Fantastic Four #138-139
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #138, Fantastic Four #139
Okaaaaaaaay. Moving on, let's also say hello to Wyatt Wingfoot, who is graduating from college, unlike Johnny.
The guy reaching for Johnny in that last panel is Coach Thorne (previously Thorpe) who had been trying unsuccessfully to recruit Wyatt onto the football team.
Anyway, the festivities are cut short when Wyatt gets word from his tribe that there is trouble on the Keewazi reservation. That trouble is the Miracle Man.
I love those three panels.
Hello, i'm the Miracle Man?
Mr. Fantastic stayed behind to mope about Sue's departure, but the Thing and Johnny obviously find the Miracle Man's appeal for respect funny.
Now, it turns out that the Miracle Man's powers have changed. He lost his hypnotic abilities after his first appearance, but he's subsequently tricked some Cheemuzwa gods into giving him real magic.
So of course there's a fight...
...but i mean, come on.
There's really not a lot to the guy. What's his angle? What makes him more than a generic villain? Conway tries to tackle this head on, having him conjure up a whole futuristic city and populating it with people that will like him, but even that doesn't work out for him.
You might draw something out of Miracle Man's weird "racial type" comment in the scan above and the fact that he got his powers by swindling Native American gods, but there's nothing explicit.
There's also a "mortality" angle mentioned by the Cheemuzwa, but it's not based on anything else in the story.
Looking at Conway's attempts at feminism, we have Medusa making some of those chip-on-the-shoulder noises that we've seen in the past from the likes of the Black Widow.
It's really inappropriate for Medusa. She's not from human society and the Inhumans have been pretty equal-opportunity from the beginning.
Although she's fighting those monster men above, later in the issue Medusa gets segregated into fighting only the Miracle Man's female constructs.
Just observing, folks.
In subplots, Franklin Richards' powers continue to manifest...
...and back in Reed's lab, an alarm goes off. And Alicia Masters leaves her apartment "and may never return".
There's something off about the Thing in this flashback scene. It's not just that he's in his fully evolved rocky form instead of the early lumpy version. From what you can see of his hands, they look like regular human ones, and his head seems wrong for his body. It reminds me a lot of when Sersi turns a random guy into the Thing in Eternals #6.
Just to be clear, i don't think these issues were terrible. Buscema's art is always nice. I certainly understand the reasoning behind trying to bring back the Miracle Man. I'm laughing with Conway on the scenes with Johnny's hair. Reed and Sue's break-up was kind of ground-breaking for the time, and it's handled fairly well. I applaud the attempts at treating the female characters better and just think it's an interesting insight into the evolving culture of the 70s.
All that said, the Miracle Man didn't really have a lot going for him and Conway doesn't really seem to know what to do about it.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins an hour after the end of the previous issues, with the FF returning home from the Great Refuge and finding Wyatt Wingfoot waiting for them.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlicia Masters, Belle Thorne, Human Torch, Medusa, Miracle Man, Mr. Fantastic, Sam Thorne, Silent Fox, Thing, Wyatt Wingfoot
Also significant for having Steranko's only FF covers.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 23, 2013 8:38 PM
The Miracle Man is not one of my favorites either but John B's great art along with Joe Sinnott's inks makes it all the better. Especially taking in the incredible "follow through" and perspective in the battle panels as Ben clobbers MM almost out of the frame. This is one of the things I love about John B's art (along with his lovely females) - the power of his fight scenes. There have been other comic artists that just don't come close.
Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2014 3:30 PM
I liked Fantastic Four 3, but the Miracle Man really should have been a one-and-done villain. I mean, Lee and Kirby went past 100 issues and they didn't try to bring him back.
Posted by: mikrolik | September 6, 2015 7:46 PM
Yeah, I thought that the Miracle Man was best used as a one-time threat. But the Miracle Man's hypnotic powers should make him the Earth's first defense against the Skrulls. 😀
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 6, 2015 7:59 PM
@mikrolik: The reason Miracle Man never reappeared is because he was the missing fourth Skrull from Fantastic Four #2. Remember both had hypnotism powers, and not just hypnotism but super-hypnotism. And MM also referred to "the human race" when alone, as if they were a different race from him. Chris Tolworthy has an entire theory revealing this here: http://zak-site.com/Great-American-Novel/ff-act1.html#fourth
Posted by: Nathan Adler | September 8, 2015 7:03 AM
"There's something off about the Thing in this flashback scene [...] his head seems wrong for his body."
The Thing, when drawn to proper scale, would not fit in that narrow theater seat, not even an aisle seat. Buscema compromised on his size in order to fit him in there. In FF #3 Kirby glossed over the seating width problem by showing four consecutive closeups instead of one all-inclusive group scene.
Kirby also showed Ben wearing a thick scarf instead of a turtleneck-- this could be explained, without resorting to alternate universes, as being a result of the Torch's faulty memory in reconstructing the flashback.
Posted by: Holt | December 16, 2017 10:34 PM
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