It's--- ASBESTOS!!!

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!

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 #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

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 #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 #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 28

Strange Tales #122, page 11, panel 1
Strange Tales #122, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 28

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

I can't work out if Stan Lee is, at this point, just taking the piss with his dialogue. A grey door does not signify that it's made from asbestos, and considering all Bull does with the door is wield it threateningly, it's hard to imagine how asbestos would have made any difference to the offensive properties of the door - namely, that it's really big and hard and would hurt if he whacked someone with it.

As for what exactly an automatic water cannon is, I'm completely lost. Although, as the man in the brown suit is struggling to turn it on, it can't be that automatic...

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 #122: It's... ASBESTOS 27

Strange Tales #122, page 7, panels 1-2
Strange Tales #122, page 7, panels 1-2

Strange Tales #122: It's... ASBESTOS 27

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

Some ideas are so crazy, you assume that they'll stick with you for a long time. I remember asbestos lassos, and asbestos sheet, but for the life of me, I have no memory of reading a comic featuring an asbestos-lined caravan. (Yes, I know the dialogue refers to it as a trailer. But it looks suspiciously like the exact caravan we were bundled into every summer by my Dad, and that would get destroyed on a weekly basis in early seasons of Top Gear).

It's a wonderfully crazy idea. Not only have the Terrible Trio got hold of asbestos rope and asbestos blankets, but somehow they've managed to get hold of some kind of easily-applicable asbestos lining. I like to imagine that it was something similar to sheets of vinyl, and they spent ages with credit cards trying to smooth the air pockets to the edge of the sheet. And failing, because let's face it, the Terrible Trio are completely terrible.

The worst.

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 #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 26

Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 3
Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 3

Strange tales #122: it's... asbestos!!! 26

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

The Terrible Trio are back, and the only redeeming feature of their return is that they've seemingly stopped off at World of Asbestos for a few accessories before conning Johnny. Of course, what they didn't pick up was a copy of 'Asbestos For Dummies' (presumably they thought it would be too high-concept for them), as if they had done so, they'd have learned that the asbestos blanket doesn't need to be airtight to extinguish the Human Torch's flame.

Idiots.

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 #122: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 25

Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 2
Strange Tales #122, page 6, panel 2

strange tales #122: it's... asbestos!!! 25

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

Doctor Doom's trio of master-less henchmen continue to haunt the pages of Strange Tales #122. In a series that boasted the original Plant Man, the Fifth Dimension, the Sorcerer, and the guy who nearly blew up Glendale with a nuclear bomb, it's quite something that these should be the most tedious, annoying and forgettable villains of this run. Thankfully, in this panel, my interest levels are raised by my favourite word in Stan Lee's vocabulary:

Asbestos!

This time, it's an asbestos rope, which the... er... one with the headdress (look, you didn't expect me to remember their names, did you?) uses to lasso the Human Torch. This rope would go on to have a minor role in the early Marvel Universe, resurfacing in the hands of the Enforcers in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. It must be the same one - there clearly isn't a market for mass production!

And what's that being held in the background?

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

Fantastic Four #26: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 24

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

fantastic four #26: it's... asbestos!!! 24

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

The asbestos continues , as an injured Johnny races back into the action. He's in a rush, with no time to remove his asbestos bandages. I think we'll leave aside the incredible unlikelihood of a hospital having a stock of asbestos bandages just in case the Human Torch should happen to be admitted as a patient.

Instead, we'll as what would happen to Johnny's flight capabilities when his body is not fully flamed. When Johnny was shot by ZANTE during Strange Tales #106, his arm was unable to ignite. His flight was off-balance and he had to compensate for this, as well as flying slower. It's a little sad to see no acknowledgement of the struggles he would face with an arm not functioning properly, although an argument could be made that he has learned from his previous experience. As that would involve Johnny exhibiting signs of intelligence during the Strange Tales era, I would have to discount that argument.

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.

Fantastic Four #26: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 23

Fantastic Four #26, page 4, panel 3
Fantastic Four #26, page 4, panel 3

FANTASTIC FOUR #26: IT'S... ASBESTOS!!! 23

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

This is an exceedingly well-equipped hospital. As well as the asbestos screens, they also have a supply of asbestos pajamas, just in case they have a patient who can't stop being on fire.

Seriously, other than the possible risk of the Human Torch being admitted, why on earth would they be spending money on such a completely impractical and unnecessary piece of clothing?

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

Fantastic Four #26: It's... ASBESTOS!!! 22

Fantastic Four #26, page 3, panel 6
Fantastic Four #26, page 3, panel 6

fantastic four #26: it's... asbestos!!! 22

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

Luck often plays a big role in Silver Age Marvel comics. It was luck (and, apparently, Tony Stark) then ensured that Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk and didn't die when the gamma bomb exploded. It was luck that the super soldier serum kept Captain America alive in the freezing waters for 60-odd years. And it was luck that allowed a young Stanley Lieber to find gainful employment at Martin Goodman's publishing company. Oh, wait, no - that was nepotism.

In this comic, it's pure luck that, out of all of the hospitals in New York, Johnny is brought to the same one that Reed is currently being treated in. And it's surely got to be luck that the very same hospital just so happened to have a couple of asbestos screens lying around, just in case someone with control issues and the ability to non-lethally self-combust should require treatment.

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 #118: Flamin' 'Eck 40 / It's... ASBESTOS 21

Strange Tales #118, page 9, panel 3
Strange Tales #118, page 9, panel 3

strange tales #118: flamin' 'eck 40 / it's... asbestos!!! 21

Story: Stan Lee

Art: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

It's a two-fer, which is always fun. Kidnapped by The Wizard, Johnny and Sue find themselves trapped in a cell. Johnny manifests a guided fireball to orbit the room, looking for an air opening. Not only is this fairly silly, but the fireball exposes the fact that they are trapped in The Wizard's asbestos cell, previously seen in Strange Tales #102. Of course, in that comic, Johnny burst his way out of there, seemingly wrecking the joint, but I guess Bentley's been using some of his time since escaping from prison to rebuild and reinforce.

If you're wondering why Sue has a plastic bag over head, it's actually her force-field to protect her from the heat of the fireball. Of course, if there was no suitable air supply and the fireball was burning hotly enough to harm Sue, then the available oxygen in the room would have been consumed pretty quickly...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #118 on our twenty-fourth episode: An Enfant Terrible Is Not Literally A Terrible Infant

Strange Tales #117: It's... ASBESTOS 20

Strange Tales #117, page 10, panel 6
Strange Tales #117, page 10, panel 6

strange tales #117: it's... asbestos 20

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Art Simek

The Eel really isn't one of the classic Marvel villains. B- and C-list seems like too good a grade for him as well. He had the curious fortune to first appear in a story written by Jerry Siegel, but completely failed to make any impact in that story. In this follow-up, he does everything he can to goad the Human Torch, then reveals that he thinks he will be OK because he has covered his costume with asbestos grease. For a villain whose only unusual ability is to have a lubricated costume, it has to be said that introducing a fibrous substance to that lubrication seems like a particularly ridiculous move for him. Not only does it act as insulation against the electrical current which he has previously used to shock anyone who touches him, but it also reduces the lubrication of the grease.

Just prior to this moment, there was a particularly suspect moment where he embraced the Human Torch, reminding Johnny that he was a teenager whilst he was a grown adult. It's not a particularly compelling defence to the charges of pederasty...

Check our our coverage of Strange Tales #117 on our twenty-third episode: (Asbestos) Grease Is The Word

Fantastic Four #23: It's... ASBESTOS 19

Fantastic Four #23, page 11, panel 3
Fantastic Four #23, page 11, panel 3

fantastic four #23: it's... asbestos!!! 19

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

Told you! He's a nasty sort, that Maharaja, tricking adolescent males into getting into his car all whilst wearing ethnic clothes and having dark skin. If Johnny was responsible enough to go and vote, it's pretty certain that UKIP would be the part he chooses.

More impressively, the MaharajaMinion has managed to use a double-coating layer of asbestos on the car's bubble-dome without impacting on visibility at all.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #23 on our twenty-third episode: (Asbestos) Grease Is The Word

Fantastic Four #23: It's... ASBESTOS 18

Fantastic Four #23, page 7, panel 3
Fantastic Four #23, page 7, panel 3

fantastic four #23: it's... asbestos!!! 18

Written by: Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: George Roussos

Lettered by: S. Rosen

There are two wonderful things about this panel.

First off, the Fantastic Four have an asbestos rug. I'm sure this is both stylish and comfortable, and not in any way an ugly grey fibrous sheet that no-one wants to walk on without protective footwear.

Secondly, Ben has the cheek to call Johnny out for his temper tantrums. Whilst there could be a line drawn between Johnny's emotions and his spontaneous ignitions, it's very clearly Ben who has the anger management issues in this period of the Fantastic Four. I'm sure he's been responsible for more intentional destruction of items inside the Baxter Building than Johnny has!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #23 on our twenty-third episode: (Asbestos) Grease Is The Word

Strange Tales #114: It's... ASBESTOS 17

Strange Tales #114, page 17, panel 5 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inked by: Dick Ayers

Lettered by: S. Rosen

I'm not sure why Johnny should be so surprised that he has been outsmarted yet again - with the levels of intelligence he's previously displayed in Strange Tales, it's hardly surprising that one of his enemies has gained the upper hand. Of course, he probably wasn't expecting an asbestos-lined delivery truck.

Nobody expects an asbestos-lined delivery truck.

It's chief weapon is fear. Fear and surprise. It's two weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency. It's three weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to extinguishing fire.

Amongst its weaponry are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to extinguishing fire, and nice grey walls. Oh, damn...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #114 on our twentieth episode: The (Pre-Emptive) Return of Captain America (Secret Wars II Continues In This Episode)

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Fantastic Four Annual #1: It's... ASBESTOS 16

Fantastic Four Annual #1, page 7, panel 1 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

This isn't just any old asbestos netting.

With fibres hand-woven in a tradition stretching back generations, strengthened with the cutting edge technology of unstable molecules, and absolutely not carcinogenic in any way, this is the finest asbestos netting.

Asbestos netting. Reassuringly expensive.

And with that obscure reference to 1990s beer adverts shown in the United Kingdom out of the way, let's take a look at some of the alarming suggestions thrown out by this scene. Not that Reed has spent time devising various pulley-mounted restraining devices for his young friend. More that he appears to have installed theses pulley-mounted restraining devices in Sue's bedroom (as evidenced by the water damage to Sue's wardrobe later on the page).

That's pretty presumptuous!

Don't forget to let us know your feel-good Fantastic Four reading experiences!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four Annual #1 on our sixteenth episode: The Best Of Annuals, The Worst Of Annuals.

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Strange Tales #111: It's... ASBESTOS 15

Strange Tales #111, page 9, panel 4 Plot: Stan Lee

Story: H. Huntley

Art: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Harold

Earlier in the issue, the Asbestos Man claimed that his shield was made of iron, with no mention of asbestos. I guess someone re-thought this, as an iron shield would most likely have been melted into slag under an attack like this. So, we get the far more unlikely explanation that his shield is made of asbestos. Good at stopping fire, but probably fairly easy to punch into dust, which the Asbestos Man can inhale...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #111 on our fifteenth episode: Whence Came The Man of Asbestos

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