Fantastic Four #21 (12/10/1963)

untitled1.pngFantastic Four # 21 contains the story, “The Hate Monger,” which is about the villainous Hate Monger dousing the Fantastic Four with his H-Ray and having them fight against each other. Naturally, the Hate Monger also wants to take over the world. This issue also happens to be the first appearance the Hate Monger, as well as featuring an appearance of Sgt. Fury.

This issue is clearly a product of it’s time, which in this case would be the early 1960s. This time frame was a period of civil unrest in America, and Fantastic Four #21 is clearly a commentary on these issues. The Hate Monger has a H-Ray, which amplifies racial, class, and religious hatred of whoever it is fired upon. It is also pretty clear that Kirby was influenced by the Ku Klux Klan’s outfits when it came to designing the Hate Monger.

Admittedly, how Fantastic Four #21 tackles those issues is pretty tame, but I have to give them credit for at least attempting to within the pages of a comic book. The real identity of the Hate Monger is a pretty choice, which makes sense given the backgrounds of Kirby and Lee. Also, this issue is significant in that this is the first time there is a character to actually die on panel in a Fantastic Four comic, rather than their fate being assumed off panel and not shown, such as with the Puppet Master tripping and falling out the window.

Overall the theme of Fantastic Four #21 really doesn’t lend itself to feeling like a Fantastic Four story. However, this story is worth checking out just to see Kirby and Lee’s views on the unrest of the 1960s that was going on around them.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: George Roussos
  • Colourists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Fantastic Four #20 (11/10/1963)

detail28.jpgFantastic Four #20 features the story, “The Mysterious Molecule Man,” which features the first appearance of the Molecule Man. “The Mysterious Molecule Man,” centers around, as the name would suggest, the origins of the Molecule Man, who gains the powers to manipulate inorganic molecules when he is in an accident. This issue also features the Watcher, who is the one that actually warns the Fantastic Four of the impending danger.

“The Mysterious Molecule Man” is a fun origin story of a villain with interesting powers. Clearly, the Molecule Man is a threat worthy of the Fantastic Four. In addition, Kirby’s artwork does a good job of capturing the powers of the Molecule Man. The fight panels between the Molecule Man and the Fantastic Four are also well done. I also thought it was humorous that the Thing ended up being rescued by the dastardly Yancy Street Gang.

However this issue does have some downsides. Probably the biggest one is really the motivations of the Molecule Man. He’s upset that no one notices him, but somehow that leads him to wanting to conquer the world? I would think he’d rather just show off his powers or something. Also, I’m not quite sure if his powers are in the wand or if he just channels it through the wand, I’m thinking the later because the wand is deemed no longer dangerous.

Final Fantasy #20 is another classic Fantastic Four story that fans of the series or of Marvel Comics in general will enjoy.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists: Stan Goldberg
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Fantastic Four #19 (10/10/1963)

detail27Fantastic Four #19 features the story, “Prisoners of the Pharaoh,” which features the first appearance of Rama-Tut. “Prisoners of the Pharaoh,” centers around Reed Richards discovering on a trip to the museum that it appears that a pharaoh had discovered a way to restore blindness. Naturally this leads the Fantastic Four traveling back to ancient Egypt to find it to cure Alicia’s blindness.

I foundPrisoners of the Pharaoh,” to be an interesting story, mainly because it turns out that Rama-Tut is really a time-traveler from the years 3000 and had gone back in time to become pharaoh. The fact that Rama-Tut went back in time because he was bored of the utopia of his time was also an interesting tidbit. Also interesting is his ship was the sphinx. In addition, Rama-Tut has technology (Ultra-Diode Ray) that was able to sap the Fantastic Four’s powers.

On the flipside, a downside to the story is how the Fantastic Four end up traveling back in time. Apparently, Dr. Doom’s time machine has just been left in perfect working at his old hideout, which makes me wonder why someone wouldn’t have tried to get that technology before now, especially since it’s an actual time machine. In addition, the fact that there was a container labeledoptic nerve restorative” that Fantastic Four was kind of ludicrous. Also, I don’t remember the time machine not being able to transport radioactive material being mentioned in the previous issue featuring it.

In the end Fantastic Four #19 is a fun issue that captures the spirit of what makes for a good Fantastic Four story. In addition, it also does a good job of linking to previous events in the series, such as with Dr. Doom’s time machine.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists: Stan Goldberg
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Fantastic Four Annual #1 (07/02/1963)

untitledFantastic Four Annual #1: Sub-Mariner Versus the Human Race opens with Namor, having finally located his people, receiving his coronation as the rightful emperor of the Atlantis Empire. In addition, we’re introduced to Lady Dorma, who sees Namor as her true love, and Warlord Krang. who was previously promised Lady Dorma and would be in line for the throne. Meanwhile, Namor immediately continues his war against the humans by proclaiming that seven seas and the skies above them are off limits to humans and any kind of trespassing would lead to war.

Boy did this issue have so much potential, which it sadly never lives up to. At the beginning, with the introduction of Lady Dorma and Namor, there are hints of subplots introduced, such a potential love triangle and Krang trying to usurp Namor’s throne and trying to win back Lady Dorma. Unfortunately none of those things materialize at all. In addition, the pacing of this issue is just plain awful as things move at a break neck speed and the invasion is pretty much over in a couple of pages. Lame.

In fact, I think more time is spent on exploring the concurrent development of Homo mermanus alongside homo sapiens than there is to the actual invasion. However, I thought that this disposition was interesting. In addition, the technology and sea monsters are also excellently designed. Unfortunately there are also a lot of spares panel featuring no sort of background, which makes the characters feel like they are existing in a background.

In the end, this issue promises so much potential in its first couple of pages, but is unfortunately bogged down by pacing issues and a lack of fleshed out panels. In addition, there are about twenty pages(!!) of filler dedicated to villain bios and retelling of Spider-Man’s first encounter with the Fantastic Four. These pages could have gone a long way in improving the Namor story. This issue is also notable for being the first appearance of Warlord Krang and the first silver age appearance of Lady Dorma.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists: Glynis Wein (Oliver)
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Four #18 (09/10/1963)

detail26.jpgFantastic Four #18 contains the story, “A Skrull Walks Among Us.” This issue is also the first appearance of the Super Skrull. “A Skrull Walks Among Us” centers around the Skrull empire seeking revenge on the Fantastic Four for foiling their previous invasion attempt by sending an enhanced skrull with all of their powers after them.

“A Skrull Walks Among Us” is a fun story that does a good job of presenting the Super Skrull as a real threat to the Fantastic Four. This issue also has the Fantastic Four working as a team versus the typical style of having them attack a villain one at a time. In addition, once again Kirby’s artwork delivers solid action panels and the battle between the Super Skrull and the Fantastic Four is just gorgeous. Also the cover to this issue is also well-down and gives a real good sense of how much of a threat the Super Skrull is.

There are a few downsides to this issue. One of them would be the ending to the issue, which seems to me is a very unheroic ending when you think about the consequences of it. Also, I just had to laugh at the remote control public address system as a means to challenging the Super Skrull–ah the times before cellphones, huh?

Overall, Fantastic Four #18 contains the first appearance of a classic Fantastic Four villain in the Super Skrull, combined with fantastic fight panels and a fun story and you have an issue that everyone should read.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists: Stan Goldberg
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Fantastic Four #18 (08/10/1963)

detail25.jpgFantastic Four #17 features the story, “Defeated by Doctor Doom.” In this issue Dr. Doom continues to seek revenge on the Fantastic Four, as well as demanding a post in the Kennedy Administration. To set his plans in motion Dr. Doom kidnaps and holds Alicia, Ben’s girl, hostage.

“Defeated by Doctor Doom” is a fun story featuring Dr. Doom. In addition, in this story the Invisible Girl actually gets to do something other than actually get captured by somebody. I am pretty sure this is the first issue in which the Invisible Girl actually fights someone. Indeed, she also reveals that she has been trained in Judo. I have to say this was a fresh change of pace to what has been the norm for her character so far.

The story does have a couple of downsides, which are primarily just the product of its age. The whole Dr. Doom wanting a cabinet post just comes off as bizarre. Also there are a couple of cheesy lines, like when the missiles start going haywire someone says “It’s as though some evil genius tampered with every electric device.” I mean really, how would that person know that? In addition, why does the vehicle the Fantastic Four pilot has a giant

Fantastic Four #17 is an entertaining read, but there’s nothing particularly special about the story nor anything that adds to the overall Fantastic Four series. Still, if your a Fantastic Four fan then this issue is worth a read and you won’t be disappointed by the issue.

Rating:

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists: Stan Goldberg
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Fantastic Four #16 (07/16/1963)

detail24.jpgFantastic Four #16 features the story, “The Micro World of Doctor Doom.” This issue also features the first appearance of the Microverse, Princess Pearla, and the Lizard Men of Tok. In addition, this issue also features the first appearance of Ant-Man in the Fantastic Four series. In this issue, Dr. Doom has conquered the Princess Pearla’s home world and subsequently begins to randomly shrink the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four then seek out Ant-Man to assist them with solving this mystery, which eventually leads them to the microverse.

The story in Fantastic Four #16 is a pretty solid. I really enjoyed the concept of the microverse, a miniature universe underneath this one. The fact that Doctor Doom would conquer Princess Pearla’s home upon his arrival is no surprise to me. Also, having Ant Man show up in the Fantastic Four further helps to solidify the idea that there is an interconnected Marvel Universe. Also, the cover of Dr. Doom clutching the Fantastic Four in his hands is just awesome (although I could do without the weird, random magnifying glass over Ant-Man).

I really only have just one complaint with that issue and that is the fact that the Invisible Girl gets captured again and really isn’t involved in the fighting going on, which really is just a relic of the early ’60s.

Fantastic Four #16 is really a must read because it not only further expands the Marvel Universe by having Ant-Man show up, but also continues to expand upon the sci-fi and exploration elements of the Fantastic Four with the introduction of the microverse. Plus it has Doctor Doom, who is just a great villain that just makes pretty much any story better.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists: Stan Goldberg
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee