Fantastic Four #233
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #233
...who's been beefed up thanks to a super-strength exoskeleton provided by the Tinkerer.
The Torch is unable to capture Hammerhead, but a police lieutenant suggests that the Torch look into the records recently released to the police by the Kingpin. It's there that the Torch finds the info he needs to prove his former schoolmate's innocence, but when he presents the information to the guy's mother, she's like "that's ok, he deserved to die anyway for all the other bad things he did".
Beyond the twist ending, it's a good story. It's interesting to see the Human Torch going up against common street criminals (knowing Byrne, i wouldn't be surprised if some of these panels were homages to Golden Age Human Torch stories)...
...and his failure to capture Hammerhead or extract a confession is a nice touch as well. While on a power level he's never in any danger (except from Hammerhead himself), this isn't really his area of expertise and it's a nice contrast to his usual adventures.
The art is of course amazing, and the characterization of Johnny and the rest of the FF (in the early intro scenes they appear in) are very nice as well.
The jury on Sue's new haircut is still out, though.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Daredevil #172. The police lieutenant says that the Kingpin's files were 'just released', but that's relative.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
This is one of the stories that confirms there is capital punishment in the usa of the MU. I was always a bit unsure because some villains should have been up for it at some point (I can think of plenty of villains who would be eligible, even in the early 80s).
(outside of golden age stories which discuss the electric chair a lot)
I've always assumed there must be differences in the court systems of the MU (eg Superheroes don't have to reveal identities to be witnesses, etc.)
The only other story of the era that deals with capital punishment is when Marc Gruenwald very foolishly thinks Germany has a death penalty. Basic research, Mark. No EU country has capital punishment.
Posted by: kveto | November 29, 2015 2:04 PM
During their fight scene, Johnny muses that Hammerhead shouldn't be able to trade shots with superhumans, and considers him a "punk who got lucky" and made it to the top in the Maggia. And we never do find out just when Hammerhead started using that disguised exosuit.
Is Byrne implying that Hammerhead shouldn't have been able to hang with the likes of Spider-Man and Doc Ock in hand-to-hand combat?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 13, 2016 4:20 PM
If that was what Byrne was implying, I'm all in favour of it. I always disliked Hammerhead, I could never see the point in a villain whose only power was a very hard top of the skull.
In their first fight, Hammerhead tricks Spider-Man into punching the top of his skull, hurting Spider-Man's hand, but as far as I'm concerned the next panel should have been Peter punching him in the gut, and the character should never have had to appear again. (Though I do enjoy this story and his Power Man & Iron Fist appearance.)
Not sure if the exo-suit ever appeared again, but it makes sense to me that Byrne might feel the same as Stern that Spider-Man shouldn't have too much trouble with most villains with normal human strength.
Posted by: Jonathan | February 13, 2016 5:25 PM
The exo-suit does appear again- in a Mackie story during the Clone Saga. It's worth noting that during Hammerhead's later appearances in Gerry Conway's gang war storyline, he only manages to go one-on-one with Peter when Peter is weakened by being injected by a virus.
Posted by: Michael | February 13, 2016 5:34 PM
Reading this again, there's some amusing exposition spoken out loud by Johnny, who on sight of Hammerhead's exoskeleton gives a monologue about how it's strength-enhancing & that he normally wears it with flesh-coloured gloves. Johnny deduces all that immediately & decides to say it all out loud. But it does back up Omar's point that Byrne seemed to be trying to establish here that Hammerhead had been wearing an exoskeleton in earlier appearances.
And when he first sees Hammerhead, Johnny monologues to Hammerhead's face that "you're the one they call Hammerhead. You were surgically rebuilt by some nutso scientist... But you're supposed to be dead! You died in a helicopter crash in the Hudson river!" Why is Johnny telling him all this? (And why is the fact it was in the Hudson river relevant?)
Obviously this is a standard comics convention, particularly in the "every comic might be someone's first" era, it's just amusing sometimes when you notice it happening.
The other amusing thing about it is that Hammerhead's death in a helicopter crash in ASM #159 was only minutes after he'd returned from his previous death from a nuclear explosion in ASM #131, and he'd done very little of major importance in that time. Did the papers the next day run with the story "Hammerhead Found Back To Life After Previous Death In Nuclear Explosion, But Has Now Died Again In Helicopter Crash"? You'd think Johnny would have heard about the nuclear explosion but maybe not the helicopter crash.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 17, 2018 7:51 AM
No wonder Hammerhead's saying he doesn't die easy, he should just have said "hey, once you've survived nuclear explosions, the helicopter crashes are easy".
Obviously it's good that Byrne or editorial thought some explanation was needed, it just seems unlikely that Johnny is following the deaths & returns of minor Spider-Man foes. (Torch & Spidey must have met up not long after & Spidey told him about some recent adventures, even though that one isn't that memorable.)
Hammerhead's last appearance in ASM #159 might have actually been what prompted Byrne's invention of the exoskeleton. After #158 where Hammerhead's ghost apparently knows that the use of a particle accelerator will return him back to life despite neither Spidey & Doc Octopus knowing that, and then Hammerhead's return is treated as a cliffhanger that he is such a big threat that Spidey & Ock will be forced to team up together to fight him in the next issue. And on the 2nd page of #159, Hammerhead not only dodges Ock's tentacle strikes but then grabs one of the tentacles & throws Ock around by the tentacle, following which Spidey hurts his hand on Hammerhead's head then just stands around clutching his hand until he gets knocked down, hurt badly by a Hammerheadbutt to the stomach.
So it's possible Byrne saw that & felt it needed explanation why either Spidey or Ock couldn't have defeated Hammerhead in about 3 seconds without any need to team up. So I thank him for getting annoyed by the same things I do. :-)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 17, 2018 8:11 AM
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