Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fantastic Four # 4

Issue: Fantastic Four # 4
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: May 1962

Brief Recap:

The Fan 3 go off in search of the Human Torch, who left the team last issue. The Thing finds him working on cars.  Thing ready to pulverize the Human Torch when he briefly turns human again. Johnny (The Human Torch) flies off, and heads to the bad part of town, where he meets a man who hasn't shaved for a while. After giving the man the 'ole let-me-shave-your-face-with-my-flame-powers, it turns out its Namor, the Sub-Mariner, who remembers his identity after a quick dip in the ocean (the sea has a rejuvenating effect on the mind and soul).  Namor goes looking for his sea horse friends, but alas, they've abandoned their old home due to the human folk ruining everything with atomic tests.  Namor declares war on the land people, and raises up an enormous whale looking thing to attack New York.  Fortunately, the Thing drops a bomb in the whale's belly.  Namor plans to call on more...whales? attack, but first takes a moment to suggest the Invisible Girl become his sea queen.  She says no dice, The Human Torch manages to get Namor's sea-creature-summoning-conch dropped into the depths of the ocean, and everyone, including Namor, the Fan 4, and the quasi blown up whale creature, call it a day.  Again, that's Fan 4: 4, Namor: 0, Miracle Man: -1 (just because), Skrulls: 0, Mole Man: Still 0.


We've got a reference to New York in this issue.  I'm not sure what happened to Central City from Fan 4 # 1. Perhaps taken over by Miracle Man?  Doubtful.  Also, we get a nice recap of what happened last issue told through the current story.  This brings me to how all superhero comic books should have recaps.  Marvel seems to be better about doing this than DC these days, but I don't understand how it's not the norm.  Let's say you get fifteen comic books a month.  That's fifteen separate story lines you're supposed to keep track of in your brain, with a minimum of a month's hiatus between installments.  Not to mention that the average superhero title comes with its fifty some years of back story, or more.  You've got to give people a chance!  Recap pages should be mandatory. 

It was interesting to see how Namor was basically a bum with a beard for some time.  For those not in the know, Namor is an old timey creation, first appearing back in 1939.  Lee and Kirby are going to work in some of the old school characters still owned by Marvel into their stories, and Namor is one of them.  But anyways, what the hell was the guy doing as an amnesiac mess? Is there a hidden years comic I have to look forward to somewhere down the line where I get to see Namor doing his best Ratso Rizzo impersonation?

Quick Thoughts:
  • Namor portrayed here as somewhat of an anti-hero, though he has good reason to be upset with mankind
  • The Thing turns human again briefly!
  • Stan experiments with inconsistencies by offering someone five bucks to explain something that doesn't make sense. Stan later would make more financially sound offers with his famous "No-Prize" award.
  • Naming a whale creature Giganto seems a little insulting to the whale.
Favorite Panel:

I liked this one because, for the first time, I felt bad for Ben Grimm, aka the Thing.  It certainly didn't have anything to do with the way he's acted up to this point, but the way Kirby portrays him in the last panel, with a hand covering his face, makes him seem tragic. Also, in the original magazine there was a cool "What is the Hulk?" line at the bottom of the panel.  These appeared all over this issue as a little advertisement for the new marvel book. Speaking of which...

Next: The Incredible Hulk # 1