The Fantastic Four are generally well regarded by the public but there is a subsection of people in the 616 universe that don’t like them for a variety of reasons. Issue seven of the series sees an alien from “Planet X” who is able to amplify these negative feelings on Earth.
This is Kurrgo who is a mostly forgettable villain and basically somewhat of a fuzzy alien who simply wants to dominate his people into subjugation. He has a problem though. You see his planet is faced with an impending disaster. It’s about to be hit by another planet racing towards its orbit. The habitants of Planet X only have a limited amount of space travel and they’ve only built two space ships.
Bizarrely, Kurrgo, thinks his best method of saving his planet is to amplify negative feelings of animosity towards the Fantastic Four so that he can capture them and then bring them back to his home planet where they will save his citizens. I guess it’s not much fun being an authoritarian when there are no people to boss around. After a bit of a fight and some showing off of the fantasti-car, the superhero team does end up on Planet X. Johnny and Ben Grimm don’t take very kindly to being abducted but Reed Richards is more interested in the scientific reveals and problem facing him.
I think the most significant moment of the entire issue has to do with one short encounter where Johnny Storm, aka, The Human Torch gets frustrated and tries to melt the robot that had a hand in abducting the group. Johnny realizes since he is not on Earth he does not have to restrain his powers. He says, “I can match the fiery blaze of an exploding star… a super nova!!” This is the first time we see him get close to his most intense power. It shows he has the potential for incredible destruction and lets us know how hard it might be for him to keep those powers in check. The only reason he doesn’t fully unleash his power is because it would hit his sister Sue Storm. We know now that even in his most powerful state, Johnny will take caution not to hurt those he cares about. And we also see that Johnny, despite constantly bickering with The Thing, truly cares about his friend. Johnny only attacked because the robot had flung Ben Grimm to the ground.
Reed does come up with a solution for the citizens of Planet X. He makes a “shrinking gas” that allows the whole population to fit on their two rocket ships. He also says he has an enlarging gas antidote that can restore these aliens to their original size. Kurrgo ends up trying to keep the enlarging gas for himself so he can still dominate his subjects. He’s out of luck though because they take off without him. I have no idea how they figured out piloting the ship when they were the size of ants but we’ll leave that question for now. Also, the shrinking gas is very reminiscent of Henry Pym’s formula that allows him to shrink to about the same size. It makes one wonder if Reed was aware of Pym’s research.
Reed seemingly outsmarts Kurrgo because there never was an enlarging gas. It was a little unclear why Reed would lie about it but it seems he knew Kurrgo would make the move to grab this gas and that the rocket ship would leave without Kurrgo. The most ironic thing about this is that when we get the big reveal of Reed tricking Kurrgo, there is a misprint and Reed says there was no reducing gas. We know for sure there was because earlier in the issue Reed had tested it. It leads for a moment of confusion as a reader but I guess we just chalk this one up to Reed being distracted as usual?
Mostly, other than the incredible power Johnny displayed, this is a forgettable issue but there will be tons of adventures similar to this one as we go along.
Next on the list we will be stepping away from three quarters of the Fantastic Four as we look in on Johnny Storm on his own in Strange Tales #101!
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