Flame On

Fantastic Four #34: Flame On 80

 Fantastic Four #34, page 8, panel 4

Fantastic Four #34, page 8, panel 4

Fantastic Four #34: Flame On 80

Rapturously Written by Stan Lee

Deliciously Drawn by Jack Kirby

Impeccably Inked by Chic Stone

Lavishly Lettered by Artie Simek

The plot continues to contrive conflict amongst the Fantastic Four, with Sue tricked by a wrecked room and a sooty note written on a wall into believing that Johnny is a robotic duplicate sent by Doctor Doom. Fisticuffs ensue, with Johnny pre-emptively flaming on in suspicion that Sue is being controlled by the Puppet Master.

I kinda wish the pairing off of the team for battles had been different. It would have been great to see Johnny and Ben's humourous battle at the start of the issue take on a darker, more personal tone, whilst plenty could have been had from Sue and Reed going at each other, using their history with Namor as fuel for this fire. But it's entirely possible that Gregory Gideon didn't know about that.

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

Strange Tales #127: Flame On 78

 Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 5

Strange Tales #127, page 10, panel 5

Strange Tales #127: Flame On 78

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

Oh dear. My least-favourite issue of Strange Tales, which has managed to go for 9 pages without even glancing at a trope, suddenly dives headlong into the troperiffic in the last few pages. It's almost as if the story is so thin that it has to lean on the tropes to fill out the pages...

Anyway, this panel sees Johnny erupt into flame in a rather impressive manner. Well, impressive for Strange Tales, and the impressive nature is somewhat lessened when you realise that Johnny's flame is going to be used to... evaporate mist. At least the 'Flame On' bursts out of the comic panels, which is a nice little touch.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 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: 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

 

 

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: 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

Fantastic Four #31: Flame On 74

 Fantastic Four #31, page 9, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31, page 9, panel 3

Fantastic Four #31: Flame On 74

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!

I love misaligned colouring in old comics. It's a reminder of the fragility of the production process and when coupled with some unearthly imagery, it truly invokes the pop art feel that Marvel Pop Art Productions could never quite achieve when they really tried to. It's a shame these errors get corrected in the Marvel Masterworks series and beyond.

These giant metallic tentacles are defence mechanisms used by the Mole Man to prevent people from following the missing city blocks. Of course, they're nothing to the Fantastic Four, and Johnny's flame more than handles them. Maybe Mole Man should have used a more durable metal than aluminium...

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

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Flame On 73

 Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 12, panel 6

Fantastic Four Annual #2, page 12, panel 6

Fantastic Four Annual #2: Flame On 73

A Stan Lee Story Spectacular

A Jack Kirby Illustrative Idyll

A Chic Stone Delineation Delight

A Sam Rosen Lettering Landmark

Due to the large amount of Doctor Doom-related plot, including his escape from deep space, meeting up with a potential future self in the form of Rama Tut, returning to Earth, and throwing a party at the Latverian embassy, we've jumped ahead in the comic. 

Thanks to a spiked drink at the Latverian embassy, Ben has become a bit unbalanced, tripping Johnny and shouting at him. Johnny's response? Get flamed on and go and pick a fight. Well, he did drink the dodgy beverage as well...

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: 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

Fantastic Four #30: Flame On 71

Fantastic Four #30, page page 12, panel 1
Fantastic Four #30, page page 12, panel 1

Fantasticast Four #30: Flame On 71

Written by: Stan Lee (A rather nice writer)

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby (A quite noteworthy artist)

Inked by: Chic Stone (A somewhat nifty inker)

Lettered by: Art Simek (An occasionally neat letterer)

Ah, good old blank backgrounds. The sign of an artistic shortcut. Based on this panel alone, I have no idea where the Fantastic Four currently are, and I mean it. I browse the comic for these posts visually, I pay little attention to the actual plot. I think they're still in Transylvania, but so much has happened over the past few pages, that I'm not sure.

And by 'so much', I mean that Diablo has enchanted the whole world, re-seeded the African desert, done lots of dirty deals with tinpot dictators, un-cured the Thing and entrapped him, and enslaved the populace of the town near his castle. He's been busy, and the Fantastic Four have... just let this happen? Way to be a super-hero team, guys!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #30 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Fantastic Four #30: Flame On 70

Fantastic Four #30, page 5, panel 5
Fantastic Four #30, page 5, panel 5

Fantasticast Four #30: Flame On 70

Written by: Stan Lee (A rather nice writer)

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby (A quite noteworthy artist)

Inked by: Chic Stone (A somewhat nifty inker)

Lettered by: Art Simek (An occasionally neat letterer)

We're back. For a little bit, at least. The plan is to try and get ahead on these posts for the next few weeks and get the momentum going again. I suspect it might all go a little wrong, though, as I'm off for two weeks of holiday in mid-September, and it's slightly more pressing to ensure the podcast hits its release schedule than the blog. Let's see what happens...

Not that I'm avoiding writing about today's panel at all, oh no. Reed, Johnny and Sue are on the trail of Ben, who has gone missing in the middle of night, leaving only a trail of destruction leading to a mysterious abandoned castle. Johnny's 'Flame On' leads to his contribution to the tracking - melting through a thick stone wall to see what's behind it.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #30 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

Fantastic Four #29: Flame On 68

Fantastic Four #29, page 7, panel 4
Fantastic Four #29, page 7, panel 4

Fantasticast Four #29: Flame On 68

Written with a dash of greatness by: Stan Lee

Drawn with a hint of glory by: Jack Kirby

Inked with a touch of drama by: Chic Stone

Lettered with a bottle of india ink by: S. Rosen

I think for the rest of this book, the only criteria by which I decide whether I like a panel or not will be, 'Does it feature the Red Ghost and/or his stupid apes'?

So, let's take a look. We have the Human Torch, using his fiery blasts to obliterate debris before they can crash into bystanders or buildings, which looks fine. There's not reason why he should be crying his catchphrase when he's already in his 'flame' form, though. But, because of the lack of a Russian cosmonauts and his pathetic primates, this one gets a thumbs up!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #29 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities

Strange Tales #122: Flame On 67

Strange Tales #122, page 5, panel 6
Strange Tales #122, page 5, panel 6

strange tales #122: flame on #67

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

We're back to Strange Tales today, with a story that quite literally nobody asked for - the return of Doctor Doom's underwhelming henchmen from Fantastic Four #22 (or #23, as the cover would have it). In a move which never bodes well for a story, almost the entirety of the first three pages are flashbacks, with Dick Ayers redrawing the work of Jack Kirby to recap the issue.

Not much better is the plan of the henchmen, which involves one of the trio (Handsome Harry, with his power to hear things) turning up on Johnny's doorstep and enticing him into joining him in a garage to look at a car. With his dark glasses, long coat and suspicious hat, it's very hard to read this scene without remembering the advice of every parent - don't accept cars from strangers. Was it cars? It might have been sweets...

Johnny eventually rumbles the plot against him. And by 'rumbles', I mean 'has the plot revealed to him' and reacts by flaming on. I'm not sure I really like Ayers and Roussos's depiction of Johnny flaming on - he looks like his limbs are too small for his body, and the exterior inking lines are very thick. And why exactly does he fly around so much in such a small space?

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #121: Flame On 66

Strange Tales #121, page 6, panel 1
Strange Tales #121, page 6, panel 1

strange tales #121: Flame on 66

Written in the sensational style of Stan Lee

Drawn in the marvellous manner of Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Art Simek

Strange Tales #121 featured the return of one of the more notable (and infamous) Human Torch villains - The Plant Man. Remember him? He's the lunatic, convinced that plants had intelligence, who found himself able to command any vegetable matter when a lightning bolt hit his special pruning shears. He's the only villain to temporarily defeat the Human Torch with the morning dew, and to escape by encasing himself in a tree.

He launches a wave of crime in Glendale, avoiding interrupting by dampening Johnny and locking him in the closet for half an hour. Johnny catches up with Doris at the scene of one of the crimes, before flying away, with his catchphrase once again framed as a sound effect rather than a cry or shout.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #121 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #27: Flame On 65

Fantastic Four 27, page 14, panel 5
Fantastic Four 27, page 14, panel 5

fantastic four #27: flame on 65

Presented by the most talked-about team in comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, author and illustrator extraordinary

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's a rare off-panel ignition for Johnny, and one that doesn't quite add up. The 'Flame On' cry almost always accompanies Johnny's ignition, and it's just not clear how he gets himself in an elevated position to launch his fiery attack without having already ignited.

But let's face it, this is just nit-picking. More important are the artistic shortcomings of the panel. I don't like pointing out faults in Kirby's artwork, but the lack of backgrounds and the lack of detail on the Atlanteans gives the feeling that this panel has been somewhat rushed.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #27 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Fantastic Four #26: Flame On 64

Fantastic Four #26, page 4, panel 2
Fantastic Four #26, page 4, panel 2

FANTASTIC FOUR #26: FLAME ON 64

Unforgettably Written In The Grand Manner by: Stan Lee

Powerfully Drawn In The Heroic Manner by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: Art Simek

I don't have a huge amount to say about this panel. It's nice to see Johnny battered and bruised (I think of it as payback for all those weeks spent reading Strange Tales!), and his insistence on rejoining the fight even though he's not at his best is noble and heroic.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #26 on our twenty-seventh episode: Hulk Goes Home And Plays With His Trains with special guest-host Michael Bailey

Strange Tales #119: Flame On 63

Strange Tales #119, page 11, panel 6
Strange Tales #119, page 11, panel 6

strange tales #119: flame on 63

Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Dick Ayers

Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's a rare moment of unfulfilled promise for Johnny, as his triumphant cry of 'Flame on!' yields naught when he realises that his flame hasn't recharged.

Or, if you're going to extend the metaphor from yesterday, he's unable to get his flame up so soon after a big burst.

Yes, well... You've listened to the show, right? We draw these sort of parallels all the time...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #119 on our twenty-sixth episode: Ha! Not So Different After All! with special guest-host Michael Bailey

Strange Tales #119: Flame On 62

Strange Tales #119, page 9, panel 5
Strange Tales #119, page 9, panel 5

strange tales #119: flame on 62

Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Dick Ayers

Lettered by: S. Rosen

It's a late first-panel from this issue of Strange Tales, and upon reading the issue looking for panels to take, I'm rather surprised to see that I found any. Strange Tales #119 is the only appearance of The Rabble Rouser, a Communist agent armed with some kind of mesmerising wand and a truly terrible moustache, whose only mission appears to be to discredit a teenage boy within the confines of his home town. As if this wasn't bad enough, he also makes use of Adolf Hitler's reverse-thrust subterranean rocket, from Fantastic Four #21. Taken in by this frankly ridiculous plan, the Mayor bans Johnny from igniting within the town limits.

So, for ten pages, we have Johnny struggling to contain his urges, in a fairly unfortunate metaphor for being a teenage boy. And then he decides that he just doesn't care, and lets it all go in the middle of the town.

Yes. An unfortunate metaphor indeed. I'm sure it won't get worse tomorrow...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #119 on our twenty-sixth episode: Ha! Not So Different After All! with special guest-host Michael Bailey