It’s time to turn our attention back to the Marvel superhero universe, so let’s revisit the Fantastic Four, and see what they are up to in issue 7.
The issue starts with a shot of a large-headed alien known as Kurrgo. It transpires that he has been monitoring the Fantastic Four from his Planet X. Kurrgo explains that Planet X is far superior to Earth in every way. However, despite Planet X’s superiority, it seems that it will be outlasted by Earth due to a runaway asteroid. Escaping Planet X is not an option as there are only two spaceships on the planet (for they never cared for space travel). One of these ships has been put to good use though, it is blazing its way to Earth to find the Fantastic Four, as they may be the only people that can save Planet X.
We next turn our attention the foursome. They are in their headquarters and have been invited to Washington at short notice for a dinner in their honour. The team are not overly enthused with the offer. However, Reed insists they attend despite the excuses they make.
Meanwhile, a strange new shape enters Earth’s atmosphere and it is soon detected by a military satellite, but they can’t quite work out what it is. The Fantastic Four, en route to Washington in their Fantasticar, also notice a shape in the sky but have no time to investigate. We see the spaceship land in a desolate valley, and a mighty robot emerge. It begins scanning for the Fantastic Four.
The Fantastic Four reach their destination and are soon presented with a trophy, as a symbol of the nation’s gratitude. The robot is soon approaching Washington, and reports back to his master on Planet X of his progress. The ship then emits a strange vibration that envelops the whole city, causing its inhabitants to start acting strangely and aggressively.
The effects of the vibration are even felt at the dinner attended by the Fantastic Four. The sentiment soon changes and the team are accused of being menaces. The Fantastic Four make a dash for their escape and are soon followed by a group of soldiers in chase. They manage to evade their pursuers and leave in the Fansticar, but it seems this was exactly what the robot from Planet X wanted.
The spaceship goes after the Fantasticar, and Reed at the steering panel attempts to evade it. He manages to get them back to their headquarters, but the spaceship is still in pursuit. They land on the roof, as does the spaceship and the giant robot emerges. The robot then projects images of how the public have turned against the team and are trying to storm into their headquarters. The robot informs the team that wherever they go on Earth, they will be seen as enemies and will eventually be captured and thrown into prison. Their only option is to go with the robot to Planet X. Reed reluctantly agrees but Ben smells a rat. Reed then realises that the robot would not have traveled all this way just to save the Fantastic Four. The robot admits this is true and explains that his master has a favour to ask the team once they reach his home. Reed accepts the offer.
The spaceships finally reaches Planet X, and the team are gently transported to its surface on a beam of anti-gravity matter. They are introduced to Kurrgo, who starts to explain how superior Planet X is to Earth. However, he then adds that there is one thing they have not solved, the approach of the onrushing asteroid.
Whilst Reed tries to figure out a solution, Ben decides the best approach is to force the robot to take them back to Earth. He is soon easily out-muscled though. The team then agree that their best way out of this is to save the plant, but they do not have much time, it is already started to break up.
Reed’s solution is to build a device that fires reducing gas. He tests the device on two of Kurrgo’s subjects, and they are soon reduced in size a thousandfold. Reed’s solution is to fire the reducing gas at all five billion inhabitants of Planet X, so that they can fit onto the two spaceships. They can then fly to another planet, before returning to their normal size. They manage to reduce the population and board the spaceship themselves, just in time before Planet X is destroyed.
However, Kurrgo sees an opportunity here. It is clear he has no love for his subjects and decides to use the enlarging gas on himself only, so that he more easily rule over his (miniature) subjects on their new home. However, in his maniacal desire to be an absolute master, Kurrgo is unable to reach the ship in time. He is destroyed along with Planet X, but its five billion inhabitants manage to escape.
Meanwhile, back on the Fantastic Four’s ship, Sue asks Reed whether he is sure that the enlarging gas will work, as he did not have time to test it. Reed ominously replies that there is no enlarging gas, he merely said this to ensure all the inhabitants left the planet. And anyway, what difference does it make if they remain tiny, if they are all the same size…
Well that was an unexpectedly dark ending! And perhaps a first glance and the more ruthless side to Reed, and the impact this has on decision making. Otherwise, an entertaining issue, which continues the dynamic within the team.
One oddity, however, (yes there can still be oddities about a story involving a planet of aliens about to be destroyed by an asteroid!) is why the reducing gas was not used on the asteroid, rather than on the entire population! But what do I, as a mere mortal know.
Writer – Stan Lee
Artist – Jack Kirby
Cover date – October 1962
In a new feature, we will also look at what was going on at the time of the cover date of this issue. And what a way to kick off with none other than the Cuban missile crisis! You can read more about that here.
Cover Price – 12c
At the time of writing, the most expensive listing for this issue on eBay is a staggering price of $27,500, although it is in excellent condition.
Journey into Mystery 85
Tales to Astonish 36
Strange Tales 101