Things begin to really get going in the third issue of Fantastic Four. We take a look inside for some significant firsts.
Before we jump in, a word on the great cover of issue 3, which boldly introduces readers to both the Fantasti-Car and the famous Fantastic Four blue costumes.
The story begins with a magician called the Miracle Man on stage (looking strikingly similar to Count Dracula). The Miracle Man notices he has four famous guests in the audience, with each member of the team introduced in their own panel.
The Miracle Man mocks the powers of the Fantastic Four, by showing what he can do, such as growing into a giant, changing his composition into a gas-like substance and controlling thunder and lightning. The Thing unsurprisingly does not take too well to the goading.
The Thing joins the Miracle Man on stage and is challenged to cut a tree trunk in half. The Thing smashes the trunk repeatedly and is able to do so. But to everyone’s astonishment, the Miracle Man is able to repeat this feat using just one finger. The Thing is outraged, accuses Miracle Man of a con-trick and then tries to punch him in the face. Miracle Man is unmoved.
The Fantastic Four head home in their flying Fantasti-Car, with Reed commenting that it is lucky that the Miracle Man is not a criminal, as he may be impossible to stop. But just what are the Miracle Man’s intentions?
We find out soon enough. The Miracle Man has decided it is time to show the world just what he is capable of, and decides a high profile stunt is the way to do this. He notices a huge monster statue on exhibit opposite the theatre, and decides to turn it into life.
The Fantastic Four arrive at their headquarters. This is the first time we have seen this, and we get a nice diagram on page 5 of the building layout.
The team decide to relax, and Johnny turns on the tv. He notices that they are showing the premiere of “The Monsters from Mars” and Reed comments on the huge statute. Meanwhile, Sue shows the team the uniform she has designed for herself, and for the rest of the team. The Thing isn’t too keen on the costume and is in the middle of complaining to Sue when Johnny notices that the Miracle Man is at the premiere.
Amazingly, the statue appears to come to life and starts to cause havoc. It is as Reed feared, the one man they cannot stop is intent on using his powers for evil. To confirm their suspicions, the police commissioner has received a note from the Miracle Man, declaring war on the whole human race! The commissioner authorises the Fantastic Four to do whatever is necessary to stop him.
The Fantastic Four head out to find the Miracle Man. They split up to search different parts of the city. Reed finds the monster and seems to be able to stop him, before he is attacked by the Miracle Man. The surprise attack allows the monster to escape, much to the commissioner’s disappointment.
The army then tries to stop the monster, but similarly fail to do so. Johnny then engages the monster. The Human Torch is able to stop the monster and sets fire to him. To his astonishment, the monster is made from wood and plaster. Johnny cannot understand how he was able to move. The army are still on the scene, and decide not to take any risks, and so fire water at the Human Torch. His flame starts to fizzle out and he falls to the ground, but not before telling Ben that the Miracle Man is the cause of the monster moving.
The Thing confronts the Miracle Man, but he is again bested by him. Miracle Man appears to be able to make the ground open up beneath the Thing. With both the Thing and the Human Torch catching their breath, the Invisible Girl decides to take matters into her own hands, and turns invisible.
The rest of the team regroup at their headquarters and Johnny is angry at Ben for allowing Sue to take on the Miracle Man by herself. Ben angrily reminds the others that he will be ready to act and explains that he cannot forgot the events that led them to becoming the Fantastic Four. We then get a brief re-cap of this. Johnny teases ben, and Ben lashes out at him. Johnny storms out.
We cut to the Miracle Man, who is at a junkyard, and is still being followed by Sue. A dog starts barking at Sue’s invisible form and the Miracle Man is able to command her to make herself visible. He then tells her to fire her flare gun and summon the others. Within minutes both Ben and Reed arrive at the scene.
Miracle Man starts to shoot at Reed, who is able to dodge the bullets. The Thing then stands in his way, but the Miracle Man grabs Sue and runs off. Johnny then arrives and they jump into an old car and race after them. Johnny is impatient however, and decides to fly off ahead. He creates a bright flash which stops the Miracle Man. They recover Sue and Ben is about to exact some revenge on the Miracle Man before Reed stops him. The Miracle Man then releases Sue from his trance and he is revealed to be merely a hypnotist, with no powers, magic or otherwise.
Reed praises Johnny for his actions, which angers Ben again. Johnny has had enough, and decides to leave the Fantastic Four. Sue is distraught to see her brother leave, but Reed is more concerned about the danger Johnny could cause.
An issue of many firsts. We get the first glimpse of the Fantasti-Car and the team;s headquarters. We also get the teams costumes, which have remained the same for the majority of last 50 years. From a story perspective, we get more in-fighting, culminating in Johnny leaving the team at the end of the issue. He’ll be back though…
Writer – Stan Lee
Artist – Jack Kirby
Cover Date – March 1962
Cover price – 12c (a 20% increase from the last issue!)
At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Fantastic Four 3 is $1,575 on eBay.
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