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Ten Goofiest Moments of Fantastic Four #11-20

A long time ago, I put together a list of the goofiest moments in the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four (check it out here, as well as the goofiest moments in the first ten issues of the Amazing Spider-Man, which you can check out here). It has been a bunch of years, but Mark Andrew’s series of reviews of the early issues of the Fantastic Four have inspired me to return to this topic. So now, here are the ten goofiest moments of the NEXT ten issues of the Fantastic Four (#11-20)!!

Before I begin listing the moments, let me note a few things. First off, of course it should be said that these were written fifty years ago designed to be read by children. Stan Lee certainly did not expect anyone to remember these things five decades later, let alone expect anyone to pick apart specific plot points for their goofiness. Secondly, these are some strong comic books. I am certainly not knocking the comics in question. They are good. They just happen to have some goofy moments mixed in here and there. No maliciousness intended. Without any further ago, on with the countdown!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Animal magnetism at its finest…

In Fantastic Four #13, the FF face off against the Red Ghost and his super-powered primates. One of the primates has magnetic powers. I enjoy seeing the Red Ghost order it to use its magnetic powers in a very typical usage of magnetism…

Love is blind…and apparently kinda dumb

In Fantastic Four #14, the male members of the team are off on a dangerous mission to fight the Sub-Mariner, who has kidnapped Sue. Alicia wants to come and Ben…says yes?!? Huh?!?

Perhaps not the best example…

In Fantastic Four #15, we meet the Mad Thinker, whose knowledge about the minute details of things has allowed him to calculate some very clever crimes. Many of them make perfect sense and are impressive demonstrations…

However, this last one…not so much…

Is that really an example of your genius? Perhaps a better example would have been to not have incriminating evidence laying around in a deserted shack, no?

I knew I should have said something earlier…

In the classic Fantastic Four #19, the team goes back in time to discover a cure for blindness. Upon their return, they discover that it could not travel through time. Reed, though, is not so surprised…

Really, Reed? That wasn’t something that you could have thought of earlier?

Sue Storm, Political Commentator

In the aforementioned Fantastic Four #13, Sue works in some rather pointed political commentary while a prisoner of the Red Ghost…

10. Reed Richards…Judo Expert?!?

In Fantastic Four #17, Stan and Jack let Sue cut loose a little bit and take the fight to Doctor Doom in hand-to-hand combat. It is a pretty cool scene, but the dialogue is a bit surprising…

One of the world’s greatest judo experts? Reed Richards? Huh?!?

9. Fire is perhaps not the best thing to lift stuff with…

Jack Kirby loved to give the Human Torch random powers. Here’s a notably goofy example from Fantastic Four #12…

I can’t even begin to figure out how that would work.

8. Sue Storm needs a new hobby

I love the intentness Sue has in Fantastic Four #15 when she tries to figure out the best way to improve her tactical abilities…

I love how she basically just concedes at the end that this was just an excuse to play with perfume.

7. Sort of a Catch-22, no?

In Fantastic Four #13, Reed has an interesting idea…

Soooo…to come up with a fuel that can help NASA beat the Russians to the moon, Reed is going to go test it…by going to the moon himself? I believe Stan even figured out that this made no sense, as the next issue, he makes a point of showing the world rejoicing the FF reaching the moon.

6. Ah, of course, the mento-fish…

The area Stan tended to get goofiest at was when characters tried to communicate with each other. In the aforementioned goofy Amazing Spider-Man moments list, Doctor Doom communicated with Spider-Man through a giant spider he just happened to have laying around. In Fantastic Four #14, we see a mind-controlled Namor use a similar option to contact Sue…

Later in the issue, Namor communicates with the rest of the FF, using a power I guess we were supposed to know he had?

Finally, it probably wouldn’t be goofy enough just on its own (as Namor uses a ton of odd fish in the issue), but the idea of a hypno-fish just strikes me as hilarious, as well. A mento-fish AND a hypno-fish!!

5. Imagine if he HAD gone to art school!

In Fantastic Four #17, we get to see another one of Johnny’s out of nowhere new powers, this time to trick Doctor Doom, who seemingly had teleported the Fantastic Four to another dimension (that Doom has that kind of power is sort of goofy in and of itself)….

only to learn that Johnny had made flame images…

How flame can make exact duplicates of people (including different colors) is a mystery for the ages!

4. Ah yes, why didn’t I think of that sooner!

Like I mentioned, Stan tended to be especially goofy when it came to devices meant to track or communicate with others, as was the case in Fantastic Four #17 when we see Reed’s rather…specific device he is using to track Doctor Doom…

3. Who can pay attention to what happened in previous issues?

In Fantastic Four #20, Reed makes a major discovery!!!

See! Proof that there is life in outer space! THAT’s what we needed, Reed! THANK YOU! Finally we know that there is life in outer space. The Skrulls attacking twice in the previous 19 issues (including two issues ago)? That doesn’t prove anything!

2. Easier than a game of Clue…

In Fantastic Four #12, the FF is brought in to help the military discover who is sabotaging their base (they figure it is the Hulk, which is why they need the FF’s help). Bruce Banner and Rick Jones meet the FF, and after Johnny uses his flame lasso on Banner’s assistant’s wallet, Rick goes to return it to him. That’s when Rick makes a remarkable discovery…

Probably not the best idea to keep your Communist membership card in your wallet while you’re going undercover.

1. Lincoln’s Mother

Fantastic Four #11 was a classic issue with a great concept – the first story in the issue would have the Fantastic Four answer questions from the readers! Very clever idea by Stan and Jack. However, things take a turn for the bizarre when Stan decides to address complaints from readers over Sue’s uselessness…

What a delightfully bizarre attempt to stick up for a fictional character. I love it when Ben has to hold Reed back from attacking the little kids reading the comic!

That’s the list! Hope you enjoyed it!

59 Comments

That was great! Can you do some for some Silver Age DC books sometime as well?

“It’s a highly refined radar set, extra sensitive to human flesh covered by steel”.

You could put a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters, and they couldn’t come up with something as great as that.

Lady Wrestlers!

Oh my, everything looks so cheesy when seen 50 years afterwards. But I bet in their time the scenes were taken seriously.

Brian, maybe you give Stan a little too much credit for all of those goofiest moments; probably that a lot of ‘em originated spontaneously from Jack’s fertile imagination; Stan didn’t have to plot the stories in such vivid details what with the Marvel method…

I don’t think Reed was going to the moon to test anything; he never said that. He was telling the others that he would be flying his rocket to the Blue Area of the Moon when he finished it. Ben was’t too happy about that.

As far as the other stories go, I got nothin’.

Ben, get with the times, dude! They are called Divas now, not ‘lady wrestlers’! :D

Regarding Reed Richards, Judo Expert, I’d say a) it was still early days yet, and b) you know, when Jack turned in a scene of Sue being competent and holding her own, Stan had to come up with *something*….

That first honorable mention reminds me of a bit from Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Exeter: Now place your hands above the rail… they’re magnetized.

Crow: And if your hands were metal, that would mean something.

Riley Shotts

May 1, 2011 at 9:38 am

Love this article, but shouldn’t it be called 20 Goofiest moments?

Mark J. Hayman

May 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

All Glory to the Hypno-Fish!

Billy Bissette

May 1, 2011 at 10:43 am

I agree with Johnny Bacardi. At least by the pages posted, number 7 isn’t a catch-22. Reed doesn’t have to be on the moon to test the material. The test is to prove that the material has the power to get him to the moon.

The Catch-22 is not that he is going to the moon, the Catch-22 is that he is inventing the rocket fuel so that NASA can go to the moon, and yet he is going to go there BEFORE NASA. Like I said, Lee catches on to how that doesn’t make sense by showing the world excited about the FF’s mission the next issue. But I’ll make it clearer!

I think Johnny using his flame to make a sonar device is even better than a lasso (maybe that’s in the annual, though, and not in the first 20 issues–I forget).

And these are just terribly written comics, so calling these moments “goofy” is very generous. Stan didn’t even try–he just wrote whatever nonsense he felt like and apparently the readers were dumb enough to buy it. They do progressively get better though–issues 10- 20 are miles above issue one as far as the writing is concerned. I guess they eventually realized that they should actually think about some of this rather than just write down whatever pops into their heads at the moment.

On the one hand, I revere Stan for having had a hand in creating some of my favorite fictional characters, but on the other, I think he was just at the right place at the right time and that literally almost anyone could have done just as good a job.

Didn’t see NASA mentioned, but I’ll stand corrected, ’cause I’m just nice like that.

“I think he was just at the right place at the right time and that literally almost anyone could have done just as good a job.”

Larry Lieber? Is that you?

A Marvel Adventures story once had the Fantastic Four answering questions from readers, one of whom complained about Reed, saying that he was boring and lame. Naturally, Sue got very upset over that (Reed himself wasn’t present).
So Sue stood next to that same bust of Lincoln. “Look at Abraham Lincoln! He was tall and skinny, just like Reed, but was he lame? I don’t think so!’
And while she was saying that, Johnny looked at the bust and said, ‘Was that there a minute ago?’

I didn’t know about the scene in #11 until after I had read that, so when I first did read it in an Essentials, it seemed especially hilarious.

Didn’t see NASA mentioned, but I’ll stand corrected, ’cause I’m just nice like that.

Nah, like I said, I wasn’t clear enough. So it was a helpful point by you!

A Marvel Adventures story once had the Fantastic Four answering questions from readers, one of whom complained about Reed, saying that he was boring and lame. Naturally, Sue got very upset over that (Reed himself wasn’t present).
So Sue stood next to that same bust of Lincoln. “Look at Abraham Lincoln! He was tall and skinny, just like Reed, but was he lame? I don’t think so!’
And while she was saying that, Johnny looked at the bust and said, ‘Was that there a minute ago?’

I didn’t know about the scene in #11 until after I had read that, so when I first did read it in an Essentials, it seemed especially hilarious.

Yeah, I remember that. Hilarious. I believe I featured it at the old blog when it happened.

Johnny’s flame was a bit like Green Lantern’s ring in the old days. Actually, that is a little bit true for many other Marvel heroes. Thor’s hammer did a lot of stuff that he would never repeat, even Namor had a fish for every occasion.

1963 was sort of the cut-off point for when the Marvel U started to take a more solid shape. Including the characters’ powers.

Can’t believe you left out The Thing dressing up like Blackbeard the Pirate.. On the other hand, compared to magnetic monkeys and hypno fish… nevermind..

Brian Cronin

May 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

That was in the first ten issues, Jack!

On the one hand, I revere Stan for having had a hand in creating some of my favorite fictional characters, but on the other, I think he was just at the right place at the right time and that literally almost anyone could have done just as good a job.

I see variations of this comment every time someone starts talking about early Marvel, and it always strikes me as ridiculous. The implication is that the comics landscape looked just like it does now, with superheroes as a monolithic monopoly from a couple of major publishers, and so anything that was “Not-DC” would have sold just on its difference.

Not so. The superhero revival was only in its second or third year when Stan and Jack staked out Marvel’s piece of it, and they weren’t just competing with DC. There was also Dell, Harvey, Archie, and a couple of others, all of which were doing all kinds of diverse and popular titles. Jack Kirby’s later concepts were amazing but early on, it was Stan’s writing that pushed those books out front. It was the narrative style that sold those early Marvels, the hell-for-leather excitement and the characters’ willingness to get all emotional about it. Moreover, it was Stan that saw they were succeeding and pushed Kirby to just go for it, do the comics THEY thought would be cool. Most of the goofy things Brian’s pointing out here come from that willingness to just do ANYTHING. Craft and discipline came later.

Great stuff. Goofiest thing of all of course was that Sue was a man in drag back then.

Wait, she’s meant to be a girl…?

This is no swipe at Kirby, who I give all respect to, but I suspect that he was a little hazy on what an Orangutan looks like, and had a very blurry, poorly printed reference photo to go by.

Also, where did Sue get that room full of dogs? “I’ll just borrow these dogs that Reed keeps on hand for the horrific and gruesome experiments he carries out in his quest to cure Ben…”

And maybe Karl had an important subversive-communist-organization meeting after work, and didn’t want to stop off at home to pick up his I.D.

Finally, I’d like to think that the Mento-fish were fished into extinction by a consortium of the world’s phone companies desperate to preserve their monopoly (works even better if you go by real time instead of the Marvel-sliding-scale timeline, because that way the phone company is still a monopoly, and you can say that the need to figure out how to sell all this surplus fish accounts for the launch of the Filet-O-Fish in 1962).

It’s not often that a comic blog can make me laugh out loud!! Thanks for brightening up my day. The Abraham Lincoln part was priceless.

Cheers

Hilarious! I knew early FF had some *huge* WTH moments- the one with turning the Skrulls into cows still stands out in my opinion- but I didn’t know there were so many early on.

However, remember the context, folks. It was the 60s, and comics were still primarily written FOR KIDS, not overcritical adults. At least Lee *tried* to explain things, everywhere else -most notably in DC’s Jimmy Olsen- they came up with the flimsiest explanations for everything eg. we need Jimmy to turn into a werewolf, we’ll just have him accidentally drink some serum that someone invented. The needs of the story heavily outweighed logic in those times.

Admittedly, there are some things that even back then would made people wonder. For example, if the Thinker is SO smart… why is he joining criminals? He could make BILLIONS legally with those predictions!

Of course, that’s why Stan came up with the No-Prize Award, one of his best ideas ever. Hey fans! You spotted something illogical in one of our stories? well YOU come up with an explanation for it and I’ll reward you with NOTHING except the acceptance of your theory! And they loved it!! :D

Oh, and I remember that Johnny’s fire creations, they lasted quite a while, to the point that I later wondered why he stopped saving people from falls by creating fiery cushions and so. I’m not saying I liked the idea, just that it was odd that they dropped the power without any explanation (not even a No-Prize one. ;) )

I love, love, love number one – Stan takes, like, two full pages out of his comic to refute complaining comics fans.

And, heh, I don’t think I ever noticed the magnetic gorilla before. I can’t believe nobody’s written a scene with a writing mass of people being dragged through New York with the magnetic gorilla at the center…

On the one hand, I revere Stan for having had a hand in creating some of my favorite fictional characters, but on the other, I think he was just at the right place at the right time and that literally almost anyone could have done just as good a job.

That’s utterly insane.

Also a testable hypothesis.

Y’all up for a “Let’s Write Marvel Style” contest? (Details to be ironed out later.)

Man, if that time machine couldn’t transport anything with radioactive properties, it’s a good thing none of them had ever been altered by radiation.

Look closer at that panel with the organ grinder monkey. It doesn’t look accidental — he’s got a match in his hand and he’s lighting a fire.

Chris McFeely

May 2, 2011 at 5:51 am

I don’t remember the issue, but I think the worst “goofy moment” from the early Lee-Kirby stuff has got to be the issue where the FF go broke, and accept an offer from Namor to star in a movie, which is of course a ruse on his part to kill ‘em. Except then, they defeat him… and he MAKES THE MOVIE AND PAYS THEM ANYWAY!

Brian Cronin

May 2, 2011 at 6:03 am

That’s in the first ten issues, Chris. That’s where we discover some of Namor’s most bizarre powers.

This is insane. That’s why I love comics!

I’m finishing the first “Showcase Presents: Justice League of America” (4 more to go!)
So much creativity and cool stuff!

And as the aside of radioactivity in time machines, it is good to remember that everyone has small amounts of natural radioactive isotopes of carbon and potassium in their bodies, and this being 60s I’d expect them to have also radioactivity from gloabl fallout from the nuclear weapons testing…
Yeah, yeah, written for kids and all that.

Based on some pieces here though I wouldn’t be too surprised if Kirby threw some jokes here, drawing whatever he wants and then seeing if Lee can come up with sensible explanations…

Scot LaFaive

May 2, 2011 at 8:18 am

Also, where did Sue get that room full of dogs? “I’ll just borrow these dogs that Reed keeps on hand for the horrific and gruesome experiments he carries out in his quest to cure Ben…”

Sounds about right :)

8. Sue Storm needs a new hobby

Never mind the fact that she was talking out-loud as she entered the room.
No way the dogs would have noticed that.

I like how the dog in the foreground of panel two looks like its howling with laughter.

Can’t believe you left out the part in #20 where positive and negative magnetic poles REPEL each other! Oh, Stan!

Hugo Sleestak

May 2, 2011 at 8:58 am

That last one, with Reed and Ben sticking up for Sue, has always and forever been one of my favorite goofiest moments … in just about any comic, really.

This is why we love comics, they can go from the serious to the goofy to the serious from one issue to the next.

I want Judo-master Reed Richards to spar with Iron Fist.

Brian Cronin

May 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

Can’t believe you left out the part in #20 where positive and negative magnetic poles REPEL each other! Oh, Stan!

Good call, Chris. I’ll admit that I glossed over all the crazy things the Molecule Man did because, well, his power WAS to do crazy things, but that definitely counts as goofy! Thanks, I edited it into the piece!

Lincoln’s Mother argument is also among my all time favorite “what?” moments in comics…but after that Sue did get a power-up so it’s all fine.

Perhaps Reed had Sue on a mult-mega-iron supplement (as in the second X-Men movie) to explain her magnetic attraction to the gorilla.

Really… you need to try harder to come up with a reasonable explanation!

;P

That panel with the organ grinder monkey is amazing. I want a comic starring the Mad Thinker and the organ grinding monkey that does his bidding. I could also go for a return to this characterization of Namor–he’s absolutely insane and he’s got a fish for every occasion.

Will you do Green lantern next, in honor of the movie? We’ve been reading the Showcase v. 1 and it is craaaazy. Makes you realize Kirby and Lee were doing a reality series in comparison.

Will you do Green lantern next, in honor of the movie? We’ve been reading the Showcase v. 1 and it is craaaazy. Makes you realize Kirby and Lee were doing a reality series in comparison.

I’ve been asking for one of these done on a John Broom Silver Age DC series since the very first installment! And to no avail!

With Broome’s stories you could make a ten item list of goofiness per issue! I hope you do it Brian, it would be a hoot.

So many miracles in early Marvel. Like Magnets. What’s up with those? Lee regularly had magnetic forces used as a a catch all for any suctiony or levitating power. I cringe every time I read about Magneto lifting an explicitly plastic object.

John – I’m covering Green Lantern on What Were They Thinking right now.

[Insert internet meme about magnets here]

Mordechai, that Green Lantern stuff is hilarious! Good job.

Can’t agree that Lee was just at the right place at the right time. I read the earliest volumes of Essential Thor and the writing takes a quantum leap when Lee takes a more active part in the series. Certainly the artists contributed a great deal to the plots, but Lee was definitely an important part of the magic.

These are just hilarious, I love them all!

I miss all of Namor’s crazy extra powers (Mento-Fish, Puffer Fish, ect). The only one that still seems to be canon is the electricity absorption/reflection powers and I haven’t seen those since Namorita used them in New Warriors.

The “Sue defense” is hilarious because these days SHE’s the powerhouse.

Really nice articles, as far i enjoy them but as person that is living in post soviet countries, that commie speeches doesn’t seem so goofy… especially Sue’s speech… its might be goofy but it’s so true even for modern Russia.

I know it’s a bit late, but to add my voice in support of Stan Lee: The comics he did with Kirby and Ditko were still good when he did them with other people. The comics Kirby and Ditko did without STAN, however, were never as good as the ones they did with him.

And that, I think, pretty much closes the argument on whether or not there was anything special about ol’ Stan.

I recall many of these scenes. Hilarious, creative – and fun! When comic books were just that. Fun reads…when people actually bought them to read…in the millions.

Wow, that moon. I don’t expect Kirby to be able to freehand a perfect circle but hell, you’d think someone would have passed him a compass or a can of soup when it came time to ink the page.

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