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[WIR] Marvel Comics: From 1961 To Parts Unknown

drrockso20

Registered User
Validated User
hello everyone, as the title implies this is going to be a long term WIR I'll be doing of the main Marvel Comics universe(often known as Earth 616) starting from Fantastic Four #1* to a currently undetermined stopping point(current thoughts are that it'll be sometime in the early 90's, but again not set in stone), using the Complete Marvel Reading Order(hereafter referenced as CMRO) to guide my way, I'm not setting an exact pace, but I'd like to cover at least one comic a day, and considering how fast paced the early stuff is, I'll probably be able to cover a fair amount more than that, at least for the first couple years

*there's some stories published prior to Fantastic Four #1 that I'd like to read as part of this, but I haven't been able to find a good list of which of Marvel's pre-FF Monster Comics are supposed to be canon to Earth 616


NEXT: Fantastic Four #1
 

drrockso20

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Validated User
Fantastic Four #1

Spoiler: Show




so this is where it all begins, in November 1961(well technically August due to how comic/magazine publishing tends to be) we get the beginnings of what will soon be a revolution in the comics industry, after thinking it over I decided the best way to handle this is I'm going to have each post be for a single issue, and in that post I'm going to comment on each page as I read through it, then when I'm finished with the issue I'll sum up my thoughts on the issue as a whole, as well as the characters, and possibly some trivia as well, with that said let's get started;

Cover Page: one of the most iconic covers of all time, showing each of the titular four using their powers as they battle a monster of the sort Jack Kirby had been making for several years prior to this, for The Thing and Human Torch this is pretty effective, with the Torch flying around, and Thing smashing up a car like it's made of cardboard, but I'm not sure how Invisible Girl thinks going invisible will help(unless Stan Lee got invisibility and intangibility mixed up), and the mind goes to weird places wondering why Mister Fantastic is tied up in the first place, also it's funny how the cover makes the claim about the four being in a comic for the first time together as if any of them besides Human Torch(albeit a different one from the one featured here) had been in any comics prior to this

Page 1: at the top of the page is one of those cast lineups that old comics used to do all the time(and still occasionally gets used by Marvel for team books, especially during events), and man both Reed and Ben are not drawn in a flattering manner at all, also Reed summons the rest of the team(as we'll see over the next couple pages) with a very doofy smoke signal, also it has Reed shown in shadows like he's some sort of criminal mastermind

Page 2: we see Susan Storm having tea with a friend when she sees the signal, and for no real reason whatsoever decides to go invisible the whole way to meeting the others(technically it's to establish her powers for the sake of the reader, but man does it come off as extremely silly in 2018)

Page 3: after seeing Sue scare the crap out of a poor cabby, we meet Ben Grimm in disguise trying to find clothes that will fit him, once he sees the signal he basically acts like a destructive asshole for the next couple pages as he tries to meet up with the others, with the reader also seeing that he has the color and texture of a pile of half melted butterfingers

Page 4: Ben continues to be a destructive jerk, also a common theory is that Fantastic Four #1 was assembled from pieces of several different unfinished stories, and these couple pages definitely give some credence to that theory both in art and writing

Page 5: after Ben barely manages to escape the cops, we are introduced to Johnny Storm, working on a car with a friend

Page 6: once Johnny sees the signal he continues the trend the others have established on suddenly becoming a destructive menace, and melts the car he and his friend were working on(not to mention spooking the bejeesus out of a bunch of other people)

Page 7: Johnny's ended up getting the national guard sicced on his ass, and ends up having to melt several planes, resulting in one of them shooting a freaking NUCLEAR MISSILE at him

Page 8: thankfully for Johnny, Reed manages to catch the missile and "harmlessly" chuck it to explode in the ocean(man the EPA would be pissed if they had been around back in 1961), and thus the team is brought together

Page 9: before continuing with the present story we get a flashback of how the Fantastic Four came to be, and we see that not only is Ben Grimm easily manipulated into doing things if he's implied to be a coward(and that he can smash desks even before becoming a pile of living peanut brittle), but that the spaceport where Reed's rocket is being kept has the world's worst security, as they manage to successfully take off into space...

Page 10: ...and things immediately go to shit as they get pelted by cosmic rays, leading to Johnny starting to smolder, and Ben to have the same reaction as I did the last time I ate at Golden Corral and be rendered completely immobile

Page 11: thankfully the rocket has an autopilot and manages to make it back to Earth, upon which Sue begins to turn invisible

Page 12: and thus Ben both makes an ass out of himself and also turns into some sort of mashed potato man, and promptly gets tied up by Reed, who has taken on the properties of a Stretch Armstrong

Page 13: Johnny promptly catches on fire, and also does something that probably puts him on Smokey The Bear's shit list by starting a brush fire, after which they decide to use their newfound deformities, I mean powers to help mankind, with Johnny calling himself the Human Torch, Sue the Invisible Girl, Ben in what will soon become a signature trait of his will call himself The Thing in a fit of self-deprecation, and Reed in an act of either pure arrogance or pure lacking of tact calls himself Mister Fantastic, and thus The Fantastic Four is born

Page 14: so one of the things about really old comics is that they often divided themselves into multiple chapters, and for this one "The Fantastic Four Meet The Mole Man!" we start things off with a lower quality reproduction of the cover page, followed by Reed explaining why he called them together, as apparently something has been stealing power plants from around the world(also Ben makes a wise-ass comment about pinups)

Page 15: Reed continues his explanation as suddenly a device of his alerts him that another theft is about to occur, in which we cut to "French Africa"(which REALLY dates this comic more than almost anything else in it, which is saying something) and have some French stereotypes experience an earthquake

Page 16: which leads to the plant they were guarding being buried in the ground as a monster emerges and make the French look like a bunch of wimps before it's master The Mole Man commands it back beneath the earth...

Page 17: Reed has managed to link the attacks to a place called Monster Isle(which Ben thinks is a myth), and upon arriving there they promptly get attacked by a three headed monster

Page 18: apparently Reed had heard about this monster before and promptly chucks it's chunky ass into the ocean(and apparently Reed is pretty sure it can't swim cause he's certain that it's dead), upon which a hole in the ground causes him and Johnny to fall in, with Reed turning himself into a parachute to slow their descent

Page 19: Reed and Johnny get knocked out by a blinding light, and when they wake up find themselves wearing weird protective suits, apparently to protect them from the light of a literal Valley of Diamonds, given to them by The Mole Man, who we see up close for the first time(and looking very much like Hans Moleman in said panel)

Page 20: meanwhile Sue gets attacked by a rock monster(that isn't The Thing), while Ben leaps to protect her(while being very poorly drawn might I add)

Page 21: Ben promptly tosses his opponent into the ocean like the previous monster(guess they don't like getting wet), meanwhile the Mole Man begins monologueing at Reed and Johnny...

Page 22: going off the flashback, apparently everyone used to be a shallow asshole to Mole Man, which led to him trying to find a path into the Hollow Earth, after doing so a cave-in causes him to lose most of his sight due to a head injury

Page 23: somehow despite being partially blind and not very impressive in physique the Mole Man managed to tame the monsters of the underworld, as well as develop senses like a real mole or even a bat, also his plan seems to be that once he's destroyed every atomic plant on the planet that will somehow let his monsters conquer the world, meanwhile Sue and Ben arrive

Page 24: which prompts Mole Man to summon one of his monsters, leading to the Human Torch to fight against it while Mister Fantastic tries to nab Mole Man

Page 25: Mole Man summons the rest of his Monsters as he slips out of Reed's grasp, the Torch manages to cut the horde off by causing a rock slide, allowing the Fantastic Four to escape from Monster Isle, which Mole Man promptly destroys for whatever reason, thus ending this issue



Characters

Mister Fantastic: at this point doesn't really have much personality beyond being a scientist

The Thing: mostly just a colossal jerk, but we see one or two glimpses into the depth he'll later have

Human Torch: honestly he kinda comes off as a bit of a wimp, he even fainted during that missile scene earlier in the comic

Invisible Girl: at least at this point it's really hard to see what she actually brings to the team, she's basically scenery for most of the issue(which is ironic considering her power is to turn invisible

Mole Man: an interesting background, although his plan is rather half-baked


Final Thoughts: an interesting start to things, you can definitely see the stitches from how this issue was assembled, but it does it's job of introducing everyone(even if Sue is as useful as a sack of potatoes at this point), I'd give it a solid 7.5/10


commentary is most welcome


NEXT: Fantastic Four #2: The Fantastic Four Meet The Skrulls From Outer Space!
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Get used to Sue not being helpful. "Sue isn't doing enough" is one of the most widespread criticisms made of early FF and was even at the time. Jack seems to have started taking that critique to heart at some point, drawing Sue with more agency, but it took a lot longer for Stan to see the problem, as elucidated by this site.

As far as pre-FF comics, certain characters from some titles, like Millie the Model and Patsy Walker, show up in superhero books later. Are the adventures they had in their own titles "canon?" Some of them, sometimes, to some extent, and that's the best, most accurate answer I can give because that's how the books themselves treat them.
 

drrockso20

Registered User
Validated User
Get used to Sue not being helpful. "Sue isn't doing enough" is one of the most widespread criticisms made of early FF and was even at the time. Jack seems to have started taking that critique to heart at some point, drawing Sue with more agency, but it took a lot longer for Stan to see the problem, as elucidated by this site.

As far as pre-FF comics, certain characters from some titles, like Millie the Model and Patsy Walker, show up in superhero books later. Are the adventures they had in their own titles "canon?" Some of them, sometimes, to some extent, and that's the best, most accurate answer I can give because that's how the books themselves treat them.
I'm definitely aware of both points, as I mentioned I was mostly asking in regards to the Monster Comics, since outside of the Golden Age runs for Cap, Namor, and OG Human Torch(and to a lesser degree the abortive early Silver Age attempts at bringing them back prior to FF#1) those tend to be among the most important pre-FF#1 comics for Marvel continuity

also Fantastic Four #2 will probably be coming some time tonight, depending on how long it takes to type up I might also do Tales To Astonish #27 tonight as well
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
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Uh, interesting that FF #1 had 25 story pages ; that's longer than what would soon become the standard.
 

drrockso20

Registered User
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Uh, interesting that FF #1 had 25 story pages ; that's longer than what would soon become the standard.
I imagine part of that is that FF#1 was made during the period where most comics had more than one story in it, even the big books like Superman or Batman did that, so FF#1 is a bit of an anomaly in that regard for the era
 

moondog548

Zip Zap Zoop!
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AWESOME.

This is more or less what I have done via Marvel Unlimited (I'm mid 1965 about now) so I am gonna be psyched to follow along with you!
 

Davies

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Validated User
Page 9: before continuing with the present story we get a flashback of how the Fantastic Four came to be, and we see that not only is Ben Grimm easily manipulated into doing things if he's implied to be a coward(and that he can smash desks even before becoming a pile of living peanut brittle), but that the spaceport where Reed's rocket is being kept has the world's worst security, as they manage to successfully take off into space...
It has been suggested that said spaceport actually has quite good, well-trained security.
 
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