Monday, July 26, 2010

Marvel History Post 45: Fantastic Four # 13

Issue: Fantastic Four # 13
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: April 1963

 Brief Summary: Reed is making a mess in his laboratory looking for new kind of rocket fuel to help America overtake the reds in the space race. He is developing it out of pieces from a meteor that landed in Siberia that seemingly has unlimited potential. Reed plans on testing it to go into space, and the rest of the team demands that they come with him. Meanwhile, some creepy Russian named Ivan Kragoff has trained a gorilla to operate a space ship. His journey to the moon launches at the same time at the Fan 4's, although he is actively attempting to get hit with the same cosmic rays. He and his monkeys do take a dose of the ray, just as the Fan 4 notice their ship and Torch goes to investigate. He gets in a fight with a super strong monkey, and then goes back to the Fan 4's ship to warn the team. They reach the moon, landing on the strange blue area of it, where they discover the remains of an ancient civilization. They then encounter Kragoff, now going by the name Red Ghost as he can make his body unsolid. Red Ghost also has super apes to do his bidding, and combat ensues. However, the fracas is broken up by a bold alien looking guy called the Watcher, whose life work, like the rest of his species, is to observe other worlds. He warns of a potential conflict between Russia and the US that may destroy the world. He explains that he will not stand for a large scale conflict on the moon, so the fate of which country is supreme on the moon will fall to the fight between the Fan 4 and the Red Ghost. They fight, and Red Ghost makes off with Invisible Girl. She's a crafty one, though, and manages to escape while the Red Ghost is preparing for the rest of the team. She catches up with the rest of the team, and warns them of a trap of the Red Ghost's. Ghost comes across the Watcher's headquarters, who doesn't take kindly to the intrusion, and throws Ghost back to the Fan 4. The Fan 4 defeats him with one of Reed's inventions, and the Watcher congratulates them, and then leaves for a farther part of the galaxy to...well...watch. Red Ghost is left at the mercy of his apes, and the Fan 4 heads home.

 Commentary: In this issue we see for one of the first time a theme that appears in both Marvel and DC comics constantly that has always perplexed me, which is semi intelligent monkeys. It seems that half the comics on the stands have a smart monkey in them, and I've never been able to figure this out. Are people clamoring for these monkeys? Does this please a strange segment of comic book readers in some way that I cannot fathom? Anyways, keep your eyes out for the smart monkey in future comics. This is also the first appearance of the alien known as the Watcher, who is charged with chronicling the history of earth. The Watcher shows up all over the place in the Marvel Universe, usually when there's an allegedly important event to take place. His role is not entirely different from mine in writing this blog. I'm not a powerful super alien, though. So, Watcher: 1 Me: 0.

 Quick Thoughts:
  • Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man) inked this issue.
  • The creative team took a poll of fans about adding another member to the Fan 4, and 75% were against it.
Favorite Quote: "Space is your heritage -- see that you prove worthy of such a glorious gift!" - The Watcher

Favorite Panel: The first time I read through this I sort of half glanced at the images (poor form for comic book reading, I know), and then I looked again. What the hell is going on here?!?! Next: Journey into Mystery # 91