|The Inhumans: l to r, Gorgon, Crystal, Black Bolt, Medusa, Karna and Triton, via SlashFilm|
Then we arrive at #48. When people put together must-read comic book compilations, Fantastic Four #48 is virtually guaranteed a spot on the list. It is perhaps the magnum opus of Jack Kirby, in particular. At least in the mid-'60s, the artists were responsible for a lot more of the comic book storytelling than the cover credits would suggest. As the legend goes, Stan Lee left a simple note on Kriby's desk for #48: "The Fantastic Four meet God." Jack filled in the rest for what is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Marvel's Silver Age.
I'm still not sure I especially like the Fantastic Four as characters themselves. Reed Richards, in particular, can be hard to take: arrogant, patronizing, chauvinistic. I expressed my dissatisfaction with Sue last week. Torch and Thing both whine too much. So far, Thing is the most interesting to me but even he tests my patience. So, I'm not sure if I'll ever come back to the Fantastic Four after I get to #60 but I'm definitely up for more with the Inhumans!
Meanwhile, it seems I've inadvertently skipped an episode. Double-checking the Comic Book Herald list, I realized I forgot about the annuals, most pertinently #3! So, I'll need to double back. I had been thinking it strange that I'd missed the Reed-Sue wedding. In my experience, comic book readers tend to be rather sentimental. You don't believe me? You must not have been around for all the fuss when Spider-Man got married. As such, I couldn't imagine Stan and Jack would skip right over a wedding. Wouldn't you know it, the nuptials are in Annual #3...
My Recent Reads
Fantastic Four #44
Originally Published November 1, 1965
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
- The Inhumans arc begins, though they are not named as such yet.
- Nemesis: Gorgon
- Medusa returns and we instantly realize her history is more complicated than previously suspected. Gorgon is after her.
- The Inhumans story even gets a satisfying secondary narrative. Dragon Man is back in a King Kong-like tale with first Medusa, then Sue in the Fay Wray role.
Fantatstic Four #45
Originally Published December 1, 1965
- We meet the Inhumans, Medusa and Gorgon inclusive. Also in the gang are Crystal, Lockjaw, Karnak, Triton and the mysterious and powerful Black Bolt, revealed in the final frame.
|Lockjaw via Wikipedia|
- For Crystal and Johnny Storm, it's love at first sight.
- Frank Sinatra reference! This Grammy winner was also released in December 1965:
Fantastic Four #46
Originally Published January 1, 1966
|via Marvel Animated Universe Wiki|
- Villain: the Seeker. who is after all of the Inhumans, intending to return them to their sanctuary.
- Inhumans origin story
Fantastic Four #47
Originally Published February 1, 1966
|via Marvel Database|
- Villain: Maximus, Black Bolt's brother and usurper as both king and Medusa's betrothed. I told you this was good!
- Black Bolt reclaims his crown.
- Maximus, in desperation, sets off the atmo-gun, threatening extinction to all human life.
Fantastic Four #48
Originally Published March 10, 1966
- First things first: #48 finishes the Inhumans arc.
- Medusa proclaims her undying love for Black Bolt.
- When the atmo-gun fails to destroy humanity, Maximus initiates a Negative Zone, designed to drive out the Fantastic Four and keep them out, along with the rest of Earth's humans, forever.
- Crystal and Johnny are heartbroken by their separation.
- The Galactus Trilogy begins.
|Galactus via Marvel Database|
- Villains: the Silver Surfer and Galactus
|Silver Surfer via Marvel Database|
- The imagery of the Silver Surfer is a nod to the prominence of surfing in the broader American popular culture of the 1960s. Hawaii was a brand new state and the romantic allure of tropical beaches was potent. California sun offered its charms as well, the Beach Boys not quite having revealed their more artistic side yet (Pet Sounds wouldn't hit record stores until May). No icon symbolized young freedom and adventure better than a man on a surfboard.
|The Watcher via Marvel Database|
- The Watcher returns to help defend Earth from Galactus.
- I chuckled out loud when Ben Grimm snarked about Reed's long-winded tendencies.