Friday, January 01, 2010
Fantastic Four Fridays: Bankruptcy!
In a story torn from today's headlines, the Fantastic Four went belly-up in Fantastic Four #9. The simple truth is that Reed Richards may have been a scientific genius, but when it comes to the markets he was a raw amateur:
Hmmm, wonder what Reed invested in that could have cratered in 1962? Doo-wop music? Black and white TV? A church fire hazard insurance company in Mississippi?
Of course there was some history. Detective #105 posited a similar theme for Batman:
Although in Bruce (Batman) Wayne's case it was embezzlement by a shady treasurer.
The FF members suggest that they should use their abilities to make money, but Reed's unimpressed by their talents, suggesting that they would only be useful in a carnival sideshow. Way to add insult to injury, Stretcho!
In fact, if you think about it, there probably would be quite some value to the Thing; I'd assume he'd have no trouble becoming the heavyweight champion; the Great Orange Hope, they could call him. Johnny could race cars and do some spot-welding on high-rises. Sue would have no trouble getting on TV with her fabulous looks. Reed could become the alltime dunking and blocking leader of the NBA.
But as it happens they get a sudden offer of a million bucks to star in a Hollywood movie. Hilariously, they have no option but to try to hitch a ride:
The scene conveniently changes to their arrival on the West Coast. As was typical in DC, Marvel put a lot of stars in the shot; James Arness and Amanda Blake from Gunsmoke, Alfred Hitchcock, Bing Crosby and Jackie Gleason are obvious. Eventually they are introduced to their new producer:
Subby explains that he has all the treasures of the sea, so he's independently wealthy:
"He's so masterful--so confident. And he has a big... wallet!"
There follow some amusing scenes with Johnny impressing some starlets, and the Thing showing the pumpers at Muscle Beach what real strength looks like. Oh, and Sue goes out to dinner with the Sub-Mariner. The next day filming begins. Mr Fantastic is assigned to battle what's supposed to be a Cyclops robot, but instead turns out to be the real deal. And it looks like the whole "movie" bit is just a dodge to kill off Reed:
Beware of Altanteans bearing gifts! Reed manages to defeat Cyclops. Meanwhile Johnny is supposed to battle with some natives in a village. But it turns out they are immune to fire, and thus they capture him. But he later escapes and destroys their immunity potion.
Ben is supposed to fight the Sub-Mariner along the shoreline. He quickly realizes that the Atlantean draws his power from the water, and drags him away from it. But then a bolt of lightning hits him and turns him back into Ben Grimm, whom Subby quickly kayos. Flush with victory, he heads back to claim his prize:
Subby shows he's no gentleman:
As you can probably guess, it's the rest of the FF come to save Sue from a fate worse than death. But she won't let them gang up on him, so they reach an agreement: the film will be made and released and the FF will get their money.
Comments: An entertaining and engrossing story with some real humor (and not just at fickle Sue's expense). The trick of offering a superhero money to appear in a supposed film (but it's really just a trap) was also used in Spiderman #14 a year or so later by the Green Goblin, and I think also by Pluto against Hercules in a Thor story a little after that.
A side note: I had to change the comments system from Haloscan and hence the old posts' comments aren't showing. I may be able to get them back manually, but it's going to take some time and effort with 700+ posts and about 18,000 comments here and on my other blogs. Your patience is appreciated!