Strange Tales #124: Flame On 72
Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee
Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers
Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman
Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek
It's amazing how disparate Strange Tales is from the main Fantastic Four book at this time. I'm not just talking in terms of quality - and issues like the Molecule Man and the Infant Terrible ones show that the core book can read as badly as the spinoff - but in terms of aims and context it's as if the two book are coming from very different eras. Whilst the main book is offering fast-paced tales featuring aliens and alchemists, mutants and Avengers, packed with character and a relentless drive forward, Strange Tales seems stuck in a depressingly domestic late 1950s as depicted in pop culture that probably never quite existed.
Eight pages into this story, and we've seen some tame, uninspired shenanigans at home (with no authoritative presence), and then Johnny's gone bowling with girlfriend. If it hadn't been for his signal ring (making its one and only appearance a few panels earlier), you can just imagine the two going for some malted shakes together. Where's the genre-defining, boundary-pushing storytelling seen in the Fantastic Four? It's certainly not to be seen here.
Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker