George Roussos

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 28

Strange Tales #122, page 11, panel 1
Strange Tales #122, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 28

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

I can't work out if Stan Lee is, at this point, just taking the piss with his dialogue. A grey door does not signify that it's made from asbestos, and considering all Bull does with the door is wield it threateningly, it's hard to imagine how asbestos would have made any difference to the offensive properties of the door - namely, that it's really big and hard and would hurt if he whacked someone with it.

As for what exactly an automatic water cannon is, I'm completely lost. Although, as the man in the brown suit is struggling to turn it on, it can't be that automatic...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #122: Flamin' 'Eck 45

Strange Tales 122 Flamin' 'Eck 44
Strange Tales 122 Flamin' 'Eck 44

Strange Tales #122: Flamin' 'Eck 45

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

As I'm going through this story, I'm finding that I have absolutely no recollection of it. I don't remember the asbestos-lined caravan. I have no memory of the special shower which dries Johnny out by blasting him with steam. This story feels completely new to me.

Sadly, this also means that I don't remember this moment where Johnny uses an asbestos rope - the same rope which previously caused his flame to die out instantly - to grapple one of his fireballs and... er... hurl it at one of the Terrible Trio. Quite why he needs to do this when he's previously been able to control his fireballs with an unlikely degree of accuracy is truly beyond me.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS 27

Strange Tales #122, page 7, panels 1-2
Strange Tales #122, page 7, panels 1-2

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS 27

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

Some ideas are so crazy, you assume that they'll stick with you for a long time. I remember asbestos lassos, and asbestos sheet, but for the life of me, I have no memory of reading a comic featuring an asbestos-lined caravan. (Yes, I know the dialogue refers to it as a trailer. But it looks suspiciously like the exact caravan we were bundled into every summer by my Dad, and that would get destroyed on a weekly basis in early seasons of Top Gear).

It's a wonderfully crazy idea. Not only have the Terrible Trio got hold of asbestos rope and asbestos blankets, but somehow they've managed to get hold of some kind of easily-applicable asbestos lining. I like to imagine that it was something similar to sheets of vinyl, and they spent ages with credit cards trying to smooth the air pockets to the edge of the sheet. And failing, because let's face it, the Terrible Trio are completely terrible.

The worst.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 26

Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 3
Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 3

Strange tales #122: it's... asbestos!!! 26

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

The Terrible Trio are back, and the only redeeming feature of their return is that they've seemingly stopped off at World of Asbestos for a few accessories before conning Johnny. Of course, what they didn't pick up was a copy of 'Asbestos For Dummies' (presumably they thought it would be too high-concept for them), as if they had done so, they'd have learned that the asbestos blanket doesn't need to be airtight to extinguish the Human Torch's flame.

Idiots.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 25

Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 2
Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 2

strange tales #122: it's... asbestos!!! 25

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

Doctor Doom's trio of master-less henchmen continue to haunt the pages of Strange Tales #122. In a series that boasted the original Plant Man, the Fifth Dimension, the Sorcerer, and the guy who nearly blew up Glendale with a nuclear bomb, it's quite something that these should be the most tedious, annoying and forgettable villains of this run. Thankfully, in this panel, my interest levels are raised by my favourite word in Stan Lee's vocabulary:

Asbestos!

This time, it's an asbestos rope, which the... er... one with the headdress (look, you didn't expect me to remember their names, did you?) uses to lasso the Human Torch. This rope would go on to have a minor role in the early Marvel Universe, resurfacing in the hands of the Enforcers in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. It must be the same one - there clearly isn't a market for mass production!

And what's that being held in the background?

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #122: Flame On 67

Strange Tales #122, page 5, panel 6
Strange Tales #122, page 5, panel 6

strange tales #122: flame on #67

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

We're back to Strange Tales today, with a story that quite literally nobody asked for - the return of Doctor Doom's underwhelming henchmen from Fantastic Four #22 (or #23, as the cover would have it). In a move which never bodes well for a story, almost the entirety of the first three pages are flashbacks, with Dick Ayers redrawing the work of Jack Kirby to recap the issue.

Not much better is the plan of the henchmen, which involves one of the trio (Handsome Harry, with his power to hear things) turning up on Johnny's doorstep and enticing him into joining him in a garage to look at a car. With his dark glasses, long coat and suspicious hat, it's very hard to read this scene without remembering the advice of every parent - don't accept cars from strangers. Was it cars? It might have been sweets...

Johnny eventually rumbles the plot against him. And by 'rumbles', I mean 'has the plot revealed to him' and reacts by flaming on. I'm not sure I really like Ayers and Roussos's depiction of Johnny flaming on - he looks like his limbs are too small for his body, and the exterior inking lines are very thick. And why exactly does he fly around so much in such a small space?

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Fantastic Four #27: Sue's Force Fields Of Awesome 13

Fantastic Four #27, page 22, panels 4-5
Fantastic Four #27, page 22, panels 4-5

fantastic four #27: sue's force fields of awesome 13

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Our final entry from Fantastic Four #27 returns the focus to the object of this story, Sue Storm. I use the word object very deliberately, as, up to this point, this is how she's been portrayed. She's a thing for both Reed and Namor to covet, from the cheesecake portrait at the start of the issue, to Namor's stalking and kidnapping, to Reed's uncharacteristic rage when he can't have the thing he considers his. At one point, she was literally put into a glass display case in Namor's throne room.

What saves Sue is her defining moment of awesome shown here, stepping up and using her fields to force her combating suitors apart. A rare moment of authority from Sue, these two panels allow her to be actualised somewhat, although the conclusion of the story has her committing to Reed and him being distrustful of her intentions, rather than a more interesting dramatic twist of having Sue temporarily reject Reed following his behaviour in this issue.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 72

Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 5
Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 5

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 72

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

The inventiveness continues. One of the joys of revisiting this issue panel-by-panel has been to see the sheer number of different ways in which Kirby manages to visually depict Reed's stretching powers. As we can see, Reed has made a bow from his body, and that visual is really strong.

So, let's thanks Stan's penchant for over-writing for working against the art here. We really don't need Namor and Reed narrating this panel - it's obvious that it's a bow, and that Namor is going to be the arrow. It's a shame - with two small dialogue balloons instead of three overwritten ones, this would be a really great panel.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 71

Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 2
Fantastic Four #27, page 20, panel 2

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 71

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's been a couple of weeks since we last checked in with Fantastic Four #27. I hope you enjoyed the week of special content celebrating our 100th episode. It was great fun to put that all together, to get Andy onto the blog, and to share some behind-the-scenes secrets of the show with you all.

It should come as no surprise that Reed and Namor are still throwing down with each other. You don't make a move on Sue (by which I mean, kidnap her and imprison her in your underwater palace) without risking the wrath of Reed, and this wrath continues to manifest itself in inventive uses of his stretching powers. In 89 issues of the Fantastic Four read for the show, this still stands out as the only time Reed uses his legs not only as a trip wire but to flip an opponent upside down.

Great stuff!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 70

Fantastic Four #27, page 19, panel 6
Fantastic Four #27, page 19, panel 6

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 70

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

I rather like this panel. Reed rarely gets down and dirty with a villain, and his combat with Namor has lasted for the majority of this issue. There are times when it's been like proper wrestling (with a few extra-length limbs thrown into the mix). Here, though, Reed seems to be channelling a little bit of The Absorbing Man (and, co-incidentally, I'm watching the first episode of the second season of Agents of SHIELD, featuring said villain) with his fist. Note how his legs function as handcuffs, wrapping around Namor's wrists to continue the hold. It's a great piece of choreography, and the kind of move we need to see in the upcoming movie.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Sue's Force Fields Of Awesome 12

Fantastic Four #27, page 17, panel 1
Fantastic Four #27, page 17, panel 1

fantastic four #27: sue's force fields of awesome 12

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Now, this is a bit more like it. Sue's faced off against many forces in the six issues in which she's had her force-field powers, but arguably this is one of her greatest challenges yet - holding back the pressure of the ocean itself. Johnny's plan to turn the encroaching water to steam doesn't make a lick of sense, considering how unlikely it is that the Atlanteans store water in tanks. Surely the water is coming from the ocean itself, meaning that Johnny is basically taking on the entirety of the Pacific Ocean.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretch Body 69

Fantastic Four #27, page 15, panel 5
Fantastic Four #27, page 15, panel 5

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 69

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

More stretching goodness. I don't think that any official (or unofficial) hold in any league of wrestling can compare to Reed using his entire body to pin Namor to the ground.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Flame On 65

Fantastic Four 27, page 14, panel 5
Fantastic Four 27, page 14, panel 5

fantastic four #27: flame on 65

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's a rare off-panel ignition for Johnny, and one that doesn't quite add up. The 'Flame On' cry almost always accompanies Johnny's ignition, and it's just not clear how he gets himself in an elevated position to launch his fiery attack without having already ignited.

But let's face it, this is just nit-picking. More important are the artistic shortcomings of the panel. I don't like pointing out faults in Kirby's artwork, but the lack of backgrounds and the lack of detail on the Atlanteans gives the feeling that this panel has been somewhat rushed.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 68

Fantastic Four #72, page 12, panel 3
Fantastic Four #72, page 12, panel 3

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 68

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

I've written before that one of the key elements of Reed's stretching powers that distinguishes him from Plastic Man is that he retains his human form. He can stretch and distort his body, but he can't produce an extra limb, or make a hole appear in his torso (obviously, I'm not counting Ultimate Reed Richards). This allows Reed to retain his humanity, and keep as a character that we can identify with.

I think Kirby ended up feeling this way, as the rareness of moments like this would show. I don't feel that I would like Reed as much if he responded to every threat by doing things like making sharp lances of his skin, and I'm fairly sure that this is the last time we would see Reed do something this drastic with his body under Kirby's pencil.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 67

Fantastic Four #27, page 12, panel 2
Fantastic Four #27, page 12, panel 2

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 67

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Reed's fight against Namor continues, his savage attacks beaten by the eternally-horny aquatic one.

What's rather nice here is the way that Namor is able to stretch, fold, and roll Reed into this rather tight little package. I've been watching a lot of Great British Bake-Off recently, and I know the importance of folding, crimping and rolling pastry to ensure that juices from the filling don't escape during the bake. I had no idea that the same principle applied to super-heroes...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 66

Fantastic Four #27, page 11, panels 4-8
Fantastic Four #27, page 11, panels 4-8

fantastic four #27: Reed's stretchy body 66

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Today's panels are most of page 11 of this issue of the Fantastic Four. Reed has taken off after Namor in a fit of rage, launching a solo attack against the conveniently-deserted Atlantis to rescue Sue. He's very much an action hero here, his intelligence taking a back-seat to his tactical abilities. Oh, and his giant stretchy fist.

Note that he declares that he will turn his arm into 'living bolas'. As I'm sure everyone knows, bolas are a thrown weapon, comprising several weighted cords which are thrown around and animal's legs to entangle them and bring them to the ground. So, of course, what Reed actually does is snake his arm around Namor's torso. I said his intelligence took a back seat...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 65

Fantastic Four #27, page 7, panel 1
Fantastic Four #27, page 7, panel 1

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 65

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

I've chosen this panel for today for two reasons. The first is Reed's over-the-top reaction to the news that Sue has left with Namor, threatening to kill the Sub-Mariner. This reads awkwardly, as such a snap emotional reaction is not something we associate with Reed any more, despite being more in line with the very early characterisation in the series.

The second is the way that Jack portrays Reed's fury in his body. You could argue that there's a use of forced perspective in this panel, but I prefer to think of it as Reed's elasticity allowing his torso, arms and head to swell with the rage that he is feeling, distorting his figure much in the way that a male gorilla would puff up his chest as a show of force.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Reed's Stretchy Body 64

Fantastic Four #27, page 2, panel 5
Fantastic Four #27, page 2, panel 5

fantastic four #27: reed's stretchy body 64

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Another week, another new comic. Fantastic Four #27 opens with Reed rather unwisely using a thought-projector in front of the team. Being that this issue is all about Reed's devotion/obsession with Sue, it's rather appropriate that the thought he accidentally projects is that of Sue, not wearing many clothes.

Ben gives it a go, and finds himself confronted by Doctor Doom, who hurls a grenade at him. Reacting, Ben stumbles backwards, leaving Reed to cushion his (not very deep) fall with his body. They look almost cute together...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #26: Hulk vs The Thing Round 5

Fantastic Four #26, page 19, panel 2
Fantastic Four #26, page 19, panel 2

fantastic four #26: hulk vs the thing round 5

Unforgettably Written In The Grand Manner by: Stan Lee

Powerfully Drawn In The Heroic Manner by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: Art Simek

The final bout between the Hulk and the Thing begins here. Sure, there's five other Avengers, Rick Jones, and the rest of the Fantastic Four, but the issue is really about these two slugging it out. Unfortunately, the fight lasts for less than a page before the Avengers take over, and it ends with Ben covered in quick-setting cement and unable to continue the fight. Coupled with the fact that it's Rick Jones who forces the change back to Bruce (Robert) Banner, it would be very unfair to call this fight for anyone other than the Hulk.

The result: Another victory for Hulk, as he takes on Ben, the rest of the FF, and the Avengers and comes out on top. 4-1 to the Hulk.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #26 on our twenty-seventh episode: Hulk Goes Home And Plays With His Trains with special guest-host Michael Bailey

Fantastic Four #26: Reed's Stretchy Body 63

Fantastic Four #26, page 17, panels 1-4
Fantastic Four #26, page 17, panels 1-4

fantastic four #26: reed's stretchy body 63

Unforgettably Written In The Grand Manner by: Stan Lee

Powerfully Drawn In The Heroic Manner by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: Art Simek

This rather wonderful four-page sequence comes early on in the final fight between the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the Hulk. Things are still shaky, thanks to the heroes of the early Marvel universe being miles away from the cohesive Avengers seen in the current comics. New to their powers, having yet to fight alongside other heroes, the Avengers are as much of a threat as the Hulk.

This daring rescue sequence comes when Iron Man accidentally blasts Johnny with his repulsers, extinguishing his flames. Whilst the team trip over each other, Reed and Ben show everyone what real team-work is, combining their unique powers to look after their own.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #26 on our twenty-seventh episode: Hulk Goes Home And Plays With His Trains with special guest-host Michael Bailey.