I recently started re-reading this and decided it would be fun to view it as a project of sorts. The modern Marvel Universe has its beginnings here and I find it fun to revisit it from time to time. I'm at FF 17 now and may finish the volume today (it's a day off for me). Some thoughts:

- Reed is clearly the big brain of the group, but early on is also a man of action and has a sense of humor. The overlong speeches, explaining things with words the others probably don't understand, is not there yet.

- Sue is taken hostage far too often, is scared far too easily, her powers are only defensive AND she has trouble controlling them. At the same time, though, she is sometimes shown to be clever and even feisty. She is the center of two love triangles - first with Reed and Ben (this is dropped almost right away) and another one I'll mention in a bit.

- Lee and Kirby seem to want to make Johnny the star of the book, but I just don't buy it. He keeps saving the day and his powers keep expanding. He gets the girl and drives cool cars. I kept wishing Ben could have pasted him one just once.

- The Thing is scary, especially early on. I never found the smooth rocky appearance to be scary - it just looked like a type of body armor to me. He's hideous to look at in these stories. Before Alicia Masters comes along in issue 8, he seems to be on the verge of turning on humanity at any moment, and it doesn't help that Reed, Sue, and Johnny don't call him Ben, only "The Thing".

- The Mole Man may not be a great villain but he worked well enough that they kept bringing him back. He's the first bad guy out of the gate and you can't help but feel sorry for him - a woman says he's too ugly to date, and a businessman says he's qualified to work for him, but he'd scare the other employees away. Harsh.

- Unless the Miracle Man is a mutant, the story in issue 3 just doesn't work. He has to be using minor hypnosis on the entire city.

- Issues 4, 5, and 6 are true classics. We get the first modern appearance of Namor, the first appearance of Doom, and their subsequent teaming. The Reed/Sue/Namor love triangle adds a lot of angst to the series. Doom's character is spot on from the get-go; he is chillingly evil in a way that the Silver Age Lex Luthor never was. Ben's courage in strapping a bomb to his back makes the reader want to cheer for him, maybe for the first time. These three issues, imo, are the first signs of true greatness of the series.

- The next five issues, unfortunately, are clunkers. Issue 7 features a highly advanced scientific world that is doomed to destruction, sort of like Krypton, except the leaders of the planet have lots of notice. They don't construct rocket ships to get away because they were never interested in space travel. Umm, ok. Issue 8 is the debut of the Puppet Master, whom I have never liked. Issue 9 is the very convoluted story where the FF are broke, Subby buys a movie studio to make a movie about them and will pay them for being in it - but he really isn't making a movie, just trying to get Reed, Ben, and Johnny out of the way, so he can have Sue. Reed and Johnny escape their deathtraps, and collect Ben, who was beaten by Namor (but only after he transformed back to Ben Grimm). They are about to fight, but Sue prevents it, and Namor agrees to put a movie together, even though he never meant to in the first place, and what he cobbles together becomes the sensation of the nation - solving the FF's money woes. Issue 10 features Doom in full mad scientist mode, worse than Lex Luthor ever was, and also features the deservedly forgotten Ovoids. The story requies Sue, Ben, and Johnny to act dumber than they ever had been before or since. Issue 11 features the debut of the annoying Impossible Man, whom Lee and Kirby would not re-use (and seems to almost be a potshot at Mr. Mxyptlyk) and the awful, awful, awful comparison of Sue to Abe Lincoln's mother.

- Issue 12 features a guest appearance by the Hulk. Some parts of the story haven't aged well (good thing the bad guy carried "a membership card in a subversive Communist-front organization" ... in his wallet ... on a U.S. Army base ... but I digress) but overall it's pretty enjoyable, being the first modern MU crossover. There's really no way to square this story with Johnny reading a Hulk comic is issue 5, but that's a minor quibble. Oh, and remember what I said about Sue being feisty? She saves the day here, stopping the bad guy before he can kill Ben. If only Lincoln's mother had been at Ford's Theatre.

I have a lot more I want to say but this has been a fairly long post and I've only covered about half of the Volume. I'll wait and see if any of you want to chime in with your thoughts before I make more comments.

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The vibe I got was that they fully expected there was a possibility of not coming back.  Not exactly Ben Grimm's finest hour, he decides that since he's uncomfortable with Alicia crying, it's ok to bring her along and endanger her life too.

Fantastic Four #15 - While the Puppet Master bores me to tears, I get a kick out of the Mad Thinker.  You might see a similarity between the two, and I'll admit it's there - PM can control anyone and make them do anything (anything,I tell you!) he can think of, until he can't; MT can predict the outcome of anything (anything, I tell you!) without fail, until he makes a mistake.  But I think the Mad Thinker is hilarious.  He's a scientific genius, he's obviously quite good at foreseeing possible outcomes of situations; but I think his power is that he can BS anybody, and the hilarious part is that he believes his own BS.  "It is one minute to four.  I calculated you would be here at this second if you defeated the android.  So far, my deductions have been perfect."  Something tells me that that if the FF had gotten there at 3:55 or 4:07 that would have been the exact time when Madame Cleo  the Thinker predicted it too.

This issue may have contained the shortest ever breakup of the FF.  They amicably go their own ways on page 10, and reunite on page 14!  All that's missing is the panel of the Thinker saying "You're back together in record time, er, ah, just as I predicted you would.  Yes, that's it!  Just as I predicted."  Also hilarious - for an "Awesome" Andoid, it gets beat pretty quick, less than two pages.  Once defeated, the Thinker is hauled off to jail, vowing to find a way to overcome "the x-factor ... the unexpected ... the human element ... the one thing I didn't count on!"  Y'know, I don't think he ever did.

Well said, Figs.  Sure, I've knocked some of these stories and that's because I'm looking thru the lens nearly 50 years later.  You're right, of course; even the zany stuff has entertaining elements, even the stuff that seems dumb on the surface has enjoyable moments throughout.  Kirby's art is mindblowing, all the time, issue after issue.  The characterization is top notch.  The banter (especially between Ben and Johnny) is great, often laugh out loud funny.  You're dead on - their priority was to entertain, and they surely succeeeded.
 
Figserello said:

I loved that we didn't just have intelligent apes, but intellegent apes who were really angry (about not being fed properly, as I recall?) and armed with machine guns.

 

That hits the spot just perfectly, in how these comics can depict just about anything the creators dream up, so long as it is entertaining.  The only things that don't belong in great superhero stories are boring scenes.  People standing around in raincoats, talking, for instance.

 

Possibly it was only instinctive on their part, but Stan and Jack really understood that every page had to have something that was entertaining and unusual as a first priority, and having it 'make sense' or 'seem realistic' came second.

Not sure if this post fits here, but I'll post it anyway.

Jack Kirby ignored stuff too. I was (and still am) a Kirby fan but my heart sank when he took over Captain America in 1976.

This blog entry explains my feelings better than I ever could.

I don’t have time to read the blog now, Dandy, but I’ll definitely read it later. I didn’t decide to start reading Captain America until after the Kirby run, said decision prompted by the acquisition of a large number of Cap’s between #114 and #214. The guy whose collection I bought (from a second hand bookstore; I didn’t know him) had written, in ink on the top of the first page of #193: “KIRBY’S HERE!” On the top of the first page of #214, written in the same block style, were the words: “KIRBY’S LAST CAP!!”

For my own part, as corny as that run is, I really do believe it holds up better than many of the other earlier or later Cap stories of the era.

I have to say, they hit on pretty much everything I disliked about Kirby's run on the series.

Dandy Forsdyke said:

Not sure if this post fits here, but I'll post it anyway.

Jack Kirby ignored stuff too. I was (and still am) a Kirby fan but my heart sank when he took over Captain America in 1976.

This blog entry explains my feelings better than I ever could.

I'm curious what "Volume" you are reading that contains FF #1-15 or more.  Must be the first FF Omnibus, eh?

I don't recall ever reading the whole series straight through, but you're sure hitting on all the non-sequitors and jumps in logic and   

plotting that I recall as a kid.  Most of these tales were told/read in Marvel Collector Item Classics  for me, except that you're about to hit #16-17 which were the earliest  issues that I ever had as a kid...and were from some other, older kid's collection that I scored at a school white elephant spring sale.  So, I'm right with you  issue b y  issue on this recounting of the saga.

Anybody besides me having a problem with this board the last couple days? the formatting part is not coming up at all!


The Mad Thinker was kinda funny... but I personally think the story in FF #68-71 should have been his FINAL appearance. It would have been a great way to go out...

Every appearance since has been a totaly disappointment by comparison.

On the other hand, I can't stand The Puppet Master. He's a realy sick, twisted F***, and his motications for incessant revenge make no sense at all (since he's the one who started the problem in the first place).


What really got "hilarious" was when Stan, in writing the dialogue to FF #100, got the 2 baddies mixed up. Honestly. That episode made no F***ing sense at all from cover to cover.
You can't edit posts once you post them, either. You hit "edit" and it just jumps to the top of the page.

I had a problem when after the second line I typed, the characters would be inserted on the next line from the right hand side.

This made for terribly annoying typing, mistakes and a bizarre format posting that I just left alone and killed my terminal.

It seems to be OK tonight.

I never particularly cared for the Mad Thinker.  I thought he was a one-shot in FF #15 and that his android was the star of that production.  The fact that he teamed up with the Puppet Master (another lameo) puzzled me no end.

I remember buying the FF #68-71 four parter as it came out and trying to piece together an image of the villan from Kirby's tight shots of his eyes, mouth, mustashe, etc... and frankly, I was betting on the Wizard...having not made the connection that the plot was EXACTLY the same as less than 3 years earlier in the same title (#41-43).

Personally, I thought the left turn when he unveiled to be the Thinker was a mean trick, and there were no clues prior to that except that there were faceless androids guarding the kidnapped doctor. 

So, I wasn't very pleased by that outing, which I considered to be the beginning of the decline for the Fantastic Four title.

Fantastic Four #2 - There's lots of action and suspense here, and the Skrulls with their shape changing ability are a great addition to the MU. Shame the ending

is so-o-o-o-o lame. With all of their obvious advanced technology, they're fooled by comic book pages?

What struck me when I read FF #2 was that the Skrulls expressed racial self-hatred at the end, wanting to be anything but Skrulls.

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