Friday, June 04, 2010

Fantastic Four Fridays: Thinking Is Overrated

An extremely mediocre cover, even worse than last month's. The FF's HQ is nowhere near ground level, and anyway wouldn't that hole in the wall mean that the passersby would be subjected to whatever ray is hitting the FF?

We get a similar opening to FF #1, with Reed signaling the FF to meet at the Baxter Building. We get the familiar run-through of the powers of the FF, and another mention of the Yancy Street Gang and their ongoing feud with the Thing. It's a cute little bit, although remember at this point Ben was still being sold as a WWII fighter pilot, and thus in his late 30s at the youngest. Is it likely he'd have a feud with what appear to be teenagers?

We learn that Reed is indeed a scientific genius:

But this time perhaps he's met his match. The Mad Thinker is a planner par excellence, and with awesome computing power to match:

Of course, if you know anything about computers then and now, you'll recognize that those banks of computers probably don't have 1/100th the capacity of a 1995-era Pentium, making these claims highly unlikely:

But that's modern-day me talking. The 1960s me thought that the concept of the Mad Thinker was very cool, as indeed it was. He had figured out every detail (even to the status of the water mains, apparently), and so he could not be caught by surprise and defeated.

One of the crooks he invited to his pow-wow walks out after hearing the pitch, but as the Mad Thinker had predicted to the others, he is quickly picked up by the cops, revealing that his effective predictions of the future really do work out.

His plot begins to manifest itself as each of the members of the FF is separated from the others. Reed gets a chief researcher offer from a major industrial firm, while Johnny is asked to help a family circus as an attraction. Ben is being wooed by wrestling promoters, who seal the deal with him by mentioning he'll get to battle the hero of the Yancy Streeters. Sue is offered a deal in Hollywood.

But (somewhat predictably) they all find that working for the man is dull and unrewarding compared to their old lives as the FF. But as they converge on the Baxter Building, they discover it has been taken over by the Mad Thinker and his persons of hench, including the android mentioned on the cover.

Which is another thing; super-genius Reed wracks his brains to invent a unicellular organism, and the Thinkmadster, given access to his notes, creates a gigantic and complex super-powered creature?

There follows a battle between the FF just to reach the Thinker, who's 34 floors up from the ground level. While they're making their way up the elevator shaft, there's this bit:

"Reed, does this hallucination make me look fat?"

But when they reach him as he had predicted:

However, in the end his plot fails because the FF had arranged with the mailman to ring a special bell at precisely four o'clock, which would turn off all their weapons. The Thinker had failed to plan for this eventuality, which he called the X-factor.

Comments: Terrific story, interesting and different villain. I loved the sequences where the FF discovered that their dream jobs turned out to be pretty mundane compared to their superhero roles. They were well-done and amusing.

Negatives? Not much aside from that dull cover and the other stuff I mentioned in the review. A very entertaining comic, and one where you could tell that Stan and Jack were starting to hit their stride with the characters. There are several advertisements within the mag for next month's installment, featuring Dr Doom and the Ant-Man.


Blaze said...

The Mad Thinker is looking pretty dapper in this tale, compared to his current image. I wonder if his squatter, shaggier, uglier appearance came about as a plot point or just an artistic evolution?

Jacque Nodell said...

During the hallucination scene, the Thing's body looks a bit like Rommbu!