, how it curves away once it pops out of the front door.

One thing - if Johnny believes that Sue is only mind-controlled by the Puppet Master, why does he hit her with an intense blast of flame? It's still her, not a duplicate. If she had been controlled, could she have got the force-field up in time, and if not, would she be a crispy Sue-stick by now?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Flame On 80

Fantastic Four #34, page 8, panel 4

Fantastic Four #34, page 8, panel 4

Fantastic Four #34: Flame On 80

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

The plot continues to contrive conflict amongst the Fantastic Four, with Sue tricked by a wrecked room and a sooty note written on a wall into believing that Johnny is a robotic duplicate sent by Doctor Doom. Fisticuffs ensue, with Johnny pre-emptively flaming on in suspicion that Sue is being controlled by the Puppet Master.

I kinda wish the pairing off of the team for battles had been different. It would have been great to see Johnny and Ben's humourous battle at the start of the issue take on a darker, more personal tone, whilst plenty could have been had from Sue and Reed going at each other, using their history with Namor as fuel for this fire. But it's entirely possible that Gregory Gideon didn't know about that.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 100

Fantastic Four #34, page 7, panel 5

Fantastic Four #34, page 7, panel 5

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 100

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Our 100th Reed's Stretchy Body is a perfect illustration (literally) of that well-known principle of "What stretches out must snap back". It's a lovely use of Reed's body as he sends several police officers and The Thing hurling around the corridor by running waves through his body. It's great fun, and drawn with panache by Kirby and Stone.

Every film director to tackle the Fantastic Four has used Reed's powers in the contexts of 'reaching' or 'going flat'. When Fox inevitable redo the Fantastic Four, I'd love to see some more invention in the depiction of Reed's powers, and something like this would be a great moment in a film.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 99

Fantastic Four #34, page 7, panel 1

Fantastic Four #34, page 7, panel 1

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 99

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

This panel is completely glorious. There's nothing I don't love about this. From Ben twisting Reed's left arm like a flannel, to the fantastic perspective of Reed's midriff disappearing down the corridor, it's completely wonderful. My favourite detail? The policeman hanging off Reed, desperately trying to move whatever part of his upper body he's grabbed on to.

On another note, 99 instances of Reed's Stretchy Body? Instances of Johnny crying 'Flame On' are only at 79, and Johnny's got two different titles to shout his catchphrase in. I wonder if they'll ever catch up...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 98

Fantastic Four #34, page 6, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #34, page 6, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 98

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Fantastic Four #34 takes a while to get going. Page six is where the Fantastic Four start to get caught up in the main plot, cunningly-disguised as a rift between Ben and Reed. The cause of the rift won't be discovered for a little bit, but the initial presentation is that someone has told Ben that Reed is a Skrull, and with no proof, he's ready to dismantle the team.

We then get some fantastic stretching from Reed that we'll see over the next few days. First of all, he's off after a departing missile (and just exactly who is piloting this? Is anyone other than him and Ben trained on piloting a passenger ICBM?) before looping back around to confront the foreman. Don't take Reed's toys - he'll get so angry he won't even sit on the floor and pull his body back into shape.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 97

Fantastic Four #34, page 3, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34, page 3, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 97

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Today's choice is an interesting post-stretch moment for Reed. He'd already done his stretching to restrain Ben during his tiff with Johnny, and here he has to sit on the floor, winding his limbs back in. Why, exactly? We've never seen this before, and it seems like a particularly troublesome quirk to his powers if he has to manhandle his body back to its starting form. Doctor Doom would have a field day with this if it ever had to be done in a battle...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Flame On 79

Fantastic Four #43, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #43, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #34: Flame On 79

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Do you remember Fantastic Four #34, where some terrible nemesis trapped the team inside a formless, featureless, dimensionless white void? No? Oh... right... This must have been the day the dreaded TippEx monster ran wild in the Baxter Building... the Living Eraser? The physical incarnation of the Dreaded Deadline Doom? No?

I'm not a fan of criticising Kirby, but when exploring his work on a not-quite panel-by-panel basis, it's hard not to look at the rushed panels, the minor beats in an issue, and see things that you wouldn't see in panel four of a five panel page. Which is a shame, because the escalation of the jokery, with Johnny igniting and taunting Ben into a brawl, works rather well.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #34: Yancy Street Pranks 10

Fantastic Four #34, page 2, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34, page 2, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34: Yancy Street Pranks 10

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Fantastic Four #34 opens with the mystery of an unusual package sent to The Thing from the Yancy Street Gang. It's a typically off-beat opening, the kind that Stan Lee would trumpet as a reason why Marvel's comics were better than the offerings of their Distinguished Competition, but the revelation is somwhat... lacking.

It's a Beatle wig, because this comic comes from a time when The Beatles were as much about their image as anything. The joke is 'look how silly Ben would look in this wig', but for a Yancy Street prank, it feels a little flat. I don't know if it's the one-note nature of the joke, or the pretty blatant pop culture namedrop, but the revelation is very much a let down after the full-page setup to the joke.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #34 on our thirty-eighth episode: Two Not-That-Fat Men On Fantastic Four

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 34

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 19, panel 5

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 19, panel 5

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's.... ASBESTOS!!! 34

Written By: Spidey's Godfather, Stan Lee

Illustrated By: Spidey's Big Daddy, Steve Ditko

Lettered By: S. Rosen (Spidey's Second Cousin On His Uncle's Side!)

Skipping through the majority of the issue, we reach a moment of ridiculousness that stands out in a fairly ridiculous comic. At the moment when the two teen heroes have the Sandman and the Enforcers on the verge of defeat, Johnny manages to get in the way of Spider-Man's web, and the two end up coated in it, unable to stop the villains from escaping.

We get the first confirmation that asbestos is an ingredient in Spider-Man's web, although it's unclear if he's using a variant for this fight or if his standard webbing has a highly toxic substance as part of the formula. I mean, this was before the founding of the EPA, so it certainly could be...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #19 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 33

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 4, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #19, page 4, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #19: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 33

Written By: Spidey's Godfather, Stan Lee

Illustrated By: Spidey's Big Daddy, Steve Ditko

Lettered By: S. Rosen (Spidey's Second Cousin On His Uncle's Side!)

We're taking a dive into Amazing Spider-Man #19, which allows us to indulge ourselves in Steve Ditko's full artwork for a little while. And, because this issue features The Enforcers getting the better of the Human Torch, we also get an asbestos rope. Unlike in any given issue of Strange Tales, here the asbestos lasso simply restrains Johnny, rather than extinguishing him. It's up to Fancy Dan, wearing a fire extinguisher on his back, to finish the job.

It's a small panel, without much space to show off, but Ditko shows great definition on Johnny's body, depicting his flame lines with ease where some of Kirby's inkers would fudge the job with thicker lines.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #19 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Strange Tales #127: Flamin' 'Eck 60

Strange Tales #127, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #127, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #127: Flamin' 'Eck 60

Written by the Overlord of Originality… Stan Lee

Illustrated by the Archduke of Action… Dick Ayers

Inked by the High Priest of Highlights… Paul Reinman

Lettered by the Lama of Lexicography… Art Simek

Given that the Mystery Villain is Reed Richards, it's clear that by allowing himself to be captured by Johnny's flaming cage, he's just humouring his young brother-in-law-to-be. Especially as he doesn't immediately walk through the non-bars of the non-cage and continue the fight.

Still, at least this panel marks our last excerpt from this terrible, terrible comic.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Strange Tales #127: Nova Time 11

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 6

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 6

Strange Tales #127: Nova Time 11

Written by the Overlord of Originality… Stan Lee

Illustrated by the Archduke of Action… Dick Ayers

Inked by the High Priest of Highlights… Paul Reinman

Lettered by the Lama of Lexicography… Art Simek

Even the worst issue of Strange Tales  can contain something decent, and this panel qualifies as decent. Only just qualifies, mind you, but qualifies nonetheless. This is a really nice, simple depiction of Johnny going full nova against the mysterious villain. It's lucky that, with Ben's head stuck in a crack in the rock, he doesn't blind his sometime friend.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Strange Tales #127: Flame On 78

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 5

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 5

Strange Tales #127: Flame On 78

Written by the Overlord of Originality… Stan Lee

Illustrated by the Archduke of Action… Dick Ayers

Inked by the High Priest of Highlights… Paul Reinman

Lettered by the Lama of Lexicography… Art Simek

Oh dear. My least-favourite issue of Strange Tales, which has managed to go for 9 pages without even glancing at a trope, suddenly dives headlong into the troperiffic in the last few pages. It's almost as if the story is so thin that it has to lean on the tropes to fill out the pages...

Anyway, this panel sees Johnny erupt into flame in a rather impressive manner. Well, impressive for Strange Tales, and the impressive nature is somewhat lessened when you realise that Johnny's flame is going to be used to... evaporate mist. At least the 'Flame On' bursts out of the comic panels, which is a nice little touch.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Strange Tales #127: It's Clobberin' Time 7

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 6

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 6

Strange Tales #127: It's Clobberin' Time 7

Written by the Overlord of Originality… Stan Lee

Illustrated by the Archduke of Action… Dick Ayers

Inked by the High Priest of Highlights… Paul Reinman

Lettered by the Lama of Lexicography… Art Simek

I... What is Ben trying to do here? The preceding panel has him being taunted by the Mystery Villain, but the art here seems to depict Ben charing full pelt into the wall of the cave that they're in. It's a puzzling choice from Dick Ayers not to show Ben's target. I think he's going for a depiction of the force and fury of Ben's charge, but by having him run away from the camera, that's completely lost. It's a good example of how simply stringing a fight scene together with catchphrases and impulsive actions, rather than planning the fight through, just doesn't work.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

The Fantasticast Episode 2: Special Edition

The Fantasticast Episode 2: Special Edition

The Fantasticast Episode 2: Special Edition

Welcome to the special edition of episode 2 of The Fantasticast. This is the sonce 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 restored the outtakes that have been missing for nearly five-and-a-half years and, at the end of the episode, Steve provides a Producer's Commentary on the episode, in which he looks at some of the unusual choices made early on in the life of The Fantasticast, and discusses the apparently-casual dismissal of in-comic sexism that took place in this episode.

Listen to the episode at http://www.thefantasticast.com/podcast/2016/1/25/the-fantasticast-episode-2-fantastic-four-2-and-3

Fantastic Four #33: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 32

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 3

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 3

Strange Tales #127: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 32

Written by the Overlord of Originality… Stan Lee

Illustrated by the Archduke of Action… Dick Ayers

Inked by the High Priest of Highlights… Paul Reinman

Lettered by the Lama of Lexicography… Art Simek

Ah, Strange Tales #127, the Strange Tales story so good they printed it twice. As most of the issue consists of Johnny and Ben racing cars, there's not a huge amount of scope for our usual tropes, which is why I'm so glad that, when one pops up on page 9, it's asbestos related.

The liquid asbestos comes from a gun wielded by the Mystery Villain, who is actually Reed Richards (before it then became Nick Fury in the most ill-advised weapons test ever conducted) teaching his team-mates a lesson. It's hard to find the absolute lowest point of Strange Tales, but this issue, failing to even feature a super-villain, makes a good case for being that point.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 96

Fantastic Four #33, page 20, panels 7-8

Fantastic Four #33, page 20, panels 7-8

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 96

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

We end the issue with the Fantastic Four using Reed's body as a life raft. It's hard to work out just how they're going to get back to the mainland, as nobody seems too fussed about means of propulsion, but I guess that's just something that'll happen off panel.

In the meantime, the ongoing will-they-won't-they with Namor, Reed and Sue rears its head in the final panel, having remained mostly dormant for the issue. We're still a little way away from Reed and Sue getting engaged, but at this point, it seems clear that Stan and Jack want to continue playing the emotional beats of the love triangle.

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

Fantastic Four #33: Blatant Sexism 6

Fantastic Four #33, page 20, panel 5

Fantastic Four #33, page 20, panel 5

Fantastic Four #33: Blatant Sexism 6

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

After a long hard day defending the subaquatic monarchy, there's nothing my man needs more than to be pampered when he gets home. A comfy pillow (just how does this work underwater), a relaxing chair, and the opportunity for him to be a patronising misogynistic shit. Ah, it's great to be an underwater woman in 1964!

Seriously, Namor is a twat.

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

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!