Fantastic Four #54
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #54
Review/plot: With all the epic, important stories we've been having in Fantastic Four for a while now (first Inhumans, first Galactus, first Black Panther), it's fair to allow for a filler issue, and that's exactly what this is. The FF are relaxing in Wakanda.
Lee and Kirby continue to emphasize the high tech nature of Wakanda. Johnny is given a "sonic fishing pole, like something Tony Stark would have invented"...
...and the Thing gets a fancy "exerciser" (which he thinks is the last thing a "cracker" like him needs).
Meanwhile, the Inhumans are still trapped in their dome...
...and Johnny is really missing Crystal, so when the rest of the FF are ready to leave Wakanda and head back to America, Johnny decides he'd rather go to the Himalayas and try to free her. Wyatt decides to go with him, and they head off, traveling in a Gyroscope designed by the Black Panther.
On their way there, they fall into a pit in the desert and discover a hidden crypt.
There they encounter Prester John, a knight from King Richard's era who had traveled the world and found many hidden lands, such as Avalon.
He has a device called the Evil Eye which can disintegrate anything. Johnny immediately grabs it thinking he can use it to free the Inhumans, but he doesn't know how to use it so it starts to explode like an atom bomb. Wyatt manages to shoot it out of Johnny's hand before it explodes.
Despite being a silly story, this issue still has some good moments in the sub-plots. There are some nice down-time scenes with the Black Panther in the beginning...
...and in this issue Maximus creates Triton's classic suit that allows him to survive out of water.
Towards the end of this issue, Black Bolt uses his scream to break the barrier, but we don't see the result.
This is the first time we see that when Black Bolt speaks it causes massive damage.
Newlywed hanky panky:
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Johnny and Wyatt are absent from Metro College in Uncanny X-Men #24 because they are in the Himalayas.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel's Greatest Comics #41
Inbound References (10): show
It's been noted in other fan publications that Stan made a big dialogue error when the Torch and Wyatt discover Prester John, but I can't think what it is right now.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 4, 2011 5:50 PM
It's truly amazing how far Jack's style developed in just a few short years. Look back at those early FF and Thor issues and, while the art's still good, it's nowhere near the level of the work he's doing on those two titles at this point.
Posted by: Robert | September 22, 2014 9:29 AM
that gyro-cruiser has to be the least efficient mode of transportation. the Black Panther didn't have a spare plane laying around? instead he gives them a giant hamster ball?
Posted by: min | October 14, 2014 4:21 PM
Another Abominable Snowman sighting! The Himalayas must be lousy with those guys in the Marvel Universe!
(And I have to suspect Steven Spielberg ripped off this story in "Last Crusade")
Posted by: Gary Himes | October 14, 2014 6:37 PM
Is it me or does it look like Prester John is sitting on a big carved toilet with the Evil Eye as a plunger beneath his legs?
I always have difficulty enjoying Kirby's colored art. They make all the weird little details look extra garish.
Posted by: PeterA | July 12, 2015 4:29 PM
@Robert... yes, was thinking the same thing. Now, I get why the coming of Galactus was such a big deal, it's the beginning of the book actually looking good... but, these issues especially are just gorgeous... obv Sinnot is some of it, but Kirby is really at the peak of his game here
Posted by: pgunn | May 31, 2016 1:34 AM
The error must be when Wingfoot mentions Avalon as the mythical land of king RIchard instead of Arthur.
Posted by: Leves | October 2, 2016 8:07 AM
I loved this one as a big fan of the Arthurian Cycle and other medieval legends. I like Prester John or Presbyter Johannes as he is called in some versions of the tale. I liked Jack's artwork on the flashbacks of Prester John's past.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 8, 2016 7:22 PM
Contrary to what Stan thought, by King Richard's time, Europeans knew the Earth was round.
Posted by: Michael | November 25, 2016 10:18 AM
Looking at the splash page, it should be noted that there are more sightings of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster than of left-handed throwing catchers.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 22, 2017 9:18 AM
Can anyone shed some light on Ben referring to himself as a "cracker" here? As a non-American, I'm only vaguely familiar with it as a negative term mostly used for southern whites, though a quick google tells me that some people from Florida & Georgia use it to describe themselves in a jocular way.
None of which explains why Ben would be using it. Even though he will not be revealed to be Jewish until years later, he has I think always been portrayed as a New Yorker with no known southern ancestry. Is Stan using it to mean "white person" or is there some other meaning/use of the term? Is this Stan throwing in slang that he doesn't know the correct meaning of, or would everyone have understood the meaning at the time?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 22, 2017 9:45 AM
(Speaking of Stan possibly throwing stuff in he might not know the meaning of, the pianist announces that "my next selection" is going to be a piano concerto, which is of course a piece for piano & orchestra with contrasting sections of full orchestra & solo piano, not something usually played by a single pianist. Presumably the orchestra are off-panel.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 22, 2017 9:56 AM
I'd also guess that Stan might not have known the exact meaning of concerto. I didn't. He was a showman; maybe sometimes he just liked to use fancy words to bedazzle his readership. It worked on me that way, anyhow.
Wiktionary has a fourth meaning for "cracker" as a person who cracks. Ben had a habit of breaking things so, taken in context, maybe that was what he meant. Quoting now: "A person or thing that cracks, or that cracks a thing (emphasis mine)" lol
Wiktionary also shows an obsolete meaning for cracker as a person who brags. Another alternate definition is simply given as "A firecracker." I'm just guessing now. Anyway, I don't think Ben would think of himself as a "peckerwood." Ben was always a wisecracker. Maybe that's what he was thinking... but the thing-cracker might be the best fit for the context.
Not everybody in Europe knew that the earth was round. There are still people who firmly claim that the world is flat, even today.
I was just looking at this issue yesterday. On page 6, Medusa refers to the barrier around the Great Refuge as the "negative zone." That term is consistently used to refer to the barrier all the way from issue #48 to #59, when Black Bolt breaks the negative barrier using his voice. Then in issue #61, continuity seems to shift abruptly, and everyone starts using the negative zone in reference to the "sub-space" explorations Reed started in issue #51. Mo' later...
Posted by: Holt | October 22, 2017 11:48 AM
Yes, the correct meaning of concerto would have gone over my head whenever I first read this too. I wouldn't normally have pointed it out but I did think it was funny that everyone is sitting around talking while there is apparently an orchestra about to start playing just next to them. (To be fair, there is an arrangement of Grieg's piano concerto that can be played with just 2 pianos, though that still leaves the 2nd piano being off-panel.)
Yes I did see the reference to "cracker" as being one who brags, or a loudmouth/joker (related to the Gaelic term "craic") which could apply to Ben, but I was unfamiliar with that usage & I don't know if it was any better known in the USA.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 22, 2017 1:15 PM
As a Southerner, I've also heard the term "cracker" was an insult directed at slave owners, as in those who "cracked the whip".
Posted by: Brian Coffey | October 22, 2017 1:39 PM
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