Sam Rosen

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!

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: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 12

Strange Tales #126, page 7, panels 1-2

Strange Tales #126, page 7, panels 1-2

Strange Tales #126: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 12

Stan Lee Is Our Inspired Writer

Dick Ayers Is Our Admired Penciller

Paul Reinman Is Our Desired Inker

S. Rosen Is Our Tired Letterer

One of the many, many frustrating things about these early Puppet Master stories is the contrived and inconsistent ways Stan has to come up with to break characters out of the mind control. Here, Ben, who has happily tried to kill Johnny, suddenly manages to break free when he sees an unconscious Johnny plummet from the Fantasticar.

Oh, and he also transforms back to Ben, because this is the first time he's encountered a moral quandry since becoming the Thing, and the arbitrary rules of transformation just can't cope with it. This lasts for an entire page, when, having rescued Johnny, he calms down and returns to the Thing. Does this make him the anti-Hulk?

Note that the Editor's note takes a yellow background, and the narration a white background... only for the rest of the narration to abscond with the yellow background, creating a conflict of omniscient voices, not helped by both boxes in the first panel ending in ellipses.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #126 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

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 #32: Flamin' 'Eck 55

Fantastic Four #32, page 11, panel 6

Fantastic Four #32, page 11, panel 6

Fantastic Four #31: Flamin' 'Eck 55

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!!)

When a lot of plot needs to happen, there often isn't room for tropes to make an appearance. In the intervening pages, a mysterious figure has arrived from space, taken the place of the incarcerated Franklin Storm (sending him to outer space for safe-keeping), broken free from prison, assumed the identity of the Invincible Man, and started attacking downtown New York.

How could this villain possibly be stopped? With giant flaming staves, that's how! Staves! Made of fire! With totally physical properties that prevent movement! For sure!

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

Fantastic Four #32: Kirby Kollage 2

Fantastic Four #32, page 3

Fantastic Four #32, page 3

Fantastic Four #31: Kirby Kollage 2

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 second Kirby Kollage in the Fantastic Four makes a number of choices that work against the visual impact of the change of media. First, splitting the page into two separate images diminishes the 'wow' factor of changing location and media. Secondly, there's no sense of space being big and wondrous, as would be effectively portrayed by future pieces. Space is... stars and planets, with some colouring. I find it difficult to look at this as anything other than an experiment in form.

Technology isn't quite working on Kirby's side, either. There's a very noticeable dark strip down the left side of the first panel, where the reproduction process was compromised. The colouring also seems very on-the-nose, attacking the image rather than complementing it. Thankfully, this is an early mis-step on the way to astonishing images that still stand out as some of most innovative pieces of comics art ever.

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

Fantastic Four #32: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 11

Fantastic Four #32, page 2, panels 1-3

Fantastic Four #32, page 2, panels 1-3

Fantastic Four #32: The Humanity of Benjamin J. Grimm 11

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!!)

Fantastic Four #32 opens with another experiment of Reed's to try and restore Ben's humanity. This time, as Johnny handily exposits in a thought balloon on the first page, he's going to alter the micro-electric waves of Ben's body. Sure he is.

Here, Kirby makes a break from the traditional sequence of transitional panels, in which an interstitial stage, featuring a part-Ben, part-Thing figure, would be seen. The focus here is on the energies changing Ben's body, with a combination of heavy inks and colours representing this.

Thanks to a switch in focus for a couple of pages, Ben remains human for an entire five pages, but a sudden bout of amnesia prompts Reed to reverse the transformation.

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

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Nova Time 10

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 18, panel 2

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 18, panel 2

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Nova Time 10

Ruggedly Written by: Stan Lee

Robustly Drawn by: Steve Ditko

Recently Lettered by: S. Rosen

Remember when the Green Goblin used such weapons as bombs that look like ghosts from a Mario game that explode into a thick, clinging mist that surround someone to suffocate them? Aaah, the good old days, back when you could cry 'Make Mine Marvel' safe in the knowledge that nobody thought abut a villain's arsenal beyond the point of how cool it looked.

Anyway, it turns out misty ghost bombs can be neutralised if you have the power to set your entire body on fire and can focus the heat of that fire into one part of your body. So I guess that's why we never saw these weapons again.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #17 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Flame On 76

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 16, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #17, page 16, panel 3

Amazing Spider-Man #17: Flame On 76

Ruggedly Written by: Stan Lee

Robustly Drawn by: Steve Ditko

Recently Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's time to take a quick dive into the world of Amazing Spider-Man. The Green Goblin gate-crashes a meeting of Flash Thompson's Spider-Man fan club (Forest Hills chapter). Despite the gullible teenagers thinking that it's all part of a stunt (and Liz Allen getting just a little too close to the truth as to Spider-Man's identity), there's one teen who sees the truth of the situation.

Johnny Storm.

Considering the antagonistic relationship at this time between the two teen heroes, Johnny doesn't hesitate to jump in and have some fun with the Green Goblin, giving us our first Steve Ditko-drawn Flame On. Considering the size of the panel, Ditko crams a lot in here, and just about avoids it feeling cramped and crowded.

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #17 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: It's Clobberin' Time 6

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 5

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 5

Strange Tales #125: It's Clobberin' Time 6

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

It's poorly-drawn, stiffly-posed, heavily-inked, just about avoids showing terrible blisters on Namor's back, and is missing one of the three required words for this category, but this panel is definitely one that was published in a comic and which I have chosen for inclusion on this blog.

I won't patronise you by trying to think of something write about this incredibly boring image.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' Eck 54

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 4

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 4

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 54

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

I feel that the repeated dunking and denying Johnny of his powers through wetness (both literal and metaphorical) shows the problem with having Namor as the antagonist in a flame-powered character's solo strip. If Strange Tales hadn't evolved into having The Thing as a permanent guest star, it's hard to imagine how the Human Torch could have achieved anything in this story. Unfortunately, Marvel hadn't yet progressed to the point where they could willingly lampshade Johnny's uselessness, so even with Ben Grimm around to carry the action, everything's still played depressingly straight.

I need to talk about Johnny's power usage, however, as it's one of the most brutal and disturbing examples of what the Human Torch could (but almost always chooses not to) do. Johnny uses his heat to directly burn Namor's shoulders, shrugging off as 'king-size sunburn' what is actually a nasty contact burn. I'm rather glad this is an aberration, rather than the start of something regular.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 53

Strange Tales #125, page 8, panel 4

Strange Tales #125, page 8, panel 4

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 53

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

So, Johnny's flame powers are so weak that he cannot dry his uniform without assistance from the sun. At the same time, his flame is so strong that it can cause intense temperature change through dozens of feet of sea water, disintegrating the sea kelp that the Thing had been trapped within, and forcing Namor to retreat? 

I hate to say that this book has all the hallmarks of a rushed, space-filler, but it's clearly that nobody was paying a huge amount of attention to it before or after it hit the stands...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Flame On 75

Strange Tales #7, page 7, panel 7

Strange Tales #7, page 7, panel 7

Strange Tales #125: Flame On 75

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

Ah, this issue of Strange Tales is so redundant, even for Strange Tales. Johnny and Ben notice the Sub-Mariner heading towards New York, so they go and pick a fight with him for 12 pages before he vanishes. Reed then turns up and berates them for derailing peace talks with Namor.

It's an issue that struggles to have many interesting moments, and those that do happen tend to come about because of their complete stupidity. Yes, Johnny has a good 'Flame On' moment, but it comes straight after him standing around in the sun waiting for his uniform to get dry before after he received a dunking. Standing around in the sun. Yeah...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #125: Property Damage 39/It's... ASBESTOS!!! 31

Strange Tales #125, page 1

Strange Tales #125, page 1

Strange Tales #125: Property Damage 39

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

Oh, hey, it's an issue of Strange Tales. It's been... some time... (one post in the best part of two years).

Oh, hey, it's Dick Ayers and Paul Reinman on artwork. And boy, does it show that they're not Jack Kirby and Chic Stone. The Thing looks crude, Johnny looks incredibly stiff. Ayers, at this stage a workhorse for Marvel, would go on to far better things on the Sgt Fury title, whilst Reinman was nearing the end of his tenure with Marvel.

Oh, hey, it's an issue starting with The Thing and the Human Torch smashing stuff up for no real reason to provide a vaguely-interesting image to start the story with.

Oh, hey, it's an asbestos rug. At least something interesting here.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

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