After an absence of nearly 7 years, a well known character makes a reappearance in the new Fantastic Four comic. But is he a hero or villain. Let’s take a look…
Issue 4 kicks off hot on the heels of Johnny’s departure at the end of the previous issue. Reed is trying to persuade the team that they should be looking for him, but Ben is not convinced. Sue gets upset with Ben and Reed tells Ben that it is his fault Johnny left. We then get a brief recap of the events of the last issue, and Reed informs the team that they will try to find Johnny. Ben reluctantly agrees.
The team board the Fantasticar, which soon separates, allowing each member to search a different part of the city. Sue and Reed resort to their powers to help them in the search, but to no avail. Not far away, we see Johnny is busy working at a garage, and using his flame to help with a spot of welding. This attracts the attention of Ben, who confronts Johnny.
As the two battle, Ben suddenly turns into human form again. Johnny uses the momentary distraction to fly away, but Ben’s transformation is brief, and he soon turns back into the Thing.
Johnny flies to the other end of the city and finds a cheap hotel so settle down for the night. In his room, he finds an old comic of the “Sub-Mariner”, a character that Johnny seems to remember. Someone notices Johnny reading the comic, and mentions that there is an old drunk staying at the hotel who is as strong as the Sub-Mariner was despite his appearances.
The man appears to be suffering from amnesia, and cannot remember a thing. Johnny is intrigued to find out more about the man, and uses his flame to burn the beard off the man’s face. To his astonishment, the man is the Sub-Mariner!
As the team continues to look for Johnny, he takes the Sub-Mariner to a nearby river, to see if the water will bring back his memories. The plan works. Namor swims to his undersea kingdom, only to find it in ruins. Namor returns to Johnny, and vows to take revenge on the human race.
The team are still looking for Johnny, when they notice the flare in the sky. They rush to Johnny, who explains to them that Namor the Sub-Mariner has returned. Namor’s plan is to turn a sea creature lose on land, and finds the largest sea creature of them all, Giganto. The creature follows Namor, who instructs it to attack a ship. The crew escapes, but the creature makes his way to the city.
The Fantastic Four confront the creature as Namor leads him towards a nearby building, demolishing it easily. The team are helpless until the Thing comes up with an idea. He finds a nuclear bomb, straps it to his back and approaches the creature. After all the exertions of demolishing the buildings, the creature is resting, and the Thing uses this chance to climb inside him. Ben leaves the bomb inside and manages to escape. The explosion kills the creature.
Johnny reluctantly tells Ben that he’s proud of what he just did. But the danger isn’t over. Namor appears again, holding the item that he was using to control the creature – a magic sea horn. Unbeknownst to him though, Sue has turned invisible and is able to snatch the horn away from him. Namor grabs Sue and is instantly enamoured by her.
Namor tells the team that if Sue becomes his bride, he will spare the human race. The team try to fight back, but Namor is strong enough to resist them. Johnny then flies up into the sky and creates a tornado, which he uses to carry Namor back into the water. As he does so, the sea horn slips from Namor’s grip. The team is safe for now, but Namor vows to return.
The reappearance of Namor sets the scene for many future stories. We see his motivation for disliking the human race, and his attraction to Sue. Meanwhile, despite Johnny and Ben arguing for most of the issue, we also see the grudging respect they have for each other.
Writer – Stan Lee
Artist – Jack Kirby
Cover date – May 1962
Cover price – 12c
At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Fantastic Four 4 is $1,175 on eBay.
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Fantastic Four 5
The Incredible Hulk 2
As well as reviewing these early superhero comics, we will also begin to review another classic Marvel series, this time from the 70s. You may have heard the film the series is based on… That’s right, we will be reviewing all 106 issues of the original Star Wars series by Marvel. We will intersperse these in between the main section of reviews so as to provide some variety. We will hopefully be adding other standalone series in the future too.