Human Torch

Fantastic Four #34: Sue's Force-Fields Of Awesome 22

Fantastic Four #34, page 12, panel 1

Fantastic Four #34, page 12, panel 1

Fantastic Four #34: Sue's Force-Fields Of Awesome 22

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

The fight finally comes together. Sue once again shows how strong her command of force-fields is, as she keeps a rampaging, Skrull-obsessed Ben (and his lump of pre-war New York masonry) from turning Reed and his manually-retracting legs into a... what's the word... squish.

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

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: 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: 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!

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: 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 93

Fantastic Four #33, page 11, panel 3

Fantastic Four #33, page 11, panel 3

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 93

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Reed Richards: Aquatic Marsupial

I can't help but break into a huge grin at this panel. Yes, it breaks my personal rule for Reed's stretching - this certainly doesn't keep to the basic layout of a human body. And yet, it's awesome. 

It makes perfect sense that Reed would adopt the form of a ray to best navigate the currents and speed towards Atlantis. Creating a pocket in his chest to carry the rest of the team - and Lady Dorma - along with him? That's the detail that tips this into 'hilarious' territory.

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

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 92

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panel 5

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panel 5

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 92

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

"Get a load of that! How corny can ya be!"

Well, Ben, it can be very corny. But it doesn't stop it being fun! The normally stoic and sensible Reed leans into the ridiculousness of the Fantastic Four, hopefully with a wry grin on his face, and it's something that I love.

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

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 59

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 59

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

I feel like the ridiculousness of Johnny being able to flame on underwater has already been covered, so let's give a quick examination to his activities, and answer the burning question (pun intended): Can you make steam underwater? I looked at three pages of google search results, and the answers were inconclusive. Although I do have some good recommendations for subaquatic computer games available on an online game distribution platform.

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

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 58

Fantastic Four #33, page 7, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 7, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

The conceit of this issue has the Fantastic Four battling to save Namor and Atlantis from invasion by Attuma, but without Namor ever knowing that he had assistance. To save time getting the team underwater, and to do so without giving them lots of breathing equipment, the creators come up with an aerosol spray that allows them to breathe underwater. But breathing is one thing - what about Johnny's flaming powers?

Thankfully, Reed's oxo-spray also resolves this. Thanks to the extra oxygen which has permeated his skin (and definitely not been used in any metabolistic reactions), Johnny can now flame on underwater (and extra-flame on out of water). As the title of this trope states, flamin' 'eck.

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

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 57

Fantastic Four #33, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 57

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Normally, I'm calling Johnny out for unlikely or downright stupid uses of his flame powers. Today, I'm crediting Johnny with using some intelligence. Thankfully, this is Fantastic Four issue - I point blank refuse to credit Strange Tales Johnny with any intelligence whatsoever.

Having been tasked with scouting the New York coastline for unusual marine activity - a job resulting from the discovery of an unknown underwater creature from the deepest part of the ocean, which makes me think that this is less 'critical reconnaissance' and more 'keep the boy busy' - Johnny notes that it's getting dark, and sets up some flares to help him search. It's not showy, it's grounded in as much realism as you can expect from 1960s Marvel, and it's good.

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

Fantastic Four #33: Kirby Kollage 3

Fantastic Four #33, cover page

Fantastic Four #33, cover page

Fantastic Four #33: Kirby Kollage 3

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

The third outing for Jack Kirby's photo collages sees them arrive on the cover to Fantastic Four #33. There is plenty of talk about what makes a cover eye-catching and distinctive, and I can only imagine the impact of seeing this mixed-media collage on the comics racks in 1964. In the realm of 1960s Marvel Comics, only Jim Steranko's collages work in the same area, and these were used to deliberately invoke a psychedelic, altered perception feel for his Strange Tales and SHIELD covers.

The higher quality of printing for the cover really benefits the collage. There's no murky blacks, causing you to squint at the page, trying to work out what the image is trying to present. The printing picks up every piece of detail, presenting the richness of the underwater kingdom, even in black-and-white printing. This allows Kirby to play with the blending of the media, with some of his pencils depicting the walls of Atlantis blending effortlessly into the background.

A superb cover, and possibly my favourite seen for any issue to date.

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

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

I can give a pass to Johnny using his flame to create a giant '4' logo above the centre of New York to summon the nearby members of the team. I'm a lot less likely to do the same for an entire message, written in the sky above the centre of New York, that can be read all the way out in Forest Hills.

Traditional skywriting letters are approximately 3000 feet tall, and last for no more than a couple of minutes. These letters are approximately two feet tall, and no indication is given as to how long they last. Assuming that they behave similarly to their smokey counterparts, then it's very lucky that Peter wasn't somewhere out of sight of the sky for those couple of minutes. Like, say the little Spider-Boy's room. And let's not get into how great Parker's eyesight is, being able to clearly read these letters from  a distance of about 10 miles...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flame On 77

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 14, panel 6

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 14, panel 6

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flame On 77

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

It's a quick dive into the world of Ditko/Lee Spider-Man. Peter Parker has given up being Spidey, and has been branded a coward by J. Jonah Jameson. For some reason, Johnny decides to stick up for the guy he's done almost nothing but fight with, and seek him out to lend support.

Ditko does pretty well with a guy that he's spend more time inking than pencilling, but less good with the rest of the team, crowded in the back of the shot there. I swear The Thing is missing the lower part of his right arm...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Strange Tales #126: Flame On 77

Strange Tales #126, page 5, panel 2

Strange Tales #126, page 5, panel 2

Strange Tales #126: Flame On 77

Stan Lee Is Our Inspired Writer

Dick Ayers Is Our Admired Penciller

Paul Reinman Is Our Desired Inker

S. Rosen Is Our Tired Letterer

Oh, hi there Strange Tales. You've been... missed? No, that's not quite the word... Well, there's only 8 of these to go, and then we can focus (almost) exclusively on the Fantastic Four.

In the meantime, the never-quite-potent match-up of The Mad Thinker and The Puppet Master team up to Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. The villains decide to take on the heroes, because as a team, the entire Fantastic Four is just too much for them. The plan takes the form of the Thinker calculating the exact moment that Ben and Johnny leave in the Fantasticar to pick up their girlfriends for their double-date, then causing fisticuffs to occur.

Such genius. Very clever. Wow.

Anyway, we get another orphaned 'flame on', floating unattached in the air like a clumsily-placed sound effect.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #126 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

 

 

Fantastic Four #32: Property Damage 40

Fantastic Four #32, page 16, panels 4-6

Fantastic Four #32, page 16, panels 4-6

Fantastic Four #31: Property Damage 40

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

The fight continues, this time at the 1964 New York World's Fair, where the Invincible Man starts ripping apart chunks of exhibits and hurling them at the team. Reed seems particularly unconcerned by the destruction, directing Ben to hurl everything right back at the Invincible Man. The exhibits go unnamed, but it would make for a nice thematic fit, both for this story and for the Fantastic Four, for them to be part of the United States Space Park.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics