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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 204

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at an interesting Fantastic Four moment, where “the” moment is especially hard to pinpoint.

In Fantastic Four #1, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby give us one of the most classic origin stories in comic book history…

My only “problem” is what exactly is “the” moment here? I think it’s probably when they ban together by throwing four hands together, however, that panel with the cosmic radiation bombarding the ship? That’s one of the most iconic single panels in comic book history! So maybe THAT’S “the” moment!

What do you folks think?

41 Comments

Wow, I remember reading this in a school library as a fourth grader (I’m 28 now, so this was a collection). It’s strange, the art, the dialogue, it’s almost exactly as I recall it!

It’s amazing what awful jerks Reed and Sue are in this origin. Poor Ben.

The moment is the four hands when Ben finally throws in with them, but reluctantly. His persona and the team dynamic is established at that point. You know that these are purely altruistic heroes ala Superman. They have flaws, and the contrast of Ben’s hand being so different from theirs shows that this is an alliance built on their differences and that it is a bond forged on shaky ground from the start. That one frame for me is what hooks you into the pathos of these characters.

I’m with billshears on this. I’ve never read this before. but good lord, do Reed and Sue come off poorly in this story. I’m glad they got more likeable over time, because I don’t know that I’d have been interested in this team as they are depicted here. Sue pretty much bullies Ben to get him to go on a mission they are all completely unprepared for!

Reading this, I can see why Amazing Fantasy #15 made so much of an impact.

“Commies?” Man, does that date the FF’s origin. I’d forgotten about that one line of Sue’s.

Weirdest thing is how quickly Reed christens himself “Mister Fantastic.” The other three at least had names that described their sudden condition, especially poor Ben courtesy of Sue. Maybe Reed should have gone with “Extendar” or something, but I guess he wanted everyone to know who was gonna call the shots.

The moment for me, is when Ben stops sounding like the Gray Hulk and beats Reed to the punch when the suggestion is made to form the team. Ben has never been too impressed by Reed because Ben knows he is smarter than he appears, in human form or not. And he’s got more heart than the other three members put together, especially in these early stories.

This is why I always preferred Marvel Two-In-One over the main book as a kid.

I just love how easy it is to get Ben to change his mind

“This mission is fool hardy and dangerous, count me out”

“Wuss”

“What? Let’s do this mission immediately”

The desk smashing panel is really a laugh riot.

I’d have to agree that the four hands at the end is the “moment”.

I also can’t help but notice that, in five pages, Lee and Kirby set up a super-hero team. Not six issues, not twelve issues, not two or three series (I’m looking at you, JMS’ Supreme Power/Squadron Supreme). FIVE PAGES. Get the origin out of the way and start telling stories, modern writers! :)

It’s amazing what awful jerks Reed and Sue are in this origin. Poor Ben.

Not only are Reed and Sue jerks for the first dozen issues or more, but Ben is surprisingly psychotic. You really feel that one wrong word or day can flip a switch in him and make him turn villain or homicidal maniac. He really became a lot more loveable later in the run.

Sue is a total bitch in this, first she goads Ben into joining, and calls him a Thing the moment he becomes transformed and pretty much insults him and treats him like dirt for the first dozen issues or so, wih zero guilt that her taunt was what made him join or that Ben was right and she was wrong but Ben suffered the worst penalty for it.

Reading this, I can see why Amazing Fantasy #15 made so much of an impact.

Yeah, but if you read the Silver Age DC superhero stuff coming out when this issue hit the stands, you’ll also see why this issue made so much of an impact too. This is 3000% better. (Although I think DC’s nonsuperhero Silver Age stuff was probably better than this)

Now I remember why I much prefer the early Thing after he becomes firmly rocky. Lumpy Thing is rather disturbing, honestly.

Something else I notice now that I never did before. In the early issues Ben complains about how Sue has such favoritism toward Reed but treats him like dirt. When I was younger it read like sour grapes but rereading he does have a point. He makes a valid point about the shielding and she calls him a coward and it’s all about ReedReedReed. Then when it turns out Ben was right, does she say “Sorry Ben, you were right?” No, she ignores Ben and SYMPATHIZES WITH REED! Plus Reed still has the nerve to act indignant and self-righteous with Ben immediately after being proven to be irresponsible and almost killing them. And of course Sue again takes his side over Ben’s. Wow was she a shallow bitch. Ben had a point, they did have it in for him.

I just love how easy it is to get Ben to change his mind

“This mission is fool hardy and dangerous, count me out”

“Wuss”

“What? Let’s do this mission immediately”

That’s the same argument that got Rick Jones to drive on to a gamma bomb test site!

I think Marty McFly and Ben Grimm might have a lot to talk about….

It is kind of funny to recognize the cultural changes that have taken place since this was published. It just seems that being called a “wuss,” a “chicken,” or a “coward,” is not as much of an acceptable excuse for doing something stupid as it used to be.

And yes, Librarian, I remember reading this story in some kind of “intro to the FF” book at my local library when I was a kid, and it is pretty much exactly as I remember it from then. Actually, my recall of these panels, which, until now, I hadn’t seen in probably 20 years or so is likely better than my memory of some of the books I’ve read in the past few weeks, which really says something about the work.

It just seems that being called a “wuss,” a “chicken,” or a “coward,” is not as much of an acceptable excuse for doing something stupid as it used to be.

I think it still is pretty much an acceptable excuse outside of yuppie circles to be honest.

Perhaps, T. Maybe I just hang with a soft crowd.

I guess what I should say is that it is not as much of an acceptable plot device as it used to be. I can’t imagine anyone writing this scene today would have chosen to make that Ben Grimm’s sole motivation to perform what he obviously believes is a potentially suicidal act. Whether that it is a reflection of real life or some sort of political correctness, I’m not sure.

“The” moment for me happens off-panel, after Reed says “And I’ll call myself…Mister Fantastic!” when the Thing turns to him and says “Are shitting me Richards? WE ARE GOING TO JAIL.”

i would pick when they discover their powers and the look of shocks on their faces and ben going postal on reid

Perhaps, T. Maybe I just hang with a soft crowd.

I don’t think it’s that your crowd is soft, just maybe not working class or blue collar. Among blue collar and working class guys, they are still as susceptible to macho taunts today as they were in older days. Take a modern guido, someone from black or hispanic inner city, someone from the working class south, etc and give them a taunt like that and those are still fighting words. Ben Grimm was from blue collar background so even in modern day I could see him responding like that..

That’s the same argument that got Rick Jones to drive on to a gamma bomb test site!

So radiation wasn’t the cause of numerous Marvel Superheroes’ powers in the 60s, it was the fear of being labeled a chicken.

I’ll bet the scientist conducting the demonstration Peter Parker attended when we was bitten by the radioactive spider did it on a dare.

And I still chuckle whenever Reed basically says “uh…I’ll be Mister Fantastic, not because it’s descriptive of my powers but because I am, in fact, fantastic, all current evidence to the contrary.”

Also, it’s always kind of bugged me that Sue referred to Ben as a Thing, yet he says he’ll be called what Susan called him, the Thing. I get the change, but it still kinda bugs me. :)

That guard at the launch site did a really bad job.

You have to understand…this is an early 60’s, paranoid Communist, space-race oriented theme. Iron Man’s early stories deal with the Crimson Dynamo and the Mandarin….this covers Russia and Vietnam and China… What’s startling is that comic details the first comic book team that has some serious psychological issues and that they are at each other’s throats. DC didn’t have ANYONE like this team….all sugary sweet…and no one individual like The Thing….this was ground-breaking….there are a LOT of moments here of human depth

Norm McDonald has a great bit on one of his cd’s about the Fantastic Four getting their names, and how everyone’s name more or less describes their powers, yet Reed dubs himself Mr Fantastic. It’s really funny and worth seeking out if you’ve never heard it.

Hey! Did no one read Mark Waid’s 1st issue of FF? In it, he provides the most logical reason for calling himself Mr. Fantastic [and a bunch of other stuff that he decides on]. In this story, Reed says that he knows that he’s turned his family into freaks, and that the only way that he can blunt the fearful reaction from the public and try to keep these people together in order to cure them is to mold them into flashy superheroes that the public will embrace. Even tho’ this is not in the original story, i thought it was a beautiful way to tie in a lot of FF history with the fact that Reed is supposed to be super intelligent. Reed tells this story to his infant daughter as a confessional as he still can’t bear to tell his family after all this time.
Really? No one else remembers this story? After we all made such an uproar over Marvel taking Waid/Wieringo off the book? Really?
DFTBA.

Hey! Did no one read Mark Waid’s 1st issue of FF? In it, he provides the most logical reason for calling himself Mr. Fantastic [and a bunch of other stuff that he decides on].

Irrelevant, that’s a retcon that came 40+ years later.

Hey! Did no one read Mark Waid’s 1st issue of FF?

Yeah, I read it, but I didn’t remember that bit of it. And yes, it’s as good an explanation as any, but it still doesn’t stop me from chuckling at Reed’s choice in the original. :)

Well, as a physicist, I can tell you what is without a doubt, scientifically, “the” moment here.

It is discovering the sound that Cosmic Rays make!

Tac! Tac! Tac!

Why the heck would they need an explanation for why Reed chose his name? That’s really stupid.

Ben: “I´ll prove to you that you love the wrong man, Susan!”

What was THAT all about? Didn´t remember that line AT ALL. Anyone knows if this issue was addressed in the subsequent stories?

klaatu:

In the first few issues Stan thought to set up a love triangle – Sue loves Reed, who is a bit
distant, while Ben languishes with unrequited love for Sue, owing to the fact that he has transformed into the Thing.

this was standard for early Marvel’s. in X-Men #2 or 3, Prof. X thinks about his love for Jean Grey, that dare not speak its name (which is cool, as he’s a telepath and all).

Early Daredevil’s with Matt and Karen, same deal.

Stan was trying, in my opinion, to replicate the Clark Kent – Lois Lane – Superman dynamic in these early issues. to his credit, the fit was forced, he recognized it, and abandoned it fairly quickly. Similarly, he had Hank McCoy as an uncouth brawler, trying for a Ben Grimm/Thing vibe, and then quickly realized that the character would be more interesting as the most educated and refined of the group.

[…] and Diamonds By Mark Today’s Comic Book Cool Moment comes from The Fantastic Four #1. Stan and Jack initially didn’t think it was safe to have the FF try to reach the moon. In […]

I love how clingy Sue is in this… “Reed, I know you’re going on a dangerous mission to space, but I’M COMING TOO!” And Johnny is just as attatched to his sister… it’s wierd…

What’s astonishing here is how complete this origin story is in just FIVE PAGES. Not a panel is wasted!

Doug M.

Also, Kirby’s art is better than it looks. Check out (for example) Reed turning his back on Ben in the very first panel. Or the dramatic viewpoint and angle shifts on the second page.

This doesn’t have much of the over the top, COSMIC stuff that we associate with Kirby, but it’s still very solid graphic storytelling.

Doug M.

I love how clingy Sue is in this… “Reed, I know you’re going on a dangerous mission to space, but I’M COMING TOO!” And Johnny is just as attatched to his sister… it’s wierd…

I don’t really see what you’re getting at.

Anybody who says “Fuck it. I built the damn rocket, I’m gonna go up in it, with my drinking buddy and my girlfriend and her kid brother and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it!” DESERVES to call himself “Mister Fantastic.” Simply because “Mister Totally Fucking Badass, Sir!” takes too long to say.

Damn good point Anonymous. Damn good point. Don’t forget “blow right past the armed guard” as well.

Its interesting seeing that when Reed calls himself Mr Fantastic, everyone assumes he means Fantastic as in ‘great’ or ‘awesome’ I’ve always taken it as Fantasic as in ‘strange’ or ‘weird’ which is what a rubber man would be. Does anyone know if Stan Lee himself ever explained his choice of name?

And for me the moment would be the joining of hands panel. Makes tou wonder if the similar panel in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a deliberate homage to it

Shane, Alan Moore is a big Jack Kirby fan so the joining of the hands would most likely be a tribute

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