Invisible Girl

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: Reed's Stretchy Body 97

Fantastic Four #34, page 3, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34, page 3, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 97

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Today's choice is an interesting post-stretch moment for Reed. He'd already done his stretching to restrain Ben during his tiff with Johnny, and here he has to sit on the floor, winding his limbs back in. Why, exactly? We've never seen this before, and it seems like a particularly troublesome quirk to his powers if he has to manhandle his body back to its starting form. Doctor Doom would have a field day with this if it ever had to be done in a battle...

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

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: Sue's Force Fields Of Awesome 20

Fantastic Four #33, page 15, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 15, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 20

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Another great use of Sue's fields in a moment very in-keeping with the style of this issue. With the Fantastic Four stealthily supporting Namor without his knowledge, Sue comes up with a great way to use to her force-fields to take out a sound-wave machine (and it's Attuma-supporting operators) without anyone knowing it was her.

A tactical Sue isn't one we see often in the pre-Byrne era, and it's always a cause for celebration when she gets to flex the full potential of her powers and her abilities.

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: 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: 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

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

Fantastic Four #31: It's Clobberin' Time 5

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31: It's Clobberin' Time 5

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

Let's list the things that make this panel great.

Moloids wearing tight underwear and little booties? Check. Moloids being hurled all over the place? Check. Glorious catchphrase with special colouring for the letters and the speech balloon? Check. Insane amounts of colour bleed, making it look like Ben has literally punched the colours out of the inks? Check. Reed holding Sue whilst she simpers about being rescued?

Well, not everything in this panel is great.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 19

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 2

Fantastic Four #31, page 18, panel 2

I'm less interested in Sue in the this panel (helpless, pinned against the wall, no sign of independence or ability to do anything other than wait for a man to rescue her) than I am in the moloids. Because I love moloids. I love their swarm-like mentality, their ability to use number to achieve their goal. I also live their curiosity - there are two in the panel above with their faces pressed against Sue's force-fields in curious wonder.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 18

Fantastic Four #31, page 17, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31, page 17, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 18

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

I wish that any live-action incarnation of the Invisible Girl realised the potential of Sue's force-fields as seen here. Kate Mara got closest, when we clearly saw her training her fields in ways that weren't purely defensive, but I'd give anything to see Sue in close-quarters combat, wielding her force-fields like a third arm. It's not the easiest thing to realise, but come the inevitable next live-action Fantastic Four film, it's something I'll be very eager to see. 

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 88

Fantastic Four #31, page 12, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #31, page 12, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 88

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

Ah, the simple task of climbing from atop a building to the street level. You'd have thought that, being gifted with the power to stretch as well as an incredible intellect, Reed would choose a simple method of traversing the distance to conserve energy, and simply stretch his body until it reached the ground.

No.

Instead, Reed decides to wrap his legs around the base of a nearby lamppost, then whilst propping his torso against the parapet of the building, grab the top of the lamppost with his hands, then retract his body whilst twisting around the lamppost.

Well done, I guess...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 85

Fantastic Four #31, page 1

Fantastic Four #31, page 1

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 85

Written by: Stan Lee, The Man With The Talented Typewriter!

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby, The Man With The Power-Packed Pencil!

Inked by: Chic Stone, The Man With The Panoramic Paint-Brush!

Lettered by: S. Rosen - The Man With The Leaky Lettering Pen!

Fantastic Four #31 opens as we see, with strange tremors causing chaos at the top of the Baxter Building. And what tremors - hurling Ben's chair into the air several feet, and propelling a table lamp at speed across the room. One hopes that at some point following this issue, Reed commission a full structural survey of the Baxter Building!

What I love about this stretchy moment is the complete redundancy of it. Reed has stretched his neck forward and around to the right just to avoid the lamp... that was nowhere near his head in the first place! Never has the phrase 'wind your neck in' been more appropriate...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #31 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 17

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 23, panel 1

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 23, panel 1

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Sue's Force Fields of Awesome 17

A Stan Lee Story Spectacular

A Jack Kirby Illustrative Idyll

A Chic Stone Delineation Delight

A Sam Rosen Lettering Landmark

After a few months away as a result of being very busy and disorganised, we're back. Our Patreon briefly dipped below the blogging goal, and then back up again, so the tireless and thankless task of chronicling the tropes of the Fantastic Four continue.

We're getting very close to the end of Fantastic Four Annual #2. At this point in the story, Doom has been lured to the Baxter Building, and all Reed needs is a few more minutes to complete his serum that will allow him to win the day. With Johnny still recovering from his ordeal and Ben pinned to the ground by Doom's miniature paralysis gun, it's up to Sue to buy Doom the time he needs.

First, she throws him off guard by turning him invisible. Then, she deploys her force-fields in one of the most innovative ways we've seen to date. She creates little invisible pellets underneath Doom's feet to throw him off-balance. It's intelligent, creative, and effective, as Doom goes crashing into a nearby computer bank. It's great stuff from Sue.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four Annual #2 on our thirty-fourth episode: The Doomcast, with special guest host Alan Middleton

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Reed's Stretchy Body 84

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 21, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 21, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Reed's Stretchy Body 84

A Stan Lee Story Spectacular

A Jack Kirby Illustrative Idyll

A Chic Stone Delineation Delight

A Sam Rosen Lettering Landmark

Of course, Johnny has no idea about the feedback, and gets whacked with a huge dose of energy, causing him to fall from the sky. Reed stretches out to grab him, saving his soon-to-be-brother-in-law from a pavement-related death, but putting himself through intense pain at the same time.

I love how Kirby shows Reed's agony. He's drawn at an uncomfortable angle, his face is contorted, wracked with pain. The idea that there would be a price for the team's powers, one paid in pain, occasionally pops up in the early issues, but isn't really considered part of the Fantastic Four status quo. Having been watching Fantastic Four (2015) and the extras recently, this was something that the filmmakers wanted to apply to the film, especially when it comes to Sue's powers. I'll let you judge how successful they were...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four Annual #2 on our thirty-fourth episode: The Doomcast, with special guest host Alan Middleton

Fantastic Four Annual #2: It's Clobberin' Time 4

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 19, panel 4

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 19, panel 4

Fantastic Four Annual #2: It's Clobberin' Time 4

A Stan Lee Story Spectacular

A Jack Kirby Illustrative Idyll

A Chic Stone Delineation Delight

A Sam Rosen Lettering Landmark

The fourth instance of Ben crying 'It's clobberin' time' is the first time that it's treated as a moment of awesome within the story. Ben is placed front and centre, running towards the reader, eager to engage with Doctor Doom in battle. He's pushing Reed out of the way, Doom's lifelong nemesis, so keen is he to land a punch.

It's still a rather small panel, and in the wider context of this very busy story, it doesn't really stand out. But Jack is understanding the value of providing hero moments for the team, and Stan knows the power of a good catchphrase. And, let's face it, this is a huge step up from blurry figures battling in the mist.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four Annual #2 on our thirty-fourth episode: The Doomcast, with special guest host Alan Middleton