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Fantastic Four

Unearthed: Fantastic Four #3

Well well well, look what the cat dragged in! … … Me. It’s me. The cat overwhelmed me, I was helpless before her. Anyway, today we’re looking at Fantastic Four #3, but this one’s actually a bit different than the usual Stan Lee nonsense… there’s some drama and mystery! Let’s get to it:

The skyscraper’s secret is that it’s rent-controlled.

So if I can float in the air, I can do anything. And the bar for calling something a ‘miracle’ is awfully low here. I’d also like to point out that there’s no credit here for the letterer or colorist, or even editor. Pretty sure Kirby isn’t coloring his own work, but he probably is inking himself.

Typical recap section for new readers, but here’s a cool thing that only comics does: as you can see from the first and second panels, we’re looking at the same scene, divided in time by the panel gutters. That’s the essence of comic books: presenting temporal space using physical space.

But in this sequence, Sue and Reed are inhabiting the same space, so Kirby is playing with both time and space here. It’s a neat trick that only comics can pull off. Alan Moore uses it to great effect in many of his later work, too.

Why is the Thing still bothering to wear clothes? Does he not realize that a gigantic lumbering person wearing heavy clothes, hat, sunglasses, and a scarf to completely hide their face is just as suspicious and threatening to the average passerby as what he actually looks like? And hey: the FF isn’t a secret. The world knows they exist. So why cover up? Don’t want people to see you? Just don’t go outside, I reckon.

Sorry, I’m being insensitive to the… rock… enabled.

This is a hilarious expression.

“It’s time for me to take this dramatic flashlight off the floor!”

Man, Kirby’s expressions are KILLING IT in this issue.

When I was a kid I LOVED these cut-way panels. As a broad characterization, boys love functionality. They love things that DO something. So seeing the potential of all these rooms and technology would always send me into flights of imagination where I invented all kinds of crazy adventures.

Once again, Kirby draws the coolest monsters.

This issue features the first costumes. And though Sue says “colorful”, they’re really all just blue.

But! Something to note: superheroes typically have unique costumes that identify themselves. Here, the FF have actual uniforms that show they’re part of a team with a unified look. There’s something to this that makes the FF different from other superhero teams… they’re not just heroes fighting crime, they’re an organization dedicated to exploring and uncovering mysteries, like the Challengers of the Unknown (which we’ll get to sooner or later!). They’re science-based, so their use of uniforms makes sense, in ways that other hero outfits don’t.

Sue was ahead of her time with her unisex outfits. But that helmet for the Thing… kick it to the curb, sister!

It’s fascinating to go back to these old issues and see Kirby’s work evolve. Compare this panel to anything in the Avengers issues we’ve already covered. The texture on the monster’s legs ALONE is far advanced.

It was really nice of the Miracle Man to format his note to perfectly fit the angle with which the Commissioner is holding it.

Also, apparently the FF work for the Commissioner now?

Reed fights monsters and superhumans, and he’s taken out by one guy with a brick. HE HAS A RUBBER SKULL.

This also reminds me of the old Superman black and white show, in which Supes would stand there as a gangster drills him with bullets, but once the bullets run out and the gangster THROWS the gun at him, Superman DUCKS.

You know, it’s bad when the Commissioner is angry with you, but it’s so much worse when he’s disappointed.

Got to… fight it… must… warn… others…

… DAD?!

SISTERS ARE DOIN’ IT FOR THEMSELVES

Recap: Sue creates an outfit for the Thing, only to have him rip it off himself “so I can move!” He actually rips it off. And now here he is in ANOTHER uniform? He hates them! Why is he wearing another one?

Also: holy cats, that lamp.

“Guys! Guys! C’mon! I bet the AVENGERS don’t fight like this!”

“Unless Hawkeye’s on the team.”

“… okay.”

Marvel Presents: Amazing Emotional Adventures, Issue 5!

Okay, but… why not just hold a damn gun on them from the start? Why’s it gotta be a novelty oversized key? How’s that help ANYTHING?

Also, you KNOW you can’t hurt the Thing, and Mister Fantastic’s body is made of rubber, essentially… although, you did take him out with a BRICK, earlier, so…

Okay, what? When did he do THAT? Man, the unnecessary things Lee puts into his scripts.

You know, there was just an inventiveness to the older comics that you just can’t get anymore. You’d never see Reed do this these days.

Johnny, you just MELTED HER EYES FROM THEIR SOCKETS.

This is kind of a cool reveal, but… what about the cars that swerved out of the way and crashed, reacting to the giant monster? What about the soldiers who fired actual ammunition into it? What’d THEY hit? Not to mention whatever the Thing and the Torch destroyed while pursuing it?

The FF walk off into the sunset, laughing, while New York burns behind them.

Jeez, Reed, the Miracle Man took him out really easily earlier with chemical foam. That too tough for your big brain to handle?

And that’s it for the Fantastic Four… for NOW. Monday we’ll be back with a new title! What’ll it be… Marvel? DC? Something else entirely? Tune in and find out, True Believers!

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