This week we take another look back at the Fantastic Four and another small run within opening #1-67 run of this fabulous book. This is part four if you are counting.
Stories by Stan Lee, awesome art by jolly Jack Kirby, with inking chores spread amongst Chic Stone, Vince Colletta, and Dick Ayers.
We’ll start by meeting a Dragon of sorts at school…
Fantastic Four #35
Calamity on the campus!
The Fantastic Four arrive at State University, Reed’s old alma mater to give a speech to the students. The FF meet the students, play a little football, and tour the facilities. Along the way, they meet Professor Xavier and Scott Summers who are undercover looking for potential mutants at State U. Peter Parker is checking out State U as well as a potential school when he graduates from high school. Johnny Storm dislikes Peter Parker almost as much as his Human Torch persona dislikes Spider-Man. Peter Parker/Spider-Man feels the same way about him. Marvel spends a lot of time in their early super-hero days of weaving these chance meetings between other characters in the Marvel Universe into storylines to great effect. It helped make it a tight-knit universe.
Once all the pleasantries are past the real story begins. Diablo the Alchemist returns (first seen in FF#30) and tracks down the FF to State University seeking revenge on the Fantastic Four. He meets a Dr. Gilbert a State U. professor who has made a lifeless but very real looking android Dragon. Diablo see’s his instrument of destruction in the Dragon and with the use of alchemy brings the Dragon to life. A battle ensues with the FF, but soon the Dragon Man see’s that Diablo is a bad guy and chases him out on to Dead Mans Lake. They both fall through the ice on the lake and are swept away in the undertow. They both live of course and return to torment the FF in the near future. Before the Fantastic Four Leave State U., Reed proposes to Sue on the University’s lover’s lane. They will be married within the year (in Fantastic Four Annual #3).
Fantastic Four #36
The Frightful Four!
Reed and Sue are busy announcing their engagement to the press. It’s getting pretty syrupy here. Just before I go into diabetic shock the scene switches to the formation of a new super-villain team – The Frightful Four! The Wizard, Sandman, and Paste-Pot-Pete have all joined together to form a deadly team. These guys have a connection to the Fantastic Four via the Human Torch and his series – Strange Tales. They are however waiting for a fourth member the Wizard has potentially recruited and she finally arrives – The mysterious Madame Medusa with gorgeous red living hair. The team is set for an attack on the Fantastic Four who are blissfully unaware of this new danger. They are busy hosting an engagement party at the Baxter building with the X-Men and Avengers in attendance. What No Hulk! No Spider-Man! Well Spidey does show up just long enough to pinch a piece of cake. As the party breaks up the Frightful Four arrive and quickly subdue The Thing, Reed & Sue. Alicia Masters get’s off a distress signal before she too is captured. Johnny Storm is out working on a hot rod and see’s the signal and flames on. The Frightful Four have knocked out the three remaining members of the FF and attached them to a string of the Wizards anti-gravity discs. He activates the discs and they begin floating into space and certain death. The Torch arrives and forces the Wizard to fly his ship in to space and save the day. It’s a close call but the Torch arrives in time to save the balance of the team and Alicia Masters. A very short battle follows with the Frightful Four in full retreat. Sue and the rest of the Fantastic Four know this is just the beginning of their troubles with this group of baddies.
Fantastic Four #36 gets the most love from Overstreet of books we are covering here today. The first appearance of Medusa who we find out later is from a race of Inhumans is the big draw here. Medusa eventually leaves the Frightful Four and begins her somewhat reluctant return to the Inhumans in the pages of Fantastic Four #44.
Fantastic Four #37
Behold! A distant star!
Sue Storm is still troubled by the death of her father at the hands of the Skrulls (Fantastic Four #32) and wants to see the guilty Skrull held accountable. Run Reed Run! This Sue Storm gal looks like she will be a pretty high-maintenance wife. This isn’t a room re-decorating job, Sue wants to go to outer space, to a far away galaxy and ask an alien race for justice for her dead father. No problem for Reed Richards and the rest of the Fantastic Four. They board a spaceship and they are on their way galaxy hopping. Meanwhile at the Skrull empire the warlord Morrat and the King’s daughter are having a lover’s quarrel of their own. The King refuses to grant a marriage between the two. The King does not trust Morrat as well he shouldn’t if he values his crown. The Fantastic Four arrive and a battle between Morrat’s men and the FF is on. The good guys are winning when the King and his men arrive. The King is furious and wants to charge Morrat with treason. He challenges the King and as the King fires upon Morrat, his daughter jumps into the line of fire. Morrat is killed, the daughter is not. Sue’s invisible force field saves her. Reed asks for justice and the man who killed Sue’s father. The King replies that justice has been served, Morrat was the guilty party. The Fantastic Four return to earth, just in time for a rehearsal with the minister for Reed and Sue’s wedding…
I often wondered why the Skrulls were not featured on the cover of issue’s #32 and #37, two pretty pedestrian covers.
Fantastic Four #38
Defeated by the Frightful Four!
Our story begins with the usual playful roust about that takes place within this team. The Human torch heads out and just misses seeing the Wizard. The Frightful Four are about to return. They all have snazzy matching purple uniforms. Paste-Pot-Pete has turned into the Trapster (know where near as much fun as P-P-P). The team is in turmoil and wants to select a new leader but the Wizard quickly squelches that idea. The next day Sue Storm is quickly abducted from a dress shoppe by Medusa and the rest of the Frightful Four. This time a full-blown battle between the two teams ensues at the Frightful Four home base where Sue is being held captive. The Fantastic Four find Sue, but the Frightful Four have escaped leaving their base rigged to explode with an atomic blast. The blast occurs and the FF are left floating unconscious in Sue’s invisible force field. The Thing is reverting to normal Ben Grimm as this issue comes to an end.
Fantastic Four #39
A blind man shall lead them!
The Fantastic Four are brought aboard a ship and taken to the infirmary. They are trying desperately not to panic but all four members of the team have lost their powers in the atomic blast that happened last issue. They feel very vulnerable to attack. Reed tries building suits that will mimic their powers in a warehouse down the street from the Baxter building. We switch scenes to Latveria home of Doctor Doom, still basking in the glory of his defeat of Reed Richards in Fantastic Four Annual #2. A hypnotist is performing tricks at the castle and Doom is growing tired of the act. The hypnotist discovers Doom himself has already been hypnotized and the spell is removed. Doctor Doom realizes he has been tricked by Reed Richards and goes postal. Vowing death to the Fantastic Four he leaps to his ship and is off. Back at the warehouse lawyer Matt Murdock (alias Daredevil) has arrived. Reed Richards wants to make certain his scientific research gets to the US government in the event of an untimely demise. Matt knows something is horribly wrong and just then they are attacked. Matt uses the explosion as a way of changing in to Daredevil. They quickly see who their antagonist is – Doctor Doom from inside the Baxter building. He throws weapon after weapon at them. With the aid of Daredevil the powerless Fantastic Four manage to evade each volley. Doctor Doom soon figures out that the Fantastic Four are powerless and decides to toy with them. Daredevil becomes a decoy for the Fantastic Four as they try to work their way to the Baxter building as this issue comes to an end.
Fantastic Four #39-40 are a bit of a showcase for the new “red” Daredevil who was at issue #8-9 when these books were produced.
Fantastic Four #40
The battle of the Baxter building
Doctor Doom continues to toy with the Fantastic Four as they try to advance on the Baxter building. Daredevil is the first to make it into the building and confront Doctor Doom. Daredevil puts on a great exhibition of dodgeball against an opponent in which he is severely outmatched (not unlike Daredevil #7 – only worse). Doctor Doom crushes Daredevil’s hands and wrist but DD has bought the time the Fantastic Four needed to get back into the building. Reed has a gizmo that can turn back on everyone’s powers. He saves the last blast for the Thing. Ben Grimm doesn’t want to turn back into the Thing, but Reed really doesn’t give him a choice and fires away. Ben Grimm slowly reverts into the Thing. The last six pages of this book are a full hand to hand/gizmo battle The Thing versus Doctor Doom. The fighting mad Thing wins the battle decisively but announces he is quitting the Fantastic Four at the end of the book. A story for another day as this run comes to an end.
The 46th Overstreet Price guide values for the books covered today are listed below.
|Fantastic Four 35, 37-40||$66||$154||$340||$525|
|Fantastic Four 36||$138||$359||$805||$1250|
Marvel comics may not publish the Fantastic Four as a comic right now but you can never go wrong looking back at these Kirby/Lee classics while you wait for them to come back!
Here is wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas!!
Wally Wood inked just Daredevil in Fantastic Four 39-40.
Yes he did Scott. Easy to see if you look at Woods DD #8 & #9. Daredevil had so many different artists and inker’s in his early days. Gene Colan’s run is the one that sticks with me, he was Daredevil’s artist when I started collecting.
I’ve often thought the Wood connection alone would be a major draw for that FF/Daredevil crossover, largely because of his previous collaborative work with Jack, especially on the Skymasters newspaper strip that sadly only lasted about a year and a half. Throw in the Challengers of the Unknown, and Wood’s creation of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and you’ve got a pretty good hybrid of talent along with Jack and Chic Stone, who also did great inks over of Jack’s pencils on Captain America. One of the coolest bits of trivia I have ever heard about Challengers is the fact that Roz Kirby pitched in on the inking chores. And remember…
“Jack Kirby doesn’t really have a place in comic history.
Jack Kirby kind of IS comic history.”
My mouth got ahead of my brain. It was the great Syd Shores I was thinking about on the Cap. It just shows to go you. You can’t always trust a geek’s fondest memories.
One of my fondest memories of this arc was Frank. Giaocia’s first time inking Jack on the FF. One of my favorite Jack and Frank collaborations was on FF Annual #5. I love that issue. I have never been A Chick Stone Fan but the pics attached in this post are really quite nice!
Mel, that Spymasters strip may have been short, but it was certainly sweet.The Kirby/Wood combo worked well on both if them.
Sheesh – I missed Frank Giacoia and Wally Wood in my opening inking credits!
Wally Wood didn’t receive any actual artistic credit for his work on the Fantastic Four #39 & 40, in the comic books I read for this review. The Daredevil work is however clearly his. Thanks for comments Mel & Dennis.
Thanks for this early Christmas gift Mike 🙂
FF # 35 may be my all time favorite…..they seemed like a family…the tie in to a school and its Past to Reed and Ben and the wonderful fantasy of Dragonman and Diablo the Alchemist. Dragonman’s eventually became very protective of Sue Storm and I really enjoyed this element too.
Later on I loved the Frightful four and consider them one of Marvels best evil teams.
Ben Grimm’s Johnny’s and Wyatt Wingfoot’s later relationship with Lockjaw the Giant like Bulldog also evoked fondness, as I think pets were an important part of most young readers lives.
In fact, DC did a great job of this as Pooch, Rex, Krypto ,Super cat and super monkey et al evoked similar affection. Still,Jack Kirby brilliant artist and creator. Stan Lee a decent editor and dialogue man.
I too have been a fan of FF#35 for a long time. There is a lot going on in this book as you pointed out, and they are indeed a very endearing team. I think it was books like this one that really made you care what happened to this group month in – month out, and made so many long term fans of this team. You never got cheated with a Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four comic. Thanks Dave, have a great holiday.
As someone who knows very little about new comics, I didn’t realize that Fantastic Four is not currently in publication until Mike mentioned it here. Wow… Marvel’s first superhero title, and there were times during its initial 30 years that it was likely the best. What does this say about today’s Marvel? Are they looking for a new creative team for the title?
I think the FF cancellation has more to do with Fox owning the movie rights and Marvel’s sour grapes. Killing the first family of Marveldom is one of the stupidest ideas ever to come out of the so-called House of Ideas. It played a major role in this old Marvel veteran’s decision to turn my back on the modern Marvel Universe almost completely. If I want a Marvel fix these days, I go back to my old collection and revel in the real Golden Age of comics: Marvel in the ’60s. Especially the FF!
As I understand it, Marvel does not seem to want to support characters they do not own the movie rights to with comic books. I don’t know of any plans to bring it back right now but I am certain they will at some point in the future. It doesn’t say anything good about Marvel comics today. I still count ourselves lucky though with the abundance of wonderful books already produced. When I re-read these books for an Arcs & Runs post I am blown away by just how good these books are (and how much I had forgotten!). Always good hearing from you Eric. Have a great holiday!
Thanks to all their restarts, and rapid multiplication of titles for the characters now in movie theatres (look at the proliferation of Doctor Strange titles at the moment), the money-making machine that is Marvel today has taken over the artistic and genuine entertainment values that used to drive our favourite heroes in favour of new number ones and multiple crossovers to part fans from their hard-earned dollars. Sadly, and this may just be the old fart in me talking, I think Marvel’s glory days are behind them.
Excelsior? Not so much anymore. Nuff said.
Thanks Mike & Mel for your responses & thoughts. And Happy New Year to you!
Sigh… So many unfortunate decisions have resulted from the greed of some corporation. I’m not saying all corporations are evil, but executives of public companies feel tremendous pressure to focus on profit above all else. And that mindset often becomes a major detriment to quality, creativity, or both. But Mel, to be fair, Stan never called it the “House of GOOD Ideas”. 🙂
After your great posts, I did some research and refreshed my memory on recent Marvel history. Of course they were purchased by The Disney Corporation a few years back. And, well…. Even Walt Disney’s vivid imagination would never have conjured up some of the crazy things that have transpired in the Wonderful World of Disney in recent history. This was not exactly Walt’s vision.
So when a company sells a commodity (like Fantastic Four movie rights) to the competition, then they in no way support or promote that product any longer. Forget what the customers or fans want. That is irrelevant to the profit model, and can require actions (like working collaboratively with other companies) that are too radical and too risky for shareholders if they don’t all work to perfection and make a fortune.
Anyway, I am ranting… Just sad that we see things like this that go against everybody’s common sense and best judgement. Of course the Fantastic Four has a huge comic audience and should still be in publication, so whatever it takes to make that happen should be happening. When we see common sense and public opinion being ignored, then of course we have a bitter reaction.
On a positive note, the Marvel Universe movies have largely been very good, and have brought new kids & adults to comics as well as renewing the interest of some former hobbyists. So let’s just enjoy what’s out there and trust that the FF will have a strong comeback someday.