The last time I did a comprehensive FF re-read I stopped with the last of the Kirby issues (or rather the first two of the four Romita issues that wrapped up the story). That brings me up to Fantastic Four #105. John Romita was as humble to take over Fantastic Four for the King in 1970 as he had been to take over Spider-Man from Steve Ditko in 1966. He didn't feel qualified in either case, as did his best to draw in their respective styles both times. Why Stan Lee didn't assign Joe Sinnott to ink I have no idea, but #103-105 were inked by John Verpoorten. 

#105 opens with the Thing, Johnny and Crystal enjoying some hot dogs from a street vendor, when suddenly the city is wracked by a series of explosions. Crystal unexpectedly collapses, and Johnny flies her back to the Baxter Building to seek Reed Richards' help. Meanwhile, Sue has been shopping and finds herself closer to the source of the mysterious explosions. She goes to the street to find Dr. Zoltan Rambow, a colleague of Reed's, pursuing an energy being.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed has diagnosed Crystal as having an adverse reaction to the pollution she has no resistance to and says she must return to the Inhumans' Great Refuge or die. Reed has also discovered, in Crystal's DNA, what he thinks can be a cure to the thing's condition. Summoning Lockjaw, Crystal quickly says her goodbyes and departs immediately for the Great Refuge. Johhny flies off in frustration and soon comes upon his sister in conflict with the energy being. Sue cannot leave the conflict, but urges her brother to get Reed and Ben. Johnny returns to the Baxter Building only to find Reed at a critical juncture in his attempt to cure Ben.

CLIFFHANGER: Reed must choose between the life of his wife and that of his best friend.

It is widely accepted that Jack Kirby plotted most if not all of the Fantastic Four stories. I have generally come to the conclusion that if Stan Lee is credited with "script" that Jack Kirby provided the plot (or at least co-plotted). The credits for this issue list Stan Lee "story" and John Romita "illustration." #105 is one of the most densely-plotted and action-packed issues in a long time (the Sub-Mariner/Magneto conflict notwithstanding). Jack Kirby certainly didn't have anything to do with this issue. I think just because Stan Lee hadn't been regularly plotting Fantastic Four for some time doesn't mean he couldn't

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I joined the board in 2012 which is (yikes!) 9 years ago. Doesn't seem that long.


Philip Portelli said:

btw, I know that Marvel does but does anyone here consider Cage a former FF member?

I consider Luke Cage to be a former employee of Fantastic Four, Inc. 

It's like the band Kiss. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are all founding members, but Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr, etc. are all employees with no say in band decisions. 

Ben Grimm got his trunks in a twist because Power Man accepted a paycheck. (It was a plot point.) Personally, I don't see what the big deal is. Would you do that job for free? (Incidentally, it was revealed that Luke Cage donated most of his check to charity.) 

Regarding that paycheck -- exactly how were Ben & Johnny in particular earning money?  Were they both so independently wealthy when they got their super-powers that earning money wasn't a concern for them at all? Or, ahem, were they also earning paychecks from Reed for being part of his quartet?  Of course, they did get free room and board at the Baxter Building, courtesy of Reed's fortune, but as neither were shown to have actual outside jobs, aside from the brief time Ben worked for the Pegasus Project, they must have been getting some pocket money somehow and they wouldn't have been expected to give it away to charity.  After all, police, fire department and military personnel all get paid for their service and no one looks down on them for that or expects them to give all their earnings away to charity -- and if they did, they'd be among the ones needing charity!  The Power-Man storyline would have been a good place for Roy to address that particular issue, rather than having Ben go bonkers over, "he's getting paid for this????" which struck me as rather wrong.  Of course, all this also goes for other teams with members with no apparent outside income, such as the X-Men or most of the Avengers from issue 16 on.  Just idle musings.

Current members of the Avengers can choose to receive a weekly stipend. At one point it was $1,000 a week!

I'm assuming that Johnny, Ben and Sue get similar benefits as part of Fantastic Four, Inc.

"At one point it was $1,000 a week!"

Yeah, I wouldn't be too excited about that. A grand a week sounded like a boatload of money to me when I was in high school, but that's only $52,000 a year. Admittedly I didn't make that much my first job out of college, but my job didn't involve potentially fighting Galactus, either. 

MMW V17 (#176-192) (If that sounds like a lot of issues, two of them are reprints):

Written by (primarily) Roy Thomas and Len Wein and drawn by (primarily) George Perez.

#176: This is an issue many of you will have read, if not in its original periodical form, then one of the many time it has been reprinted over the years. It's a silly little farce of a tale in which the Impossible Man runs amok through the Marvel offices. I suspect the reason editors like to reprint this story so often is that it features so many Marvel staffers in the bullpen: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, George Perez, Gerry Conway. Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Archie Goodwin, John Verpoorten and John Romita among them. Whereas I have never numbered this issue among my favorites (and never will), I don't dislike it as much as I used to. 

#175 was my first issue of FF.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

MMV v16 (#164-174 & Annual #11 + Marvel Two-In-One #20 & Annual #1):

This volume is by Roy Thomas and George and George Perez (primarily). 

I completed my collection of Fantastic Four in the '80s, but reading this volume reminds me that a accumulated the backissues piecemeal

#164-165: This two-parter features Crusader, the former Marvel Boy (one of them, anyway) of the '50s. I was right on hand when Marvel Man (Marvel Boy/Crusader's successor, later Quasar) debuted in Captain America and soon crossed over to Hulk, but it was collecting the "Project: Pegasus" story (as backissues) which led me to seek out #164-165. Marvel Boy first appeared in six issues of Marvel Boy and Astonishing from '51/'52 (also collected in MMW format), and these two issues make a great epilogue to those. #164 is also the first appearance of the torch's latest girlfriend, Frankie Raye (named for a former pseudonym of Frank Giacoia). She freaks out the first time she sees Johnny burst into flames, but it will be some time before we find out why

#166-167: The Incredible Hulk was still my "first favorite character" at the time of this guest appearance (between #194 and #195 of his own title) and I certainly would have bought it at the time had I seen it, but I didn't. I probably bought it around the time I bought #164-165. #166 takes place in Nebraska, and #167 takes place in St. Louis on the way to the Southwest. (They must have been taking the scenic route.) I am from St. Louis (the St, Louis area, anyway), and I keep a [mental] list of all the depictions of the Gateway Arch in comics. Most of them are crap, and Jack Kirby's version on the cover is among the crappiest. (George Perez's on the inside aren't much better.) At the end of this issue, the Thing is "permanently" transformed back into Ben Grimm because reasons.

#168-170: I have spoken before of my love of #1 issues and of "Giant-Size" comics back in the '70s. Consequently, Giant-Size Power Man #1 (reprinting Steve Englehart's "Retribution") was one of my earliest comics. I really liked that story, but I wouldn't buy any more Luke Cage comics until I went through a "phase" in college. I bought all of the early issues up to and including "Retribution," but I then swithced over to his early appearances in Spider-Man (reprinted in Marvel Tales) and this run in Fantastic Four. (I already owned his appearances in Defenders because I completed my run of that series while still in high school.) 

In #169, Sue Storm flirts with idea of changing her heroic name to "The Invisible Woman" but decides not to do so at this time. (I'll get to the point when she does; be patient.) Mr. Fantastic has designed a "Thing suit" (a strength-enhancing exoskeleton) for Ben to wear. The Wrecker was possessed by some outside force in the previous issue, and Power Man is similarly possessed this issue. In the next issue, the culprit will be revealed: the Puppet Master. Luke cage was only a temporary replacement for the Thing until Reed could get the exoskeleton up and running.

Annual #11: This issue is a time travel story featuring the Invaders, but the Invaders of an alternate reality. Consequently, it fits better in Fantastic Four continuity (or Marvel Two-In-One continuity) than Invaders. the story continues into Marvel Two-In-One Annual #1 and concludes in MTIO #20. 

#171-175: This one starts lame, then builds to a confrontation between the High Evolutionary and Galactus. #171 introduces the giant "Golden Gorilla" known as Gorr. [Cartoonist Scott Shaw! has since used the cover & blurb ("Not just another Giant Gorilla story!") as part of his "Oddball Comics" presentation at comics conventions.] #171 also is the second appearance of Frankie Raye. Galactus' latest herald, the Destroyer (see my "Post-Kirby Thor" discussion) appears in #172 as Galactus sets his sights on Counter-Earth. (I acquired this run of issues as a tangent to my "Warlock" phase.) The Kirby robot Torgo also appears leading up to an epic battle between the High E. and the Bif G. Ultimately, Galactus ends up devouring the Imposssible Man's planet, Poppup... and gets indigestion. 

Also pictured in this volume is the cover of Marvel Treasury Edition #1, published during this time-frame and featuring the FF, the tenth FF comic I bought new. [When i said MTE #3 on the previous page, that was a typo; I meant #11.]

#177: The Frightful Four (Wizard, Sandman, Trapster) hold auditions for a fourth member at the Baxter Building. Applicants include the Osprey, Texas twister, Captain Ultra, Thundra and Tigra (although the latter two weren't legitimate applicants). The winner is the Brute, the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth.

#178: The Frightful  Four hold the Fantastic Four (plus Thundra and Tigra) for $1 billion ransom while the Impossible Man watches TV. New York City mayor Abe Beame calls President elect Jimmy Carter, lame duck Gerald ford and defeated candidate Ronald Reagan for help. When broadcast TV goes off the air for the day, Impy inadvertantly frees the Fantastic Four, who defeat the Frightful Four. Off-panel, the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth defeats Mr. Fantastic, switches clothes with him, and tosses him into the Negative Zone.

#179: Ron Wilson spells George Perez on the art chores, while Gerry Conway supplies the plot (plus the first three pages of the script) for Roy Thomas. While the now powerless Reed Richards languishes in the Negative Zone, life goes on for the "Fantastic Seven" back on Earth. While the Thing and Tigra battle the mysterious Metalloid, the ersatz Reed Richards enjoys a conjugal visit with Sue. CLIFFHANGER: In the Neg Zone, the real Reed Richards is attacked by Annihilus!

#180: The DDD struck, possibly related to Roy Thomas's cross country move. The cover depicts the contents of what would become #181, whereas the cover of #181 is much more generic. 

My first encounter with the DDD.  I was not a happy boy.  I wonder when the last example of the DDD was, before they just started having books come out late.

"I wonder when the last example of the DDD was, before they just started having books come out late."

#181: That I cannot say, but #181 picks up exactly where #179 left off. Ron Wilson again pencils "while pace-setter George Perez nurses an ailing drawing hand." In the Neg Zone, Reed and Annihilus form an unlikely alliance. Back on earth, thundra and Impy join the Thing and Tigra at the site of the defeated Metalloid who are assisting the Coast Guard in retrieving the robot from the East River. Meanwhile, Sue figures out that "Reed" is an imposter. She begs off to go pick up Franklin from Alicia, but while there, Agatha Harkness appears and kidnaps the child. Johnny tracks down Frankie Raye while she's on a date with another guy, while Ben, Thundra and Tigra tussle with the Army over who is going to take charge of the Metalloid from the coast Guard. Back in the Negative Zone, Reed and Annihilus comes face-to-face with their common foe, the Mad Thinker in control of a giant monster's monster's body.

And with that, Roy Thomas takes his leave of the Fantastic Four.

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