Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Marvel Year One: Fantastic Four and Strange Tales

I'm re-reading all the Marvel superhero comics, starting with Fantastic Four, and in publication date order.  First up, the Fantastic Four.

Something that interested me about the first issue is that there is an implied gap between when the Fab Four got their powers and their first mission against the Mole Man, and that they were living separate lives prior to that.  There is one reference to Central City, but is quickly changed to New York.  At some point this is retconned into being an actual location change and not a name change.

Mister Fantastic actually uses his stretching powers, which for decades now he's only used for reaching for test tubes.

Not the most sensitive guy, Reed is.  He does blame himself for The Thing's condition, though he really shouldn't.  It's Sue's fault.

The Invisible Girl is not yet an Invisible Woman, but in the first year she plays a major part of the action, and is arguably the bravest member of the group, in that she's the easiest killed.  I remember at some point she gets wracked with insecurity about being "just a useless girl", but we're not there yet. 

The Thing starts off lumpy and gradually get's more defined as time goes on, but we're not quite finished with his look.  He started off more Hulk like, kind of dumb meathead who is endanger of turning against humanity, before turning into the wise guy hothead we know and love.  We don't have his series of catchphrases yet - his main one is a simple "bah!".

The Human Torch develops his powers pretty quickly.  In the first issue he's accidentally melting everything around him.  By the end of the year he's got his nova blast, can melt things without heat somehow, control flame around him, create flame duplicates, etc.  They also play with a "what if he turns his powers against humanity", but this goes nowhere.

The Human Torch gets his own series in Strange Tales, and with it our first retcon:

Give that man a no-prize!  Johnny Storm was pretty cavalier with his identity before they decided to make it secret.  I looked back and the four schoolmate story is consistent with the text.  Given that it's known that he's the Invisible Girl's sister and he's always around when the Human Torch shows up, we'll see how long this lasts.

Doctor Doom is introduced.  Latveria isn't mentioned, and other than his name there's no indication that he's even foreign.  He has a castle, but I think that's later established as being upstate New York.

Sub-Mariner is in a full third of the issues in this first year.  Atlantis isn't mentioned by name yet, just his "undersea kingdom".  It's mentioned that his people were displaced, not killed, by nuclear testing - I always though this was a later retcon.  Sue's all over him - such a tragic, noble figure.  He's only a rapey, genocidal madman because he's misunderstood.

Fantastic Four 1-9, Strange Tales 101-03

Fantastic Four collected in Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The World's Greatest Comic Magazine

Strange Tales collected in The Human Torch & The Thing: Strange Tales - The Complete Collection

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