Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ten Goofiest Plot Points of the First Ten Issues of the Fantastic Four

As today is April Fool's Day, I thought it'd be nice to have a little fun, and the topic of fun I came up with was to find the ten goofiest plot points from the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four. Please note that it is a given that the comics were meant to be read by mainly a young audience, and it CERTAINLY was not expected that more than forty years later, people would still be reading these stories, so there is no maliciousness meant here. Most of these issues are classics. That doesn't mean that there aren't some pretty goofy plot points in the first ten issues. Let the countdown begin!!

10. Namor Weinstein?!

I will admit, I don't have that much of a problem with Namor as a movie producer, from Fantastic Four #9, but still, it IS pretty goofy.

9. Radar Eyes?!!?

Not as goofy, though, as the scene later in the same issue, where we learn that Namor has...oh lord...RADAR EYES!!

Luckily, this power has not been used much over the years.

8. Sue the Ball-buster

Greg already shared this nugget from Fantastic Four #1 with us awhile back, but it is too goofy to not include on the list.

Not only does she manage to sneak in a Commie shot, but she also gets to razz Ben!! Beautiful!

7. A Bit Forward On His Part

In #4, as the Fantastic Four where searching for Johnny Storm, who had (ahem) stormed off at the end of #3, Reed thought a motorcyclist might know where Johnny was. However, rather than waiting to ask them when they stopped, Reed had a better idea.

6. Luckily, there wasn't a war on at the time.

In Fantastic Four #2, the Skrulls convince everyone that the Fantastic Four are bad guys, so the Army locks them up.

Remember that the Army KNOWS who they have locked up.

They KNOW that Sue is the Invisible Girl.

And yet, when they open her cell door...

Yes, they thought that the Invisible Girl must have just vanished or something.


5. Cousins, Identical Cousins

This is another plot point that has not really been used since it was first mentioned.

The Puppet Master once had his daughter, Alicia Masters, inflitrate the Fantastic Four with a wig to make her look like Sue.

Sure, she apparently looked a lot like Sue, but it is still embarrassing that this disguise worked - not only wasn't she Sue, she was BLIND!!!

4. What's up with THAT?

My pal Kurt Mitchell first pointed this out awhile back, and it is still pretty funny.

Check out the cover of Fantastic Four #1.

Okay, so, well, WHO TIED REED UP?!?!

One of life's goofy mysteries, eh?

3. Sure, sooo simple.

In Fantastic Four #2, when the Skrulls pretend to be the FF, they also had to mimic their powers. This explanation as to how EASY it was to mimic the Human Torch always struck me as quite hilarious.

Yeah....that was TOO easy! A child could do it!

2. Dumb Skrulls

The whole plot of convincing an alien race that the planet is tougher than they think is a standard plot. Nothing goofy about it.

However, using pages you cut out of comic books?!!?

The only thing goofier is that it WORKED! The Skrulls can build ships capable of interstellar travel, but can't tell that they're looking at DRAWINGS?!!

How did the Kree NOT win that war?!

1. Lucky Day!

This, though, has to be the goofiest panel in FF history. From the classic issue #5, where the group meets Doctor Doom for the first time, Reed, Ben and Johnny go back in time...but what to do for disguises?!?

They need costumes, and they just so happen to come across...

Two pirates.

Fighting over a large bundle of stolen clothes.

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!

Stan Lee really gave that one a LOT of thought!!

Anyhow, that's the top ten! Feel free to quibble, or to offer your choices!

And Happy April Fool's Day!!

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Anonymous Hoosier X said...


Just pick ONE issue from the first ten issues of the FF and pick the ten goofiest plot points.

(By the way, regarding Subby's RADAR EYES... Have you seen Strange Tales # 107, where Namor has the powers of puffer fish and makes himself really fat to get out of a jam?)

I got one: the bit in FF #7 (pretty much ANY thing from FF #7) where the Thing plays a trick on Johnny by reaching behind him in the shower and twisting the faucet to hot, which (somehow) makes Johnny instinctively burst into flame!


BUT, you can't dis FF #6! That is one of the greatest!

4/02/2006 12:04:00 AM  
Anonymous SpiritGlyph said...

Sure, the Skrulls knew those were drawings, but keep in mind... those were KIRBY drawings. Earth's warriors were powerful, muscular beasts who rode around on flying skis, surfboards, personal pan pizzas, and whatever the hell that Orion has is, training energy bubbles behind them. Who wouldn't be terrified?

4/02/2006 12:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Joe Gualtieri said...

Obviously Sue tied Reed up.

4/02/2006 01:09:00 AM  
Anonymous TeamSmithy said...

"He's - he's so masterful -- so Conifident!"

Oh sue, you brazen hussy...

4/02/2006 04:41:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

It's funny, Hoosier X, I just reread the ten issues so I could do this, and I missed that (UTTERLY GOOFY) moment because it was just SO non-sensical that I missed that that was what it was supposed to be! Great choice on your part!

And no worries - no #6 on this list!

Other choices that I don't think belong:

-The Ovoids (yeah, they're dorky looking, but they're aliens!)

-The Puppet Master's face (I think it's SUPPOSED to look that stupid!)

-Jack and Stan being involved in #10 (I think it totally works)

4/02/2006 05:23:00 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Regarding Alicia looking just like Sue Storm whenever she puts on a blonde wig:

It makes sense that Ben would find himself attracted to her, since he still had a bit of a thing for Sue at the time (Sorry for the pun, couldn't resist).

But the really creepy thing is this: During Bryne's FF run, Johnny Storm became romantically involved with Alicia, and eventually (shortly after Byrne left the book) married her. OK, so "Alicia" turned out to be a Skrull later on, but it doesn't change this one essential fact: Johnny Storm MARRIED A WOMAN WHO LOOKED JUST LIKE HIS SISTER.


4/02/2006 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Cory!! said...

My favorite part of the "Skrulls leave because of comic book pages" is that someone in the 70's felt the need to do a story EXPLAINING it by saying skrulls have bad eyesight as a race.


4/02/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

See, that's not just goofy, though; that's just dumb.

4/02/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

You should do something like this with some John Broome comics. Those make the early FF books look like brain surgery manuals by comparison.

4/02/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoosier X said...

The Ovoids are just about the last thing I would pick on from #10.

#1. When Doom uses the mind-transference trick on Reed, its not actually the minds that travel into the bodies, its the other way around. The minds stay in place and they transfer bodies. That is some trick, with meta-physical implications that would keep Liebniz busy for hours. (It sure freaked me out when I was a kid.)

#2. Reed's evil face. What a give away that it's not Reed! He shows up with a continually evil smile on his face (and his eyebrows got thicker too) and rest of the FF barely notices. It's like one of those old horror movies where girls are disappearing near the home of the local mad scientist played by Bela Lugosi, and the cops show up and question Bela and they take his word for it that he doesn't know anything about the missing girls. Dumb cops! It's Bela! Of course he did it! Look at his face!

#3. The tiny animals milling about outside of the lab. An ape, a lion, a elephant, a bear, a kangaroo, a camel. And Ben has a newspaper with a "ZOO ANIMALS MISSING" headline. Hmm. It's a pretty funny set-up, with Ben, Johnny and Sue rounding up those animals. But why would Doom have to experiment on zoo animals? Wouldn't a mouse or a monkey or even a cow be good enough, and a lot less likely to attract attention?

#4. Reed (Doom)'s reaction to those pesky questions from the others: "You want to know where these tiny creatures came from, eh?" Uh, YAH!

#5. Reed (Doom)'s explanation for the shrinking experiments. He can increase their powers by shrinking them. That makes sense. NOT!
(Scientific explanation includes some really neat illustations of how dinosaurs would have conquered space if they had been smaller. Thank you, STan and Jack. Very interesting. And totally irrelevant.)

#6. Reed (in Doom's body) escapes from the death trap and goes to Alicia Masters for help. Sue hits him with a vase and pretty much immobilizes him. Wow! I was rather under the impression that the armor was good for something. Doom has survived in airless space (in the previous adventure, no less!), taken hits by the Thing, survivrd various explosions and underwater immersion, BUT no matter how smart you think you are, you overlook something. How could Doom have known that he would ever be hit over the head with a vase?

#7. On the second page, Reed, Sue and Johnny see the FF signal flare, but they can't get out of the room to respond because "the nuclear lock mechanism is jammed." So the adventure begins with a gripping and dramatic episode where they GET OUT OF THE ROOM! (Actually, this kind of stuff happened a lot to the FF.)

#8. While responding to the Thing's signal flare, Sue causes an accident while crossing the street because she realizes a car is about to hit her so she turns visible and the driver sees her, freaks and veers into a fire hydrant.

#9. And the reason for the Thing's signal flare? He wanted the others to come to Alicia's gallery where she is showing her miniature sculptures of the FF's villains. The Thing says: "Since when do i have to be in trouble in order to send for you?" (I think they left out the panel where Reed said: "Since right now, buddy!")

#10. While threatening Stan and Jack, Doom demonstrates his terrifying powers AND his ruthlessnes by destroying an ashtray!

(I'm willing to give Stan and Jack a pass on the uber-goofiness of #10. They were probably pretty rattled after being threatened and held captive by Doom and forced to do his bidding. And Doom destroyed their ash tray.

They really punked Reed! (I wish Stan and Jack had written a story about Reed's revenge on them. "You betraying little bitches!))

4/02/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoosier X said...

I say, Give John Broome a break!

That was the era when they drew the covers first, and then asked the writer (politely, I hope) to come up with a story based on the cover.

Sometimes, the results were only slightly more satisfying than writing a comic book based on, say, the design on a cigar box.

4/02/2006 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

You could take the Grant Morrison route and say that the Skrulls couldn't tell the difference because their reality was itself a comic book.

4/02/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Sleestak said...

Were they manly pirates?

4/02/2006 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Typolad said...

I was going to put FF#1 on WWTT for the whole "wait, who tied him UP?" thing.

There's better moments though,.

Oh and John? Thank you for creeping me out.

4/03/2006 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian Mac said...

The bit that always bugged me was Johnny shaving Namor in FF #4. Leaving aside that it's perfectly safe for a teenage runaway to stay in a flophouse (hey, it was 1962), and leaving aside the fact that he just happens to pick the very place an amnesiac Namor has been living, it's still just strange. Namor has just beaten up a room full of men because they were bothering him, but now he sits, looking quite dazed actually, while some teenager lights his hand on fire and gives him a shave and a haircut. You'd think he'd be somewhat irritated by this.

4/03/2006 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I considered the shave, Brian, but decided against it because

A. Namor only beat those guys up because they attacked HIM. He was basically just chilling before that.

B. He seemed curious himself as to his own identity, so I think he was happy to go along with Johnny's plan.

C. As Johnny said, he can shave people very nicely, so Namor probably didn't want to pass up a nice shave


D. Even if he can burn your hair without singing you, I think any time you have an open flame next to your face, you'd do well to stay still as well!!!

4/03/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Jesse said...

E. Through the glories of retro-continuity, we can infer that Namor sat still for Johnny's pyrodepilation because it was a comforting reminder of all those times he and his pal, the original Human Torch, spent giving each other shaves, cutting each other's hair, giving each other pedicures, etc. in the trenches in WW II. Those lonely, lonely trenches....

4/03/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger David C said...

Maybe the Skrulls are like the aliens in *Galaxy Quest* who thought our cheesy TV shows were recorded history, because their culture never developed fiction?

But on the other hand, given the Skrulls' shape-shifting, you'd think "let's pretend" would actually be an inherent part of their culture....

4/03/2006 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Yeah, but is it really "Let's pretend?" if you actually can become whatever you're pretending to be?

4/03/2006 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"E. Through the glories of retro-continuity, we can infer that Namor sat still for Johnny's pyrodepilation because it was a comforting reminder of all those times he and his pal, the original Human Torch, spent giving each other shaves, cutting each other's hair, giving each other pedicures, etc. in the trenches in WW II. Those lonely, lonely trenches...."

How did Roy Thomas fail to include this in Invaders?!?!?!

4/03/2006 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Darkness U.S.A said...

All those years the thing has blamed Reed Richards for being the Thing he should have blamed Sue for shaming him into flying the ship.

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