Strange Tales

Strange Tales #127: Flamin' 'Eck 60

Strange Tales #127, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #127, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #127: Flamin' 'Eck 60

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

Given that the Mystery Villain is Reed Richards, it's clear that by allowing himself to be captured by Johnny's flaming cage, he's just humouring his young brother-in-law-to-be. Especially as he doesn't immediately walk through the non-bars of the non-cage and continue the fight.

Still, at least this panel marks our last excerpt from this terrible, terrible comic.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Strange Tales #127: Nova Time 11

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 6

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 6

Strange Tales #127: Nova Time 11

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

Even the worst issue of Strange Tales  can contain something decent, and this panel qualifies as decent. Only just qualifies, mind you, but qualifies nonetheless. This is a really nice, simple depiction of Johnny going full nova against the mysterious villain. It's lucky that, with Ben's head stuck in a crack in the rock, he doesn't blind his sometime friend.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Strange Tales #127: It's Clobberin' Time 7

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 6

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 6

Strange Tales #127: It's Clobberin' Time 7

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

I... What is Ben trying to do here? The preceding panel has him being taunted by the Mystery Villain, but the art here seems to depict Ben charing full pelt into the wall of the cave that they're in. It's a puzzling choice from Dick Ayers not to show Ben's target. I think he's going for a depiction of the force and fury of Ben's charge, but by having him run away from the camera, that's completely lost. It's a good example of how simply stringing a fight scene together with catchphrases and impulsive actions, rather than planning the fight through, just doesn't work.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 32

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 3

Strange Tales #127, page 9, panel 3

Strange Tales #127: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 32

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

Ah, Strange Tales #127, the Strange Tales story so good they printed it twice. As most of the issue consists of Johnny and Ben racing cars, there's not a huge amount of scope for our usual tropes, which is why I'm so glad that, when one pops up on page 9, it's asbestos related.

The liquid asbestos comes from a gun wielded by the Mystery Villain, who is actually Reed Richards (before it then became Nick Fury in the most ill-advised weapons test ever conducted) teaching his team-mates a lesson. It's hard to find the absolute lowest point of Strange Tales, but this issue, failing to even feature a super-villain, makes a good case for being that point.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

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

 

 

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 Annual #2: Property Damage 32

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

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

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Property Damage 32

A Stan Lee Story Spectacular

A Jack Kirby Illustrative Idyll

A Chic Stone Delineation Delight

A Sam Rosen Lettering Landmark

There are times when the format of this blog means that we skip a lot of very god content. In this case, the good content is the origin of Doctor Doom story that opened Fantastic Four Annual #2. It's a great story, easily one of the highlights of Stan and Jack's collaborations, but with no elements of that story confirming to the categories of the blog, we're forced to skip to the concluding story of the annual.

We open with a random case of jeopardy as the Fantastical starts dropping from the sky because Ben forgot to re-bore the jet exhausts, which we've all neglected to do at one time or another. The team swing into action to clear some room on the highway for landing, but despite their effort, Ben still manages to rear-end an antique car. Just look at what he did to the fender...

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

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck #52

Strange Tales #124, page 13, panel 3

Strange Tales #124, page 13, panel 3

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck #52

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

And... we're back. After nearly a full year, in which we've launched a Patreon, set up a new website, started regular comic reviews, and continued on our mission to cover every Fantastic Four comic ever printed, the Fantastic Four tropes blog (formerly the Fantastic Flame On) is back. A huge thanks to every Patreon supporter who helped us get to our milestone goal that included the return of the blog.

We'll be producing new content three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Every now and again, we'll mix things up with the continuing Guardians of the Galaxy reviews, and there'll be some special posts next week to coincide with our 200th episode. But these aside, it's time to get back to the mission of covering every Flame On, and more.

We were in the middle of Strange Tales #124, in which the Human Torch and The Thing found themselves battling Paste-Pot Pete. As the story continued, the two inevitably found themselves defeated and entrapped by the superior abilities of paste. With paste outmanoeuvring them at every turn, there can only be one way to cancel out the all-conquering paste.

Yes, the only way that the clearly unbeatable paste can be beaten is with Johnny creating a a flaming arrowhead and hurling it at Paste-Pot Pete's paste tube, denying him his fight-winning paste. Well, hurrah and huzzah for Johnny's improbable flame powers!

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 30

Strange Tales #124, page 10, panel 6
Strange Tales #124, page 10, panel 6

Strange Tales #124: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 30

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

You can probably tell I've got a big grin on my face whilst creating this post. I'm a huge fan of ridiculous uses of asbestos in 1960s Fantastic Four comics, and the suggestion that Paste Pot Pete has mixed asbestos with his paste to create a fireproof, quick-setting adhesive is completely ludicrous. I mean, for a start, there's a very good chance that the smothering effect of the paste alone renders the need for a fireproof material null and void. And let's not talk about the logistics of mixing a fibrous substance into a viscous liquid without further reducing its viscosity.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 51

Strange Tales #124, page 10, panel 2
Strange Tales #124, page 10, panel 2

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 51

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

Ah, the infamous panel where Johnny was possessed by the Phoenix Force 13 years before its creation.

Or...

The infamous panel where Johnny inadvertently proves and disproves the theories regarding conservation of energy. Ignoring the fact that the kinetic motion of the car's engine provides the energy to recharge the battery which is used to start the car itself, Johnny decides that he can expend his flame whilst creating new flame energy to store within him to use in the future. He's literally creating energy out of nothing.

Sometimes, Stan's pseudo-science hits the right level of believability. Other times, it's pure crap.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Flame On 72

Strange Tales #124, page 8, panel 6
Strange Tales #124, page 8, panel 6

Strange Tales #124: Flame On 72

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

It's amazing how disparate Strange Tales is from the main Fantastic Four book at this time. I'm not just talking in terms of quality - and issues like the Molecule Man and the Infant Terrible ones show that the core book can read as badly as the spinoff - but in terms of aims and context it's as if the two book are coming from very different eras. Whilst the main book is offering fast-paced tales featuring aliens and alchemists, mutants and Avengers, packed with character and a relentless drive forward, Strange Tales seems stuck in a depressingly domestic late 1950s as depicted in pop culture that probably never quite existed.

Eight pages into this story, and we've seen some tame, uninspired shenanigans at home (with no authoritative presence), and then Johnny's gone bowling with girlfriend. If it hadn't been for his signal ring (making its one and only appearance a few panels earlier), you can just imagine the two going for some malted shakes together. Where's the genre-defining, boundary-pushing storytelling seen in the Fantastic Four? It's certainly not to be seen here.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 50

Strange Tales #124, page 3, panel 1
Strange Tales #124, page 3, panel 1

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 50

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

As we make our way through the final 10-or-so issues of Johnny Storm's solo adventures in Strange Tales, we're going to see logic (not a quality seen in abundance, admittedly) become scarcer and scarcer. Here's a good example of a panel which should never have been drawn, and which should have been picked up by anyone involved in the creative process from the penciling onwards.

Having had half of his house destroyed by The Thing's refusal to use the front door, Johnny then decides to some on-the-spot spot-welding to repair the damage. So, he uses his intense heat and flame to repair his very obviously wooden house.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Property Damage 31 / Flamin' 'Eck 49

Strange Tales 124, page 1, panel 4
Strange Tales 124, page 1, panel 4

Strange Tales #124: Property Damage 31 / Flamin' 'Eck 49

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

Our streak of The Thing destroying everything in his wake continues as we return to our favourite Silver Age punching bag, Strange Tales. This opening sequence sees Ben decide to give Johnny a wake-up call by... er... lifting a side of his house off its foundations, presumably destroying the structural stability of the house. Judging by the way that rear wall doesn't change angle, there has to be a massive gaping crack somewhere along the side of the house as well. As Andy most likely said at the time, this makes no sense. And it still doesn't.

We've also got yet another flaming lasso, easily my least-favourite thing in the entirety of Strange Tales (and beyond, as evidenced by its appearance in the comic covered on this week's episode). At least this is 1964, and we can pretty much guarantee that the walls are lined with asbestos, explaining why Johnny can throw his flame around in such a cavalier fashion.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #123: Flame On 69 / Flamin' 'Eck 48

Strange Tales #123, page 13, panels 4-6
Strange Tales #123, page 13, panels 4-6

Strange Tales #123: Flame On 69 / Flamin' 'Eck 48

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

Our look at the debut of The Beetle concludes here. Johnny gets a 'Flame On' so underwhelming that I wonder if anyone involved in that panel remembered that this was a catchphrase. Sam Rosen gets some credit for using a heavier brush stroke for these words, but it barely stands out at all.

More interesting is the unusual use of flame that comes from this, as Johnny creates a ring of fire where the Beetle is burrowing away. The wheel excavates the area, exposing the villain. I'm calling it our because earlier in the story, the Beetle had no problem flying or using the asbestos on his armour to withstand the heat. Here, because there's only one page of story left, he just decides to give up and submit to the teen hero.

Can you imagine how ineffective Zemo's Thunderbolts would have been if he'd have recruited this version of The Beetle?

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities

Strange Tales #123: Flamin' 'Eck 47

Strange Tales #123, page 8, panel 7
Strange Tales #123, page 8, panel 7

Fantasticast Four #29: Flamin' 'Eck 47

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

We're currently recording episodes covering Fantastic Four comics from 1972. Strange Tales is long-gone, and despite the wildly inconsistent quality of Stan Lee's writing during his brief return to the title, a lot of the tropes from the early days of the Fantastic Four are no longer relevant. Whilst I may miss the ridiculous usage of asbestos, I really don't miss the implausible uses of Johnny's powers.

Thankfully nothing in the Air Walker saga is as insane as Johnny deciding to wrap The Beetle in a blanket made of fire to heat him up as opposed to, say, just hurling fire at him. Nice to see that the colouring appears to have been done in felt-tip as well...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine

We are eligible for nomination in the first UK Podcasters Award, in the Games & Hobbies category. Across the month of July, you can visit http://ukpodcasters.com/directory/podcast/the-fantasticast/ and click the nominate button. You can nominate us once per day between now and the end of the month, and we would be very grateful if you would be able to do this.

Strange Tales #123: It's... ASBESTOS 29

Strange Tales #123, page 7, panel 4
Strange Tales #123, page 7, panel 4

Strange Tales #123: It's... Asbestos 29

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

Ah, asbestos. It seems more appropriate that this should be the feature of our 500th post at this site. It's also one of the more appropriate uses of asbestos. The Beetle is very much a Human Torch villain at this stage in his career, and his suit is designed for combat with our fiery hero. If anyone could sensibly work asbestos into a functional and practical part of his armour, it's Abner Jenkins, one of the Marvel universe's most underrated engineers.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities

Strange Tales #123: Flamin' 'Eck 46

Strange Tales #123, page 6, panel 3
Strange Tales #123, page 6, panel 3

strange tales #123: flamin' 'eck 46

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

It was a bit hard to work out where this one was going. The Beetle decides to defend himself against the Thing's wall-based attack by picking up a pot of hot soup, which was casually simmering away, and hurling it at Ben. Johnny decides to step in and, instead of evaporating the soup with his flame, he instead chooses to absorb the heat from the water, making it cold.

It's an unusual choice, and depicted poorly by Burgos. Is that soup, or is it lava? Is it heading for Johnny, to extinguish his flame, or to Ben, to presumably burn him? Either way, battling against a vat of Campbell's Condensed hardly makes for one of the most riveting Human Torch battles.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities

We are eligible for nomination in the first UK Podcasters Award, in the Games & Hobbies category. Across the month of July, you can visit http://ukpodcasters.com/directory/podcast/the-fantasticast/ and click the nominate button. You can nominate us once per day between now and the end of the month, and we would be very grateful if you would be able to do this.

Strange Tales #123: Property Damage 28

Strange Tales 123 Property Damage 28
Strange Tales 123 Property Damage 28

strange tales #123: property damage 28

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

There's so much to talk about today. First of all, this issue of Strange Tales heralds the very brief return of Carl Burgos to the Marvel fold. It wasn't to be a happy reunion. Lee and Burgos did not work well together, and a couple of years down the line, Burgos would see his hopes of owning the Human Torch dashed when Marvel featured him in Fantastic Four Annual #4 just before the copyright expired.

This issue also marks the point where the Thing started appearing consistently in the book, sharing the plots and actions with the Human Torch. Perhaps this was a move by Marvel to rejuvenate the troubled strip, perhaps this was an admission that the Human Torch wasn't the breakout character. Either way, from here to the end, this strip is a two-hander.

There's almost to space for me to mention that The Beetle has broken into a shop to steal the cash register, a loss of a day's takings, whilst The Thing arrived by destroying one of the exterior walls, causing the loss of the entire business to the owner.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities