Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Strange Tales #106

Strange Tales Issue 106 Photo Credit: Marvel

In the pages of The Fantastic Four one of the more common storylines is for one member or another to leave the team. There have been times when this lasted a while but most often it is resolved in an issue or two at the most.

Strange Tales stars Johnny Storm in his own adventures but the rest of the FF have shown up here and there on several occasions. In issue 106, it’s advertised as a guest appearance for the Fantastic Four. There’s nothing unusual about this appearance but it does show Marvel is trying to tie a superhero universe together. One of the best ways to do this is to use the team that kicked off the 616 universe as much as possible.

It’s been a little confusing in Strange Tales for Johnny to live in Glenville but show up consistently at the Baxter building in the pages of The Fantastic Four as if he is living there. Johnny and Sue seem to be sometimes living in Glenville and sometimes at the Baxter building as well.

This issue starts off with Johnny zipping around an obstacle course Reed has created for him. Next a visitor arrives at Johnny and Sue’s Glenville home, asking to see The Human Torch. This should be surprising because Johnny has tried to disguise his identity in Glenville. This never made sense considering the FF are publicly known figures but Johnny tries to keep a secret identity anyway.

Johnny gets home and ditches his costume in an alley. (Side note here to mention a lot of Marvel heroes really do seem to think hiding their costumes in an alley is a great strategy.) Even as he is doing this, people are pointing out the Human Torch usually arrives home around this time.

As Johnny enters his home he is greeted by Sue and one Mr. Zante who knows Johnny is the Torch. Johnny is utterly shocked by this revelation but Sue admits “All of Glenville knows of your dual role!” This is one of the first times (but far from the last) when Marvel subverts expectations about secret identities not only to the reader but also to the character hiding a secret identity. This is similar to a future event involving Mary Jane Parker and Spider-man but to be clear, this type of revelation happens first in Strange Tales 106 with Johnny Storm.

A big question in my mind would be why Sue lets Mr. Zante in without knowing anything about him but she does. Johnny feels a bit embarrassed about everyone knowing his secret but Sue assures him everyone was just respecting his desire for privacy. She then leaves saying, “Now I’ll leave you two alone for your man talk!” Yeah, not exactly the most progressive of eras in publishing but it is what it is.

It turns out this Zante is an acrobat and thinks Johnny and he should team up and form their own super team called “The Torrid Twosome.” Not a name that would go over well now but might have made sense at the time. Zante recalls a bunch of adventures the Fantastic Four had and highlights all of Johnny’s biggest contributions. He tries to convince Johnny that Reed Richards is exploiting him because Reed keeps most of the money for research rather than paying Johnny more.

Johnny races over to Reed and starts to complain, going so far as to demand a salary. There’s a silly tussle with The Thing because, of course there is. In the end Reed says no, stating the money really does need to be used for research. Again, one of the biggest foes the FF face truly is money. It causes all sorts of problems for the team.

Johnny leaves the team and flies out of the window telling them he’s going to be part of the Torrid Twosome. When Johnny calls up Zante to tell him the news we get the first real impression Zante is up to no good. He thinks to himself, “By the time he learns the truth–It’ll be too late!”

Johnny next designs a rather ugly green and orange outfit, complete with beret made out of unstable molecules. Sue tries to convince Johnny not to join up with Zante but he just keeps going on and on about his new outfit.

Zante shows up the next day and tells Johnny there is a man stuck in a bank vault. The plan is for Johnny to melt through the vault and free the bank teller. The Torch flies through and melts the door to find no one inside. Zante follows and shoots Johnny with a liquid asbestos gun. He just wanted Johnny to open the vault so he could steal the money. As if that wasn’t enough, Zante shoots Johnny in the arm with a regular gun as he makes his escape.

The police attempt to catch Zante but because he’s an acrobat they have a pretty hard time of it. But when Zante gets to his getaway car it goes nowhere thanks to The Thing hanging onto the bumper to keep it from moving. Soon Reed and Sue show up to pitch in. They have him caught and all but arrested when Johnny comes out of the bank and demands the FF leave Zante for him.

There’s a bit of a chase but Johnny has a bum arm so it takes a bit longer than normal for him to catch the criminal. He ends up melting the pavement right under the guy’s feet, making it impossible for Zante to walk. Johnny then admits he never truly believed Zante but he had to string him along to find out what he was up to. The issue ends with Johnny back on the team and this time tossing away his Terrible Twosome costume in the same alley where he had been hiding his Fantastic Four uniform. With that, everything is back to normal and the FF can operate as whole team once again.

Next up on the reading list, we’re sticking with Johnny Storm for another story as we catch up with The Human Torch in the pages of Strange Tales #107!

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Tales to Astonish #40

Tales to Astonish Issue 40 Photo Credit: Marvel

Tales to Astonish always features a few stories but with the consistent use of Ant-Man as the featured character on the cover, the book basically belongs to him. Hank Pym has gone on several adventures as a costumed super hero and so far things have worked out fairly well for him.

The police see him as someone they can rely on, he’s getting paid by the government to invent new products, and in general, the public likes him. When you are this set up for success there has to come a point where you fail. Of course, as one might imagine from reading the cover, Ant-man is not actually going to fail. After all, what hero does? In the end the good guys and gals will win out.

This particular story reads very much like an old episode of Scooby-Doo.

It starts with Hank in his lab creating a gas mask made of unstable molecules. Sharp readers of 616 comics know unstable molecules are used in all kinds of things for superheroes. The Fantastic Four have costumes made out of these molecules so they can wear clothes and still use their powers. It was a way of explaining why Sue Storm could be invisible without removing her clothing, why Reed can stretch and his clothes don’t rip and why Johnny Storm’s clothes don’t burn up the instant he flames on. It’s also why Hank can shrink to the size of an ant and his clothes still fit him. It seems Stan Lee hit on what he thought was a good scientific sounding (but not actually scientific) reason to explain all sorts of things.

Anyway, this gas mask Hank invents shrinks to the size of the wearer’s head which I guess is something the government is looking for.

Next we see some security guards who can’t seem to remember what just happened. Their armored truck is gone and it seems a villain known as The Hijacker has struck once again.

Howard Mitchell, who owns the Mitchell Armored Truck company is furious at his guards and wishes he could contact Hank as he says, “Only the Ant-Man would be clever enough to catch the Hijacker!” Of course, ants are everywhere and it is no surprise Hank Pym does pick up on this message. He has a watch which picks up signals from the ants telling him to don his cybernetic helmet to find out what is happening.

From the background of the panel we can see Hank has a very sophisticated computer system set up. There are tape reels and everything plus lots of switches so you know it’s modern technology. Hank narrows down what sector of the city the ants are signaling from and hops into his costume and launches himself from his catapult. I’m still not certain how the catapult could be so accurate as to get Hank around corners but we’ll just let that go for the moment. He lands on a pile of ants, after nearly missing them, and makes his way to Mitchell’s office.

Mitchell gives Ant-Man the rundown of what has been happening and asks for help. Henry first asks Mitchell to announce one of his trucks is going to make a huge shipment. Mitchell reluctantly agrees and then Henry asks Mitchell about his, “primitive art” asking if it is Inca in origin. Mitchell answers, “I spent some time with the Indians in the jungle! But that’s unimportant now!”

Occasionally, (well sometimes frequently actually) you run into some pretty bad stereotyping in old Marvel comics. We probably do need to look at these through the lens of the time they were written in but this still does not excuse much of what shows up on the page. From the art being called primitive and drawn very stereotypically to the ridiculous false mysticism which will later be mentioned in the issue, these things are hard to read. But, as far as this goes, this issue is one of the milder instances of harsh stereotyping and not nearly as problematic as some of the characters which will show up soon in the pages of Iron Man. That being said, for the plot of the story, knowing Mitchell has Inca statues and was in the jungle for a year is key to the end of the book.

As Hank leaves he tells Mitchell, “Don’t Worry! Whoever he is– however he operates– the Ant-Man will defeat him! I promise you!”

The next day the guards are loading up the truck and very relieved when Ant-Man shows up. Before the shipment can leave, however, Hank says he is in great pain, likely with appendicitis. The guards are upset but can’t blame the poor guy because it could happen to anyone, including Ant-Man.

Hank rides off on an ant but Mitchell decides to proceed with the delivery. Thus, Ant-Man leaving the scene is, “The first time the Ant-Man’s ever failed anyone!” according to one of the guards. Soon the armored truck comes upon a moving van stalled and in the way. The guards think about getting out to help but before they do the back of the van opens and a huge magnet is used to pull the armored vehicle into the moving van.

The Hijacker appears and lets out a gas grenade, knocking out all of the guards. But, surprise, Ant-Man was only faking his appendicitis and snuck onto the armored vehicle. He uses a catapult and a model airplane to do it and he’s sure to put his gas mask on.

There’s a bit of a chase where Hank ends up in the ignition of the car and then ends up on the engine block. Unfortunately for him, the Hijacker thinks to blast the horn as loud as he can, making Hank grab his ears. It takes a bit and an editors note explaining once again how Ant-Man still retains his human strength when small but Hank pulls out some engine wires to kill the horn.

With the help of some ants, Henry Pym is able to jump onto the Hijacker’s gas mask and tear it open. Once the Hijacker falls to the ground unconscious, Hank pulls the mask off to reveal… It’s Howard Mitchell. Hank suspected Howard as soon as he saw the “primitive art statues” and knew Mitchell had spent time in the jungles of Peru. Apparently, according to Hank Pym, “the Indians there have an ancient vapor, the inhaling of which causes a lapse of memory!”

This explains why Ant-Man had to fake appendicitis. He needed to convince Mitchell he wouldn’t interfere, therefore allowing Mitchell to commit the crime Hank suspects him of.

While this twist is not very original and it’s ridiculous in a lot of ways, this will not be the last time strange things are blamed on mysterious vapors coming from any number of jungles in the Marvel 616 continuity.

Mitchell was losing money at his company and thought he could make it back by stealing it from his own customers. As Tony Stark might say, “Not a great plan.”

This prompts the guards to realize Ant-Man has not actually failed and one of them says, “Mister, even when that guy fails, He wins! That’s the Ant-Man for you!”

Something to mention here is this attitude is completely different than the public has for most of the rest of the heroes in the 616. The Fantastic Four are sometimes beloved figures but they also have a contingent of serious detractors and the public turns on them frequently. The Hulk is almost never seen as a real hero, even though he does things which are notably heroic, often things similar to what Hank Pym does such as stopping communists from stealing secret plans. Spider-Man is anything but loved at his debut. Probably the only hero who is also popular at this point of the 616 universe would be Thor. The majority of people who have seen him in action do appreciate Thor but so far Ant-Man would be polling best with the public in the fictional version of the 616 universe.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be checking in with The Human Torch as he stars in Strange Tales #106!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Fantastic Four #11

Fantastic Four Issue 11 Photo Credit: Marvel

There were times when the early Marvel 616 comics could get a bit out there and experimental. Issue eleven of the Fantastic Four is one of these instances. There are two stories in the issue. For some reason the second story, the “B” feature, if you will, is listed in the Complete Marvel Reading Order is listed as happening first. I’m not sure if there is an actual story reason for this but I’m going to go through the features in the order listed on the website. Both stories do some sort of groundbreaking things and the end of the issue has a major tease which helps propel Marvel 616 into a more unified universe.

The second story in this issue is called The Impossible Man! It’s about an alien who lands in what is described as a “hobo jungle” where a bunch of vagabonds are having dinner. The green skinned alien with the pointy head asks for some food but is told he needs to pay for it with cash. The alien asks where to get cash and is told you have to ask for it at the bank. Not realizing what that means, the alien transforms into an airplane and pops into a vault at a bank. This freaks out the bank attendant enough for him to leave and the alien grabs some money. The cops immediately arrive on the scene and start firing at the alien but he turns to steel and the bullets bounce off of him.

The police realize this is more than a match for them and they can call the Fantastic Four to come help deal with the situation. They hop in the Fantasti-car and find the alien chowing down on a bunch of food in a restaurant. The FF demand to know what the deal is with this guy and he tells them he comes from “the planet Poppup!” The evolutionary processes on Poppup are so swift the inhabitants can change themselves into anything whenever the need arises to survive the constant attacks from predators and environmental hazards.

This idea of constant evolutionary change is actually a precursor to what we will see when mutants are revealed in the pages of The X-Men in the future. For now it’s a bit of a silly joke and an excuse for Jack Kirby to just draw whatever he wants to.

After his little backstory the Fantastic Four tell him he can’t just take money from a bank and it escalates into a skirmish pretty quickly. The alien, who is dubbed The Impossible Man by The Thing is able to evade capture by changing forms whenever he is attacked and negates all four of the member’s powers. Individually and collectively the team is not able to do anything to stop The Impossible Man.

Reed Richards is no slouch though and he has some ideas on how to deal with this guy. After Impossible Man does a few stunts and some major property damage, Reed tells the police and all the world to simply ignore the Impossible Man.

The Impossible Man first came to Earth because he was bored of his own planet. Reed figures giving him the silent treatment might just be enough to get this guy to leave. It takes a while but it works.

If you were to think of something else in comic books to compare this to, The Impossible Man is the analog of Mr. Mxyzptlk in DC comics who comes around to harass Superman every once in a while. Impossible Man is not quite as fun as Mr. Mxyzptlk but he showed the Fantastic Four are able to use their heads instead of their powers when needed. Also, for a while in the issue the world started to think Reed Richards was a coward but he didn’t seem to care. Instead, he just sticks to his plan, never bothering to explain his strategy or solution to anyone. This is a very typical Reed Richards move which sometimes lands him in hot water.

The last panel of this story teases a major milestone in Marvel 616. It tells readers to come back to read a “surprise-packed full length thriller– The Fantastic Four meet– The Hulk! Don’t miss it!”

This is the first major crossover from one Marvel 616 book to another. There were always suggestions and rumblings, including some pretty solid evidence in the way of newspapers and dialogue that these characters existed in the same reality. But to have a major Marvel character appear in the Fantastic Four will be a landmark event.

The first story in issue eleven of The Fantastic Four is in some ways much more interesting than the “B” story. While most issues of the FF deal with supervillains in some way or another, this one shows us a slice of life for the superheroes in a story titled, “A Visit With the Fantastic Four.”

Stan Lee proves once again here that Marvel is not afraid to try new things in comics. He breaks the fourth wall a bit when the FF meet some fans who are eagerly awaiting the next issue of a comic book magazine called The Fantastic Four. We also meet an important figure in the annals of Marvel history, Willie Lumpkin, the mailman who delivers mail to the Baxter Building for the Fantastic Four. In time he will become an important figure to the series who plays integral parts in multiple stories. Willie even tries to join the FF in this issue, telling Reed Richards that he doesn’t have any super powers but he can, “wiggle my ears real good.”

The story shows off a few secrets of the Baxter Building. The FF have special belt buckles which can send a signal to their personal elevator allowing them and only them access to their apartments at the top.

The team then spends some time opening their fan mail. The Thing gets a gag gift which is a boxing glove extender that punches him in the eye. He’s not real happy about it. Thing is convinced it’s from the Yancy Street Gang who we already know he has some beef with but this is the first time Thing has really called them out by name.

Reed gives Thing a serum and he once again turns back to the human form of Ben Grimm for a while. We then get a few flashbacks from before the heroes flew into the cosmic rays. We find out Ben and Reed were college roommates. Reed is the smart one but Ben was the football star. Reed made a name for himself by winning lots of prizes in the field of science and it probably didn’t hurt that he was the son of a millionaire. Ben becomes a marine fighter ace pilot and gets nationally known as a hero for it. It’s also revealed Reed worked underground for the O.S.S., the first independent U.S. intelligence agency.

While Reed was at the front of the war he would dream about the girl he left behind, Sue Storm. As soon as Reed brings this up Sue is conflicted. She has some mixed feelings due to her emotions about The Sub-Mariner. Reed gives her some space but of course, he’ll bring this up again in later issues.

After returning from the war, Reed decides, “We’ve got to reach the stars before the reds do!” and the fateful events are put into motion which result in the first team of superheroes in Marvel 616 continuity. This origin will get refined over and over again in later issues but this one shows us why Reed was so eager to have Ben pilot the spacecraft. He was a famous war hero pilot so it made sense and Reed knew he could trust Ben.

It’s ultimately Sue who convinces Ben to be the pilot. She and Johnny have agreed to come along and implies Ben is afraid to go. Ben is not one to back down from a challenge so he decides to go.

The rest of the flashback is the standard rehash of how they hit cosmic rays and got their powers using panels we’ve already seen several times in these first eleven issues.

Sue then tells Reed and Ben she’s been getting letters saying she isn’t contributing enough on the adventures of the team. Ben and Reed reassure her she is vital to their success and we get some more re-used panels of several times Sue has helped the team get out of different situations.

Ben suddenly turns back into The Thing. The serum lasted longer this time but nothing seems to be permanent with curing him. An alarm goes off and the team rush into the spaceship they kept as a memento of their adventure on Planet X. Turns out it was just a surprise birthday party for Sue. Still, small gestures like this show this team is more of a family than a superhero team. The story concludes with Willie Lumpkin complaining about his heavy mail bag full of comic magazine heroes and letters to the editor pages.

While you could argue this story isn’t super interesting, it does show more sides to the characters than most comic books at the time were showing. For all we know about Clark Kent in the pages of Superman there wasn’t ever just a story about him having a day with friends where no actual fights break out. This kind of storytelling is what makes Marvel stand out from the competition.

Make no mistake, no matter what you think of the story and issue itself, this is an immensely important moment in the history of Marvel 616 and comics in general. It just begins to scrape the surface of what superhero storytelling could be. There will be more slice of life stories to come but this is truly the first.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be shrinking down once again to catch up with Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish #40!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Journey Into Mystery #89

Journey Into Mystery Issue 89 Photo Credit: Marvel

Thor in all his thunderous glory has fought other dimensional beings, his own brother Loki, and even a group of communists. Until issue 89 of Journey Into Mystery he hadn’t fought the mafia. But that is exactly what he does here.

The issue opens with Thor returning to the office of his secret identity, Dr. Donald Blake. Dr. Donald Blake is a successful surgeon who uses a cane to walk around. He’s not much like the god of thunder so no one suspects their connection. When Thor flies back there are some patients waiting in his office so he decides to fly into a mannequin store, dress one up like Thor (I don’t know where he got the materials to dress it up either) and toss it through the sky toward the ocean where it will land without harming anyone. (I suppose it might annoy Namor though) This ruse is enough to give Thor time to get back to his office and transform before the patients are any the wiser.

We then get another recap of how Dr. Donald Blake stumbled onto the magical stick that allows him to transform while he was on vacation in Norway. We also get the rundown yet again showing Blake is in love with Jane Foster but convinced she could never care for him. Meanwhile, Jane loves Blake but he won’t take any initiative so she thinks he is uninterested. And then she daydreams about polishing Thor’s hammer and ironing his cape. Seriously, I am not making that up. This is what the men who made these comics thought women would imagine in their heads. Yeah… so anyway…

When we switch back to the present moment there is a shootout just outside the office of Dr. Blake. Turns out a mobster named Thug Thatcher was arrested and immediately his men shot at cops and helped him escape. Unfortunately for Thug, he was hit in the shoulder in the crossfire.

Blake was just a little late in telling Jane to go home for the day so now the two of them are stuck in the office while the gunfire happens. If Blake turns to Thor he gives away his secret identity. As fortune would have it, two of Thug’s uh… thugs… realize they “…gotta fetch him a sawbones!” and notice a handy doctor’s office in the vicinity. And yes, you guessed right, it was Blake’s office.

The mobsters take Blake captive and make him treat their boss. Blake does so because he has a duty to treat an injured person not because he was told to. In the process they do take his cane which means he can’t easily turn into Thor. Thug is fixed up and tells his boys to “Take care of the good doctor.” Seems Thug doesn’t want Blake squealin’ to the cops. But even with his cane out of reach, Blake has one trick up his sleeve.

Perhaps in his head is more accurate. He decides to use all his concentration to call out to the Norse gods. Odin, up in Asgard hears the call and sends a wave of force that targets the man who is holding Blake’s cane. The cane is dropped and Blake grabs it, turning himself into Thor. The mobsters are understandably confused as to where the doctor went but Thor tells a very thin lie that he tossed Blake to safety.

It’s now mob bosses versus the literal god of thunder. You can probably guess who wins. Thor blows hurricane force winds at them and wraps them up in a sheet and tosses the sheet into a tree. A couple of the thugs try to escape in a car but Thor throws Mjolnir through a bunch of trees which trap the car and the mobsters.

Still, not everyone has been caught. Thug and his loyal girlfriend have managed to escape while the tussle was going on. It seems the girl loves Thug and he knows she’ll never leave him even if he is a terrible, terrible person. Thug comes up with the plan to capture Blake, knowing he and Thor seem to turn up in similar locations often. Good luck with that, Thug!

Thor goes back to Blake’s office to untie Jane from when they first snagged Blake. Thug has decided Jane is just as good a hostage as Blake would be. Since Thug has a gun to Jane, Thor puts the hammer down, knowing it will expose his secret at the end of sixty seconds.

Thinking fast, Thor decides to use “his super-developed vocal cords” to throw his voice across the room, impersonating the police. I know, I know, this sounds really silly but you have to put this in some context. Thor is the closest thing Marvel has at this time to Superman. He’s got a lot of the same powers, flight, strength, gale force winds for breath, and he even has a mild mannered alter ego the way Superman does. Superman at this time had the super power of super-ventriloquism so Marvel is just kind of following suit here. It’s yet another power for Thor to use in the moment when he needs it to be forgotten about soon.

This ruse is enough to fool the gangster and Thor kicks his gun away and gets his hammer back. He then uses it to make a mighty updraft to get Jane Foster to safety. Thor rushes out the window behind her to make sure she is safe. The gangsters shoot at him but to no avail. Thug uses the opportunity to try to escape. His girlfriend, Ruby, begs him to stay and “take your medicine” going so far as to say she’d even wait for him. But Thug is a dumb Thug and just tells her to shut up and get lost. He then shoots at her. I don’t know about you but if I have the god of thunder after me, I’m not wasting bullets. Anyway, Thor blocks the bullets for her so she’s fine.

Thor pounds his hammer on the ground four times, causing lightning to hit the cables of the elevator Thug is on. He then gets onto the steel girders but Thor melts those. I don’t know why Thor doesn’t just fly up and get him but I guess they needed to fill some panels.

Thug finds a bucket of hot rivets and threatens to dump them onto the crowd. Thor promises he won’t try to capture Thug. The girder gives way under Thug and Thor flies up to save him.

As Thor comes down, Ruby swears she still loves Thug and doesn’t want to see him fall. The cop next to her says, “Don’t worry lady– Thor’s got him! But a crumb like that sure don’t deserve anyone as loyal as you!” Well said nameless officer, well said.

Turns out the steel girder Thug was standing on was faulty because it was steel from his own racket where he was selling sub-standard steel for buildings to make his illegal money. So he kind of captured himself.

Thor then asks Odin to erase all memory of Thug Thatcher from Ruby’s mind so she will be “Free to find one who will be worthy of her!” I know of a nameless cop who just might be interested.

The end of the issue has a little tease for the next Journey Into Mystery where Thor will fight the wonderfully named “Carbon-Copy Man!” I’m guessing it will be more of an interesting fight than this was.

To put this issue in some context, it does have a few notable things in the story. It seems it is getting easier for Thor to call to Asgard whenever he needs to. Also, the love triangle between Blake, Thor and Jane Foster continues and will do so for a fair amount of time still. Finally, with the introduction of things like super-developed vocal cords, Thor is rapidly becoming unbeatable in his own book. It’s clear he needs to be pitted against folks who have super powers, not run of the mill mobsters. We’ll get to that point but not for a while yet.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be getting cosmic once again with the famous Fantastic Four in issue 11 of the series!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Strange Tales #105

Strange Tales Issue 105 Photo Credit: Marvel

In Strange Tales #102 Johnny Storm met the supervillain known as The Wizard for the first time. He laid a series of traps but Johnny evaded them eventually and with a little help from Sue Storm he was able to trick The Wizard into thinking he had psychic powers. It wasn’t very wizardly for someone who claims to be smarter than anyone considering it’s pretty public knowledge that The Human Torch hangs out with The Invisible Girl.

Despite his less than perfect debut, The Wizard is back for round two with ol’ hothead. The issue starts with a brief recap of the events from issue 102. Then we’re shown The Wizard in prison. He’s been a model prisoner just so he could get placed to work in the prison hospital where there are a bunch of chemicals within reach. He concocts a mixture that is capable of eating through a wall and he proceeds to make a man sized hole in the prison. The guards assume he escapes out this hole but while they are busy looking around for him, The Wizard, who was simply hiding, waltzes right out of the cell door the guards left open for him.

The Wizard sneaks onto a train and heads in the direction of his estate where he observes police looking for him. It’s exactly what he expected and he’s smart enough to have created an electromagnetic force field to keep people out.

While The Wizard is smart, he’s dumb enough to challenge The Human Torch to battle and Johnny gets word of it on the news. He’s not about to give up on a challenge and the opportunity to show up an escaped convict. Sue Storm is not comfortable with the idea though and tries to talk Johnny out of it.

Johnny whips up a fire made double of himself to fool Sue while he goes and takes on The Wizard. The only trouble is his double can’t talk or respond to Sue. She calls up Reed Richards and Ben Grimm but they basically tell Sue to leave it to Johnny because “He has to grow up and stand on his own two feet sometime!” So, yeah, showing not a lot of concern for Johnny’s safety here.

The Human Torch makes it to The Wizard’s estate where he is let in but the police are still kept back. If I was a villain inside of an estate with an impenetrable force field the last thing I would do is to let my rival super hero in but that’s exactly what The Wizard does. His ego is just too big to allow him to do the sensible thing here.

He does have a pretty big rocket launcher though and he fires it at Johnny. The Torch just melts it. Next The Wizard tries to drop Johnny into an asbestos-lined dungeon. Of course, Johnny flies so that backfires. Next up is nerve gas but Johnny stops that with a wall of fire to insulate himself from the gas. I’m really not clear on how the physics of that would work but we’ll just assume it does.

The Wizard boldly claims he was simply testing Johnny when an alarm goes off. Someone else entered the house. He can’t see anything on his security cameras and figures it has to be The Invisible Girl. At least he learns from his mistakes. He goes to the room Sue is in and sprays the air with a special spray he made which reveals where she is. I mean, paint would have worked fine, but sure a special spray, why not? In the room she is in some walls come up and trap Sue. The Wizard then plants a device in the wall and heads back to check on Johnny.

Turns out the device in the wall is an explosive and if Sue can’t escape in five minutes, well, that’s the end of her. The Wizard offers to let Johnny into the room if he flames off. Of course Johnny is going to take that offer. And in a classic villain blunder, The Wizard has placed two heroes in the same deadly room, increasing their chances of escaping.

Once The Wizard is safely away he lets Johnny know if the temperature increases in the room by a single degree the bomb is rigged to go off. Johnny heats up just his hand and fires a small flame at the mechanism for the bomb. He melts the hammer that would hit the bell to cause the chain reaction of the explosion. It melts fast enough the bell is never triggered. Thus, Johnny is free to flame on once again without risking death. But the bomb is about to go off so he melts the wall as fast as he can. He gets lucky and exposes the bomb.

Then, in one of the more ridiculous parts of the issue, Johnny creates a “catapult of flame” which launches the bomb through the roof of the house and into the air where it can explode harmlessly.

After all that, Johnny is ready to grab The Wizard. He heats up the air vents to trigger the sprinkler system. And the floor gets wet enough The Wizard slips and falls. He draws some kind of gun but Johnny does what anyone would expect and… yeah… he… um… makes a saw out of flames and carves the roof above The Wizard so the ceiling falls on him to knock him out. A little silly but we’ll just go with it again.

Sue switches off the lever keeping the forcefield up and by the time the police enter The Wizard is being held by a flame lasso. Sue tells Johnny if The Wizard is smart “…he’ll stay in prison where he’s safe!” so we all know he’s going to break out again. Torch has to have some kind or rival in his own book so it makes sense.

Back at home Sue admonishes Johnny for going against direct orders. The issue ends with a little sibling rivalry as Sue throws a pillow at Johnny for making a joke about her help in the whole thing.

The issue is pretty interesting and does sort of expand Johnny’s fire powers even more. More importantly, it continues to set up The Wizard as a recurring villain who becomes a staple in the foes of not only Johnny but all of the Fantastic Four and several other Marvel heroes.

Next up on the reading list we catch up with the god of thunder once again in the pages of Journey Into Mystery #89!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Tales to Astonish #39

Tales to Astonish Issue 39 Photo Credit: Marvel

While The Fantastic Four, Thor, and even The Incredible Hulk chug along nicely with their stories in the early days of Marvel 616, Ant-Man has sort of struggled to gain footing in the pages of Tales to Astonish. His powers are pretty interesting and what he does with them can be intriguing but he hasn’t gained a real nemesis and his stories are fairly run of the mill superhero stuff. Which leads us to issue 39 of Tales to Astonish where things get rather strange. That’s saying something for a guy who has insect based powers but the issue here really demands a lot of suspension of disbelief.

As you can probably tell from the cover, the story involves an oversized beetle with an attitude problem. Right there it seems the issue will be different, which is not a bad thing, but the story, unfortunately, doesn’t really live up to its potential.

The issue begins with Henry Pym, as usual, monitoring the activities of the insect world. He can see there is something brewing, something “strange– and dangerous!” He does the logical thing and hops into the Ant-Man suit to go investigate. We see him launch out of his secret catapult and there is a handy note to the reader telling us “Although unnoticed by other eyes, the building which houses Henry Pym contains many secret devices for use by an ant-sized human!”

After being catapulted onto a pile of waiting ants Henry rides an ant into the sewer. He finds hundreds of insects gathered together. Out of all those insects he notices there is a beetle glowing strangely and all the other insects seem to be paying attention to it. Luckily for us, Pym’s helmet can pick up mental telepathy which the beetle is using to communicate with the insects.

We get the standard explanation of strange stuff in the early Marvel 616 stories. This beetle has been accidentally exposed to radiation due to “one of mankind’s atomic experiments…” Radiation and radioactivity are pretty much magic in these comics and can do anything the writers and artists want. To be fair, it was the time of the cold war and atomic exploration so there was a lot of fear around it. The reading audience at the time probably had an easier time believing this could happen than we do now. Turns out the radiation gave the beetle human level intelligence on top of the mental telepathy.

This beetle wants to organize the insect world to rise up and become masters of the world. After all, they number in the trillions. Henry realizes he needs to stop this. Before he can get to the Scarlet Beetle a bunch of body guard beetles knock Hank out cold. The Scarlet Beetle is smart enough to realize he should use the growth gas Ant-Man has to become bigger.

A little later Henry wakes up without his helmet or his vials that help him change size. The Scarlet Beetle takes the opportunity to go on the attack. He has termites cut down telephone poles, taking out human communication systems. Several groups of insects steal boxes of dynamite from the most unobservant military guard in existence. Meanwhile the Scarlet Beetle has some of the more deadly spiders bite key politicians to take down the government systems in place. The only insects not participating in the nefarious deeds are the ants, who are loyal to the Ant-Man.

For a beetle, this dude is shockingly organized and well planned. Honestly, he seems like he has it together more than The Wizard did when he first attacked Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch. Now that the Scarlet Beetle has had his minions wreak enough havoc he appears on the scene himself. He takes down television stations while his other insect pals go right for the police. The police are desperately hoping Ant-Man shows up at this point.

Luckily for humanity, the ants find Hank’s helmet and realize there is something wrong. They use their sense of smell to find Ant-Man and get him out of the ditch he is stuck in. Ant-Man comes up with a plan involving the ants. One of the text boxes reads, “After giving his ants their instructions, the tiny avenger goes into action…” This is sort of interesting considering Henry Pym will be one of the founding members of The Avengers soon.

Hank uses honey ants to slow the beetles, beats away grasshoppers with an ice-cream pop stick, and gets a group of ants to bring a bunch of DDT. For those who may not know, DDT was a type of insect repellant that was fairly commonly used in the 1960’s. In fact, it was used so much it turned out to be harmful to humans, and for the most part is no longer used. Back then it was everywhere though. The DDT does the job but the Scarlet Beetle remains. Hank’s plan is to go into a toy store. He hops in a toy car to outrun his enemy. Then he grabs a lance from a toy knight and chucks it right at the container of reducing gas the Scarlet Beetle is wearing. The beetle is reduced and Henry places him inside a balloon to take back to his lab.

Henry is able to counteract the radiation and remove the human intelligence the Scarlet Beetle has. There’s not really a thought of what an ethical dilemma this might be but since the bug is just a bug again Henry lets him out in his backyard.

The issue ends with the police wondering where the heck Ant-Man was in all this, never realizing it was Henry Pym who saved them.

I think this issue might have been intended to create a repeat villain for Hank. I’m not sure if that ever did happen but Ant-Man by this point does really deserve a true nemesis. It’s going to be a while before we get there so we can expect more odd and zany stories that don’t exactly age well from the pages of Tales to Astonish. This was definitely one of the less believable stories but it helped to keep Ant-Man popular enough that people were still reading the book.

Next up on the reading list we’ll see how the rematch between The Wizard and The Human Torch shapes up in Strange Tales #105!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Fantastic Four #10

The Fantastic Four Issue 10 Photo Credit: Marvel

For the tenth issue of a comic there sure are a lot of firsts in this issue. Right on the cover is the first of the firsts. This is the first Marvel comic (and I believe the first comic ever) to use the writer and artist of the comic as part of the story in the comic. It’s way more metaverse than Zuckerberg could ever get.

The issue starts off in fairly standard fashion for a Fantastic Four comic. Reed Richards is in his lab doing some tests to get a better understanding of how Sue Storm’s powers work. The team then sees the emergency signal in the shape of a 4 outside their window. They figure Ben Grimm must be in trouble since he’s the only member of the team not there. Somehow the lab door has been closed and we see Johnny and Reed try a couple different things to get the door opened. It’s not easy since it’s “nuclear powered” so heat won’t work and Reed has to basically stretch his way all through the building but he’s unsuccessful. Johnny tries again but with a flame concentrated so much it burns without heat. (Yeah I’m not sure how that works either but it’s a comic so I’ll go with it)

The team rushes out the door to head to Alicia’s place. She has now been established as the Thing’s girlfriend. But because the team is famous it’s a bit hard for them to navigate through the crowd. Reed has to stretch through legs to avoid a crowd, Sue has to go invisible after a creepy guy says, “How’s about a smile for one of your fans??” and of course the Human Torch just flies over everyone. They make to Alicia’s to find out Ben had just sent for the crew because he wanted to show them the sculptures Alicia made of some of their past foes. She clearly has talent as a sculptor and we get to see Mole-Man, Dr. Doom, Namor and a few others she has made. Sue doesn’t think Namor should be lumped in with the other ones. Reed very nearly talks to Sue about her feelings for Namor but Sue cuts him off. It seems Reed had the understanding he and Sue would eventually be married but it seems her feelings for the King of Atlantis may be making things a bit complicated.

The next panel is where Stan Lee and Jack Kirby make comic book history. I imagine they did this just to have something to put on the page and to see if it would work but for the first time ever we see the authors of the comic directly addressing the readers of the comic in the story. The panel narrates, “And that, dear reader, is as far as Jack Kirby and I got with our story, before the unexpected happened! But let us show you just how it all came about… our scene now changes to the studio of Kirby and Lee, on Madison Avenue, where we find…” And in the image we see Stan and Jack from behind, with lots of artwork around them. In the background you can see pictures of Hulk and Ant-Man. On Kirby’s art table is a picture of Thor and in his hands Kirby has an illustration of a villain he wants to call “false-face” who just really has a big mustache.

I call special attention to this panel for a few reasons. First, if there was ever any doubt, this firmly places the Fantastic Four right in New York City along with the offices of Marvel. Second, with the drawings scattered around Jack Kirby not only do we have a view of heroes we’ve been reading about, we also, very nearly, have the full Avengers team. And finally, we’ve known Marvel comics exist in the Marvel 616 universe ever since Johnny Storm remembered reading about Sub-Mariner but now we know that Marvel writers and artists also exist in the Marvel 616 universe.

The next panel has Stan lamenting that they can’t use a great villain like Dr. Doom again because he was lost in space. And then we get another first. Dr. Doom walks in to the office of Lee and Kirby. This is the first time we get to see a Marvel character meet a Marvel creator. Lee and Kirby are understandably worried but do want to know how it’s possible Doom survived. Doom says there is an explanation but he won’t give it now. He then takes off the mask he always wears. We as readers don’t ever get to see Doom’s face. We actually don’t see Lee and Kirby’s faces either as they are always shown from behind or with their hands over their faces. But either way, Doom’s face is disturbing to the Marvel men so we know there is some major disfigurement there.

Doom demands they call Mr. Fantastic to discuss a new story. This gives the reader the impression every issue we have read has actually been told to Lee and Kirby and we’re just reading the translation of that story by Marvel. And to confirm that, Reed does get a phone call in his lab from Lee and Kirby. The Thing even complains about how he’s drawn. Reed heads over to the office and as soon as he gets there he is gassed by Doom. Doom tells Lee and Kirby to pass on an address to the other members of the FF where they can go if they want to get Reed back.

Doom relates a rather silly tale to Reed about how he was rescued by space aliens called “the ovoids” who have oval shaped heads. Turns out they had advanced technology and were able to transfer their consciousness from one body to another. Doom being Doom he learns their technology and heads back to Earth. He switches consciousnesses with Reed thus setting it up so the other members of the team will attack Reed in Doom’s body. His ruse works for a time as the three do pummel what they think is Dr. Doom. He pleads with them but at first they don’t believe him. The team tries to think of different ways to keep Doom from menacing them permanently without, you know, actually killing him. Finally Doom as Reed suggests just putting him in a sort of glass cage he has. The other three team members leave, giving Doom a minute or two to gloat.

In the next section of the story there are a bunch of miniature zoo animals causing havoc in the Baxter building. Turns out Doom as Reed stole a bunch of zoo animals to see if he could miniaturize them. In truth it’s a reducing ray which will snap the Fantastic Four out of existence once Doom hits them with it. Doom fools them into thinking this is a good idea which will simply increase their powers. Except somehow, for Ben Grimm it would do the opposite and turn him back to human. The fact the ray is doing two opposite things doesn’t seem to occur to the rest of the group here.

Meanwhile Reed uses Doom’s facemask to break through the glass holding him prisoner. Reed is smart enough to go to Alicia’s apartment knowing she’s able to sense the good in people. Unfortunately for him, Sue is there in invisible form and bashes him over the head. There’s a bit of a fight amongst the group but Ben is just not quite able to smash Reed because in the back of his mind he knows Alicia is right. Johnny gets the idea to make it look like a stick of dynamite is in the room by using a “heat mirage” (yeah not clear how that works either). Reed as Doom immediately tries to shield the others from it while Doom as Reed tries to run out the door. The fact that the team turn on Doom is enough for him to lose concentration and switch back to his actual body.

In the fight that follows Doom accidentally trains his own reducing ray on himself. He shrinks to nothingness before anyone can do anything about it. Well, thank goodness we got rid of that guy. I’m sure there’s no way he could return again right?

This really was a groundbreaking issue in a lot of ways and it started a long tradition of the FF meeting writers and artists from Marvel. It’s a pretty clever gimmick and it’s a lot of fun.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be checking in on the insects once again as we catch up with Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish #39!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Journey Into Mystery #88

Journey Into Mystery Issue 88 Photo Credit: Marvel

The last time we checked in on Thor he was fighting your average, everyday, run of the mill communists and the story was rather dull. One easy way to have a great story for a hero is to have an incredible villain. Loki has already been introduced in the pages of Journey Into Mystery but this second appearance in issue 88 is where he starts to shine. All heroes need a good nemesis and Thor’s will forever be Loki. And of course the dynamics of that relationship are even more complicated because they are brothers (well half-brothers anyway).

If you look at the cover up there you might get the idea that Odin does a bit of toxic parenting here. I mean Loki’s not good by any means but Odin is clearly showing some favoritism and it’s clear this was not the first nor will it be the last time.

The issue starts out with Loki prisoner in Asgard because Thor recently bested him. Loki doesn’t take that too well and since he’s the god of mischief he can perform a ritual where he can see Thor. What he sees is actually a few panels from Journey Into Mystery 87 when Thor escapes from the chains the communists have put on him by turning back into Dr. Donald Blake and slipping his bonds. Loki is able to tell Thor can only stay Thor as long as he is gripping his hammer. If he lets go of it for more than 60 seconds he turns right back into Blake.

Loki is no slouch so he figures he needs to separate Thor from his hammer to defeat him. He’s able to shape-shift into a snake and sneak out past the watchful eye of Heimdall. Once on Earth, Loki takes on the disguise of an old man and goes to the offices of Dr. Donald Blake. He hypnotizes Jane Foster and goes in to see the good doctor.

Here’s where we start to see that Loki is his own worst enemy. He could have, while disguised, easily defeated Blake. But he just can’t resist the urge to show Dr. Donald Blake that he is Loki. His vanity gets him every time.

Naturally, Dr. Blake grabs his cane and taps it on the ground to become Thor. Loki immediately challenges Thor, telling him he will cause havoc throughout this puny world until Thor agrees to fight him. For some reason, Loki allows Thor an hour to prepare.

When he does meet up with Loki, Thor states, “Though I cannot match you, power for power, I have one weapon which you cannot match… the invincible hammer of Thor!

This shows that while Thor is supremely powerful, he actually knows Loki is a match for him.

Thor then falls into Loki’s trap. He had hypnotized Jane to show up where they were to do battle. He transforms a tree into a tiger just after Thor throws his hammer at Loki. Thor has to choose between grabbing the hammer and saving Jane. These kinds of moral dilemmas are everywhere in Marvel but Loki really is one of the best at manipulating people with choices like these. I think you won’t be surprised to hear Thor saves Jane. This does cause him to be away from the hammer long enough to revert back to Dr. Donald Blake. Lucky for him Jane fainted during all this so she still doesn’t know Thor’s secret identity.

Loki seizes the moment and creates a magical force field around the hammer which Blake can’t budge. Loki turns into a bird and decides to just go wreak havoc amongst the humans. He turns people into “Blank beings” which are just white outlines of who they were. Loki actually did something similar the first time he fought Thor as well. Next on the mayhem list for Loki is turning streets, cars and all non-organic material into candy and ice cream. It’s actually a funny couple of panels but you do tend to feel for the guy who lost his convertible because it was melted by the sun.

While his pranks are kind of silly, he does start to escalate pretty quickly. He next goes toward the arctic where some communists are testing an atomic bomb. He turns it into a dud. So I guess Loki is on the side of the Americans in the cold war? Ha, no he just wants to mess around.

But Dr. Blake knows if left to his own devices, Loki will eventually get up to something lethal. Loki faces an army and just puts wings on all their weapons so they fly away. But Blake has an idea.

He puts word in the newspaper Thor wants a rematch with Loki. Loki can’t resist but to see what is going on. He sees Thor, not knowing it’s actually a plastic dummy. He lifts the force field to check on the hammer which gives Blake the perfect opportunity to grab it.

Before Thor can throw down, Loki turns into a bird again but Thor feeds all the birds peanuts and realizes the one bird not eating has to be Loki. Thor makes short work of it and traps Loki. He takes him back to Asgard once again where Odin is none too pleased with Loki.

This issue does a fine job of establishing the real rivalry between Thor and Loki and sets up a lot the elements of some of the best Thor stories to come.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be visiting with Johnny Storm in the pages of Strange Tales #104!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – The Incredible Hulk #5

The Incredible Hulk Issue 5 Photo Credit: Marvel

This issue of The Incredible Hulk starts off with a fun and interesting sci-fi adventure full of great feats by the Hulk and memorable situations and enemies. It ends with a dull story filled with unfortunate stereotypes that is just not an entertaining tale at all.

In the first story we see General “Thunderbolt” Ross showing Bruce Banner and Betty Ross footage of all the ways Hulk has defeated modern military weaponry. General Ross is smart enough to understand he can’t beat Hulk with brute force so he needs some brains behind his plans. That’s where Banner is supposed to come in. He swears he’ll do his best but needs Rick Jones to help. General Ross is not real keen on Rick but he can’t really tell Bruce what to do because apparently he’s only answerable to the president.

We soon switch to a scene of Betty struggling with the fact she loves Bruce but her father hates the man. We then get our first glimpse of the villain here, a man named Tyrannus. He’s got some sort of machine where he can see Betty and he can drink from the fountain of youth far underground. He was banished there by the wizard Merlin. This establishes further magic and lore that will be used in the 616 universe in pages to come.

Not only does Tyrannus have this fountain to drink from he has a legion of loyal minion creatures who seem to worship him. They are able to build machines and weapons for Tyrannus which he uses to trap Betty. He disguises himself as an archeologist but Bruce picks up on it pretty quick. Somehow Tyrannus takes Betty underground and basically Bruce has to become the Hulk to free her.

He has no real trouble getting down there but he’s instantly gassed and knocked out cold. This is still in a period where Hulk has Banner’s brain so he doesn’t just switch from Bruce to Hulk whenever he goes unconscious. Tyrannus uses Hulk as a slave and it’s here underground where we get the very first instance of “gladiator Hulk”. He’s basically dressed up like a Spartan warrior and forced to fight a robot. Hulk easily destroys it but he can’t stop Tyrannus because Betty is still captive. Rick jones sneaks away and frees her though and soon Tyrannus learns he’s messed with the wrong green dude. Throughout the story Hulk has a bit of a harder edge than in previous stories and he’s a little more hateful toward humanity, excepting Rick and Betty. Of course they all get away and live to fight another day.

And so we lead into the next story which starts out fine. General Ross fires an “Iceberg Rocket” which shoots out foam that freezes the Hulk. Unfortunately for Ross Hulk gives off intense body heat, which makes some sense if he’s pretty much gamma powered. That melts the ice and Hulk is free again. He goes back and turns back to Bruce Banner who admits, “Each time I become the Hulk, I grow more and more unwilling to return to my normal self!” As always, Bruce Banner’s truest enemy is himself.

Soon Bruce hears on the radio about a tiny asian village in the principality of Llhasa where a “General Fang” has come to take over. It’s here where the story takes a turn into unfortunate stereotypes of the time and we see some less than flattering imagery of people becoming helpless when an aggressive dictator wants to take over. Hulk hops on an airplane of all things to fly there. He’s discovered on the plane and he and Rick Jones have to jump out the emergency exit. We’ll just assume everyone else on the flight was fine.

As you might predict, Hulk comes and obliterates this army by doing things like blowing wind at them and um… dressing up like the abominable snowman. Yep, apparently General Fang’s forces are more afraid of the abominable snowman than they are of General Fang or the big green dude who literally blew them off their feet a few panels before. Turns out Fang has been winning all his battles by projecting a hologram of a dragon at the opposing forces. Hulk straight up tries to attack it and ends up trapped. Well, no trap holds Hulk for long so he goes back to fighting off this army single handed. He drops Fang off near some U.S. soldiers and that’s that.

It’s not a good Hulk story and it borders on the ridiculous but we haven’t seen the last of the big green guy and he’ll eventually get much better action happening.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be checking in on the Norse god of thunder, Thor, in Journey Into Mystery #88!

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Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Journey Into Mystery #87

Journey Into Mystery Issue 87 Photo Credit: Marvel

Reading about heroes defeating communists in the early Marvel 616 books is… kind of exhausting. There are so many times these heroes come up against “the reds” it can be hard to keep track of. While in a book like The Incredible Hulk or Tales to Astonish where Bruce Banner and Hanky Pym are both scientists working on major government initiatives it makes some sense. But pitting the Norse god of thunder himself against a bunch of everyday communist thugs is kind of like, well, pitting a Norse god against any normal person. We know who is going to win.

For the plot of this one, it seems the communists are staging abductions of key scientists, making it look like they defected of their own free will. Dr. Don Blake gets word of this and realizes there is more to the story and Thor could totally demolish these people doing the kidnapping. We are treated to scenes of Jane Foster both doting over Dr. Don Blake and his many illnesses while still pining in her mind for Thor. Of course, she really loves Don and he really loves her but neither has the courage to tell the other. It’s a direct reflection of the Superman/Lois Lane stories.

Blake signs up to pretend he has made a new biological warfare weapon in order to use himself as bait to get to the bottom of all the disappearances. The government somewhat reluctantly agrees. Blake is soon abducted when a communist in disguise takes his picture. Turns out the camera releases a paralyzing gas. I will say there have been quite a few incidents in the 616 universe so far involving trick cameras so these guys should definitely beware of the paparazzi.

I’m sure you can guess where this is going. With a few nifty tricks with his hammer Thor not only escapes but also rescues the missing scientists who never actually defected. Of course, he first has to let himself get captured so that the scientists are not outright killed. But soon enough Thor is tearing iron doors off and letting prisoners go.

While the art, as with all the Thor books, is striking and full of movement and energetic, the story is decidedly uninspired. It’s a real waste of an amazing hero. It certainly won’t be the last of communists who do go up against Thor but thankfully in the long run this happens less and less frequently.

Next up on the reading list we’re getting small again as we see what Hank Pym is up to in Tales to Astonish #38!

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