Fantastic Four #61-63
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #61, Fantastic Four #62, Fantastic Four #63
...the Silver Surfer's powers return to him and he breaks out of Doom's prison, destroying it in the process.
The Sandman returns to the Baxter Building to attack them. Last time he was stealing equipment to bring to the Wizard in order to help him escape from jail, but he doesn't seem to have actually done that. Instead he's taken a "fast refresher course in science" and designed himself a new costume. In addition to helping him focus his sand blasts, it also lets him mix in various chemicals with his sand (like glue or liquid nitrogen).
I much prefer his classic non-costume look. And while this is the Marvel Universe, where a degree in biochemistry automatically grants you the ability to build robots, analyze extra-dimensional energy, and do just about anything under the name of "science", there's no way a thug like the Sandman was able to create this suit. This just seems like an excuse to Kirby-ize a Ditko created character. For in-story purposes, perhaps the Sandman did free the Wizard, who made him this suit, but the Sandman doesn't want to reveal that at this time?
The Human Torch is at college, but the other members of the FF put up a decent fight against the Sandman, who really is hard to beat. Meanwhile, now that the Inhumans are free, Crystal gains permission to go looking for Johnny. I *think* this is the first time we see Crystal in her classic yellow costume with the weird headband instead of the dumpy white nightgown she's been wearing, but i could have just not been paying attention.
Lockjaw teleports her to wherever Johnny is, and winds up on a football field where Metro (Johnny's school) is playing against E.S.U. (Peter Parker's school). We get a brief cameo of Peter sitting next to Mary Jane in the press booth, hoping something will happen so that he can take a picture.
Johnny has just left, responding to the news that the FF are under attack, but Wyatt Wingfoot - who is on the bench but not actually playing - lets Crystal know where to find him.
Unable to defeat the Sandman, Reed opens the portal to the Negative Zone. The Sandman just leaves the building, but Reed gets sucked in.
We get some real pathos as the remainder of the FF watch Reed slowly float to his death (this was at a time where the Negative Zone had a center of gravity that pulled everything towards it - and anything that actually touched the center would explode. Since later exploits into the Zone didn't feature this gravity, it's possible that Reed's initial portal just happened to be in such an area - the Debris Belt - and it's not a characteristic of the entire dimension)(this is actually confirmed in Fantastic Four #230). We also get one of the crazy black and white half-photo collages that Kirby liked doing at this time.
Luckily Crystal shows up and goes and gets Triton, who can move through space as easily as he can move through water.
(Meanwhile, the Inhuman royal family is fighting off communists on the island they've chosen to hang out on.) He rescues Reed but they also let in another creature - a creature who was too powerful to slay so he was dumped here: Blastaar.
Blastaar meets up with Sandman, who is still lurking around, and they decide to Team-Up, with the "as soon as we beat the good guys i'll betray you" thought balloons that are the pre-requisite of a villain team-up.
A Sandman/Blastaar team is not one i'd ever expected to see but it's pretty cool. Sandman is a really powerful guy despite being from Spidey's rogue gallery. Still, Blastaar is on an entirely different level.
The two of them go around blowing everything up, beating up on Triton just for fun, laughing at the police (who have a cement gun that they use against the Sandman, which was a good idea that would have worked if Blastaar wasn't around).
The FF and Crystal eventually put a stop to them. After getting rolled around...
...the Thing disperses the Sandman in the ocean, and Reed beats Blastaar with a doohickey.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Peter Parker is not wearing a sling, so placing this between ASM #47 and #48 works well.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel's Greatest Comics #44, Marvel's Greatest Comics #46 (#62 is an original)
Inbound References (8): show
Kirby's Peter Parker looks a lot better this time.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 2:22 AM
Cool site! And yes, you are correct, this is the first time Crystal is shown in her yellow Inhumans costume, also the first time she sports the fancy headband...plus the hairnets at the bottom of her hair. (She stopped wearing the hairnets as of FF #68, though on occasion other artists have sometimes drawn her with them, as in the first Vision-Scarlet Witch series.)
Posted by: Shar | November 2, 2011 1:40 PM
Sorry! That should have been the second Vision-SW series (when Crys cheated on Pietro...)
Posted by: Shar | November 2, 2011 1:41 PM
BTW, not Kirby's Peter Parker, or even MJ for that matter--this was Romita's work in the panel. Stan had Romita do the faces here, for visual consistency...similar to Weisinger's custom of having regular Lois Lane artist Schaffenberger draw the Lois and Lana characters throughout the Superman-related comics.
Posted by: Shar | November 8, 2011 5:12 PM
I always liked the original Sandman "costume." You gotta admire a super-villain with all that power who just does his stuff in his stripey shirt.
Important rule for super-villains: Never, ever, team up with Blastaar. He's incredibly powerful and he will absolutely betray you the first chance he has.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 18, 2015 9:16 AM
That's interesting, I thought that looked a lot like Romita's Parker and when I got down to the comments sure enough...it was!
Posted by: Mike | May 24, 2015 3:19 PM
I really like Blastaar and Annihilus from the Negative Zone. Not sure which I like more, lion-man with laser blasts or humanoid insect conqueror. I bet Blastaar could be given a little more depth by making him an anti-hero barbarian prince or something.
Posted by: david banes | January 7, 2016 9:57 PM
Keith Giffen and more so Abnett and Lanning did sorta do that exact thing with Blastaar.
He had a small appearance in Annihilation which set this up and then in Annihilation Conquest had a bit more of an appearance (although most of it was under control of the Phalanx).
Following that, he became king of certain Kree territories as well as the Negative Zone. He's featured on covers for War of Kings despite not being in it. There is however a War of Kings digital comic (later released as a one-shot) starring him.
Outside of a pretty decent appearance in Nova (http://panels-of-interest.tumblr.com/post/135769433410/nova-vs-blastaar-from-nova-2007-28), they didn't really use it much beyond having him annoy or outright betray characters. He did make plenty of appearances in Guardians of the Galaxy and some of the other Cosmic books.
Then they more or less tossed this out the window after Thanos Imperative (a mini he's in a moderate amount in his "anti-hero" mode) and he becomes fodder to have the new Annihilators team beat up.
Posted by: AF | January 8, 2016 4:15 AM
According to Sandman's entry in OHOTMU Deluxe Edition #11, his new costume was designed by the Wizard.
Somebody noticed Sandman building the suit himself didn't add up. Not sure if this info was revealed in an earlier comic or if it appeared here in the handbook for the first time.
Posted by: Rick | April 5, 2016 7:41 PM
The Sandman says the Wizard helped him rig the buttons in MARVEL TEAM-UP #1. fnord's review has the panels.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 12, 2016 2:18 PM
I also remember the suit and being designed by the Wizard for the Sandman. I've always liked the Negative Zone concept and its inhabitants (although not all Negative Zone stories lived up to is potential. Blastaar is an interesting and quite powerful villain. I've always thought he would make a good opponent for either Thor or the Hulk.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 11, 2016 5:53 PM
The thing about Blastaar is that e never comes across as much more than a villain-of-the-month until much later, when someone finally gets the idea to play him off against Annihilus, which increases Blastaar's stature immensely. Prior to that, he just kinda shows up periodically to try to kill superheroes.
Also, one minor thing you don't notice unless you look at a site like this one: when Peter Parker cameos outside of ASM, Mary Jane is the love interest that sometimes gets to show up alongside him. In contrast, Gwen Stacy never appeared outside of ASM, despite Stan's professed preference for Gwen as Peter's partner.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 8, 2016 6:51 AM
Omar, regarding MJ and Gwen, this story and Daredevil 77 are the only instances where MJ appears outside of Amazing before ASM 122 and it's not clear who the woman in DD 77 was supposed to be, since she looks like neither MJ nor Gwen, although she's named as MJ in the script.
Posted by: Michael | January 1, 2017 11:52 PM
My God, Kirby drew Mary Jane with a really evil looking face. That smile...!
Posted by: OverMaster | June 18, 2017 11:29 PM
@Overmaster--MJ and Peter were drawn by John Romita.
Posted by: Shar | June 19, 2017 9:48 PM
@ fnord12 - In the above, you say:
We get some real pathos as the remainder of the FF watch Reed slowly float to his death (this was at a time where the Negative Zone had a center of gravity that pulled everything towards it - and anything that actually touched the center would explode. Since later exploits into the Zone didn't feature this gravity, it's possible that Reed's initial portal just happened to be in such an area - the Debris Belt - and it's not a characteristic of the entire dimension)(this is actually confirmed in FF #203).
I couldn't find any mention of the Negative Zone, gravity, or the Debris Belt in FF #203. Is it possible that you meant some other issue, and if so, do you still have the reference handy? Thanks.
Posted by: Holt | October 15, 2017 9:12 PM
Sorry, it was Fantastic Four #230. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 16, 2017 11:13 AM
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