Fantastic Four #6 (September 1962)

The Diabolical Duo! – a name that only Stan Lee could come up with.

When I saw the cover, MAN was I excited! This is the first ‘team-up’ issue that I’ve gotten to, and it’s the two best villains so far that are teaming up! Before opening this comic, I was already jumping to figure out how this sort of alliance would take place. I GUARANTEE that if I were a reader of the FF back in the day, I would have snatched this issue without so much as taking a second breath. THIS is what comic books are all about! It’s the ability to cause excitement, being able to connect to the characters, and having a frame of reference to put it in. These villains have already appeared before, and we know as readers how they fit into the grand scheme of things. This will help to flesh out a little more of the epic story that’s taking place (slowly building the Marvel Universe into what it eventually would become). This really is the start of team-ups that will eventually to make Marvel comics great. Obviously, this is only a small taste of things to come!

For the sake of the other strangers that inhabit this building, what happens later in the issue is going to suck pretty bad. Hope they brought their space suits with them!

This story begins with Susan Storm chasing after the Human Torch. He’s on his way back to their headquarters after scouring for clues as to Doctor Doom’s whereabouts. It’s really only here as a means to show Sue enter their Baxter Building base, and we get to see another diagram of the building (though it’s a little more in-depth that the last time we saw it). We also get another reminder of the growing popularity that surround this team because now the Fan Four is getting FAN MAIL. Reed gets a letter from some kid in a hospital, and since it’s a nearby building, Reed stretches over to greet the kid through his window. Also in this issue is the very first mention of The Yancy Street Gang, who infamously becomes the Thing’s biggest group of antagonizers. They exist only to piss him off, which is great stuff.

Mr. Fantastic has good intentions, but maybe he should call first next time.

So anyway, how do Doctor Doom and Namor hook up to fight against the biggest superhero team in the world? One day, while swimming with a group of dolphins, Namor is interrupted when a plane flies too close to the sea. Pissed off by this, Namor jumps onto the top of the plane, discovering that the pilot is none other than Doctor Doom! They discuss their equaled hatred of the FF, vowing to bring them down together. Namor seems a bit relaxed about it though, and Doom brainwashes him a bit. Doom gives Namor the mission of infiltrating the Fantastic Four’s base, and planting a machine called a “grabber” which Doctor Doom can use to pull their building out into the vast reaches of space. Namor decides that if he shows up to their door, they will let him in, and so he heads out to begin phase one of their plan.

During Namor’s last issue, at what point did they decide to take this glamour shot of Namor?

There’s also a scene where Johnny claims to see something hiding behind some books. It turns out to be a photo of Namor that Sue has been hiding so that she can swoon over him when no one else is around. While they’ve never really shown it so far, I’ve assumed that Reed and Sue were together – maybe only because I know that they end up together eventually – but Reed doesn’t seem as upset about it as I thought he’d be.

When Namor walks in, he claims he comes in peace, despite everyone except Susan freaking out about his appearance. The guys on the team split up to scour the building, thinking that he MUST have set up some kind of trap (they have EXCELLENT intuition in these comics, by the way). Just as they think everything is fine, the building is rooted from the ground and propelled into Earth’s atmosphere. Namor is a little upset because part of the plan was for him to escape with Sue, but Doom wants EVERYBODY dead.

Leave your physics degree at home when you’re reading about the Marvel Universe!

The story reaches a climax when the team is forced to put on astronaut suits and attack Doom’s ship in the middle of space. Everything seems hopeless, until Namor decides to help out. He jumps into a conveniently placed tank of water, gathers up enough energy to shoot out of the building, bounces off of a conveniently approaching meteor storm, and then throws himself onto the hull of Doom’s ship. Namor reveals that he has the powers of all underwater creatures combined, summoning the powers of an electric eel to shock Doom through the walls. Finally, Doctor Doom flees, jumping aboard one of those passing meteors – NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN! (We all know better than that though!)

These panels REALLY convey the severity of the situation. Jack Kirby’s artwork already has a 3D quality with his dynamic broad line thickness, and here we have a classic case of how comics are an artform. He is conveying movement, speed, and the intensity of Namor’s leap through the subtle use of shot distance together with word size. Simple but BRILLIANT!

Namor realizes that his job is done, and he should have stayed at home instead of getting mixed in with all of this. He jumps back into the sea, which leaves us wondering what the future may hold for him.

Doctor Doom’s demise! Or is it? I’m actually much further ahead in my reading than the blog is, and his escape it pretty freaking ridiculous. Stay tuned to see how he does it!

What can I say? This was an EXCITING issue! My expectations were surpassed, with the issue having enough eye-candy and interesting twists to keep me reading. THIS is what I was looking for when I started my Marvel reading marathon. It took a little while to hit an issue such as this one, but I’m glad to know that I won’t always be left disappointed. Besides, there weren’t even that many things for me to nitpick this time!

(This article originally written on May 22nd, 2011 at comicbookcurios.blogspot.com)

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