Mr Fantastic

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: Reed's Stretchy Body 101

Fantast Four #38, page 10, panels 5-6

Fantast Four #38, page 10, panels 5-6

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 101

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

After 14 months, we're back. The Patreon had nudged itself above the blogging goal, and it's time to site down with that fine tropey toothcomb and continue our journey through the early days of the Fantastic Four.

We last left our heroes fighting each other thanks to the manipulations of Gregory Gideon. Reed and Ben are going at it in the Baxter Building, thanks to Ben's not-really-a-realisation that Reed is a Skrull. Reed remembers the basic rules of pub fights, and decides to take it outside, with a more successful ball vs window manoeuvre than Thor in Ragnarok, and then a nifty torso parachute.

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 100

Fantastic Four #34, page 7, panel 5

Fantastic Four #34, page 7, panel 5

Fantastic Four #34: Reed's Stretchy Body 100

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

Our 100th Reed's Stretchy Body is a perfect illustration (literally) of that well-known principle of "What stretches out must snap back". It's a lovely use of Reed's body as he sends several police officers and The Thing hurling around the corridor by running waves through his body. It's great fun, and drawn with panache by Kirby and Stone.

Every film director to tackle the Fantastic Four has used Reed's powers in the contexts of 'reaching' or 'going flat'. When Fox inevitable redo the Fantastic Four, I'd love to see some more invention in the depiction of Reed's powers, and something like this would be a great moment in a film.

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 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 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: 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 #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 94

Fantastic Four #33, page 17, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 17, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Reed's Stretchy Body 94

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Oooh, can you spot the horrendous piece of over-writing? I'm very glad that Attuma's men have been trained in instant narration during combat situations, as I'd never have worked out that Reed had snuck in front of their high-tension titanium wire launching device and used his body to absorb the cable.

Still, how glorious is this? You really get the sense of the momentum of the cable battling against Reed's body, whipping it into these terrible perversions of the human form. It's a shame that the second panel over-eggs the pudding by having Reed smother the soldiers as well as using his body to entangle them.

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 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: 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 #32: Reed's Stretchy Body 91

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 91

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!!)

And so continues the fight, but here's where things get really interesting. I've spoken and written at length how I like my Reed Richards to use his stretching powers within certain limits, such as respecting the basic layout of human anatomy. He's more of a Elongated Man than a Plastic Man, and should have certain limits when it comes to how he manipulates his body. As such, this should fall into the category of things I don't like.

But I love it. You've got break the rules every now and again, and this is one of those times. You can easily rationalise why Reed would choose this course of action. He's a scientist, he's going to have a good knowledge of potential energy, and how to use it for propulsions. He'll also understand the principles of aerodynamics. Whilst it might be more logical for him to just stretch out, this really works, both for Reed and for the reader enjoying a visually-unique depiction of his powers.

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

Fantastic Four #32: Reed's Stretchy Body 90

Fantastic Four #32, page 12, panel 6

Fantastic Four #32, page 12, panel 6

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 90

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 against the mysterious figure who has usurped the place of Franklin Storm continues, with a few clues as to his identity starting to appear. Reed notes, as he is punched away, that the figure has the strength of The Thing, and in the next panel, the figure can set his hands on fire ("like The Torch", he handily exposits). If you're not thinking Super-Skrull at this point, then you're really not paying any attention at all. As a side-note, John Byrne claims that the ease with which he identified the mysterious figure is the reason why he stopped read Fantastic Four comics for the next decade or so.

I'm not sure why Reed decided that the best way to break his flight was to wrap himself this intensely around a lamp-post. If he had hit it, he would have stretched around either side of it, and it would have been a lot easier to just grab hold of the lamp-post. I guess committing so much of his incredible brain power to working out the mystery of the Invincible Man meant he had little left to avoid making visually-interesting and logically-unsound stretching choices.

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: Nova Time 9

Fantastic Four #31, page 16, panel 2

Fantastic Four #31, page 16, panel 2

Fantastic Four #31: Nova Time 9

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!

The impression I got from the Fantastic Four's first journey to the Mole Man's kingdom in this issue was that it was a very long way down. So, as much as I appreciate Johnny's confidence in his nova blast to create a tunnel down to the subterranean realm in a matter of seconds, I can't help recall that this is the same Human Torch who was put out of action by a heavy dew.

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 89

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31, page 14, panels 1-2

Fantastic Four #31: Reed's Stretchy Body 89

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!

Holy colour-bleed, Batman! I guess there were production problems with this issue, as almost every page has colour-bleed of a degree, but this is particularly bad. At least Kirby's mostly working with 5 or 6 panel pages, which means that we're not squeezing the images in and reducing the legibility of them. But still, this is an issue that does affect the readability of the comic.

In terms of the story, all that time spent descending to the Mole Man's kingdom has been rendered rather useless, as the Mole Man has sent the team back to the surface. Because this is early Marvel, and Stan's very invested in the idea of a shared universe, The Avengers have noticed that two separate city blocks have vanished, leaving huge holes in the ground, and have turned up to investigate. Because this is any-period Marvel, the two teams fight for a bit. I never thought I'd see Thor defeated in such a manner, but it turns out that he's very vulnerable to having his arms pinned to his sides.

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