Wednesday, November 26, 2008

History of the Marvel Universe--September 1962 (Part 1)


Doctor Doom certainly doesn’t waste any time. Just one issue after his evil plans were foiled by the Fantastic Four, he comes up with yet another evil plan. This one focuses pretty much on simple revenge as he seeks to kill the FF.

To do so, he contacts the Sub-Mariner and talks him into helping with a speech reminding Namor about how the surface people are responsible for driving the Atlanteans from their home. Namor won’t agree to hurt Sue, for whom he still has the hots, but he does agree to help off everyone else.

Doom’s wonderfully evil plan consists of towing the FF’s entire skyscraper headquarters (not yet referred to as the Baxter Building) into space using magnetic force, double-crossing Namor in the process. But it doesn’t pay to tick off the Sub Mariner and Doom ends up clinging to a stray meteor, being dragged away into outer space.

It’s another strong and satisfying issue—the sequences in which the FF makes several attempts to board Doom’s space plane from the now space-traveling skyscraper are particularly fun, both visually and in terms of story construction. Namor has the most fun, though, getting to save the day as he proves he’s just a bit more of a hero than he is a villain.

We also get a few more tidbits about the Fantastic Four. There’s a more detailed cutaway view of their headquarters than we saw a few issues earlier. We also hear the term “unstable molecules” for the first time as Reed explains how their uniforms can stretch/burn/turn invisible along with them. Those handy unstable molecules will pretty much become standard costume material for much of the Marvel superhero population.


Henry Pym, who invented his shrinking formula eight issues earlier, finally decides to try that formula out a second time.

This time, he makes a costume first (made of unstable molecules, of course) and equips himself with a helmet that allows him to communicate with ants via electronic impulses.

In the meantime, the government asks him to invent an anti-radiation gas for use in case of nuclear war. This results in a gang of Communist agents raiding Pym’s lab, taking his assistants hostage as they gather up the notes for the formula.

Pym shrinks down and asks some ants for help. Soon, the commie agents are being swarmed by the insects, who also plug up the barrels of their guns with honey.

Thus, another superhero officially enters the Marvel Universe. Ant-Man doesn’t have the same level of appeal as the Fantastic Four—mostly because Hank Pym hasn’t yet been given much personality. All the same, it’s a well-written if simple story with Jack Kirby art work. What more can one ask for?

Next week, we’ll take a look at what Thor and the Hulk were busy doing in September of 1962.

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