Wednesday, December 10, 2008

History of the Marvel Universe--October 1962, part 1

Fantastic Four #7

In this issue, the FF are kidnapped and taken to a doomed planet about to be hit by an asteroid. Reed is asked to come up with a way to save the five billion inhabitants.

There’s some nice moments of interaction between the main characters here—most notably in that Ben Grimm is still growing less overtly bitter (though he still remains perpetually grouchy) and he’s starting to show his sense of humor. Kirby’s layouts are typically fun; the plot unfolds logically; and Reed’s solution to the problem at hand is actually very clever.

In a way, though, this issue is just filler as we await yet another major addition to the cast of the Fantastic Four. Because it will be in issue #8 that Ben Grimm will find himself a girlfriend.

Tales to Astonish #36

As this issue begins, Ant Man is helping the police to open a bank safe in which two would-be robbers have been trapped. We discover that between issues, Ant Man has been helping out the cops and the Feds quite a bit, mysteriously showing up whenever he’s needed.

He’s got ants all over the city alerting him to trouble via his cybernetic helmet. He then shrinks down, stuffs himself into a miniature catapult and shoots himself to wherever in the city he needs to be. A bunch of ants wait for him at his landing point, cushioning his fall with their bodies.

It’s odd how we as individual readers react at different levels of willingness to suspend disbelief. I’ve got no problem with shrink gas and electronic communications with ants, but that catapult gets on my nerves. I don’t think I can even explain why—it just does. Oh, well, before too many issues go by, it’ll be phased out.

Anyway, the main plot involves Communist agents trying to lure Ant Man into a trap. Not a bad story, but not really that memorable either. Though the Ant Man stories will continue to be entertaining for what they are, the lack of memorable or challenging villains will continue to be a flaw in the series for quite a while.

Next week, we’ll finish off October 1962 with a look at what Thor is doing to keep busy, and we’ll also follow along with a member of the Fantastic Four on his first solo adventure.

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