Tales to Astonish #51 (01/10/1964)

detail21The last issue of Tales to Astonish ended with the Human Top stating that he needed to get rid of Giant-Man and the Wasp permanently and it then shows him running with a stick of dynamite. Well apparently by the time Tales to Astonish #51 comes around the Human Top has apparently forgotten that plan (although he still has the dynamite, which he then uses to blow up a boat). Well Giant Man and the Wasp be able to stop the Human Top from doing whatever he is planning to do?

Unfortunately the story in this issue is a hot mess. This is mainly because the motives of the Human Top are vague as heck. He blows up a boat to use as a distraction, but it’s unclear for what. As best as I can tell he uses it to steal federal defense plans, which apparently was a trap set by Giant Man, but it’s hard to tell because none of the setup is shown. This in the end makes it really confusing because there’s no connection made. In addition, how the heck did the Giant-Man and Wasp fans find out where they were? I mean that seriously came out of nowhere and made no sense.

While this issue also features the traditional backup stories, the first one was presented as a story the Wasp was telling a group of people, which was a nice touch. The first story, “Somewhere Waits a Wobbow,” which gives a whole new meaning to fool‘s gold and is entertaining for what it is. The second story, “No Place to Turn,” is about another attempted alien invasion of earth and is a pretty lame story.

Rating: 2.5/5.0

Creators:

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

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

Journey Into Mystery #98 (11/10/1963)

bbJourney Into Mystery #98 sees the fallout from Jane Foster leaving Dr. Blake’s practice in the last issue. Thus, this issue open up with Thor basically throwing a temper tantrum before being summoned by Odin for what really was a pointless encounter. After Dr. Blake decides that he needs to take a vacation, the scene shifts to India and the lab of Professor Shecktor, where he and his assistant about discover the antidote for a snake bite. Apparently, his assistant decides he wants to take credit for the discover himself and decides to get a cobra to bite him and the professor, but only he will be able to take the antidote in time. I’m not really sure why Klaus thought that such a discovery would be a big deal or why he needed such a complex plot.

Anyways, it turns out the snake was radioactive and thus that factor, combined with the antidote he took, causes him to gain the powers of a cobra. Unfortunately after this point the story falls completely apart, starting with Thor arriving to Professor Shecktor’s side, who he knows naturally, and he’s informed of Klaus’ deeds and that Klaus is basically a worthless con. However, flash forward to when Thor actually catches up to him and the Cobra has basically developed his own stingers, indestructible cord, and gas canisters. Not too bad for a worthless con.

Probably the biggest problem with this issue is that the Cobra just does not come off as ever being an actual threat to Thor. He’s just not in his league in anyway. In addition, another fault with this issue is that the resolution between Jane and Dr. Blake occurs way too fast and it occurs out-of-sight, which I can’t fathom why they did that. In addition, to the main story, there’s another short story featuring Tales from Asgard, which features Odin taking on Ymir, the frost giant. This story was entertaining for what it was, but it’s way too short to have too much depth to it. Still, Odin splitting a mountain is just badass.

In the end, Journey Into Mystery #97 is an entertaining read, with villain that feels out of place and a really poor ending. Also, I can’t tell, but it looks like the Cobra basically flies at one point. Maybe not, but that’s sure what it looks like, which doesn’t help things in regards to resolution of the conflict.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors:

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 #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