Fantastic Four #24

Fantastic Four #24Cover Date: March 1964

Plot Overview: We get right to the action this time around as there’s a disturbance in Time’s Square. Reed figures out that the odd happenings are the result of mental powers. Shortly after a strange alien appears. He makes a soda and berries for himself. The people startle him and he takes off.

Reed figures out that the alien is an infant, Reed thinks that the infant is dangerous as it could unintentionally destroy the world with his powers. Reed has an idea for an experiment and sends the rest of the FF out to find the alien.

Big Joe the gangster has been watching the events unfold on television and sends his men to retrieve the alien. They find the alien and bribe him with candy and he comes along. Big Joe has the alien grab an armored car and crack it open. The alien decides to have some fun and turns the money into a variety of objects. Big Joe has the alien turn a diamond into a giant jewel but the alien has a bit more fun and turns it into an egg. Big Joe has had enough and has his men draw their guns on the alien.

The FF arrive on the scene and save the alien but it’s too late. The alien goes on a giant temper tantrum and starts destroying everything in sight. While all of this is going on, Reed has been sending out radio signals to space and a mysterious spaceship has made it’s way to Earth.

The alien sees the sun and is prepared to destroy the entire world when it’s parents step in and stop it. The aliens leave the Earth peacefully.

My Take: I didn’t have high hopes for this issue due to the cover. I was pleasantly surprised by this issue. It wasn’t an all time classic or anything but it was a fun little romp of an issue. It read really well and it wasn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. It felt like something you might see on the Twilight Zone or hear on one of the radio sci-fi shows from the 40s or 50s.

The Thing seemed extra grumpy in this issue. He had a real issue with Reed staying behind to work on his idea. I would think that he would have more faith in Reed after all they’ve been through together throughout their lives. I guess that’s just the Thing in general though. He and Johnny actually kept the barbs to a minimum this issue which was a little weird.

Art was really good in this issue. Jack Kirby was on art as always and he seems to just get better and better with each new issue.

I give this **1/2 out of *****.

Notes: This is the first appearance of the Terrible Infant. This will be his only appearance until the Annihilation series from about a decade ago.

Next Issue: Tales to Astonish #53

Strange Tales #117

Strange_Tales_Vol_1_117Cover Date: February 1964

Plot Overview: The Torch hears a news bulletin that the Eel is once again at large. He quickly finds the Eel and subdues him. But the Eel was released for good behavior. The Torch realizes that he’s made a fool of himself.

The Eel steals some valuable stamps in the meantime and decides to steal a ruby next. The ruby was a trap planted by the Torch. The Eel eludes capture with his helicopter and the Torch once again feels he’s been made a fool of.

Sue helps Johnny figure out that he needs to go to the aquarium to find the Eel. Johnny arrives and checks the place out. The Eel strikes while Johnny is looking at the electric Eels. The Eel has covered himself in an asbestos grease so Johnny can’t flame on. Johnny wiggles free but the Eel KOs him with a left to the jaw.

The Eel plans to throw Johnny in the shark tank but Johnny manages to flame on at the last moment. The Torch melts a container of the grease and the Eel slips and falls into the eel tank. With the grease washed away the Torch holds the Eel in a wall of flame until the police arrive. Afterwards, the other members of the FF buy Johnny a fish tank much to Johnny’s chagrin.

Baron Mordo manages to capture Dr. Strange with a series of traps. With Strange out of the way, Mordo intends to kill the Ancient One. Mordo acts as if he wants to repent to get close to the Ancient One but just as he’s about to strike the Ancient One stops him. Dr. Strange had escaped his traps and managed to warn the Ancient One. Strange defeats Mordo in a duel and has once again saved the day.

My Take: Surprisingly straight forward stories in this issue. Nothing too silly in either of these stories. The Torch story was forgettable but fun. It was a really nice change of pace to have a very simple plotline for once.

I don’t really have much of an opinion on this issue. It was a good solid effort with nothing really ridiculous going on. I did like that they tried to make the Eel a little more dangerous. His electric suit makes him a little more menacing than just being really slippery.

Really good art in this issue. Dick Ayers drew the Torch story and Steve Ditko again drew the Dr. Strange story. The Strange art as always sets a really good mood for his setting. The Torch story looked really good and it’s nice to see the overall quality of the Marvel art getting better as time moves on.

I give this **1/2 out of *****

Notes: The Eel was last seen in Strange Tales #112 in case you were wondering.

Next Issue: Fantastic Four #24

Journey Into Mystery #101

Journey Into Mystery #101Cover Date: February 1964

Plot Overview: Thor wanders the streets of New York brooding over Odin refusing to make Jane Foster an immortal in the last issue. Thor is causing quite a bit of damage which leads to the other Avengers arriving on the scene. They attempt to settle him down but Thor tells them to beat it. The Avengers leave as Thor broods further.

Odin is watching everything from Asgard and becomes enraged when Loki points out that Thor is disobeying Odin’s command. In his rage, Odin takes half of Thor’s power and bans him from Asgard.

Shortly after, Thor tries to enter Asgard and is stopped by Heimdall. Thor refuses to believe the news at first but is convinced after Heimdall overwhelms him in combat. Thor heads back to Earth in defeat. Loki, watching the exchange, decides now is the time to act. He can’t attack Thor directly so he needs to find a third party. He finds Zarrko The Tomorrow Man, last seen in Journey Into Mystery #86, and restores his memory.

Zarrko quickly decides that he wants revenge on Thor and modifies a mining robot before heading back to Thor’s time. Once there,  Zarrko has the robot start destroying everything in sight. Dr. Don Blake sees this on a news bulletin and becomes Thor.

Thor engages the robot but finds his powers are greatly reduced. Thor manages to escape the grasp of the robot and brings it low to the ground by magnetizing his hammer. Thor goes for the killing blow but the robot takes him out with an eye beam. Zarrko offers Thor the chance to surrender. He can come back to the 23rd century and help him take over or the robot can continue it’s rampage. Thor surrenders and heads back to Zarrko’s ship. Odin is furious that Thor surrendered to a mortal and Loki is delighted by his victory as the story comes to a close.

In the backup, young Thor defends Asgard from an attack by the forces of evil. He buys enough time for Odin and his men to arrive and drive the bad guys away. Loki further plans to derail Thor as he;s able to lift the hammer even higher now.

My Take: This was a pretty good issue. They’ve been really pushing the Thor character places for the last handful of issues. This title has gone from a chore to being one that I look forward to really quickly. The brooding moody Thor is interesting. I also liked the Avengers confronting him as it shows that these guys are living in the same universe.

Odin falling prey to Loki’s manipulation seems slightly far fetched. I would think if anyone knew not to listen to Loki, it would be Odin. Thor getting his power cut in half was an unexpected development in this story. I don’t expect it to last long but we’ll see. I really don’t know where they’re going with Thor and it’s kind of a fun place to be in at the moment.

This issue felt like a lot of setup and reaction. Jane only appeared in a brief flashback so there was no character interplay between her and Thor. I think they’re setting up for the long term with this issue. Loki smells blood in the water and is constantly sending challenges after the weakened Thor. I think they could get some good mileage out of that set up.

Jack Kirby was on art duty for this issue and it looked good. I loved the mining robot in this issue. I’ve always been fond of the style of robots in 50s and 60s sci-fi and this robot was of that style.

I give this issue *** out of *****

Notes: Odin removed half of Thor’s power in this issue. The biggest change to his powers is that he no longer has control over the weather. I’m not sure how long this lasts in the book. I’m assuming not very long.

Next Issue: Strange Tales #117

Amazing Spider-Man #9

AmazingSpider-Man009Cove Date: February 1964

Plot Overview: Aunt May is sick and requires a surgery that they don’t have the money for. At the same time a new threat named Electro robs a bank while J. Jonah Jameson is there. He becomes convinced that Electro and Spider-Man are the same person.

Peter learns that the surgery is going to cost a thousand dollars and goes to JJJ to ask for a loan. JJJ refuses so Peter decides to head out and capture Electro for the reward. Peter spends an entire night searching for him and finally comes across him in the process of committing a robbery.

The battle is short as Spider-Man is badly shocked the first time he touches Electro. Electro assumes that he has killed Spider-Man and leaves the scene. Peter comes to. He decides to do some creative editing to make it look like Spider-Man is changing into Electro so that he can get the money for Aunt May’s operation. Peter feels guilty for selling JJJ fake pictures.

We learn that Electro was once an electric company worker that was struck by lightning. It created an electric current in his body and he made the suit to channel it. With that story told, he decides he’s going to break into the local prison and set the prisoners free so he can have lackeys.

Aunt May goes into surgery when Electro’s prison break starts. This prevents Peter from saving the day right away. May’s surgery is a success and Peter heads off to battle Electro. He makes a brief stop along the way to pick up some equipment.

Meanwhile at the prison, Electro and the freed convicts are running amok. Spider-Man arrives on the scene and puts on rubber gloves and shoes. He and Electro duke it out. Spider-Man uses metal ball bearings to diffuse a few of his blasts and knock him off balance. Electro finally grabs some power lines and start using them like electrified whips. Spider-Man is backed into a corner and sees a fire hose. He realizes he overlooked the obvious and sprays Electro with the hose. And that’s all she wrote for Electro.

JJJ plans to fire Peter over the fake pictures until Peter shows up with pictures of the Spider-Man/Electro fight. Peter agrees to hand the pictures over for free to make up for the fake pictures from earlier. Aunt May is expected to make a full recovery as the issue comes to a close.

My Take: I have to say, I was totally blown away by this issue. There was just an amazing amount of depth to the story here. You see Peter’s love for Aunt May, you see the developing feelings between Peter and Betty and you get some looks into the heads of Flash and JJJ. It also kept the character stuff going even when the superhero parts kicked in. Sometimes it feels like the writer forgets about the character under the mask when it’s time to take on the bad guy. Not here. I’ve always held up Amazing Spider-Man as the best that Marvel has to offer in this time period and this just reaffirms that opinion. If I had to think about the best single issue I’ve read while doing this project, I think this is probably the top issue so far. There was just so much to latch onto in this issue.

I intentionally left out the bits about Peter/Betty from the recap. Betty stays by Peter’s side while May is in the hospital. She also references past events in her life in regards to Peter’s photography and the risks he’s taking. She doesn’t say what those events are and I don’t remember if those ever get revealed or not. They have a brief argument at the end before Betty tracks Peter down and apologizes to him. The issue ends with them being a couple of awkward teenagers.

They’ve built the relationship between Peter and Betty up a lot in the past few issues. It feels like every issue is a step forward for them. Other books, even Marvel books, are very static about relationships such as these. It’s nice to see a title that pushes forward a little bit with each issue.

The final battle in this issue was a fun little duel. The rubber gloves were a little on the ridiculous side but I was all in by the time that happened. As in a lot of these early issues, Spider-Man is outclassed by his opponent and manages to win despite overwhelming odds. I often complain that some of these early Marvel books can lack action but this issue had a ton of it. Really memorable fight between Spidey and Electro here.

This issue was probably ground breaking at the time it came out. Check out any DC book from this time period and I bet you won’t find anything that has this level of storytelling in it. When you look at what Marvel has become today, they owe it to breaking the traditional rules of comics with issues like this.

The art was great as always. That’s just a given with the Steve Ditko issues of Spider-Man. The art will always be awesome when he’s drawing the character. That’s just the way it is.

I give this book ****1/2 out of *****

Notes: This issue features the first appearance of Electro. I would call Electro one of Spider-Man’s A list bad guys. If you asked someone to start listing off Spider-Man’s rogue gallery, I think he would more often than not be one of the first 10 names that someone would list off. He’s mostly a Spidey villain but he does bother Daredevil from time to time and I think he fought the Defenders a time or two as well. He isn’t a big deal in that he isn’t a world or cosmic level threat but he is an often used antagonist for Spidey.

Electro is a mainstay in the Sinister Six. I believe he was in every version of the team. Electro has also appeared in multiple video games, he showed up on the 90s cartoon and he was just in the recent movie.

Next Issue: Journey Into Mystery #101

Tales of Suspense #50

Tales_of_Suspense_Vol_1_50Cover Date: February 1964

Plot Overview: The story opens with the Chinese army wanting to join forces with the Mandarin. They also demand to know the secrets of his power rings. The Mandarin refuses and sends them on their way.

Back in the States, the U.S. government has recruited Iron Man to look into who this mysterious Mandarin character is. Iron Man heads back to one of his plans. As Tony Stark he has to cancel plans for an employee dinner. This causes some issues with Happy and some of the employees.

Iron Man is flown into enemy territory and jumps out of the plane. He falls close to the ground before taking flight so Communist forces think he fell to his death. He enters the castle and is immediately caught in a trap. The walls begin to close in on him but he manages to escape through a hatch. Iron Man and the Mandarin come face to face. Iron Man deflects a paralysis ray with his chest beam. The Mandarin then uses the power of his rings to subdue him.

Iron Man wakes up and the battle resumes. The Mandarin electrifies the walls to trap Iron Man into the room. As the battle progresses, Iron Man realizes that his suit has been tampered with. Iron Man calculates the best angle to block one of Mandarin’s blows. The move works and the Mandarin collapses in pain. The electric field disappears and Iron Man escapes the castle.

Tony Stark makes the dinner much to Happy’s chagrin. The seeds are further planted for a love triangle between Tony/Pepper/Happy. The issue closes with a brooding Mandarin with a broken hand.

My Take: I was really disappointed that this was only a 13 page story. That to me is a crime as this story was just begging to be 18 pages. It made good use of those 13 pages though. The issues have been tiptoeing around the relationship between Tony/Pepper/Happy but this issue laid it all out at the end. It made me want to pick up the next issue and see where they take this.

I really liked the battle between the Mandarin and Iron Man in this issue. They did a really good job or establishing the Mandarin as a severe threat to Iron Man. It showed him as an equal to Tony Stark in intelligence and an equal to Iron Man in brawn. My only complaint was the end of the battle was kind of dumb. Iron Man just blocking a blow right and break Mandarin’s hand was anti-climatic. It did accomplish the goal of making you want to see a rematch though.

Don Heck was on art duties this time around and I always enjoy his Iron Man.take. The new suit is getting tweaked a little with every issue. It was very rough when he debuted it in Tales of Suspense #48 but I think they’ve got it looking about right now. It’s a much more functional suit art wise than the old one. He doesn’t do strange contortionist moves in this suit. The Mandarin, I didn’t like his look in this issue but I don’t like this look for him. I think he looks better in battle armor or just in a robe. The only worse look for the Mandarin was in the animated cartoon from the 90s where they decided to make him green.

I give this issue *** out of *****

Notes: This issue features the first appearance of the Mandarin. The Mandarin would be THE Iron Man villain. He’s kind of an ever present menace in Iron Man even today. He might disappear for several years at time but you always know he’s lurking somewhere in the background just waiting to strike when Tony least expects it. I think if you asked Iron Man fans to list the villain they most closely associate with him that many would list the Mandarin first.

Now, let’s have that discussion. Yes, the Mandarin at this point in his history is a racial stereotype. This was the 1960s and most asian villains in this time frame were portrayed in this manner. Marvel took steps more recently to remove the more stereotypical aspects of his character and turned him into more of a rival businessman. But these are the roots of the character and a product of this era of the comic medium.  By the end of the 60s, Marvel would be starting to push on the color barrier with characters like the Black Panther and Bill Foster. So it appears that Marvel moves forward rapidly in this area.

Next Issue: Amazing Spider-Man #9

Tales to Astonish #52

Tales to Astonish #52
Cover Date: February 1964

Plot Overview: Our tale kicks off with Giant-Man breaking up a spy ring lead by traitor Nathan Garrett. Garrett later jumps his bail and flees to Europe. While there, he sees a winged horse statue and it becomes a source of inspiration.

Some time later, the Wasp describes seeing a knight on a winged horse rob an armored car. Hank doesn’t believe her until a news bulletin hits. Hank uses his communicator and discovers that the knight will strike at an experimental plane next.

Giant-Man commissions an air craft to take him to the scene of the crime. He dives out and confronts the Black Knight in mid-air. BK traps Giant-Man with a bolo and reveals that he’s Nathan Garrett. He talks about how he developed his suit to get his revenge on Giant-Man. He then uses itching powder on Giant-Man so he begins to fall.

Giant-Man shrinks into Ant-Man and gets saved by the Wasp. They land on the Black Knight and Henry becomes normal sized. He manages to disarm the Knight before being knocked off the horse. Henry manages to save himself on an amusement park ride. The Wasp uses her stings to get the horse to buck off the Knight.

Giant-Man is about to subdue the Knight when the horse also bucks off the Wasp. She’s out of pellets and can’t become small again. Giant-Man saves her but his decision allows the Black Knight to escape. The story ends with Giant-Man saying the Black Knight will come after them in the future.

In the backup, the Wasp visits an orphanage. This time see talks of a jail break in the year 3000. The fugitives land on a planet in the middle of a battle. They side with the males against the females. At the battles end the males reveal that it’s custom to capture space travelers and the females were trying to stop them. The fugitives are put in a cage as the story comes to a close.

My Take: Decent outing for Giant-Man and the Wasp this time around. The stories as a whole have been stronger since Pym started becoming Giant-Man. I think it’s been easier to give him some more standard fare villains instead of having to come up with situations and people for a tiny man to fight.

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I really liked the Black Knight as a villain. He’s a gear head so it makes him flexible. I could see him popping up to fight just about anyone in the Marvel Universe. I think that’s the mark of a good villain. The flying horse was cool, though his genetic testing by combining eagle with a horse was a little silly. His gear was pretty good minus the itch ray. I will complain that he took his helmet off during the battle. He looked really cool as the Black Knight.

Giant-Man’s strategy didn’t really make sense in this issue. Jumping out of a plane and hanging onto a plane while trying to fight a bad guy doesn’t seem to be a strong tactical position. I was shocked, shocked… SHOCKED! that the Black Knight easily got the better of him in that situation. Who would have thought that hanging from a plane wasn’t a good idea! I guess it served the story and allowed the Black Knight to have his long monologue.

Speaking of his monologue, I didn’t like his origHank admitsin being spread out over two tellings. It kind of ruined the flow the issue. You had this natural evolving story, he shows up as the Black Knight and then he brings it all to a halt to tell the readers about how he developed his suit. I don’t see why that couldn’t have been tacted on to the front of the issue.

There was a really big moment in this issue as Henry Pym finally admits to having feelings for the Wasp. As he was about to jump off the plane he almost told the pilots to tell the Wasp he loved her. He stopped at the last moment and said she probably already knew. Until this point, Pym had acted more put off by the Wasp’s affections. He also slipped up and said he could kiss the Wasp after she saved him at one point. He did try to keep her at arms afterwards. Those few lines really shifted the dynamic of this book.

Dick Aeyers comes on art for this issue and it looked really good. As I mentioned previously the Black Knight looked really really cool in this issue. I’m doing a rundown of the villains introduced thus far in the Marvel Universe and he’s probably top 5 for best design thus far. He just looks nice and menacing. He looks like someone you wouldn’t want to screw with which is a rarity for some of these Silver Age villains.

I give this *** out of *****

Notes: This issue features the first appearance of the Nathan Garrett version of the Black Knight. The Black Knight that becomes an Avenger is Dane Whitman. This version of the Black Knight becomes an original member of the Masters of Evil later this year. He’s a somewhat notable villain until he dies later in the decade. His gear and horse eventually come under the ownership of the Dreadknight in the 70s. The Black Knight also pops back up as an undead type of character in the 80s. I would call him a high level C list character now but I think he was probably a B list character in the 60s judging from his appearances. He becomes more of an Iron Man foe after this.

Next Issue: Tales of Suspense #50

Fantastic Four #23

Fantastic Four #23Cover DateFebruary 1964

Plot Overview: Reed admonishes the Thing and Human Torch after a dinosaur escapes from Doom’s time machine. The other members think Reed is working too hard and that the team needs a change in leadership.

Meanwhile a strange man watches the conviction of a man named Yogi Dakor. The man later bails out Yogi and takes him to meet up with two other men. The other two men are Bull Brogin and Harry Phillips. The mystery man falls apart and a voice welcomes the three men to his employ. The voice eventually reveals himself to be Dr. Doom.

Back at the Baxter Building, Sue, Johnny and Thing are holding an election for a new leader. Things hit a snag when it’s revealed that each member voted for themselves. The Thing and Johnny get into a melee until Sue breaks it up. Reed appears and further scolds them for their behavior. He hands them brooms and tells them to clean up the mess they made.

Doom has used a compound called XZ-15 to enhance the abilities of the men he has hired. Bull Brogin is incredibly strong now, Harry Phillips’ hearing is so good that he will be able to hear Sue even when invisible and Yogi Dakor is immune to the effects of fire. Their job will be to take out the other members of the FF while Dr. Doom takes on Reed Richards alone.

Bull, Harry and Yogi manage to capture the Thing, Sue and Johnny. Bull lures the Thing to Yancy Street and uses a cosmic ray gun to briefly turn him into Ben Grimm. Harry pretends to be an admirer of Sue’s and uses knock out gas to capture her. Yogi lures Johnny out by offering him an expensive car. On the car ride he traps Johnny in the car and uses knock out gas. They take the members of the FF back to Doom’s HQ.

The Thing summons Reed with the FF flare. Reed arrives on the scene and gets trapped in a glass container by the Thing and Dr. Doom. Doom reveals that the Thing was one of his Doombots. Doom proceeds to blow the Doombot up and double crosses the Trio.

The other members of the FF come to but each are trapped by a device that thwarts their powers. Dr. Doom isn’t aware of Sue’s new abilities to create force fields and she uses that to held the Thing esape. The battle is on. Reed wraps Doom up but Doom freezes Reed to escape. The Torch thaws him out and everyone realizes that they were foolish to fight earlier.

Dr. Doom escapes through a trap door in the wall. He springs a trap that will use a solar wave to send the FF into space. Sue uses her force field to trap Doom with them. To save himself he tries to  turn the machine off but ends up falling into space. The FF escape through the trap door and come back later to find that Doom’s HQ is gone.

My Take: I have mixed feelings on this issue. It wasn’t a bad read but I’m kind of tired of the formula that seems to come with a Dr. Doom appearance. He always has really convoluted plans when I really just want to see him go toe to toe with the FF. The way he was used in Amazing Spider-Man #5 was closer to what I would like to see from him. I’m hoping that once Latveria gets introduced later this year that the Doom appearances will get better.

The character interaction was solid in this issue. They spent most of the issue bickering but that’s usually when the FF are at their best. The Thing going to Yancy Street for some mayhem was fairly humorous. He helped a kid out and the kid kicked him in the shine for his troubles. Johnny’s reaction to the free car was also vintage him. I think the book is in a good place with the characters at this point. They all have pretty distinct personalities and they really shine in every issue now.

I didn’t care much for the Terrible Trio in this issue. They felt like villains that would show up in  Strange Tales not the main FF title. They really felt beneath the FF and it kind of bothered me that Doom took care of them instead of the FF. I really wanted to see them beaten in a rematch. As far as the actual Trio characters. They were all super generic mooks and had the markings of characters that will be quickly forgotten.

The art was good as always with this book. The action scenes were pretty cool and the dinosaur from the beginning of the book looked really cool. The Thing is starting to look more refined in these issues. Before, his face and mouth were kind of weird and now he’s starting to look more like the Thing we all know and love. I’ve mentioned it with some of the recent issues but the quality of the art in this book has just jumped leaps and bounds since the first issue. I think at this point and time it was probably one of the best looking titles on the stands.

I give this issue ** out of *****

Notes: This issue features the first appearance of the Terrible Trio. They are no more than footnotes in Marvel history. I believe they make a handful of appearances before being forgotten altogether.

Next Issue: Tales to Astonish #52

X-Men #3

X-Men #3Cover Date: January 1964

Plot Overview: Professor X interrupts the current training session when he senses a new mutant in the world. He sends the X-Men out to find him before the evil mutants can.

Cyclops finds the Blob at a local carnival as one of the sideshow attractions. The Blob can not be moved when he plants his feet and bullets can’t penetrate his skin. After the show, Cyclops approaches him about becoming an X-Man. The Blob initially declines until he gets a look at Jean Grey. He decides to humor them and go back to the school for some testing.

At the school, Professor X determines that the Blob has a sort of mental control over his skin and that’s where his powers come from. He offers the Blob a place in the X-Men and the Blob declines. With the identity of the X-Men now in peril, the Prof orders the X-Men to capture the Blob so that he can wipe his mind. The Blob fights his way out of the school and makes his escape.

Back at the carnival, the Blob takes over and plots to take over Xavier’s school. The Angel spies on their meeting and then escapes when discovered. The Angel warns the Professor of the attack and the assault begins while he’s rounding up the X-Men.

The X-Men are hopelessly outnumbered but they manage to hold off the Blob and his army until the Professor is able to wipe all of their minds. The Blob and his gang all return to the carnival. The issue ends musing about how long the mind wipe will work on a mutant like the Blob.Giraffex-men

My Take: This issue was a pretty enjoyable read. The Blob was a fun antagonist and the battle at the end was pretty enjoyable. The book had some good energy going on this month. You really got a good feeling of the internal rivalries going on with this team. Jean is the only girl on the team so everyone is competing for her attention.

I felt like the characters really came alive in this issue. Cyclops was grim and a stick in the mud, Beast is the wordsmith, Iceman is a good and Warren is arrogant. The way they interact with each other has also become interesting. It feels natural and realistic to a degree. Jean Grey still seems to lack some development though.

The endgame to this issue felt a lot like X-Men #2. The X-Men face off with the gang of the villain and hold the fort until the Professor can mind wipe the bad guy. Speaking of which, wow the Professor X pulls the mind wipe card really quickly in these issues. We’re 3 issues in and he’s already done it to 2 people with more sure to come.

The X-Men came off pretty stupid in this issue. Professor X really never anticipated being turned down by a fellow mutant? Really? That seems like that would be the first subject that someone would think of. Well, at least I would.

The art was really good in this issue. Jack Kirby is still doing art on the book and I think it’s making a big impact on how memorable these early issues are. The art in this book is on par with the best Marvel has to offer currently.

I give this *** out of *****.

Notes: This issue features the first appearance of the Blob. He will remain a pretty consistent foe of the X-Men throughout the years. He’ll usually be a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or some other kind of villain team more often than not. I would safely classify the Blob as a B level villains. He’s appeared in movies and has consistently been in video games, trading cards and cartoons. If you know anything about the X-Men, then you most likely know the Blob.

This issue features the really creepy panel where Professor X admits to having a crush on Jean Grey. It never comes up again until the Onslaught saga in the 1990s but it’s a popular trivia question. But it’s probably a guy in his late 40s lusting after a 16-18 year old girl.ProfessorX-love-jean-grey

This is also the first time they refer to Cyclops by the name of Scott Summers. Before this issue they had been referring to him as slim.

Next Issue: Fantastic Four #23

Strange Tales #116

Strange Tales #116Cover Date: January 1964

Plot Overview: The Puppet Master survived the giant octopus attack in Fantastic Four #14 and is back to take out the Fantastic Four. He uses a puppet to take over the Human Torch and has him make a move on Alicia Masters.

This leads to a battle between the Thing and the Torch. The Puppet Master is upset that the Thing and Torch are pulling their punches. He decides to have the Torch lure the Thing to Idlewild Airport so that he can finish them off.

Alicia Masters figures out that this must be the work of the Puppet Master and remembers that he has a hideout near the airport. Alicia arrives at the airport at the same time as the Puppet Master and warns the Torch about his presence. Her intervention breaks the Puppet Master’s grip long enough for the Torch to injure him with his flames. The Thing goes to attack the Puppet Master and Alicia talks him out of it because the Puppet Master is her step-father. The Puppet Master scurries off as the Thing and Torch trade some good natured barbs.

In the Dr. Strange tale, Nightmare has developed a potion that will trap people in the Dream Dimension. He wishes to study them so he can develop a way to defeat them and take over their dimension. Later, the police come to Dr. Strange with a problem. People are falling asleep and never waking up.

Strange learns that the people are under a spell and uses a powerful spell of his own to enter the Dream Dimension. He follows a safe path and thwarts a few attempts from Nightmare to trip him up. Strange finds the missing men and comes face to face with Nightmare. Strange helps the men but a moment of carelessness allows Nightmare to trap him.

Nightmare summons the Spinybeast and prods it towards Strange. As a last resort, Strange blinds Nightmare with his amulet. Nightmare accidentally kills the Spinybeast in his blindness and this lets Dr. Strange escape safely to end the issue.

My Take: The Human Torch story was pretty basic on the details. Most of the issue was them fighting with each other and then the resolution. They didn’t try to make things too complicated with that story. I think it benefited greatly from being such a simple story. I had a lot of fun with the Human Torch and Thing just going at it for most of the issue. It was a breath of fresh air to have such a straight forward issue for once.

The Dr. Strange tale had a lot of text. There was a lot of setup for it but in the end it turned out well. I was glad to see Baron Mordo wasn’t the villain for once. I found the Dream Dimension to be interesting the first time Dr. Strange went there and it was interesting now. Nightmare got more of an expanded role in this longer tale and I think he’s a decent villain. He’s nice and scary.

Dick Ayers was on art duties this time and I thought the Puppet Master looked pretty good. I think of him as a silly villain but Ayers made him sinister and creepy looking. He still looked silly but you wanted to take him a little more seriously. The Dr. Strange art was good as always. They really do a good job of setting the mood in the Dr. Strange stories with the art every issue.

I’d give this *** out of *****.

Notes: The Dr. Strange story was expanded to 8 pages with this issue. I believe this issue also sees the Thing start to appear as a regular in the Human Torch stories.

Next Issue: X-Men #3

Journey Into Mystery #100

Journey Into Mystery 100Cover Date: January 1964

Plot Overview: Thor reels from the accusations of the citizens that he has become a criminal. The police even go so far as to fire at him.  He returns to his office and becomes Don Blake. Jane finds him and reminds him that they’re having dinner tonight. Don promises to take her to the nicest place in town as Mr. Hyde watches them from the shadows.

At dinner, Mr. Hyde shows up with a gun and forces Don and Jane to come with him. He ties up Don at his castle and places a time bomb there. If he doesn’t return within 24 hours, the bomb will go off and kill Don. Mr. Hyde takes Jane and steals a submarine. Meanwhile, Don struggles to reach for his cane while tied up.

Blake manages to grab his cane and becomes Thor. He easily breaks the ropes and takes to the sky in search of Jane and Mr. Hyde. He comes across his prey and Hyde throws part of the submarine at him before taking cover behind deck. Thor follows and gets ambushed by Hyde. In the struggle, Thor drops his Hammer. Out of fear for the safety of Don, Jane hides the Hammer under a panel. Thor realizes he is without his Hammer and that he’ll become Don Blake in sixty seconds. He creates a great storm and uses the confusion to find his Hammer again.

Jane intervenes and stands between Thor and Hyde to try and protect the life of Don Blake. Hyde uses the chance to escape while Jane begs Thor to let him go. Hyde jumps into the water and never resurfaces. The police say that they now know that Thor didn’t commit those crimes and assume that Hyde is dead. Thor says that he doubts it.

Jane reminds Thor that he must find Don Blake. Thor heads off and says that he’ll rescue Blake from Hyde’s castle. The issue ends on a bit of a downer as Odin appears and denies Jane Foster’s claim to become immortal over what just transpired.. Thor is downtrodden but hopeful as the issue comes to a close.

In the backup, a young and Thor and Loki retrieve Golden Apples stolen by Storm Giants. Loki tries to stab Thor in the back multiple times but they both return to Asgard safely. Thor receives all the credit to Loki’s annoyance. Thor is able to lift the Hammer a little higher with each act of valor he performs.

My Take: I feel like they took a bit of an odd approach to this issue. I know, these Silver Age issues don’t always have your standard battle at the end. But with all the build up in Journey Into Mystery #99 I was expecting a bigger fight out of it. Instead we got more of a stand off than anything. I think Thor throwing Hyde off of him was the extent of them actually fighting. To say I was disappointed would be a bit of an understatement.

It was kind of a weird follow up to the last issue in general. It felt like this was more of a standalone issue than a continuation of the previous issue. It felt like Hyde had an entirely new plan from the previous issue. Even Thor being treated like a criminal was very much an afterthought in this issue.

Those seemingly major complaints aside, this wasn’t a bad issue of Journey Into Mystery. Thor is once again foiled from being with Jane which isn’t a huge surprise. You could just tell during the battle that she was going to cost herself immortality by helping Mr. Hyde to protect Don’s life. Odin doesn’t appear to be very forgiving in this series. Thor was surprisingly upbeat as the issue came to a close as well. I do like that the Don Blake/Jane Foster relationship seems to move and grow a little with each issue. In the first 17 issues we’ve seen it go from Don pining over Jane to actually going on a date with her. It’s really nice to see a story that isn’t completely static.

The art was really jarring in this issue as we go from Jack Kirby to Don Heck. Mr. Hyde looked completely different than he did in the previous issue. It wasn’t bad art by any means, it was just a little jarring for being the second half of a storyline. I will say that I did not like how Mr. Hyde looked in this issue. He was nowhere near as creepy as he was in the previous issue and that made me sad.

I give this ** out of *****.

Notes: There was nothing of note to this issue.

Next Issue: Strange Tales #116