Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: March, 1962
Some bloke in a cape decides to call out the Fantastic Four, and explains how their powers are meaningless compared to his. The wiseguy, called Miracle Man (no connection to Elvis Costello), impresses an audience, and embarrasses our heroes. However, like many other people with special powers, Miracle Man decides to use his powers for evil, and makes a large replica of a monster come to life and attack. The Fantastic Four, now with a fancy Fantasticar and costumes, catch the whole thing on TV. Miracle Man declares war on the human race, steals some diamonds (make a note of this, it's important!), and then ,when found by Mister Fantastic, throws a brick at him. Mister Fantastic, recovering from getting hit in the face with a brick, gets yelled at by the police commissioner to do a better job. Yeesh! The Fan 4 face off against Miracle Man again, and Sue sneaks aboard his Atomic Tank, and she shoots a Fansti-Flare up for the rest of team to find her later. Back at the Fantasti-Ranch (okay, this term I made up), Human Torch and Thing yell at each other again, but the remaining three team members all respond to Sue's signal flare, and go put the pounding on Mister Miracle. Reed reveals that Mister Miracle is not some all powerful deity (although we'll see plenty of those later!), but merely a clever hypnotist! He figured it out by asking himself why Miracle Man, if he could control pretty much everything at the molecular level, would bother stealing diamonds? Reed's a sharp one. The Thing can't keep his mouth shut when Reed gives Torch credit for stopping Miracle Man's powers by temporarily blinding him, and the Human Torch, naturally, quits the team. Fantastic Three?
Well, I guess my first question is how Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, managed to fool an entire alien population with comic book pictures (see last issue), convince several of them that they were cows for the rest of their lives (again, last issue), and yet here, it takes him a long while before finally figuring out that this goofus is a hypnotist. I guess he does put the pieces together by the end, but Reed's got a long way to go before achieving the super intellect status he gets later on in the MU. By the way, I'm starting to use abbreviations more often now. MU = Marvel Universe. There may be more as I feel my way through this. The police commissioner really gives Reed a what-for when he doesn't bring in Mister Miracle. A lot has been made of how in the DC Universe, the heroes are revered, while in Marvel, they are more mistrusted. We can see the seeds of how this is already developing.
The Thing cannot get along with anyone. This is one angry dude at this point. The "heart of gold" has yet to emerge. This issue marks the first letters page, with Stan answering the fan mail himself. The reviews from the peanut gallery were a mixed bag, but to Stan's credit, he published both the positive and the negative, it seems. Someone does mention that they think the Fantastic Four will become a great success. Good call, dude. This issue is also the first to feature the "World's Greatest Comic!" type stuff on the cover, a popular feature on many Fan 4 covers. Looking back, Stan's hyperbole now seems charming, but I'm wondering if it was met with the same skepticism as most similar comments receive today. When a comic book writer makes any type of hyperbolic statement today, the internet community collectively starts griping and complaining. Just curious about all of this...
- The Thing is wearing sunglasses a lot. I don't see how they make him look like less of a monster, but I will say he looks more stylish.
- The cover points out that this issue is a collector's item. That's pretty accurate.
- Stan is still re-capping the Fan 4's origin within the context of the narrative.
- Miracle Man should have taken his cue from the Mole Man; when you need monsters to do your bidding, you pull the signal cord.
"The time has come for me to throw off my mask of respectability!!" - Miracle Man. He will not be the last marvel villain to lose respectability, but he may be the last to announce it.
Favorite Panel: While I hope too many kids didn't take Stan's advice and save this panel for future reference (cutting out a panel tends to hurt the value of a comic book), I thought this was a cool little view of the Fan 4's early base of operations. Plus, I'm a sucker for anti-vibration walls.
Next: Fantastic Four # 4