Reed's Stretch Body

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 #24: Reed's Stretchy Body 60

Fantastic Four #24, page 1, panel 1
Fantastic Four #24, page 1, panel 1

fantastic four #24: reed's stretchy body 60

Lovingly written by Stan Lee

Tenderly drawn by Jack Kirby

Heroically inked by George Roussos

Neatly lettered by Sam Rosen

I'm a sucker for a great splash page, and if the great splash page happens to fit into one of the categories with which we catalogue the tropes of the Fantastic Four, then all the better.

It's a media circus which opens issue 24 and, for once, it's Reed hogging the spotlight. His body is stretched into some vaguely Escher-esque shape (seriously, those feet don't quite belong with the rest of the body), partially reminiscent of one of those wide, flatfish futuristic cars with fins and spoilers. This image has nothing to do with the rest of the story, but it's a great image to open the book.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #24 on our twenty-fourth episode: An Enfant Terrible Is Not Literally A Terrible Infant

Fantastic Four #23: Reed's Stretchy Body 59

Fantastic Four #23, page 19, panels 1-2
Fantastic Four #23, page 19, panels 1-2

fantastic four #23: reed's stretchy body 59

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

The blog is back after a short break, with some humiliation for the Dictator of Latveria. Having seen the Fantastic Four evade his traps (which include electrified manacles, an airtight glass container, and a giant purple fluff ball on the end of a long pole), Doom finds himself caught by Reed Richards, who somehow manages to get him spinning around like a human top.

Doom will not suffer such indignity!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #23 on our twenty-third episode: (Asbestos) Grease Is The Word

Fantastic Four #23: Reed's Stretchy Body 58

Fantastic Four #23, page 14, panel 3
Fantastic Four #23, page 14, panel 3

fantastic four #23: reed's stretchy body 58

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

I absolutely adore this panel, for a number of reasons.

First of all, it suggests that, when Reed and Sue get married, they won't be short of ways to spice up their love life. If Reed is a one-man restraining machine, then the idea of furry handcuffs seems rather tame by comparison.]

Secondly, this is a panel I'd love to see on the big screen. I want to see Reed's legs plait themselves as they extend across the room.

Thirdly, just where exactly are Reed's feet?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #23 on our twenty-third episode: (Asbestos) Grease Is The Word

Fantastic Four #23: Reed's Stretchy Body 57

Fantastic Four #23, page 14, panel 2
Fantastic Four #23, page 14, panel 2

fantastic four #23: reed's stretchy body 57

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Is it me, or does this look like a different inker? The lines seem a lot finer than Roussos' usual inking, as if Chic Stone had lent a hand for a couple of pages.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #23 on our twenty-third episode: (Asbestos) Grease Is The Word

Fantastic Four #22: Reed's Stretchy Body 56

Fantastic Four #22, page 19, panels 1-3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: Sam Rosen

The Mole Man is clearly one of those villains who has no confidence in his own schemes and who over-prepares for any eventuality. Despite having no way of predicting that the Fantastic Four would purchase the island above his secret lair, he has individual death traps prepared just in case they should discover him, fall into a group trap, and escape that trap. Contingency plans are all very well, but contingencies for the contingency suggests that you should probably prepare the original contingency a bit more.

Reed decides to put his powers to good use to escape his gas-filled death trap. It's nice to see him using his powers to test the structural integrity of the trap, although his line of reasoning - flexing his muscles - seems to be at odds with the fact that his entire body can change size and shape.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #22 on our twenty-second episode: Going Underground.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_22.mp3]

Fantastic Four #22: Flame On 53/Reed's Stretchy Body 55

Fantastic Four #22, page 9, panel 3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: Sam Rosen

It's another two-fer today! Having been hounded out of town by interfering busybodies (ranging from the police wishing to check zoning permits to canasta clubs sticking their noses into other people's business), the team decide to buy a random rocky island in the Atlantic  and go for a holiday. Because nothing says relaxation like sitting on rocks miles away from civilisation for a week...

Johnny gets to cry his catchphrase as both he and Reed attempt to find a landing spot on the island for their U-car. Note how Johnny's speech bubble is coloured yellow. This is not really an attempt to add more impact to his catchphrase. A short-lived fad in Marvel comics at this time was to randomly colour speech balloons. And I mean 'random' - there was no rhyme or reason to them. It was rather distracting, which is why they stopped pretty quickly...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #22 on our twenty-second episode: Going Underground.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_22.mp3]

Fantastic Four #21: Reed's Stretchy Body 54

Fantastic Four #21, page 20, panels 6-7 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

Our final extract from Fantastic Four #21 shows how one might use a preternaturally flexible body to locate a non-visible team-mate in an exciting visual manner.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Fantastic Four #21: Reed's Stretchy Body 53

Fantastic Four #21, page 16, panel 5 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

This is one of my favourite panels of the Fantastic Four ever.

Really.

I just love the idea of Reed kneeling down next to this piece of Kirby tech, his fingers probing through the ground looking for the power cables. I also love imagining that, just out of shot, his fingers start dividing into thinner tendrils, like roots. It doesn't happen - regardless of what he does with his body, he always maintains the basic structure of the human body - but it's lovely to imagine!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Fantastic Four #21: Reed's Stretchy Body 52

Fantastic Four #21, page 16, panel 1 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

It's hard to sympathise with comic book henchmen. Cities like Gotham and New York are full of bozos who would happily put on any crazy costume if it meant they got to wield a gun or punch a lycra-clad teenager in the face. And to make it even harder, these specific henchmen have signed up with Hitler, who is wearing a tie-dye Klan costume. Sympathy is in short supply.

And then they make a completely stupid move, like not questioning a perfectly flat, brand-new blue road in the jungle. Of course it's Reed who, presumably, was quite happy to lie face-down in the jungle whilst a dozen henchmen trample across his back.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Fantastic Four #21: Reed's Stretchy Body 51

Fantastic Four #21, page 15, panels 2-3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

It's going to be 'Reed's Stretchy Body' week, as we showcase Mr Fantastic's impressive one-man assault on the nation of San Gusto and the forces of the Hate Monger. As for how the Hate Monget gets his forces to San Gusto... Well, you're best off listening to the episode for an attempt at explaining the reverse rocket thrust subterranean travelling device...

Anyway, I just love the comedy of these two panels, although I have to wonder just who designed the missile carriage system  to allow the missiles to come off so easily that Reed's arms don't even travel with the plane briefly...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Fantastic Four #21: Reed's Stretchy Body 50

Fantastic Four #21, page 7, panel 6 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

The fight between the team-members continues, with Ben taking the opportunity to knot Reed's hands around a fire hydrant and trying to use his body as a giant slingshot.

Pity, though, the poor bloke in purple who looks like his entire body has been bisected by Reed's right arm. An unfortunate use of perspective there...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Fantastic Four #21: Reed's Stretchy Body 49

Fantastic Four #21, page 7, panel 2 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

The Ayres era is over, and we start a seven issue run of inking by George Roussos, credited as George Bell. We were big fans of Roussos's inking at the start of his brief run, although that opinion would change as time went on.

Issue 21 is also the debut appearance of the minor villain, The Hate-Monger, revealed in a rather hilarious final twist to be Adolf Hitler (later stories would retcon this to be a robot double, which is only slightly more believable). Clad in a Klan-esque costume, Hitler has a hate ray which promotes aggression and... well... hatred in those it hits. Almost immediately, the Fantastic Four are targeted and spend several panels beating each other up.

This panel features a nice twist on the classic 'Reed restraining Ben' pose, with Reed dressed in his civilian clothing (made from unstable molecules, naturally). What I like is the way that the suit is clearly loose-fitting, refusing to tighten as it stretches out.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Fantastic Four #20: Reed's Stretchy Body 48

Fantastic Four #20, page 3, panel 2 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Art Simek

Fantastic Four #20 is Dick Ayers' final contribution as inker to the main Fantastic Four series. He'll still be a regular contributor as penciler and inker of Strange Tales (after a brief return from Jack Kirby). It's a shame that he had to leave with this issue, as the first appearance of the Molecule Man is one of the weakest stories from the 102 (and-a-bit) issues created by Stan and Jack.

Readers would have known that things were a bit off when the presence of a fossil in the core of a meteor is proof to Reed that some form of life can exist in outer space, forgetting about the Skrulls, Planet X-ians, Poppupians, Ovoids and Watchers that he's met so far in his adventures.

The glowy ball seen here hasn't escaped from the TinTin adventure 'The Seven Crystal Balls. Instead, it's the Watcher's way of subtly contacting the Fantastic Four without revealing his presence of inadvertently interfering in the lives of the New Yorkers terrified by the floating ball of silvery fire... Nice on Uatu!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #20 on our twentieth episode: The (Pre-Emptive) Return of Captain America (Secret wars II Continues In This Episode)

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_20.mp3]

Fantastic Four #19: Reed's Stretchy Body 48

Fantastic Four #19, page 20, panel 1 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

Today's panel throws up some interesting thoughts. Reed is threading himself through control circuits on Rama-Tut's ship to locate the control, and Rama-Tut himself. Kirby, as usual, gives us a great visual, with the tilted camera angle adding to the energy and exuberant fun of the final third of this issue.

But the unintended consequence of this panel is that we have proof that Reed can change his size. We've seen him slip his body through a crack between a door and the floor before, but the implication is that he was just flattening his body, like rolling out ball of dough. Here, he's working his way through what is presumably microcircuitry, with his body in proportion. Unless the rest of him is standing in a corridor with a minute tendril disappearing into the wall, he has clearly reduced the mass of his body to allow him to perform this feat.

I seem to recall that somewhere in the expanded universe of Star Trek, it was theorised that the Changelings, the shape-shifting of which Odo was a member, had the biological ability to shift a portion of their mass into another dimension, allowing them to alter their size without altering their density. I wonder if Reed's doing the same thing here. It certainly sounds like the kind of explanation Warren Ellis would have used on Ultimate Fantastic Four, if that series hadn't attempted to draw parallels between the Four's powers and the elements.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #19 on our eighteenth episode: Pharoahs And Plants, Spiders And Soldiers

[audio FF_Episode_18.mp3]

Fantastic Four #19: Reed's Stretchy Body 47

Fantastic Four #19, page 17, panel 5 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

Way back in Fantastic Four #3, we saw Reed use himself to replace a burst tire on a car. Here, he goes one better, using his powers to turn himself into a giant wheel that can roll over water, to ensure he reunites with Ben and Sue as quickly as possible.

I'm not sure what I like more - the line detail that shows us his arms looping into the wheel, or the fact that once he reaches the shore, his face will repeatedly get mashed into the sand.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #19 on our eighteenth episode: Pharoahs And Plants, Spiders And Soldiers

[audio FF_Episode_18.mp3]

Fantastic Four #19: Reed's Stretchy Body 46

Fantastic Four #19, page 17, panel 3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

Ouch. This has got to hurt.

I think it's a shame Johnny turned up at this point to free Reed. I'd have liked to have seen Reed reach the citadel walls, before turning himself into some kind of shielded ladder, allowing Rama-Tut's army to climb up and  invade. A bit like the Siege of Gondor, but with less orcs and more elastic.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #19 on our eighteenth episode: Pharoahs And Plants, Spiders And Soldiers

[audio FF_Episode_18.mp3]

Fantastic Four #19: Reed's Stretchy Body 45

Fantastic Four #19, page 7, panel 3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

Now, this is what Ben Hur should have looked like.

Ignoring the fact that there is nothing keeping Reed's torso in a fixed position rather than just rotating with his limbs, this is a great panel. Kirby put a lot of fun and energy into the action scenes the last time the Fantastic Four travelled back in time, and now, perhaps spurred by box office success of Cleopatra, the battle sizzle.

There's a word for this kind of enjoyable fun that doesn't demand to be taken too seriously: romp. This issue is a total romp, and I hope the tropes will allow for plenty of panels to be shared from this story.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #19 on our eighteenth episode: Pharoahs And Plants, Spiders And Soldiers

[audio FF_Episode_18.mp3]

Fantastic Four #19: Reed's Stretchy Body 44

Fantastic Four #19, page 2, panel 3 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

Time travel, radioactive herbs, and the first twists in one of Marvel's most convoluted knots of continuity are the features of this issue of The Fantastic Four. So we're starting with Reed committing an egregious and blatant invasion of privacy.

Oh, sure, he can claim to know the inhabitant of the apartment he's stretching towards, but what if he catches a glimpse of anyone in the apartments above? And would he be able to defend himself in court by pointing out that the blind occupant wouldn't have known that he was there?

Or would he just point out that he saved New York from an Atlantean invasion and expect to get let off?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #19 on our eighteenth episode: Pharoahs And Plants, Spiders And Soldiers

[audio FF_Episode_18.mp3]