web stats

CSBG Archive

Five Goofiest Moments in Fantastic Four #21-25

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at the Fantastic Four #21-25, by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. We’ve already seen #1-20, so now let’s continue checking out the goofy moments of the Fantastic Four!

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time – it just also has tons of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

I don’t think this is provoking the thoughts they mean for it to provoke…

This splash page for #21 provokes the thought, “What the heck is this?!”

I love the mad look on Reed’s face and the odd design of Johnny’s face.

To be fair, it’s not like Stan came up with the name…oh…wait…

In #25, the Hulk turns into his alter ego…

“Hey, I knew it was BB and the last name was Banner! That’s pretty close!”

Something doesn’t quite fit here…

In #21, Reed’s old war buddy, Nick Fury, comes to visit…

Notice no eye-patch.

Later on, though, Stan Lee decided to explain away the eye-patch by having it happen to Nick during World War II…

But if he got it in World War II….see the problem?

It is surprising Reed lasted THIS long…

In #23, Reed gets sick of his teammates bickering, especially when they get mad at him talking down to them and deciding that they would each make a better leader than Reed…

I wonder what male curiosity is like…

In #21, the Hate-Monger’s Hate-ray has made the Fantastic Four, well, hate each other. So when Reed, now solo, goes off on a mission, each of the group is curious about what’s what. Sue, though, has to qualify her curiosity…

DYLAN REFERENCE TO SONG DYLAN HAD NOT WRITTEN YET!!!

In #23, Reed tests Sue’s battle-readiness…

I love that Sue basically just agrees with Reed. “He’s right, I AM too scatter-brained and emotional. He is so smart. I can’t wait to marry him!”

Stan and Jack’s idea of what women do on their downtime…

In #21, the various members of the FF are keeping themselves busy. Reed is doing experiments, Ben is punching a giant steel punching bag, Johnny is throwing flame-darts at a picture of Spider-Man and Sue…well…Sue is playing with wigs…

Oh Sue…simple, simple Sue…

5. Doom’s totally normal plan…

In #23, three criminals are freed…

I love how Doom is all, “It is obviously me! I’ve never done anything like this before, and freeing prisoners to work for me is pretty much what every villain does, but you should still know it was me, darnit!”

Taking it a further step into goofy-land is later in the issue…

Yes, Handsome Harry’s special hearing power.

What the heck?!?

4. Stan the fear monger…

In #21, the Hate Monger wants to catch up with Reed. Luckily, he has a totally realistic mode of transportation…

What, you didn’t know that the Russians were way ahead in the underground passenger missile race? Fools!!

3. Sue’s new powers…

In #22, we see Sue’s new powers…

I love the sooooo logical explanation for it…

And later, she shows off her third power…

The best part is that Lee just decides to let Ben do some of the talking…for no good reason.

2. Doom’s worst plan ever…

In #23…well…just look at how goofy this is…

1. Hate Monger’s identity revealed!

Even though the cover of the issue told me not to reveal it, here is the Hate Monger’s identity…

Yep, the FF versus Hitler.

Awesome.

53 Comments

How did Reed know that the *invisible* force field had been dented?

I know, I know, just roll with it. But still…

Jacob – You are interpreting Sue’s name too literally – her actual power is to make things partially invisible but with a series of outline dashes.. The ‘Invisible’ Girl title is a little misleading but it sounds better than Stan’s original idea of ‘Semi Transparent (with a dotted outline) Girl’.

:-)

I was going to post asking if it was ever explained how Hitler received his slow ageing powers? He looks pretty good for a 74 year old :-). However, a quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that this was in fact a clone of Hitler made by Arnim Zola so that makes perfect comic book sense and as such I vote this story be removed from the list :-).

The supposedly sexist stuff with Sue…to be honest, there really are a lot of women who truly are the way she was written. Even to this day.

At any rate, I don’t think it’s any more insulting to women than the patronizing way they’re written now, where everything has to be empowering and they have to always be shown being competitive with men in traditionally male activities, basically being shown not only to be great at being women but also at beating men at their own game, in order to have any value as characters. Like it’s just as two-dimensional and patronizing in every Fantastic Four reboot or remake or adaptation to have Sue Richards as the perfect mom, wife, and also ubercompetent scientist or businesswoman that can give Reed as good as she gets, while also being a superhottie to boot. The message becomes that a woman still has to be a woman by traditional standards by being beautiful, skinny, well-mannered, good mother, but also has to be successful by traditional male standards to in order to have value.

A Stan Lee written women from the 1960s, capricious whims and erratic behavior and all, is no worse to me than the patronizing “strong, empowering” women written by Chris Claremont or Gail Simone. Neither are realistic three-dimensional characters and both are somewhat insulting.

And T summarizes why he will never get laid. Ever.

In #22, we see Sue’s new powers…

Okay, don’t really see anything that goofy there…

I love the sooooo logical explanation for it…

Okay, I’ve read and reread the explanation but still don’t see what’s so crazy about radiation increasing her powers, considering that radiation giving powers was a 60s Marvel staple…

And later, she shows off her third power…

Still not seeing the goofiness there either

The best part is that Lee just decides to let Ben do some of the talking…for no good reason

There’s a perfectly good reason, it has to do with the placement of the figures. If he made Reed do all the talking, the word balloon placement would have been too cramped on the left side of the panel. The extra word balloon would either have had to cover up the cart, or the word balloon would have had to cut across Sue’s figure to reach the right side of the page to hover over the Thing’s head. So the most graceful solution, although still awkward, is to have the Thing finish the exchange. So it’s not really for no reason, even if it is a bit awkward. To his credit Lee even pokes fun at it with a wink at the audience by having the Thing acknowledge it somewhat.

Disappointing though is of all the things you mentioned, you didn’t point out what I thought was the only really true goofy part of that whole sequence… HOW CAN THEY SEE HER FORCE FIELDS WITH THEIR NAKED EYE AND GIVE COMMENTARY ON THEIR APPEARANCE? “Try to create a stronger thicker shield Hon! That’s it! Good job!” How can he see that the shield is now thicker if its invisible. How can Reed tell that Ben dented the force field if its invisible?

Jacob – You are interpreting Sue’s name too literally – her actual power is to make things partially invisible but with a series of outline dashes.. The ‘Invisible’ Girl title is a little misleading but it sounds better than Stan’s original idea of ‘Semi Transparent (with a dotted outline) Girl’.

No, the dashes are there for the benefit of the audience. People in the comic can’t actually see them.

And T summarizes why he will never get laid. Ever.

What does whether or not I get laid have to do with whether or not I’m right or I have a valid point? The criteria for judging whether a statement about a group has any truth or validity to it is whether members of said group will be inspired to sleep with you after you make it?

To think, all this time the great rhetoricians had it all wrong when judging debates.

@ T: That would make John Holmes the greatest debater in History.

For what is worth, I’ve recently been reading Gail Simone’s first run on Birds of Prey and I agree with you regarding the characterization. Good comics, though!

Really, T? You couldn’t tell a joke when you saw one? Or has your sense of humour gone invisible as well?

Hitler survived World War II (where he didn’t actually commit suicide, but was killed by the android Human Torch) by having his mind transferred into cloned bodies created by Arnim Zola.

Later he was trapped in a cosmic cube by the Red Skull and transformed into a being of pure hate.

I know it’s a joke. My response was about the great rhetoricians having it wrong all this time was one too.

Is Hitler still in the cosmic cube? I had no idea he was used so prominently in Marvel comics outside of the original Hate Monger story.

I think DC Guy was referring to the fact that the comment on the outline dashes was a joke.

Oh, in that case my bad, I did miss it. Oops.

@The Dude: Would that make him a master debater?

@The Mutt: Damn, I wish I’d thought of that one!

Hey, realizing that comments posted online are serious or sarcastic can be hard sometimes. If only we had, I dunno, some kind of symbols we could add that would indicate our mood? Oh well… ;)

And I agree 100% with T. about showing that showing female characters as supercompetent is as unfair as never showing them to be. Human beings are INDIVIDUALS and generalizing about them by gender or any other reason is wrong.

(And btw, it’s nice to see Reed get fed up with the team for a change, instead of always being the Mr. Spock of the group.)

And man how crude was Kirby’s art at this stage? Or was it the inker’s fault? That Hate-Monger splash page gets ALL FOUR of them wrong!

Hey, realizing that comments posted online are serious or sarcastic can be hard sometimes. If only we had, I dunno, some kind of symbols we could add that would indicate our mood? Oh well… ;)

I won’t lie, that was pretty boneheaded on my part. In my defense I have seen way stranger assertions made on the internet that were totally serious! The Batman vs. Thor thread alone where people gave scenarios about how Batman could easily defeat Thor had some utterly insane assertions being given totally straight! :)

And I agree 100% with T. about showing that showing female characters as supercompetent is as unfair as never showing them to be. Human beings are INDIVIDUALS and generalizing about them by gender or any other reason is wrong.

To me the worst example had to be Ultimate Sue Storm, who was now a science prodigy educated alongside Reed Richards. It’s like okay, I get she was a total airhead in her early appearances but talk about overcompensation!

And man how crude was Kirby’s art at this stage? Or was it the inker’s fault? That Hate-Monger splash page gets ALL FOUR of them wrong!

I noticed especially with the Human Torch and the Thing that Kirby seemed to be experimenting with their looks a lot in the early issues before settling down on definitive final versions, so maybe it’s a case of that?

RE: Sue trying on wigs in her spare time

What is inherently “goofy” about a woman engaging in a stereotypically “feminine” activity? Are women who like fashion and makeup “goofy?”

RE: the explanation for Sue’s new new powers

Still not getting the goofiness here. Radiation granting/enhancing powers is a standard comic book trope.

Yeah, T, chicks totally are superficial and vapid! It’s more insulting to show them as just as capable as any of the male superheroes!

One of the most striking moments for me in Thor, the Mighty Avenger was that Jane Foster said the word “shopping” to Thor while the Wondrous Wasp was standing right there, and Jan didn’t even bat an eye, much less drag them off for a week-long shopping binge.

What I’m talking about is a trope called Positive Discrimination Apodaca:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PositiveDiscrimination

I think positive discrimination has become such a norm in today’s society that now when we see a female character doing anything silly or stereotypically girly, it registers to us as an insult, hence Brian showing Invisible Girl being irrational or playing with wigs as examples of goofiness.

But is Invisible Girl playing with wigs any less goofy and stereotypical than the shallow young teen boy throwing darts at a pic of his rival or the alpha male brute of the group playing with a punching bag and speaking in low-class broken english? All four were stereotypes, of an egghead, of a shallow teen prettyboy, or a working class alpha male jock, of a pretty, young woman. All stereotypes, yet all with a grain of truth that we can see in reality. But thanks to positive discrimination, the female stereotype is the only one that has to vigilantly be called out whenever it appears, even when its totally plausible.

And that was terrible, buttler. So offensive to women.

I can’t even tell when people are being sarcastic anymore. It must be catching.

But yeah, Jan has been so often depicted as an insane shopaholic, it was downright refreshing for that not to be her defining characteristic for once.

For those interested, the official explanation behind Nick Fury’s eyepatch was that the injury he received in World War II didn’t cause immediate loss of vision but rather a degenerative condition. After this incident, he continued to be portrayed with both functioning eyes throughout the remainder of the Sgt. Fury series, only with the knowledge that at some point in his future, the eye was likely to degrade to the point where he would lose use of it. That point occurred somewhere between Fantastic Four #21 and Strange Tales #135, where SHIELD was introduced along with Fury’s eyepatch.

Just in case anyone was wondering.

Keep up the good work, Brian, I am enjoying this series.

I’m always bugged when people see one female character acting a certain way and assume that the writer thinks all women act that way. Like when everybody gets all bent out of shape because the She Hulk likes sex, acting like the writer is calling all women sluts, when the reality is that she is about the only mainstream female superheroine who is portrayed that way.

The switch from airhead women to super-competent women stereotypes is classic pop culture over-compensation, much like how in the 70s and 80s there was not a single white male judge on any cop or lawyer show ever.

To me the worst example had to be Ultimate Sue Storm, who was now a science prodigy educated alongside Reed Richards. It’s like okay, I get she was a total airhead in her early appearances but talk about overcompensation!

You do realize that the Ultimate Universe is a different universe. It wasn’t created to rehash old storylines. In that universe, the Baxter Building is a think-tank for child prodigies. Reed meets Sue, who comes from a family of geniuses, there because she IS ALSO A STUDENT.

daniel the demon cleaner

May 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

The switch from airhead women to super-competent women stereotypes is classic pop culture over-compensation, much like how in the 70s and 80s there was not a single white male judge on any cop or lawyer show ever.

Ok, but is there anything wrong with that.

You do realize that the Ultimate Universe is a different universe. It wasn’t created to rehash old storylines.

Funny, I thought that’s exactly why they created it.

I think you are taking this way too seriously. The airhead depictions of women are pretty cringe-worthy, but I thought T made an interesting point about characterisation and he wasn’t trying to insult the entire female popuation. He may or may not be wrong about the characterisation (I happen to believe that the positive portrayal of women in comics is laudable, in the same way Stan introduced positive racial characters in eth 1960s), but that’s not the point.

T is totally onto something here and shouldn’t be demonized for it.

My wife is a superstar at her job in a male-dominated field who is currently being headhunted by her company’s #1 competitor. At the same time, she watched QVC for four straight hours last night and goes on huge shopping binges when she is stressed out.

You can be both hyper-competant and 100% stereotypical.

You can be both hyper-competant and 100% stereotypical.

Except that being hyper-competent negates the 100% stereotype.

I don’t think the issue is the fact that Sue is shown enjoying traditionally feminine pursuits such as wigs and perfume… it’s the fact that a lot of times it seemed that was her ONLY contribution to the stories. Even to the point where she basically admits that she needs Reed to think to her because “just like a woman,” she’s flighty and scatter-brained.

Yes, Handsome Harry’s special hearing power.

That is pretty goofy, but is soemwhat redeemed by the awesoem alliterative quality of the thing. I kept waiting for someone in that issue to say, “How’s Handsome Harry’s hearing?”

But I do think you have confused “awesome” with “goofy” in re #21 – the FF versus Hitler is all awesome, all the time.

But I do think you have confused “awesome” with “goofy” in re #21 – the FF versus Hitler is all awesome, all the time.

Didn’t I give an entire paragraph at the beginning to explain that goofy does not mean “not awesome”? ;)

Not having read the issue in question, at least not that I can recall, I imagine the super-hearing is supposed to help Harry against Sue.

Yes, that’s the intent.

Mike Loughlin

May 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm

If women are portrayed as hyper-competent in super-hero comics, well, so is everybody else. The only major exceptions are comedy relief (e.g. Speedball in New Warriors) and characters who are supposed to be less-than-good at super-heroics (e.g. Swordsman in Englehart’s Avengers). The portrayal of strong, skilled male heroes and weaker heroines in early Marvel comics was not good. Nowadays, Reed Richards is the best scientist and Barbara Gordon is the best information broker/ team coordinator.

If we’re not conflating competence with hobbies, we’re writing about something different. Sue can like fashion and shopping as long as she’s not getting captured all the time or contributing nothing to the adventures.

Another thing we need to remember is the context of the times: before starting with superheroes, Marvel had published lots of Romance comics and Humor comics for decades (many of which both Stan and Jack had contributed to.) Most of these used the oh-so-girly, flighty female stereotype. So, Sue wasn’t an exception from how many other female characters were being written at the time. If anything, we can see here how Stan & Jack tried to improve her over time, giving her more power and showing her being smart on her own.

Joe S. Walker

May 13, 2011 at 2:57 am

“And man how crude was Kirby’s art at this stage? Or was it the inker’s fault? That Hate-Monger splash page gets ALL FOUR of them wrong!”

That’s the inking by George Roussos (as George Bell). He butchered Ditko’s pencils on a few Dr Strange stories around the same time.

Pete Woodhouse

May 13, 2011 at 4:25 am

“And man how crude was Kirby’s art at this stage? Or was it the inker’s fault? That Hate-Monger splash page gets ALL FOUR of them wrong!”

Yep, Reed ends up looking like a manic JFK, or is it just me?

Pete Woodhouse

May 13, 2011 at 4:27 am

Oh, I forgot to add: Johnny looks like the Dread Dormammu!

@Daniel TDC: There’s nothing wrong at all. Trying to correct past wrongs is a good impulse. But when it becomes so obvious that it becomes like a running joke, maybe it has gone too far in the other direction.

Was it a good thing that in the 70s, girls and minorities could finally see positive characters on TV and in comics that looked like them? Yes, absolutely. Did they take it so far in the other direction that it became unrealistic and even comedic? Yes again.

See also: No Black villains unless they are fighting Black heroes; Street gangs more racially-mixed than the cover photo on a college catalog; All White characters on Black sitcoms must be either stupid or evil; The Magic Negro, etc.

In the 90s, it was The Homeless. In the 00s, it was Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.

You can see the same thing happening today with Gay and Muslim characters.

Still waiting for the treatment: Bisexual Males and Atheists.

Oh, I forgot to add: Johnny looks like the Dread Dormammu!

That would be a great thing for a “continuity cop” retcon to address, just like they eventually did with Nick Fury’s eyepatch.

DORMAMMU: And then there was that time I took the Human Torch’s place in the Fantastic Four for a week. But I had to get out of there, because seriously, the stuff they were doing made no sense at all.

If you want to get technical, in the issue where Fury sustains that eye injury it’s explained that he can either a) have surgery to fully address the issue and sit out the rest of the war or b) tough it out and fight on with the Howlers, secure in the knowledge that at some point in the future — even twenty years from now, the doctor adds in a bit of heavy-handed foreshadowing — it will fail on him.

So it does explain why he doesn’t have an eyepatch during his CIA days, just somewhat implausibly.

The trouble starts when they bring in the whole Infinity Serum concept in the 1970s and someone, somewhere, realizes that fully healing his wounds with the serum back in 1945 means they’ll have to injure his eye again. Good times.

… and nobody cares but me. Um. Yes.

I love that you care Aure! Caring is good.

I care too! In fact I love the minutiae of shared universes, and so do many other people online.

I have, however, come to realize that having decades of backstory to research when writing new comics really isn’t that good an idea. So I’m all in favor of doing line-wide retcons when needed now.

…Too bad nobody has done one right yet.

daniel the demon cleaner

May 14, 2011 at 5:12 am

The Mutt – Maybe you’re right about this slowly turning into a joke, but i think it’s only annoying for nerds (that’s basically guys like us) who consumed enough media and are starting to see a pattern.

Those groups you mentioned probably appreciate this treatment. I don’t think it hurts anyone and there’s definitely good intentions there. I wouldn’t want creators to stop doing this. On the other hand, I’m not saying every writer needs to blindly follow this like some golden rule.

Thing is, you (Actually, T. is doing doing that more than you) talk about it like it’s really something bad or harmful and i don’t think you gave us any good examples of that. Or you did and I missed it. Yeah, I might have missed it.

No, I don’t think it is bad nor harmful. Just funny. Like you say, I watched too much TV.

It’s like the scene where the police captain demands the hero’s badge and gun and calls him a loose cannon and tells him he has 48 hours to solve the case.

It might have been cool the first ten or fifteen times. Now it is just funny .

I’d have to say that #2 is the goofiest. “Ionic dust” attracts a “solar wave” that dissolves reality? That’s “running into the dream dimension via the velocity spectrum” goofy. It doesn’t make sense even by goofy comic-book standards.

And what about Dr. Doom’s ‘fraidy-cat response? He sounds as if he’s about to cry. Has Doom ever been portrayed as this much of a coward before or since?

Daniel, political correctness in fiction is harmful in a way. In the past, the portrayal of women and minorities in fiction has been hideous and shameful, no one can dispute that. But when you overcompensate in the other direction, you still portray them stereotypically, and the lack of well-rounded minority characters in fiction is harmful, because then the white, male guys get to be more interesting because they’re the only ones allowed to be more variably flawed. I agree that it’s the lesser of two evils, and it’s much better than portraying minorities negatively, still…

But, unlike T and Mutt, I don’t think political correctness is so widespread in fiction any longer. We always go through stages. There was a time when all gay characters had to be either effeminate comic relief, or depraved villains. Then things got better, but overboard in the other direction, and all gay characters were proud and beautiful, and the best friend you always wanted. Then things started to move to a more rounded direction and you can have a gay character like Andrew in DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, who is complicated, and starts as manipulative and vindictive because his mother rejects him, but then matures and becomes protective of her (though Andrew still got criticism for his earlier “crimes” from LGBT groups).

And, of course, you always get occasional throwbacks to earlier depictions – Bella Swan, for instance, who is the archetypical damsel-in-distress and her only ambition in life is marrying her man, or the creepy gay villains in the last X-Files movie. You can’t say depictions are always positive and politically correct. We are a bit past this stage.

The Hulk #25 goof was somewhat cleverly reconciled later on though. It was later stated that his full name was Robert Bruce Banner, something that was referenced a number of times in the years that followed. So, while it WAS a goof back when it happened, it became a valid part of his foundation. It’s entirely believable for Bruce to have been his middle name. People go by their middle names all of the time. Still way better than David Banner. Lee was at least in the right ballpark, alphabetically. It’s not like he said Kyle Banner. =P

WOW! That Hate Monger splash ROCKS! That is exactly what Ben has needed all along to compensate for his unfortunate complexion: a great big Groucho Marxstache! He looks about 5000% percent manlier, and that’s saying something.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives