The Thing

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: Property Damage 41

Fantastic Four #34, page 11, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34, page 11, panel 2

Fantastic Four #34: Property Damage 41

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

If you thought taking a Reed/Ben fight outside wouldn't result in a load of property damage to the city of New York, then I'd have to ask if you've ever read a 1960s Marvel comic before...

Ben goes pinballing down the side of two facing buildings to control his fall to street level. I'd love to look at the conservation of momentum, and ask how gravity doesn't take over almost immediately? It's presented as Ben bouncing without much control between the two buildings, but surely after a couple of impacts, all of that energy is lost, and gravity can just do its job?

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 #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

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: 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: 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

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

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