ATOMIC POWER!

Fantastic Four #21: ATOMIC POWER! 8

Fantastic Four #21, page 10, panel 2 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Bell

Lettered by: Art Simek

Having disbanded the team, Reed returns home to find that an old friend from his days as a soldier in World War II. Yes, it's Nick Fury, clean-shaven and working for the CIA (presumably his last job before joining SHIELD). He's dropped by to ask Reed to lend a hand with one of the CIA's favourite activities - supporting regime change in a South American country.

This is the spur for the plot of the second half of the book, but we're pausing for a moment to note that Reed has a completely spurious nuclear activator whirring away loudly for no reason at all. Note the lack of radiation shielding, or warning notices. Did he not learn a costly lesson about the harmful effects of radiation?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #21 on our twenty-first episode: Powered By Hateful Hate From A Hate Raygun, with special guest host David Wynne.

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_21.mp3]

Strange Tales #112: ATOMIC POWER! 7

Strange Tales #112, page 10, panel 1 Story plot: Stan Lee

Script: Jerry Siegel

Art: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

It's been over a year since we last looked at an example of Stan's hilarious misunderstandings of how nuclear power works, and I think you'll agree, today's panel was worth the wait.

Having failed to decide if the Eel or the device he was carrying was the true threat, Stan and Jerry decide to ramp up the tension by revealing that the explosion is due to occur right next to a Veterans' Hospital. Ignoring the fact that the scale of the explosion and resulting fallout would not only obliterate the hospital but pretty much all of the town and surrounding countryside, the story decides that only a noble sacrifice from Johnny can negate the blast.

So, Johnny flies upwards, and wills both the force of the explosion as well as the radiation up into the atmosphere with him. Imagine that. No, really, imagine it. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, each of these catastrophic nuclear events could have been prevented by a teenager with a lot of willpower.

Even more hilarious is the ridiculous expository speech bubbles which, thanks to the high perspective showing the curvature of the Earth, suggests that the people speaking are either in space, or they're shouting really loudly so that the reader can hear them.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #112 on our seventeenth episode: No Funny Title Springs To Mind

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_17.mp3]

Fantastic Four #10: ATOMIC POWER! 6

Fantastic Four #10, page 2, panel 2 Script: Stan Lee

Pencilling: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Uncredited Lettering: Art Simek

A minor instance of misuse of nuclear technology, so we'll have a small post.

Whilst I think most of us would be nervous of having naked flames within a dozen yards of a building containing any nuclear device, surely Reed would know better than to produce a machine that is overly sensitive to heat in a laboratory where he regularly requires Johnny to engage his fiery form...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #9 on our seventh episode: Don! Don! Don! Don-Don-Don! Don-Don-Don!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_8.mp3]

Strange Tales #102: Atomic Power! 5

2012.12.14 Uncredited Writers: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber

Uncredited Artist: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inker: Dick Ayers

Uncredited Letterer: Art Simek

I'll never understand why The Wizard eschewed a career as a noted nuclear engineer and settled on a life of crime and attempting to humiliate a teenage boy.

Seriously.

Yesterday, we had a miniaturised nuclear-powered buzzsaw contained in a ring. Today, we have a nuclear-powered drilling machine. Bearing in mind the things that could go wrong with a drilling machine (beyond what The Wizard fakes going wrong with it), having it powered by an atomic reactor isn't the smartest thing that you could do. The last thing you want is a nuclear explosion somewhere underground, with a handy exhaust funnel to vent all that nasty radiation into the atmosphere.

But clearly, The Wizard has made the most stable form of nuclear power ever seen, capable of withstanding pressure, vibrations, cave-ins, etc. This guy should be awarded the Nobel prize for his discoveries. Instead, he grew some dodgy chin fuzz and bore a grudge against a young boy.

And that is the timeless tragedy of The Wizard.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #8 - with special guest Joshua Lapin-Bertone - on our sixth episode: Like A Puppet On A String

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_6.mp3]

Strange Tales #102: Atomic Power! 4

Strange Tales #102, page 4, panel 3 Uncredited Writers: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber

Uncredited Artist: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inker: Dick Ayers

Uncredited Letterer: Art Simek

I'm not sure we've come across anything as crazy as today's example of Atomic Power. It's a real favourite of mine.

When the Wizard first appears, there is almost no hint of the deadly menace he would later become. For a start, he's completely obsessed with defeating the Human Torch, rather than Reed Richards. Then, he gets lumbered with the worst facial hair ever seen in comics. In short, he's a one-shot throwaway villain who somehow completely shakes off his origins and becomes one of the key Fantastic Four villains.

Here, he relates the story of one of his latest tricks, involving being chained up in a safe, which is dunked into the ocean. He escapes from the chains, not through contortionism or by swallowing the key, but by having a miniature buzzsaw powered by a nuclear reactor secreted in his ring.

I'm sure today's scientists would love to know how the Wizard managed to create a nuclear power source that fits into a signet ring. If I was the Wizard, I'd patent my ring and go and make a bucketload of cash.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #8 - with special guest Joshua Lapin-Bertone - on our sixth episode: Like A Puppet On A String

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_6.mp3]

Fantastic Four #3: ATOMIC POWER! 3

Fantastic Four #4, page 18, panel 4

Fantastic Four #4, page 18, panel 4

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inker: Sol Brodsky

Uncredited Letterer: Art Simek

There's so much that I love about this panel. Let's start with the caption, which tells us that Ben has been rushing from military base to military base, looking for a nuclear bomb. Because those get stored in suburban military bases...

Then there's the plan, which is to strap it to his back and walk into the throat of the Sub-Mariner's giant sea-monster, Giganto.

But best of all is this three-panel sequence featuring the long, lonely march of Ben Grimm. Barely visible against the destruction of of New York and the grotesque monstrosity that is Giganto. It's an absolute favourite of mine.

Fantastic Four #4, page 18, panels 5-7

Fantastic Four #4, page 18, panels 5-7

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #4 in our third episode: Super-Villain Cavalcade

Fantastic Four #3: ATOMIC POWER! 2

Fantastic Four #3, page 10, panel 3

Fantastic Four #3, page 10, panel 3

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inker: Sol Brodsky

Uncredited Letterer: Art Simek

You can't see this, but just off-panel is a giant monstrous movie mascot, animated by the Miracle Man, lifting the Army's atomic tank into the air, with hypnosis. No, really. This is the big plot-hole in the whole issue. The Miracle Man doesn't go to military base, so the soldiers are not under his control. So, what are they seeing?

Moving on from plot illogicality, I wondered on the show why the addition of a nuclear reactor to a vehicle designed to take heavy fire on the battlefield would benefit the tank in any way? Surely gasoline provides enough power for the tank. Surely Stan doesn't think that the addition of the word 'atomic' makes anything sound more powerful and cool. Oh, wait...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #3 in our second episode: Secret Invasion Tie-In

Fantastic Four #1: ATOMIC POWER 1

Fantastic Four #1, page 7, panel 8

Fantastic Four #1, page 7, panel 8

Fantastic Four #1, page 8, panel 1

Fantastic Four #1, page 8, panel 1

Fantastic Four #1, page 8, panel 2

Fantastic Four #1, page 8, panel 2

Writer: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Uncredited inking by George Klein and Christopher Rule

Uncredited colouring by Stan Goldberg

Uncredited lettering by Art Simek

Stan Lee has a very casual relationship with the possibilities and dangers of nuclear power. For him, nuclear power represents unlimited possibilities, the future within our grasp. Dangers such as radiation and meltdown have mostly been overcome in his mind, and the addition of atomic power to any device, no matter how impractical, instantly makes it stronger, faster and better.

So, of course, it's great fun to sit here, decades after Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and take a look at a more innocent time.

Here, we see that the US Air Force are quite happy to launch nuclear missiles at Manhatten island. Not because there's an alien invasion spearheaded by an Asgardian god that is determined to subjugate the Earth to the rule of Thanos, the mad Titan. Oh no. Here, it's because there's a bloke flying around on fire.

Can we say "massive over-reaction"?

Instead, Reed hurls the missile out to sea where it explodes 'harmlessly'. Because all nuclear explosions are harmless and completely lack any form of fallout. Just ask the producers of 24...