Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The History of Marvel Comics: February 1963, part 1


No earth-shaking villains this time around—just a really annoying alien and then some time answering the mail.

The first half of the book covers the first visit to our planet by the Impossible Man, the indestructible, shape-changing alien from the planet Poppup. Irresponsible and just looking for a good time, Impy doesn’t really threaten the Earth more than he just gets on everyone’s nerves.

The story is a nice change of pace from the murderous villains the FF has been facing. The visual humor is done well and the ending is kinda cute. It’s still fun to read after more than four decades and it introduces a character who will on occasion return get on everyone’s nerves yet again.

The second half of this issue gives us our first look at Willy Lumpkin, the FF’s mailman. Structured around answering the mail, we’re given a little more background information on Reed and Ben (they were college roommates and both served in World War II—Ben as a pilot and Reed in the OSS). In addition, they answer some mail criticizing poor Sue’s part in the group. The criticism at the time actually did have some merit—it isn’t until Sue’s power is amped up to include invisible force fields that she can take a more aggressive role in the fight scenes and the stories in general.

But, by golly, Reed is gonna defend the woman he loves, coming up with the bizarrely interesting argument that Abe Lincoln said he owed his success to his mother, so Sue must be vital to the FF. Yeah, okay, Reed, whatever. Let’s just get to work figuring out she can make force fields, shall we?


Ant Man battles a guy using a giant magnet and knock-out gas to hijack armored cars. There’s a visually fun sequence in which Ant Man gets trapped inside a truck’s engine, but this is overall typically average stuff. I’m starting to feel guilty in my little reviews of Ant-Man’s stories—they really are perfectly fine for what they are. They’re just not that notable.

Next time, we’ll see Thor round up some gangsters, while Johnny Storm discovers he now has an arch-enemy.

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