Fantastic Four #11
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #11
Review/plot: Oh boy do i hate the Impossible Man. Luckily, this issue starts out with a cute little mini-story where the FF answer fan mail (after beating up a bunch of kids play-acting as the FF).
Reed Richards totally fucks with Ben Grimm. Every other issue, he's handing him some new cure that only lasts for like two minutes. And next time he brings him a cure, can he also bring him a shirt and some pants? Thanks.
Sue is still torn between Namor and Reed and doesn't like Reed talking about his love for her. Reed says that he's loved her since they lived next door to each other. In the letter pages, Reed and Ben are identified as being in their late 30s, Sue in her 20s, and Johnny at 17. If Reed was living next door to Sue prior to going to college, she would have been something like 4 years old. The note also says that Ben and Reed graduated college when they were very young. I could see that for Reed - although he isn't depicted that way in the flashback in this issue - but how did Ben graduate early?
Answering fan mail (delivered by Willie Lumpkin!)...
...Reed and Ben describe their first meeting in college...
...and then going to war together...
...and then they recount the origin of the FF. Some revisions: In FF #1, Sue directly called Ben a coward. In this issue, she simply says that he doesn't have to go, but that she and Johnny are going to go to show Reed that they are not afraid. Also, Ben does not warn about cosmic rays, but instead initially declines to go because his days of being a hero are behind him.
The Thing also gets a package from the Yancy Street Gang.
Then Sue breaks out in tears because she's getting mail saying that she doesn't contribute enough to the team. Reed and Ben get very upset, and Reed breaks into a very complicated explanation - involving Abraham Lincoln's mother! - to explain why it's OK that she doesn't do anything.
These were complaints that Marvel really was getting at the time, and the fact that they resisted doing anything about it for a long time doesn't speak well of the good old boys running things at the time. Eventually they gave in and let Sue develop invisible force field powers, but even that kept Sue a passive/defensive character for the longest time (until Byrne, really). Invisibility alone can be a very dangerous power, if coupled with a weapon and/or some martial arts abilities, but Sue was never developed to be anything along those lines. It's his anger at the fans asking about Sue that gets Ben Grimm angry and turns him back into the Thing again.
OK, now on to the second story. I hate the Impossible Man. He shows up, causes a bunch of stupid and unfunny trouble, and then the FF trick him into leaving. Goodbye. Maybe it was OK for a single issue story but why would you ever bring him back?
This issue also shows how the group accesses their private floors in the Baxter Building; it's a method that will continue to be used for some time.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
In one panel, the Impossible Man changes into the Old Man of the Sea. I've read the original Arabian Nights story of the character, and not only does he lock himself on people's shoulders, he also,uh, relieves himself on them too. Too bad the Comics Code wouldn't allow that...
I first read this comic when it was reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition #2 in very late 1974 and I thought it was hilarious. There was an added caption to the story addressing the problem with Sue's age, though.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 1:16 AM
"Welcome back to the human race, pal"? Reed was kind of an ass in that moment.
Posted by: Todd | September 3, 2013 1:11 PM
Any comic that has Reed Richards explain the importance of "Abe Lincoln's mother" really shows how much of a stretch he's making just to keep Sue from doing anything.
Then again, does anyone randomly make speeches about Abe Lincoln's mother?
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 3, 2013 1:31 PM
"A stretch." I see what you did there.
Posted by: Todd | September 3, 2013 1:54 PM
Would you believe I realized that after I wrote it? It does fit for Reed though.
But I guess the problem that people tend to forget about the stuff written by Stan Lee is that while he was writing some revolutionary comics in the 1960s, he was still someone who started writing comics earlier than that in the 1940s, thus showing his perspective of the view of things like women's lib at the time. Honestly he wasn't sexist, it was just the generation he came from...but in a perspective that we live in, it makes him seem sexist that he would have female heroes act this way with idiots like Reed sort of reinforcing it...and it took newer, younger writers of that era to make something greater out of them.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 3, 2013 3:16 PM
I think that's exactly right. It is pretty remarkable when you look closely at the words and attitudes. The ideal he is holding up here in the 1960s, using two main characters as the mouthpiece, is a woman who was born in the 18th century and didn't live far into the 19th. I'm sure she was lovely and admirable, but you could go that far back and find women who are better remembered for their own contributions, rather than via the renown of their children.
Here and there, and this is a fine exhibit in the case, I get the feeling Lee wasn't even progressive on women's issues within understandable generational strictures. He was better on race.
Posted by: Todd | September 3, 2013 3:36 PM
I think it was a Marvel Adventures comic, but the scene with the Abraham Lincoln statue would later be parodied in which a fan asks what use is Reed on the team since he can "just stretch" and the rest of the team goes ballistic.
At least one of them question on where the bust of Abraham Lincoln actually came from.
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 18, 2013 4:41 PM
always thought it was extremely original and cool to have a superhero team where the heroes were college roomates and went to school with their arch-nemesis! really added to the "family" appeal of the series
Posted by: Mr_Velvet_ButtCheeks | October 1, 2013 11:41 PM
"Invisibility alone can be a very dangerous power, if coupled with a weapon and/or some martial arts abilities, but Sue was never developed to be anything along those lines."
Well, in the 90's Chris Claremont finally has Sue get some martial arts training from Iron Fist. But that's a long way away!
Posted by: Berend | March 30, 2015 11:51 AM
Sue did use judo a few issues later in the Lee-Kirby run (FF #17, against Dr. Doom). Though she (= Stan) credits this ability to Reed's teaching of the skill to her.
Posted by: Haydn | March 30, 2016 10:59 PM
It might seem pointless to provide Ben with yet another shirt and pair of pants, since he's likely to rip them to shreds at the earliest opportunity, just like he did in issue #3. He seems to prefer running around in his skivvies, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Alternatively, maybe this is actually Ben fucking with Reed, rather than the other way around, if one considers that it was later established, or retro-fitted, that Ben could have turned his powers off and on at will just as easily as the others, if not for his anger-management issues. I agree that it's Ben's anger that turns him back into the Thing in the scene shown above. This was also a common device used for explaining why Bruce Banner changed into the Hulk. Ben, at every opportunity, shows that he prefers being a rage monster, while simultaneously blaming Reed for it.
Beating up on kids? Ben is the only one shown terrorizing a kid, notably the kid who idolized HIM, and also calling him "Shorty..." WTF? Of course he's shorter than you are Ben. He's a KID. Wow.
Lot's of name-calling in these early issues, which we can attribute to Stan Lee as the dialog writer/editor. I agree with Todd's comment that "welcome back to the human race, pal," was an asinine bit of dialog, which I would also attribute to Stan.
Speaking of Stan (and Jack), we often see later creators taking credit for being the first to "break the fourth wall" in comics by speaking directly to the readers, but here we Jack and Stan doing exactly that.
Posted by: James Holt | July 13, 2016 7:54 AM
Impossible Man was clearly the most irritating entity in the Marvel Universe. His persona being reminiscent of the Omnipotent Bratty Kid (played by Bill Mumy) in Season 3 Episode #8 of the (Rod Serling) TWILIGHT ZONE Series "Its a Good Life"
Posted by: RocknRollguitarplayer | July 13, 2016 3:04 PM
Personally I liked the original Impossible Man story but to each his own. In my reading order, I have Strange Tales#106 between the two stories in this issue.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 22, 2016 10:43 PM
Did Ben Grimm pay for that lamp-post he vandalised just to show off to a child?
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | December 27, 2017 7:30 AM
Comments are now closed.
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