Amazing Spider-Man #6 (11/10/1963)

detail.jpgAfter featuring a Fantastic Four villain in the last issue, Amazing Spider-Man #6 features the first appearance of another classic villain, the Lizard. This issue opens with basically the Daily Bugle goading Spider-Man into facing off against the mysterious Lizard who is terrorizing the Everglades. Of course the only problem is that the fact that Spider-Man is really Peter Parker it means that he is too broke to be able to get down to Florida. It’s little problems like this, which cannot be solved with super powers, that make Spider-Man such an interesting series. Eventually, Spider-Man is able to basically beat J. Jonah Jameson at his own game and got him to pay for Peter Parker to photograph the Lizard.

Upon arriving down in Florida it’s not long before Spider-Man runs into the Lizard and has his butt promptly handed to him. Luckily, the Lizard isn’t just some generic villain who just wants to take over the world. In fact, the Lizard actually has an interesting backstory, as he is actually Dr. Curt Connors, a former surgeon who took up studying reptiles after he had lost his arm in the war. Unfortunately, Dr. Connors gets caught up in his quest to regrow his arm and takes his untested formula, which at first causes him to grow his arm back, but then comes the side effect of turning him into the Lizard.

Overtime, Dr. Connors begins to lose his humanity and becomes more and more reptilian. The Lizard is definitely a credible physical threat to Spider-Man, with him being stronger than Spider-Man, with a naturally thick hide, and the ability to scale walls as well. However, in addition to that, the Lizard has that extra layer of essentially being a good guy that’s trapped inside of a monster, which just makes the character that much more interesting. In addition, Ditko’s depiction of the Lizard is just fantastic as well. There’s just something about Ditko’s art style that works really well with Spider-Man.

The plot is well-paced and the confrontations with the Lizard actually taking place over three different occurrences, which is a nice break from the one big confrontation that is so common with Silver Age issues. That’s not to say there aren’t some issues with the story, such as gator guards and Spider-Man pontoons, they’re just so minor that they really don’t detract from the overall story. In the end, Amazing Spider-Man #6 is a fantastic read, that adds yet another interesting rouge to Spider-Man’s gallery. In addition, this issue continues to lay the groundwork of the relationship between Betty Brant and Parker.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Steve Ditko
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Steve Ditko
  • Colorists:
  • 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

Strange Tales #114 (11/10/1963)

detailStrange Tales #114, as the cover shows, features the return of Captain America or at least it would seem so to the reader back in 1963. However, pretty much every modern reader would know that Captain America made his reappearance in Avengers #4, which is still a few months off. Also, why would you open a story by basically stating that there is a twist coming at the end? That was just plain stupid. Anyways, our tale opens with the Human Torch doing his still incredibly goofy looking training when it is soon interrupted by his friends, who are excited to inform him that Captain America is coming to town. Naturally, the Human Torch was a big fan of Captain America back in the day and is curious to see what he’s been up to for all these years.

Unfortunately, that’s where the decent part of the story ends. Soon, the story descends quickly into that pure Silver Age cheese. It all begins with a pair of car thieves deciding that parade is the best time to steal a car, and that a tommy gun was also apparently necessary. Anyways, this clumsy event is used to have the Human Torch run into Captain America as they both leap into action to stop the criminals. This leads to Captain America informs the Human Torch that he’s getting in his way and to stay out of it. Naturally, this causes the Human Torch to become butt hurt.

The next scene is where the story comes completely off the wheels, with Captain America breaking out the criminals so that they can be decoys while he robs the bank. Now, why wouldn’t he had just done that the first time around? It seriously makes zero sense. In addition, as is way to common in this series, the Human Torch’s powers are way too inconsistent. For example, he’s taken out by a mop, but a few panels latter he’s able to basically blow out the seams of an asbestos lined truck? And don’t get me started on that truck as a plot device.

In the end, the main thing going for this story was its surprise surrounding the apparent return of Captain America, which unfortunately is no longer available to hold this story up. Take that away and you basically have story that is pretty pointless and adds nothing to the Human Torch as a character or any new elements to his story.

This issue also sees the return of Dr. Strange, as he once again must battle the dreaded Baron Mordo. The story opens with Dr. Strange being called by someone claiming to be Lord Bentley in need of help. Naturally, Dr. Strange leaps to action to give assistance and quickly springs a trap laid by Baron Mordo. What ensues is an interesting mystic art battle that has a number of gaping holes. Probably the biggest one is Baron Mordo goes straight up Bond villain and decides to leave the room so that Dr. Strange can escape the trap. In addition, the ending just made zero sense and makes what proceeded it make zero sense. Still, this story is definitely better than the Human Torch story.

Rating: 2.5/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers, Steve Ditko
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors: Stan Lee

 

Journey Into Mystery #93 (06/10/1963)

detailWar erupts between India and China and apparently India is getting their butts handed to them. Luckily for them, Dr. Blake is there lending medical aid and thus Thor soon makes an appearance to assist with taking out the incoming Chinese army. Having their advance ground to a halt due to Thor, the Chinese leadership turn to their scientists to come up with a solution. Luckily for them Chen Lu has been working with radiation and has found a way to harness its power and thus turns himself into Radioactive Man. Will Thor be able to counter this new threat?

A couple of pluses in this issue, with the first one being Thor catching a missile with his bare hand was pretty badass. The second is that Radioactive Man potentially could be a pretty interesting villain. Unfortunately, the way this issue wraps up kind of negates his potential a bit. In addition, the whole X-ray device was just horrible. In addition, another hypnotizing angle? Seriously? Talk about an overused plot device in these early issues.

In the end Journey Into Mystery #93 has potential that is never fully realized due to the mishandling of Radioactive Man. However, it’s still worth a read as it is far from the worst Thor story up to this point.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Editor:
  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Ray Holloway

Tales to Astonish #43 (05/10/1963)

detail12Tales to Astonish #43 features another not so astonishing Ant-Man tale. After seeing the cover proclaim that Ant-Man would be facing the Mad Master of Time I was really hopefully that he would finally be getting an awesome villain, what I got was Professor Elia Weems. Professor Weems is fired from his job due to being too old and therefore decides to take revenge on the city by making a ray gun that will make everybody old unless they make him the boss of the city.

I mean really Professor Weems’ plan makes no sense to me. Why is he going after the entire city? Seems to me that if he wanted to get revenge he would go after the boss of the company or the board or something. I’m not sure how going after people who no nothing of his humiliation is going to satisfy his revenge. Also, he hardly comes off as a mad master of time and so the wait for an actual good villain continues.

If you didn’t already know, let me also tell you that these issues also have two back up stories that have nothing to do with Ant-Man or the larger Marvel Universe, really. The first of these stories, “Frankie’s Fast Ball,” is a pretty bland story about Frankie, who has a really, really fast fastball. The second story, “My Fatal Mistake,” is also a bland story, that you can see the outcome coming from a mile a way when a man seeks vengeance on the computer that replaced him. Also, it was pretty funny seeing the room sized computer while reading this on my laptop (man have computers come far)!

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Editor:
  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Ray Holloway

 

Fantastic Four #11 (02/10/1962)

detail19.jpgFantastic Four #11 features the story “The Impossible Man,” as well as a story that answers fan mail letters. Fantastic Four # 11 is the first appearance of the Impossible Man. The story centers around an alien, the Impossible Man, basically vacationing on earth and causing all kinds of mischief due to his ability to transform his body into basically anything. As a result the story definitely has a lot of slapstick and the stakes are pretty low, but it’s still a fun read. Also enjoyable is Kirby’s design for the Impossible Man, which really conveys the whimsical nature of the character.

The downside to this issue is that there is a pretty big section of the issue dedicated to the Fantastic Four members answering fan mail. While it offers some interesting insight into the background of Reed and Ben’s first meeting, it really is another one of those breaking the fourth wall sessions that simply just don’t work in this series. In addition, “The Impossible Man,” while a fun story does nothing to add to the overall Fantastic Four series. I mean it’s basically one giant story of tag, with the Fantastic Four trying to catch the Impossible Man.

Therefore, while Fantastic Four #11 is a completely average issue. The story is enjoyable, however if you skip this issue you’re not going to miss anything with regards to series progression. In fact, unless you’re a huge fan of the Impossible Man, there’s not much to be had in this issue.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

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

Fantastic Four #6 (09/01/1962)

untitledFantastic Four #6 features the story “Diabolic Duo Join Forces,” which is divided into five parts: “Captives of the Deadly Duo,” “When Super-Menaces Unite,” “When Friends Fall Out,” Trapped” and “The End or the Beginning.” This issue sees Dr. Doom and Namor team up to take on their common enemies, the Fantastic Four. This issue also features a couple of firsts. It’s the first mention of the Baxter Building, which previously was just simply known as the Fantastic Four’s secret headquarters. In addition, this is the first repeat appearance of a villain in the series and it is also the first villain team up in the series.

Overall I would say the story is pretty good. It does a good job of highlighting the differences between Dr. Doom and Namor and really illustrates that while Dr. Doom is a megalomaniac, Namor is more conflicted due to the destruction of his homeland. In addition, the issue does a good job on further the relationship between Sue Storm and Namor and starting to set the ground works for the love triangle that would develop in the future between Sue, Reed, and Namor. On the flipside, there are parts of the story that either are problematic or just simply don’t work. Probably the biggest issue is just the whole idea of lifting a building into space and throwing it into the sun. In addition, the whole Dr. Doom catching a ride on a meteor is just plain silly.

Beyond the novelty of the repeat appearances and team up of Dr. Doom and Namor, there’s not much else to recommend to this issue. The story is serviceable, but is definitely a product of the ’60s and is just cheesy by today’s standards. Still, if you’re a fan of the Fantastic Four, I would say that Fantastic Four #6 is worth a read; otherwise it’s a safe issue to skip.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

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