Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: January 1963
We're into the issues with the publication date of 1963, so we're still blazing through the years at record pace. I don't believe that these issues with a publication date of January 1963 actually came out that month, but rather a couple before it, as has been the tradition with comic books. Nevertheless, 1963 is an enormous year for Marvel. Spider-Man gets his own comic. The Avengers are created. The X-Men are created. Iron Man. Nick Fury. Superheroes and the mighty Marvel universe truly take over the comics that Marvel produces on a regular basis.
While Reed is conducting experiments about Invisible Girl's invisibility, the Fan Four signal flare goes up. Mr. Fantastic, Torch, and Invisible Girl rush off to the flare. They rush off to Alicia Master's apartment where the Thing is waiting for them. He tells them that Alicia has made puppets of all their old enemies. She's a keeper. Then, uh...we cut to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and Dr. Doom interrupts their day to tell them to call the Fantastic Four and get Richards over to their studio. Richards comes, unknowing Doom is there, and Doom captures him. When Richards awakes, Doom tells him that after he was shot into space on an asteroid, he ran into some smart aliens called Ovoids. He learned some pretty special things, including switching bodies so that he is now in control of Mr. Fantastic's body, who is in Doom's body. The other members of the team show up, and Doom and Reed both plead their case. The team locks up the real Reed Richards (in Doom's body), and Doom then mocks him as he is locked in an airtight cell where he will soon die. Doom then explains to the rest of the team that he is working on a reducing ray that will increase their powers, but unbeknownst to them, it will actually shrink them to nothing. Meanwhile, Reed escapes his prison, and comes across Alicia Masters, who believes that he might not be Doom. To test the situation, Torch creates a mirage of dynamite in the room. The real Reed rushes to defuse it, while Doom tries to run and save himself. The rest of the group realizes what happened, and in the chaos of the moment, Doom, uh...loses his control over Reed's body, and the two minds switch back. Doom attacks, but accidentally gets the reducing ray turned on himself, and gets reduced to nothingness...maybe. Doom's got a worse record against the Fan Four than the Mole Man.
I'm just going to leave the whole Reed/Doom switching brains thing alone. It's actually not even the most ridiculous thing that happens in this issue, which would be the appearance of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who apparently write the adventures of the Fantastic Four comic book in the actual Marvel Universe as well. Don't think about it too hard, it's just not worth it. In this issue we finally get back to something that's been bugging me, which was the dropped romance between Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Reed brings it up here, but Sue says she's not yet sure of her feelings, which have become complicated by her interest in Namor. One of the highlights of these early issues is when the team tries to come up with an idea, or they ponder the future, and they have these one caption panels where it will be something like here's Thing's thoughts on how to trap Dr. Doom, or here's Reed's thoughts on transubstantiation. These are a little hard to describe, but they're usually pretty funny in their proper context.
- Torch can now concentrate enough that his flame burns without heat. Interesting...
- Alicia seems to have become a semi-permanent fixture by now.
- Even though Namor doesn't appear this issue, he is still referenced.
Next: The Incredible Hulk # 5