Fantastic Four 6

FF6

When last we left the Fantastic Four, they had just met and defeated Dr Doom for the first time. So in what will soon be a Marvel tradition, we get a team-up of villains in issue 6.

Synopsis

The story starts with the Human Torch flying high over the city, watched by an admiring crowd. As the crowd debates whether it really is him, the Invisible Girl rushes through the crows, knocking them over in her wake. The crowd is uneasy that she may have been amongst them all this time, and suspect something must be up for both the Human Torch and the Invisible Girl to be making appearances.

We soon find out that the Human Torch has been scouting for Dr Doom. Inside the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four’s Headquarters, Sue sees a delivery boy is struggling to call the express elevator. Sue explains that it only works if you have a secret belt buckle to call it. Sue makes her way up in the elevator, and we see a nice diagram of the headquarters as she does so.

The Human Torch reports that he hasn’t been able to find any sign of Dr Doom, and Ben suggests that he could do a better job of finding him. Meanwhile, Reed is preoccupied with a large stack of mail he is going through. Reed finds a letter from a boy in hospital, and realising the hospital is opposite their headquarters, stretches over to pay him a visit. But not all the mail is complimentary, and Johnny reads one letter from the “Yancy Street Gang” threatening the Thing.

Meanwhile, out at sea, some fisherman spot porpoise but don’t realise that they are under the command of the Submariner. Up above, a plane flies over piloted by Dr Doom. Doom manages to get his attention and they agree to become allies in their fight against the Fantastic Four. Doom then converts his plane into an aero-sub and dives into the ocean following Namor.  He leads him through the ruins of his city and into his home, where the two can talk and plot some more.

Doom tells Namor that he must forget about his infatuation with Sue, if he is to avenge the destruction of his city by the humans, caused by the apparent testing of an H-Bomb. Namor agrees to help Doom, but vows not to hurt Sue. Doom reluctantly agrees. Doom then explains his plan, using a new weapon called “the Grabber“, which is powered by magnetic force and can “grab” seemingly any object, no matter its weight. Doom dismantles the weapon and asks Namor to hide it on him, until the time comes to use it against the Fantastic Four.

Namor takes off and heads straight for the city. Back in the headquarters, Johnny finds a hidden portrait of Namor and teases Sue about it. Johnny burns the photo as Ben and Reed come to see what is causing the commotion. They ask Sue to explain herself, but she cannot. Then, at that very instance, Namor appears in front of them. He explains he is on a mission of peace but Ben and Johnny do not believe him. They go to attack Namor, but Sue stands in their way.

Johnny battles Namor, but his power soon begins to fade, and Namor is left untouched. Namor explains he is only there to request company, but Reed and Johnny do not believe him and decide to search the headquarters in case Namor has a secret. They are unable to find anything and Namor tells the Fantastic Four that he has decided to take a holiday and will be taking Sue with him.  And that moment, a loud crack is heard and the whole building rises into the air. Namor then explains that whilst he may have planted the trap, it is Doom who is controlling it.

FantasticFour06-Baxter-Building-stolen1

Namor explains that Doom has double-crossed him as the building reaches thousands of feet above the city. Doom begins to celebrate that he has managed to capture the only beings capable of stopping his plan to take over the world. The Fantastic Four decide to fight back, and Johnny leaps out of the window. But there is not enough oxygen in the air to feed his flames and he falls towards the ground. Reed catches him, and then using Ben as an anchor, he stretches himself in a bid to reach Doom’s plane. But Doom is able to ward Reed off by firing one of the rockets on his plane.

Ben decides it is up to him to take action, but Namor disagrees and they grapple. They are soon interrupted by Doom’s voice as he explains he is sending the building on a collision course with the sun. The team are resigned to failure but Namor vows to fight on and asks if there is any water tankers in the building. There is, and this re-energises him before he takes aim at Doom.

Namor is able to reach the plane, but is not able to break into where Doom is. Doom retaliates by sending an electric charge through Namor. But Doom soon realises that by doing so, he is no longer able to control his plane. And then, Namor explains that he was able to absorb the charge and will now fire it back, but Doom is able to escape.

The building, no longer being pulled by Doom, crash lands back on Earth. The team are thankful for Namor’s help, but are still unsure if he is an ally or enemy. Johnny then finds the weapon that Namor hid in the building and then send it to the plane, which Namor then causes to crash into the water.

Comment

So, we get a team-up but it doesn’t take long to unravel. Doom shows that he cannot be trusted by anyone, and Namor shows that there is perhaps more than one side to him.

Within the team itself, we see more of Sue’s possible feelings towards Namor, whilst Johnny and Ben continue to bicker. Lastly, we also see reference to the Yancy St Gang for the first time, and the philanthropy of Reed Richards.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – September 1962

Financials

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Fantastic Four 6 on eBay is £995.

Coming next

 

The Incredible Hulk 3

Journey into Mystery 84

Tales to Astonish 35

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Star Wars 2

star wars 2

It’s time to revisit that galaxy far, far away. We take another detour from superheroes to look at issue 2 of the 1977 Star Wars series by Marvel. We last left Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 in the deserts of Tatooine, about to be attacked by the Sandpeople. The next installment is called “Six against the Galaxy”.

Synopsis

The issue opens with the sandpeople triumphant over a fallen Luke Skywalker. But their celebrations are cut short, when a figure approaches them. The sandpeople flee as if they have seen a monster, but R2 knows better. The figure is an elderly man, and none other than Ben Kenobi.

Ben asks Luke what brings him out so far into the desert, and Luke explains that R2 claims to be the property of “Obi-Wan Kenobi“. Ben responds by saying, “Obi-Wan?! Now that is a name I haven’t heard in a long while“. Luke adds that his uncle thinks Obi-Wan may be dead. Ben responds that this cannot be, as he is Obi-Wan! Nut he cannot ever remember owning R2. It’s only then that Luke remembers that 3PO had also accompanies him.

Luke soons finds a “dented and tangled” 3PO nearby, with one arm broken off. 3PO cannot recall what happened, but Ben cuts him off when he hears movement. It’s time for them to move.

They make their way back to Ben’s “homely hovel“, and R2 plays the full message for Ben. Luke finds the woman “terrific” and also notices that she refers to Ben as “General“. Ben then explains that he fought in the Clone Wars and was a Jedi Knight, just like Luke’s father. Ben sees from Luke’s surprise at this that Luke’s uncle has never told him the full truth about his father.

Ben then remembers that he has something for Luke, from his father. It is his lightsabre, the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Luke asks how hos father dies, and Ben explains that “he was betrayed and murdered bu a young Jedi named Darth Vader“.

Ben further explains to Luke about the power of the “force” and how it was this power that Darth Vader used to kill his father, and hunt down all the remaining Jedi. Ben tells Luke that he must learn the ways of the force, and he will teach him, if Luke accompanies him to Alderaan. Luke quickly replies that he cannot go to Alderaan, but Ben says that “he is getting too old for this sort of thing“. Luke says that he will take Ben as far as Anchorhead.

In a brief interlude, we see Darth Vader enter the cell of the woman he captured, and asks her to tell him “the location of the hidden rebel base“. The cell door then closes and we her the woman scream.

Back on Tatooine, Luke is taking Ben to the Anchorhead in his land-speeder. On the way they spot the sandcrawler of the jawas, who sold the droids to Luke’s uncle. Or what’s left of the sandcrawler as smoke billows out of it. All the Jawas have been killed, and Luke thinks it is the work of the sandpeople, although he has never know them to hit anything so big before.

Ben explains to Luke that the sandpeople didn’t attack the Jawas, but we are supposed to think they did. Ben points to scorch marks and comments that only Imperial Stormtroopers are this precise. Luke then realises that the Stortroopers were looking for the droids, and if they managed to track them to here, their next stop will be … “home!“.

Luke rushes off in his land-speeder, leaving Ben and the droids behind. He soon spots black smoke rising from his home and shouts out “Aunt Beru…Uncle Ben“. Quick note here, this is what is said in the comic, but it should of course read “Uncle Owen“. He gets no response and then he sees, laying on the ground, “two smouldering piles which once had been human beings…“.

Back aboard the spaceship, we see Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin standing side by side in discussion. It is explained that Tarkin is the “regional governor of this portion of space“. It is explained to the two men that “all systems are operational” and that they now need to decide on a course. Vader explains that he has yet to extract the whereabouts of the rebel base from the prisoner. Tarkin suggests that “Princess Leia” may be susceptible to another form of persuasion, and suggests they set course for Alderaan.

On Tatooine, Luke returns to Ben and the droids. Ben expresses his grief but also explains that the force is with him, as if he had been with his uncle and aunt, he would also be dead and the droids would now be in the hands of the Empire. Luke replies by saying he wants to go with Ben to Alderaan. There is nothing left for him on Tatooine and he wants Ben to teach him the ways of the force to become a Jedi, like his father.

They continue on Luke’s land-speeder to the Mos-Eisley Spaceport. Ben explains to Luke that he will “not find a more wretched hive of villainy!“. Some stormtroopers approach them and begin to question them about their droid passengers. But Ben responds in a “strangely controlled voice” that Luke doesn’t need to show his registration, he can go on about his business and that “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for“.  After each itterance, the stormtroopers repeat Ben’s exact words, as if in a trance. Ben then explains to Luke that the force is a powerful ally.

They enter a cantina and Luke queries the chances of them finding a pilot who can take them to Alderaan in there.  Ben explains that many good pilots frequent the cantina, but it can get rough. It doesn’t take long for Luke to find out for himself. Two patrons, a tall alien and a human want to pick a fight with Luke. Ben intervenes, but they push Luke over. Ben instantly turns on his lightsabre and sends the pair scrambling into different sections of the cantina floor.

Ben switches off his lightsabre and appears to relax again, Ben then introduces Luke to a tall hairy looking creature called Chewbacca, a Wookie.Luke has heard abaout Wookies but never seen one before. Ben then explains that Chewbacca is first mate on a ship that might suit their needs. The droids have been left outside the cantina and they notice a patron come out and talk to two stormtroopers. This causes 3PO to say “I don’t like the looks of this Artoo“.

Back inside, Chewbacca leads Ben and Luke to a secluded corner where a man is sitting at the table. He says, “you’re pretty handy with the sabre, old man. I’m Han Solo, captain of the Millenium Falcon“. Ben asks the man if the ship is fast. Han responds incredulously, “fast ship? You mean you’ve never heard of the Millenium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 Par-Secs!“. Han asks what the cargo will be, and Ben explains it is just himself, Luke, two droids and no questions. Han asks if they are in any trouble, and Ben explains that they want to avoid any Imperial Troopers. Han says it will cost 10,000 in advance.

Luke balks at the cost, and says they could buy their own ship for that much. Han sardonically asks who would fly it? Luke responds that he could. Ben cools Luke down and says he can pay 2,000 now and 15,000 on reaching Alderaan. They agree and Han tells them to meet him in docking bay 94. At that point the two stormtroopers from outside come into the cantina and ask the bar man something. He responds by pointing to the corner table, but there are only two people there, Chewbacca and Han Solo.

Outside, Ben tells Luke that he will have to sell his land-speeder. Luke is fine with his as he doesn think he will ever come back to this planet anyway. Back inside, the stormtroopers have moved on and Han is just about to get up from the table when he hears someone address him. “Going somewhere Solo?” Han sits back down and responds by saying he was going to visit the green alien’s boss, Jabba. The alien is not impressed, having clearly heard this before. The alien asks for the money now and Han explains he doesn’t have it with him. The alien responds by saying Jabba will take his ship instead. “Over my dead body“, responds Han and the alien draws his blaster. Nonplussed, Han shoots the alien and casually walks out of the cantina, tossing the bar man a coin on the way.

Meanwhile, Luke and Ben have raised enough funds form the sale of the land-speeder and make their way to the docking bay. But they are being followed by the same alien that spoke to the stormtroopers outside the cantina. At the docking bay, Han has some visitors, three aliens. Han speaks to Jabba, saying he has been waiting for him. Jabba responds (in Basic) that he is disappointed that Han hasn’t paid him, and questions why he had to “fry poor Greedo“, referring to to the green alien back at the cantina. Han tells Jabba he should have come to see him himself.

jabba1-620x922

Jabba is upset that Han dumped a shipment that was due to him. Han explains that he has a new charter, and will pay Jabba back, but he just needs more time. Jaba instructs his men to put their blasters down and address Han again, “Han, my boy. I’m only doing this because you’re the best, and I need you. But if you disappoint me again, I’ll put a price on your head so large…that you won’t be able to go near a civilized system again for the rest of your life“. Han assures Jabba that he will pay him.

Back on the Death Star, an officer informs Vader that they have started to search the space port and it is only a matter of time before the droids are found. Vader tells him to send in more troops, as finding the droids is the key to unlocking the location of the rebel base from their prisoner. At the moment, Vader’s instructions are already being carried out, and stormtroopers begin to advance on the Millenium Falcon. They open fire, and Han rushes his approaching passengers inside, whist firing back. He then runs inside and instructs “Chewie” to get them out of there. They manage to take off from the space port, but once in orbit around Tatooine, they are surrounded by three Starsdestroyers. The ships begin to fire on the Falcon, and Han tells his passengers to strap in and stay sharp as they are about to make the jump to lightspeed. The ship rocks violently, sending the passengers flying, but they have managed to escape the stardestroyers. For now…

Comment

So, that’s quite a long blog! But there are so many classic lines in this issue. We also get the introduction of Ben Kenobi, Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as the first references to Princess Leia (despite having seen her in issue 1), the force and lightsabres. Not only that, but there is also the extra scene with Jabba. Now as you can tell from the image above, he looks a bit different to the Jabba we know and love. For those of you who have seen the special edition of Star Wars, you will know that this scene has been reinserted, but with (terrible) CGI for Jabba. Get ready for some space action in the next issue.

Details

Writer – Roy Thomas

Artist – Howard Chaykin

Cover date – August 1977

Financials

Cover Price – 30c

At the time of writing, the most expensive listing for this issue on eBay is a seemingly bargain price of £26.90.

Coming next

Fantastic Four 6

The Incredible Hulk 3

Journey into Mystery 84

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Amazing Fantasy 15

Amazing Fantasy 15

We’ve had the Fantastic Four, then the Incredible Hulk. In our last retrospective, we saw Thor introduced, and not it is time for the most famous of all the Marvel superheroes, the Amazing Spider-Man.  As with Thor, Spider-Man makes his introduction in an anthology title, Amazing Fantasy.

Synopsis

The story starts with a group of teenagers talking about an upcoming dance. They need one more gut for the dance, and one of them suggests Peter Parker. The suggestion is laughed at, all within earshot of Peter in the background.

We learn that Peter lives with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and they clearly love him very much. Peter is popular at school, but not with his fellow students. Instead, he is thought fondly of by the teachers at Midtown High. Chief amongst the students who tease Peter is Flash Thompson.

Peter notices that there is a new exhibit that evening at the Science Hall and ask his classmates if they would like to go along. They again laugh at him and drive off. Unperturbed, Peter attends the exhibit. He becomes so engrossed in the exhibit that he does not notice a spider land on him. Unknown to Peter, the spider has absorbed a great amount of radioactivity, and Peter certainly notices when the spider bites him. Peter begins to feel strange and leaves the exhibit.

Peter starts to feel strange on his way home, as if his whole body is charged with energy. He is lost in his own thoughts when a car nearly runs him over. He instinctively jumps out of the way, and manages to stick to the wall.

AF15P03

To his amazement, Peter is able to climb the wall, and back down a cable again. Gliding like a spider on a web. Peter realises that the spider must have caused this. Peter then notices a sign for a local wrestling contest.

$100

TO THE MAN WHO CAN STAY IN THE RING THREE MINUTES WITH

CRUSHER HOGAN

Peter is keen to test out his powers more and signs up for the contest, albeit in disguise, with a mask over his head. Peter manages to avoid Crusher Hogan in the ring, and then, to everyone’s amazement, picks up the enormous wrestler and throws him back to the ground. The crowd lap it up and the organiser of the contest is keen to sign up Peter for more bouts. Peter agrees and sets about making a costume when he gets home. That of a spider.

But it’s not just a costume that Peter is working on. He is still the intellectual student from before the spider bite, and decides to use his knowledge to design some web-shooters. Al that’s left is a name, Spider-Man!

The webbing fired from the shooters sticks to walls and is as strong as cement, easily able to hold his weight.

The Spider-Man becomes a sensation, but Peter is keen to avoid the attention. Backstage, he notices a thief running past him, chased by a police officer. The officer asks for help, but Peter is through with being told what to do. He lets the thief escape.

Back home, Peter’s uncle and aunt have a surprise gift for him, a telescope. Peter is so happy and promises to himself to make sure they are always happy. But he couldn’t care less about the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, the Spider-Man continues to generate attention and coverage. One evening, on his way home, Peter notices a police car outside his home. He rushes back, to be told that his Uncle Ben has been shot. Distraught, Peter puts on his costume and goes out to find his uncle’s murderer. He races to the abandoned warehouse that the officer mentioned the suspect was hiding, and manages to capture him. It then suddenly dawns on him, the murderer is the same thief he let pass him by at the wrestling arena.

Peter leaves the murderer tied up in webbing for the police to find, whilst he goes off to deal with his guilt. Peter then realises that, “with great power there must also come — great responsibility!”

And so, a legend is born.

The other stories in this issue (not covered here) are: The Bell Ringer, Man in the Mummy Case and There are Martians Among Us.

Comments

A brief but poignant introduction to the most recogniseable Marvel superhero. All the character beats are there from the downtrodden student, the loving uncle and aunt, the spider powers and lastly and perhaps most importantly, the guilt. And all in just 12 pages!

From a powers perspective, we see Peter develop wall-crawling and create his own web-shooters.

Perhaps most surprising of all, is the lack of page time given to Aunt May and Uncle Ben.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – August 1962

Financial and further reading

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Amazing Fantasy 15 on eBay is $27, 995. This is for a restored version.

This issue can be read digitally at Marvel here, and in hardcopy in Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man volume 1 (collecting Amazing Fantasy 15 and Amazing Spider-Man 1-10), available from Amazon here.

Coming next

Star Wars (1977) 2

Fantastic Four 6

The Incredible Hulk 3

Journey into Mystery 84

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Journey into Mystery 83

journintomys83

And so we get to the introduction of the Mighty Thor, but not in his own title. Instead, he first appears in the pages of an anthology title, Journey into Mystery, which had already run for 82 issues.

Synopsis

The story begins in Norway, where a frail Dr Don Blake is on holiday. Unbeknownst to Don, an alien spaceship (there seem to be plenty of aliens landing on Earth in 1962!) lands behind him carrying seemingly rock-like creatures from Saturn. The atmosphere on Earth appears to give these creatures greater strength than they have on Saturn, making it all the easier for them to conquer.

A lone fisherman spots the creatures as they try out their new found powers. The fisherman runs off to a nearby village to warn the locals, but nobody believes him. Nobody except Dr Don Blake, who overhears the men talking. The next day, he goes to investigate.

He soon finds the creatures. He turns to leave, but steps on a twig and the sound alerts the rock-men. Unfortunately,. Don’s frail form does not allow him to run fast enough to get away, and he soon trips, stumbles and falls into a cave. He ventures deeper into the cave, hoping for another exit, but his way appears blocked. Just when he is about to give up, a wall he is leaning on gives way.

A secret chamber is revealed, and lying inside is a gnarled looking cane. Don picks up the cane to see if he can use it to lever himself out.  When he is unable to move the rock blocking his path, he slams the cane down, which causes a magnificent transformation. Don suddenly feels powerful, and the can has turned into a mighty hammer. That is not all, written on the hammer are the following words:

“WHOSOEVER HOLDS

THIS HAMMER, IF HE BE

WORTHY, SHALL

POSSESS THE POWER OF…

THOR”

Don know who Thor is, the legendary God of Thunder! He is easily able to move the boulder blocking his path now, and on leaving the cave he transforms back into the frail Don Blake. When he picks up the hammer again, he is again transformed into Thor. He tests his powers, and finds that his hammer returns to him when he throws.  He also appears to be able to control the weather.

Meanwhile, at a nearby NATO base, a fleet of flying objects is detected. The invaders notice the imminent interception and and fire a “monster image”. Soon a huge three-dimensional dragon appears in the sky and disperses the air force. Rockets are then fired at the ships, but they are not able to get through the force fields protecting the ships.

Don notices the attack, and fearing that NATO will not be able to stop the invaders,. strikes his cane on the ground and turns into Thor. The rock-men instantly note that the sky is no longer clear. Thor then flies into the air using his hammer and takes the attack to the rock-men. Thor is able to repel everything the rock-men throw at him, causing them to unleash the “Mechano-Monster”. The monster is ordered to destroy Thor.

Thor takes one swing of his hammer and obliterates the monster, causing the rock-men to abandon their attack and flee. Thor then notices soldiers approaching, and not wanting to be noticed, taps his cane again and turns back into Don Blake. Don is seen, but ignored by the soldiers, allowing him to slope away.

There are three other stories in this issue (The Perfect Crime, When the Jungle Sleeps and Discovery) but they are not covered in this blog.

Comments

The most interesting aspect of the introduction of Thor is his alter-ego, Don Blake. This will be particularly of surprise to fans of Thor who only know him through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But in keeping with the other Marvel super hero Hulk, the human alter-ego seems the exact opposite of the hero.

This is the shortest story we have covered to date, as it appears in an anthology title. In fact, it is not for another year before Thor makes an appearance in a full story.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – August 1962

Financials and further reading

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Journey into Mystery 83 on eBay is £10,709.

This issue can be read digitally at Marvel here, and in hardcopy in Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor volume 1 (collecting Journey into Mystery 83-100), available from Amazon here.

Coming next

Amazing Fantasy 15

Star Wars (1977) 2

Fantastic Four 6

The Incredible Hulk 3

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

The Incredible Hulk 2

Incredible Hulk 2

Fresh after his introduction in the previous issue, we rejoin the Hulk and Bruce Banner as they continue to come to terms with each other.

Synopsis

The issue begins with the Hulk appearing out of a swamp at night time. Local police are drawn to his presence, noting surprise that he is still alive.  As the townspeople are quick to hide behind closed doors, it looks as if nothing will stop the Hulk, until Rick Jones appears and appeals to him to stop. The Hulk momentarily pauses, before we are given a brief retelling of the events of last issue.

Back in the present, we see that a spaceship flying into our solar system, carrying the Toad Men! The ship then fires magnetic energy beams at the Earth. It becomes clear that the Toad Men are after the most brilliant scientific mind on the planet.

Meanwhile, we see Bruce and Rick dressed strangely carrying tools, but they are interrupted by General Ross and his daughter Betty. General Ross is unimpressed with Bruce, thinking that he hid when the Hulk last appeared, but Betty is quick to come to his defence. Bruce and Rick then head off to conduct a scientific experiment.

The pair stop at an underground cave, which will serve as a fortress to restrain Bruce when he changes into the Hulk.  They have created a ten foot concrete door which they help will be able to resist the power of the Hulk. Just then, they fall backwards and are pinned to the wall. The Toad Men have found their prey.

Bruce and Rick are taken to the Toad Men’s spaceship, where they are informed that there is a fleet of ships waiting to attack Earth. But first, they want to know how advanced scientifically the human population is. Bruce refuses to comply. Rick backs Bruce in his stance, but the Toad Men make clear they have no need for Rick, and send him back to Earth in an escape capsule.

Rick lands safely on Earth, just as night falls. And on the spaceship, Bruce turns into the Hulk. The Toad Men are astonished to find the Hulk in their ship, and the Hulk wastes little time in capturing the Toad Men. The Hulk then notices the weaponry on board, and realises that he can now become the hunter, rather than the hunted.

Back at the army base, the Toad Men’s ship has been picked up on radar and General Ross orders it to be shot down. They strike the ship, sending it crashing down to Earth. Soldiers surround the ship, but it is Bruce that appears from the wreckage. Whilst General Ross accuses Bruce of trying to attack his country, the Toad Men escape and head below ground. Once clear, they fire a magnetic flare, signalling the rest of the fleet to attack.

Meanwhile, Bruce has been placed in a cell, much to Rick’s anger. As General Ross makes preparations for guarding Bruce, he is informed of the alien invasion. The Toad Men make their intentions clear and General Ross vows to save mankind. It is now night, and Bruce is transforming once again into the Hulk. He easily manages to escape from his cell and heads towards the home of the person who imprisoned him, General Ross. But at the house, he finds Betty instead.

The soldiers converge on the Ross home, but Rick manages to fight his way through. All the soldiers are unable to stop the Hulk as he grabs Betty and runs. As Betty tries to reason with the Hulk, Rick manages to catch up with them at Bruce’s lab. The Hulk is not pleased to see Rick and goes to attack him but is stopped when the sun begins to rise. Luckily for Bruce, Betty had passed out so did not see the transformation. Bruce takes her to safety before plotting with Rick about how to stop the Toad Men.

Bruce realises that the only weapon on Earth that could stop them is the same gamma gun that turned him into the Hulk. Despite the General and soldiers are not far behind, Bruce is able to fire the weapon, which has the effect of dispersing the alien fleet.

Bruce’s actions in saving the planet mean that he can no longer be held by General Ross, much to his clear annoyance. He makes it clear that he does not trust Bruce, whilst the last image is of the Hulk in the underground cave.

Will it be enough to stop him? We will have to wait until issue 3 to find out.

Comments

A real mixed bag of an issue here.  We have the continuing story of Bruce and the Hulk intermingled with the out of this world attack by the Toad Men. We do get some interesting snippets into the Hulk’s psyche though, including the Hulk’s hatred for humans and his willingness to attack them. The only people seemingly able to get through to the Hulk are Rick and Betty, but even this is not guaranteed. All the while, it becomes clear that General Ross will be an ongoing thorn in both Bruce’s and the Hulk’s side.

It is also interesting to note that the Hulk appears in green on the cover for the first time, though his appearance fluctuates between grey and green throughout the issue.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – July 1962

Financials

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Incredible Hulk 2 is  $20,000 on eBay.

Coming next

Journey into Mystery 83

Amazing Fantasy 15

Star Wars (1977) 2

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Fantastic Four 5

FF5

Following on from the introduction of Namor in the last issue, we move on to the introduction of the villain most commonly associated with the Fantastic Four, Dr Doom.

Synopsis

The issue opens with an ominous looking Dr Doom moving figures of the Fantastic Four around a board like chess pieces. Doom is scheming and decides it is time to show the world that only he can stop the Fantastic Four.

Back in New York, we see office workers heading home for the evening, but the lights are still on at the Fantastic Four’s HQ. Inside, Johnny is reading a Hulk comic and claims that the monster reminds him of the Thing. The pair squabble before they are subdued by Sue and Reed. At the moment, the lights go out and we see that the helicopter that Dr Doom boarded on page 1 is now hovering over the HQ and has dropped a web over the entire building.

Doom tells the Fantastic Four to heed his words. The team do not know who Dr Doom is, but Reed recognises the voice. We then get a flashback to Reed’s college days, where a student called Victor von Doom was a brilliant student but obsessed with forbidden experiments. One of these experiments caused an explosion, leaving Victor’s face badly disfigured. Victor soon left for Tibet to find the secrets of black magic and sorcery, and was never heard of again, until now…

Doom claims the team as his prisoners, and lists his conditions for their release. Firstly, Sue is to be sent to him as a hostage to ensure their compliance. Ben chooses to let his fists do the talking and grabs the web, but receives an electric shock and has to let go. Sue then convinces the rest of the team that their only choice is for her to go up to Doom.

Doom then tells the team to board his plane and to agree not to attack him. The team agree and go up to the rooftop, where a strange plunger like device descends down and sucks them up. Doom then takes them to his castle and explains what he wants from the team. He tells them that he has invented a time travel device and that he wants the team to travel back in time and steal the legendary treasure chest of Blackbeard!

The team agree to go and at the push of a button, are transported to the past. The team only have 48 hours to complete their mission, so start to act fast. They first get some clothes so as to blend in, with Ben adorning a fake beard, eye patch and hat. Ben feels instantly comfortable in his new disguise. The team find a bar nearby and are soon offered some drinks. They do not realise that the drinks are spiked. They soon pass out, and a group of pirates take them on board a ship and set sail.

The awaken when the pirates  try to get the to start work on the ship. Ben makes short work of them, and the rest of the crew quickly fall behind him. Not long after, however, the ship is under attack by another pirate ship. Johnny turns into the Human Torch and flies over to attack the ship, followed by Reed who stretches to create a bridge for the crew to board the attacking ship.

They soon take over the other ship and find what they were looking for, Blackbeard’s treasure. But what of Blackbeard himself? It is then that the rest of the crew turn to Ben to salute him, “Hail Black-Beard!” The team agree to take the treasure chest back to Doom, but not with the treasure inside, as they never actually agreed to that. Instead, they divide the treasure with the men, and refill the chest with worthless chains. At that moment, Ben has a moment of realisation, and decides that he prefers it in the past.

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Ben then decides that he does not want Johnny and Reed to try and force him back, so orders his men to restrain them. Just then, they notice a twister coming towards the ship. The gale tears the ship apart, and the three find themselves washed up on a desert island. Ben realises what a fool he was to want to stay behind, and then a flashing light appears above them and they are transported back to Doom’s castle, in the present day.

They hand over the chest to Doom, and he explains that the treasure inside once belonged to Merlin and that they have magical powers. Johnny remembers that the treasure is now at the bottom of the sea, and worries what would happen if Namor was to find them. Doom then moves to open the chest and finds the treasure is not there. Ben then attacks Doom, only to find out that he was a robot all along. Doom is in fact in a hidden room above the team, and intends to kill them by eliminating the oxygen from their room. But he has forgotten about Sue, who turns invisible and is able to alter the controls.

The team manage to escape the castle but find they are surrounded by water. Johnny announces to the rest of the team that he is keen to try out a new power. He reaches atomic heat level, boiling the water away and fusing the ground, turning it into a glass like substance. The team are then able to make their away across the water. Johnny then encircles the castle in flame to imprison Doom, but his flame burns out and Doom is able to escape. Reed praises Johnny for the attempt, but Ben is not impressed and says he will do things his way next time.

Comments

So unlike the much maligned Fantastic Four movie, Doom’s introduction comes five issues into the series. This issue also sees for perhaps the first time, the team really functioning as a unit and each using their own unique powers to the team’s benefit. There is still the undercurrent of discontent between Ben and then rest of the team, none more so when Ben is dressed as Blackbeard. This also throws up a nice time-travel paradox issue of Ben being Blackbeard.

Apart from all this, we also see the first Doom-bot and a new power for Johnny. All in all, an action-packed issue.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – July 1962

Financials and further reading

Cover price – 12c

At the time of posting, the most expensive listing for this issue on eBay is £4,999.99.

The comic can be read digitally on Marvel.com here and the first thirty issues are available in hard copy here.

Coming next

The Incredible Hulk 2

Journey into Mystery 83

Amazing Fantasy 15

Plus Star Wars 2 in our separate series looking at the 1977 series, plus some other surprises too.

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

Star Wars 1 (1977)

star wars 1

We take a little detour from our look at the introduction of Marvel’s superheroes in the 60s, and into a galaxy far, far away.  As previously mentioned, we will be reviewing the entirety of Marvel’s 1977 Star Wars series.  This will include the movie adaptations as well as the remaining stories in the 107 issue run.  Despite including movie adaptations, all issues are labelled as “Legends” meaning they are no longer considered cannon in the new Disney universe.

Synopsis

It may not be the now synonymous screen crawl, but the first page neatly sets the scene as follows:

“It is a period of CIVIL WAR in the galaxy.

A brave alliance of UNDERGROUND FREEDOM FIGHTERS has challenged the tyranny and oppression of the awesome GALACTIC EMPIRE.

To CRUSH the rebellion once and for all, the EMPIRE is constructing a sinister new BATTLE STATION. Powerful enough to destroy an entire planet, its COMPLETION will spell CERTAIN DOOM for the champions of freedom.

Striking from a fortress hidden among the billion stars of the galaxy, REBEL SPACESHIPS have won their first victory in a battle with the powerful IMPERIAL STARFLEET. The Empire fears that ANOTHER defeat could bring a THOUSAND MORE solar systems into the rebellion, and IMPERIAL CONTROL over the galaxy would be LOST FOREVER.”

The background image is of a battle in space taking place above a planet called Tatooine. We are told that a “gigantic” Imperial Starship is pursuing a rebel spacecraft. The rebel ship is soon caught in the grappling rays of the Imperials, and following an explosion, Imperial troops come pouring through into the rebel ship.

We are introduced to C-3PO and R2-D2, two droids who are trying to avoid the shots being fired whilst C-3PO is naturally blaming R2 for their predicament.

In the first shift from the narrative of the film, we are then taking to the ground on Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker catches a bright sparkle in the sky.  Luke then jumps into his Landspeeder, and heads for town called Anchorhead.

Meanwhile, on the ship above, Darth Vader makes his entrance. He is looking for information, but is told that the rebel ship has had its information retrieval system wiped clean. Despite interrogating a rebel officer, Darth Vader does not receive the answer he is is looking for and does not hesitate in killing the officer.  He orders his troops to search the vessel and find the passengers on board.

Nearby, we see 3PO and R2 again. R2 is with an unknown girl, who soon disappears. 3PO askes R2 why he vanished earlier, and what they are going to. Unperturbed, R2 moves away, as if he has somewhere he has to be. He mentions a “mission” to 3PO via a series of beeps that whilst 3PO can translate, he cannot understand what this mission refers to. As the explosions get nearer, R2 heads to an escape pod. 3PO is initially reluctant to go inside but changes his mind on hearing another explosion. The pod ejects from the ship and heads towards the planet below. Still on the ship, the unknown woman is captured by the Imperial troopers and shot with a paralysis ray.

In another scene not in the film, we are taking back to Anchorhead where Luke bumps into his old friend Biggs Darklighter.  Biggs tells Luke that he has been commissioned on board the Rand Ecliptic. Luke tells Biggs that he thinks he saw a battle in the sky but Biggs dismisses this, suggesting it is just a freighter refueling.

Meanwhile, the unknown woman is taken to Darth Vader and instantly recognsises him. She claims that Darth Vader has attacked a diplomatic vessel, but he instead accuses her of passing through a restricted system, receiving transmissions from spies and of being a traitor. Darth Vader turns to his officer once the woman is taking away and explains that he will keep her alive as she is his only link to finding the hidden rebel fortress. In the meantime, he instructs a distress signal to be sent, before the rebel ship is destroyed. They will call it a meteorite storm. The woman’s father and the senate will be informed that all aboard were killed. Lastly, Darth Vader informs the officer of the escape pod, and instructs him to send a detachment to find it, without attracting attention.

The escape pod has landed in a desert called “Jundland”. 3PO is complaining again about their situation and the two argue and go their separate ways.  We then see R2 attacked by mysterious figures in brown robes.

We cut to a conversation between Luke and Biggs (again not shown in the film). Biggs explains to Luke that whilst at the academy, he made some friends.  When his frigate passes through a central system, he and his group of friends will jump ship and join the Rebellion! Luke is amazed and skeptical, saying that Biggs may never find the Rebels. Biggs agrees but says he has to try and he has a friend of a friend on Bestine, who will help them make contact.

In a conference room back on the station, a group of Imperial officers are talking about Darth Vader’s recent actions and how dangerous the rebel alliance is. They are interrupted as Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin enter the room.  Tarkin informs the officers that he has just received word from the Emperor that he has dissolved the Imperial Senate – permanently.  Admiral Motti, one of the Imperial officers in the room asks how the Emperor intends to maintain control.  Tarkin replies by using fear and the presence of the battle station they are on.  Darth Vader adds that the data the rebels were able to obtain will soon be retrieved.  Another of the officers proclaims that any attack on the battle station would be a useless gesture.  Vader reminds him not to be too proud, and when the officer attempts to reply by criticising Vader’s belief in an “ancient religion“, he begins to struggle to breath.  Vader mutters, “I find your lack of faith disturbing“, before Tarkin orders him to release the officer.

Back on Tatooine, we see that both R2 and 3PO have been captured by the robed figures, known as Jawas.  They are being held in a sandcrawler, which comes to a halt and the droids are ordered outside. The droids are lined up for inspection by potential customers, one of which is Luke, accompanied by his uncle Owen.  Luke’s uncle chooses an R2-unit but refers to R2-D2 as junk.  He then questions whether 3PO can speak Bocce, amongst other languages. Satisfied with the response, he chooses him too. As they walk off, the R2 unit blows a motivator, causing Owen (at 3PO’s suggestion) to replace him with R2-D2. 3PO doesn’t waste time in making it clear to R2 that he should be grateful for his intervention.

Luke takes the droids to be cleaned up, and whilst doing so is complaining to them about Biggs. As Luke cleans R2, an image appears of the woman from the rebel ship. “Obi Wan Kenobi…help me! You’re my only ho…” says the woman in the image before the message is repeated. Luke asks R2 who the beautiful woman is, but 3PO states that R2 is malfunctioning. R2 then states that he is the property of Obi Wan Kenobi, and it is a private message for him. Luke states that he doesn’t know any Obi Wan Kenobi, but there is an old Ben Kenobi who lives out in the dunes. He then notices a restraining bolt on R2 and when he tries to remove it, the image disappears.

Luke leaves the droids to have dinner with his uncle and aunt. Luke suggests that R2 may be stolen, due to the message and Obi Wan Kenobi. His uncle responds angrily that Luke should stay away from that “old wizard”. Luke wonders what will happen if Obi Wan came looking for the droid. His uncle responds by saying that he won’t, as he died at the same time as his father. Luke is excited to hear about his father and asks whether Obi Wan knew him. Owen shuts him down. Luke then explains that if the droids work out, he would like to submit his application to the academy. Owen tells Luke that he can apply next term, after the harvest. Luke storms off and his aunt tells his uncle that he cannot keep him here forever, as he’s got “too much of his father in him“. Owen explains “that’s what I am afraid of!

Back with the droids, 3PO is startled by Luke’s appearance and claims it “wasn’t his fault“. When Luke asks him what he is talking about, 3PO explains that R2 has left to complete his mission. It is nightfall now on Tatooine, so Luke rises at first light to go and look for him, with 3PO in tow. Whilst Luke and 3PO are looking for R2, Imperial troopers have landed on Tatooine and found the escape pod. On closer inspection, they also find evidence of droids.

Luke and 3PO find R2 and R2 explains that there are savages close by. Luke fears they may be Sandpeople and tells the droids to hurry, but the Sandpeople spring a surprise attack. And that brings to an end, the first of the six part movie adaption.

Comments

Other than the scenes with Biggs, the first issue is a very close adaption of the film, with numerous lines taken directly from it. Even the Biggs scenes where part of George Lucas’ script, so there are no major surprises here. In the last scene with Biggs, mention is made of a planet called Bestine, which does not sound familiar, and may be an early alteration of Bespin. There is also a nice little plot summary at the end of the issue, for those not familiar with the movie.

Details

Writer – Roy Thomas

Artist – Howard Chaykin

Cover date – July 1977

Financials and further rerading

Cover price – 30c (although there are also rare 35c version available)

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Star Wars 1 on eBay was $2,499.99 (this is the 30c version).

The comic can be read digitally at Marvel.com here or on Comixology here. If you prefer your reading a little heavier, you can get the Marvel omnibus which collects the first 44 issues of the series. Link to Amazon UK here, but if you are in the US, InstockTrades offer better value.

Coming next

The next reviews in our chronological look at the Marvel superheroes will be:

Fantastic Four 5

The Incredible Hulk 2

Journey into Mystery 83

Plus a look at Star Wars 2

And perhaps some more detours…

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comictretrospect