1963

Fantastic Four #23: It's... ASBESTOS 18

Fantastic Four #23, page 7, panel 3
Fantastic Four #23, page 7, panel 3

fantastic four #23: it's... asbestos!!! 18

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

There are two wonderful things about this panel.

First off, the Fantastic Four have an asbestos rug. I'm sure this is both stylish and comfortable, and not in any way an ugly grey fibrous sheet that no-one wants to walk on without protective footwear.

Secondly, Ben has the cheek to call Johnny out for his temper tantrums. Whilst there could be a line drawn between Johnny's emotions and his spontaneous ignitions, it's very clearly Ben who has the anger management issues in this period of the Fantastic Four. I'm sure he's been responsible for more intentional destruction of items inside the Baxter Building than Johnny has!

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

Fantastic Four #12: Reed's Stretchy Body 20

Fantastic Four #12, page 19, panels 4-5 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Wow, the last couple of days have seen Reed really pull ahead  to solidify his position as the second-most common trope of the Fantastic Four.

I've included both panels today as I love the idea that Reed is fast enough to launch his torso into the air and wrap it around the Hulk as he is in mid-leap, and the way that, still in the middle of the leap, the Hulk is able to generate enough centrifugal force with his own body to unravel Mr Fantastic.

Thankfully, the Hulk would rarely be seen with such astonishing leaping powers again.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #12: Hulk vs The Thing Round 1

Fantastic Four #12, page 18, panel 1 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Here it is folks, the first punch thrown in one of comicdom's most enduring rivalries. At this stage in the Marvel Universe, the Thing and the Hulk are clearly the two strongest and toughest people around. Namor comes close, but Fantastic Four #9 showed that without the intervention of the storm, Ben would have triumphed over the Sub-Mariner.

So it's surprising that the first meet-up between the two should be so brief. This panel is the entirety of their fight. After teasing us with the cover and with Ben's imagining of the fight earlier in the book, this punch-up is a bit of a disappointment in its brevity and how quickly Ben goes down.

Thankfully, there would be more than a few rematches over the years...

The result: The Hulk wins by a country mile - Ben doesn't even have the chance to produce a corny quip, instead hitting the ground like a sack of bricks. 1-0 to the Hulk

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #12: Reed's Stretchy Body 19

Fantastic Four #12, page 15, panel 6 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Ah, now, this is more like it.

I think we're all used to Reed using his body to break somebody's fault, but normally he's stretched out between, say, a couple of lampposts to provide him something to brace against. Here, he does his best Great A'tuin impersonation (go check out the concept of the Discworld for an explanation behind that reference), using his own limbs for bracing.

Not that's he's stretched them out at all, meaning that the area of his body that Ben is about to crash into is at most a foot off the ground. I hope Reed is very, very rigid...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Fantastic Four #12: Flame On 23

Fantastic Four #12, page 15, panel 3 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Ah, those halcyon days of times past. When an army base conducting top secret weapons research involving gamma rays would have a strange egg-shaped rail-mounted transport pod that anyone could jump into, only to find themselves at risk of being blown up by a booby trap laid by a most-literal card-carrying Communist spy with a penchant for kidnapping teenage sidekicks.

Ah, those halcyon days of times past. When a Fantastic Four comic would trail the appearance of the Hulk on the cover of the comic, only to be repeatedly sidetracked, ensuring that by the 3/4 mark, we have yet to see the jade giant himself.

It's not often that Kirby and Lee let their pacing instincts draw them this far off course, but with Fantastic Four #12, the moody and ominous cover acts as a tease to a fight that barely gets to happen in the issue. Thankfully, the next time the Hulk would meet the Fantastic Four, the action quota would be more than met.

Anyway, waxing lyrical has led me astray as well. Johnny's catchhrase is here employed as he charges off to try and save Ben from the exploding egg-shaped transport pod.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #12: Fear Of The Thing 8

Fantastic Four #12, page 12, panel 2  

Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

I couldn't resist posting today an image of Ben at his most fearsome. Watch him show how he would handle the Hulk... were the Hulk a stack of custom-bound telephone directories...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Fantastic Four #12: Flamin' 'Eck 18

Fantastic Four #12, page 10, panel 6 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Come on Reed, get stretchin'! Johnny's crazy power usage is getting out of control!

And if we ever needed an explanation of why Johnny's power usage could be classed as 'unlikely', then this is it. Banner's assistant has dropped his wallet on the floor, and instead of walking over to it and picking it up, Johnny decides to try and use a 'flaming lasso' trick that he's been thinking of.

It really is rather lucky that instead of setting fire to the flammable wallet and incinerating everything within, Johnny manages to pick it up from afar and bring it over to him. The reason for this being lucky? Without the evidence contained within (a Communist party membership card, making the assistant a literal card-carrying Communist), the finger of suspicion would never have moved away from the Hulk.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #12: It's A Marvel Comic 10

Fantastic Four #12. page 9, panel 4 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

I've waxed lyrical both on the podcast and on this blog about how much I love the conceit that in the Marvel universe, Marvel comics exist purely as a licensing entity, creating comics based on the real-life exploits of super-heroes. This panel is a very subtle example of Stan using the subtleties of this gimmick in his storytelling.

The original 'bathtub' Fantasticar has been replaced by the sleeker, more modular incarnation, and on his way down to New Mexico, Reed can't help showing it off to General Ross. However, he's not giving away the speed, oh no - he's even dropped a line to Marvel Comics to ask them not to mention just how fast The Fantasticar goes, hence this rather esoteric and wonderful editor's note.

However, this conceit does rather sabotage the entire plot of the story. We've previously seen Johnny reading a copy of The Incredible Hulk #1, so why, as soon as he sees Bruce Banner, go 'Hey, he's the Hulk!' and save everyone a lot of time?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Fantastic Four #12: Blatant Sexism 1

Fantastic Four #12, page 8, panel 3 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

It may have been a sign of the times. It may have been playing into the pulp archetypes that made up the Fantastic Four. It may even have been a small extension of Stan's own attitudes. But there's not getting around it - there are times when the Fantastic Four is incredibly sexist.

If I was to try and document every moment of apparent sexism towards Sue, I'd get myself into some tricky waters. Is it sexist that Sue designed the costumes for the team way back in issue #3? If the book were written today, then most likely, even if it was written in an 'ironic' way. But most people would agree that in 1962, Sue designing and making costumes was simply a product of the times.

This, however, is utterly inexcusable. (Although you can give yourself a childish snicker if you read 'morale' as a euphemism).

And thus, with the idea that Sue, the Invisible Girl, is only around to make men feel good when they look at her (a task at which she must surely fail regularly), we have our first blatant piece of sexism.

It won't be the last...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Fantastic Four #12: Flamin' 'Eck 17

Fantastic Four #12, page 7, panel 6 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Reed's gonna have to get his body a-stretchin' if he doesn't want to be overtaken by his young companion for the second time. By my count, one more inexplicably unlikely application of Johnny's powers will put him tied with Reed for second place on this blog, behind his catchphrase.

Of course, you could argue that it wouldn't be close if I didn't include imaginary instances, such as this one where Johnny tries to counter Ben's delusions of Hulk-smashing with the idea that his flame is substantial enough to prevent the Hulk from walking through it, and that he's intelligent enough to design a maze that the Hulk could not escape from. But it's because he believes that such a plan would be a success that this instance gets included.

I can't be held responsible for Johnny being a moron even in his own mind...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #12: Flame On 22

Fantastic Four #12, page 7, panel 4 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

We continue small step backwards in the development of the Human Torch's signature catchphrase in today's panel from Fantastic Four #12.

We've got quite used to a triumphant FLAME ON! being given prominence on the page. Its own speech balloon, often with a thicker or jagged edge, significantly larger font, orange or red fill. It's become an occasion to look forward to in the narrative. Which is why this one just seems to be a bit lacklustre, struggling for room in its own panel, and not standing out in the context of the page at all.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

 

Fantastic Four #12: Hulk vs The Thing 0.5

Fantastic Four #12, page 7, panels 2-3 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

There are many classic rivalries in comics that transcend the mere hero/villain nemesis relationship. Green Arrow and Hawkman. Wolverine and Sabretooth. Guy Gardner and Lobo. But the greatest of these has to be the ongoing battles between Benjamin J. Grimm of Yancy Street, and the Jade Giant himself, The Hulk.

This category will cover every bout between the two, and provide a running score of who wins.

In this not-quite-a-first-meeting, Ben imagines just how the fight would go down should the two meet. I'm pretty sure no battle between the two has ever been resolved this quickly.

The result: A staggering win for Ben Grimm. Such a shame that it's all in his own head and counts for nothing.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

 

Fantastic Four #12: Property Damage 12

Fantastic Four #12, page 2, panel 5 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

We left Ben surrounded by the elite of the US Army. I'm fairly sure we've yet to establish that his rocky exterior is bulletproof, so one would think that with a couple of dozen rifles pointed at him, Ben would be interested in making friends.7

Instead, he decides to rip up a fire hydrant and - in the next panel - belly dive the erupting water, using it to wash away the soldiers.

But props go out to the two soldiers who, having been told that they're on the hunt for the Hulk, decide to body-tackle an over-sized super-strong monstrous-looking guy.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Fantastic Four #12: Fear Of The Thing 7

Fantastic Four #12, page 2, panels 2-3 Fantastic Four #12, page 2, panel 4

Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

It's been quite a while since we've seen Ben, his appearance and his actions causing panic amongst his team-mates or the population of New York. Here, a combination of short-temper, bad timing, and Beethoven, means that Ben's irascibility inadvertently causes drastic consequences.

Exiting a symphony performance, an uppity yet surprised man accidentally knocks Ben's hat off when he points out the troops marching down the street. Ben retaliates, but, unaware that the troops are looking out for an enlarged, super-strong being, quickly becomes the focus of attention. It's a nice escalation of the normal bad-behaviour for Ben - the army has only got involved twice before, once when ordered to and once when a hate ray incited them to. Here, reacting to what would at the time have been a pretty unusual and borderline horrific event.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Strange Tales #105: Flamin' 'Eck 16

Strange Tales #105, page 12, panels 3-4 Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

There comes a point when you look at panel after panel of inconsistent, scientifically implausible and, occasionally, downright lazy uses of Johnny's powers when you really struggle to come up with new and interesting ways to look at them. I could point out how ridiculous it is that Johnny can create a flaming saw that cuts - not burns - through the ceiling, causing the plaster to fall onto The Wizard's head. But you're not an unintelligent reader, far from it. Why point out the obvious?

I could talk about the overly slapstick nature of the action here, Stan and/or Jack had watched one too many Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons. I could talk about it being a weak and unsatisfactory conclusion to a story which did not do a good job of persuading the reader that The Wizard makes for a strong recurring villain. But I think I'll just point out that it's a bit crap, and move on to the next issue tomorrow.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #105 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]

Strange Tales #105: Flamin' 'Eck 15

Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Today's madness comes courtesy of Moffatt's Own-Brand Patented Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey.

Two panels previously, The Wizard announced that Sue and Johnny had 10 seconds before the bomb went off. One panel previously, Sue noted that there were only 7 seconds to go. That means that in under 7 seconds, Johnny has come up with the idea of the flame catapult, put the bomb into it, and shot it up into the sky, all the while rushing through  about 9 seconds worth of dialogue in the four seconds allotted to the first panel shown.

And let's be clear: That's not a catapult that Johnny uses. It's a vertical cannon. With its own little flame supports to stop it from falling over. That are made from solid flame...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #105 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]

Strange Tales #105: Flamin' 'Eck 14

Strange Tales #105, page 7, panel 5 Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Goodness gracious, great ball of fire!

Yeah, I fell about as good about making that joke as you do about reading it...

So, in The Wizard's asbestos-lined dungeon cell, there are multiple nozzles releasing nerve gas. Because having  a teenager hack up his own lungs in incredible, searing pain whilst dying in front of a pube-chinned genius psychopath would possibly contravene the Comics Code Authority, Stan and/or Jack as to come up with a way to allow Johnny to survive.

So, what he does is create an impenetrable dome of fire to prevent the gas from reaching him. What I'm challenging here is not the implausibility of the flame defeating the gas - it's very conceivable that intense heat would do something to the gas to negate its lethal qualities - but that Johnny have the intelligence to be able to make such a move in stressful conditions. As Andy has pointed out on numerous occasions, Johnny is a couple of brain cells short of an intelligence...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #105 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]

Strange Tales #105: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 6

Strange Tales #105, page 7, panel 2 Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Yay, more asbestos!

As before, The Wizard's house is full of traps designed to catch out an unwary fiery teenager. Top of the list is the trapdoor that drops down to an asbestos-lined dungeon. One hopes that The Wizard has learned from the US Army, who spectacularly failed to make an asbestos-lined cell fireproof way back in Fantastic Four #2.

Not that we get the opportunity to find out, as The Wizard has forgotten one key element of Johnny's powers: that he can fly. I really do hope that as The Wizard graduates to the Fantastic Four and forms the Frightful Four, we discover exactly how his intelligence upgraded itself.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #105 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]

Strange Tales #105: Flamin' 'Eck 13

Strange Tales #105, page 5, panel 2 Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Ah, it's another flame duplicate. My favourite power usage.

Actually, this one's not too bad. Unlike previous uses, which have seen near-sentient duplicates battle villains, or follow them wherever they go, this one is designed to be a brief distraction and does nothing other than stand around. Of course, there's the matter of what fuel is being used to keep the fire burning, but answers to such questions are in very short supply.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #11 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]

 

Strange Tales #105: Flame On 21

Strange Tales #105, page 4, panel 6 Plot: Stan Lee

Script: Larry Lieber

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

If you've been reading Fantastic Four and FF over the past few years, you'll know that Jonathan Hickman has done a great job positioning The Wizard as a highly-dangerous sociopathic anti-Reed Richards. So much so that Reed adopted a young clone of the Wizard just to ensure that another version of him wouldn't come into the world, that some positive nurture would affect him and make him less of a risk to society.

Which is why it's so hilarious to return to these early stories where the entire scope of the Wizard was to humiliate a 16 year old boy, all whilst sporting some of the worst facial hair ever seen in comics.

In this story, the Wizard escapes from jail and returns to his house, which he is able to shield from the police. He then broadcasts to the entirety of Glenville/dale (I forget which one it is) that he will battle the Torch to prove who is the better man. And, being a 16 year old boy, Johnny doesn't see anything wrong with rushing head-first into battle.

Idiot.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #11 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]