Fantastic Four #90-93
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #90, Fantastic Four #91, Fantastic Four #92, Fantastic Four #93
The Thing is captured by Skrull slavers who have decided that they really, really like gangster movies. The Skrull that captures him uses a plastic Reed Richards head to ensure that he emulates Reed correctly while impersonating him.
The Thing is forced to fight in an arena against other weird monsters.
Eventually he convinces the other gladiators to rebel, including his main opponent, the robot Torgo.
The rest of the FF show up to rescue him.
Not sure what the deal here was. Maybe Kirby just wanted to stretch out into a different genre. Not my cup of tea, that's for sure.
These issues show that the Skrulls were investigating the Earth as early as the 1930s.
Sue is left behind on the rescue trip. She is told that she needs to stay behind and look after the baby. Sue reasonably points out that Alicia can look after the baby, but the rest of the team is against her. Incredible.
The best thing about these issues is when the Thing fights a guy who clearly swallowed a giant magnet. He's a Skrull-bred Magno-Man, and his magnets work on the Thing, who i guess has a lot of iron in his diet.
Quality Rating: D
Historical Significance Rating: 2
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Fantastic Four are still in the Mole Man's house, so this continues directly from Fantastic Four #89 and no FF appearances should occur in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel's Greatest Comics #72, Marvel's Greatest Comics #73, Marvel's Greatest Comics #74, Marvel's Greatest Comics #75
Inbound References (5): showAlicia Masters, Boss Barker, Crystal, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mole Man, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Torgo
The "gangster world" was inspired by a recent episode of Star Trek. Kirby tended to watch a lot of science fiction programs at the time.
The Human Torch's method of travel to Skrullworld along with the rest of the FF displays really bad science compared to what we've previously seen in this title, and it shows off the lesser interest Kirby is showing in this book, as he was extremely unhappy about his situation at Marvel at that point.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 9, 2011 5:23 PM
I absolutely love Ben's expression in that last panel.
Posted by: James N. | July 13, 2012 4:48 PM
I've read Sinnott wanted to take a break so #93 is inked by Frank Giacoia (who also spelled Sinnott back in 1967--Giacoia inked the lead story in FF Annual #5, though it was miscredited back then to Sinnott). Giacoia's work can be seen above in the panel with Crystal, Johnny, and Reed(trying to look chic in their Bonnie and Clyde outfits).
Posted by: Shar | July 14, 2012 10:31 PM
UHOMCC confirms Giacoia on #93. Added him. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 15, 2012 12:09 AM
Yawwwwn. Even edited down in MGC, these still dragged. Compare it to how much happens in the NEXT four-parter Torgo appears in (#172-175)...and those are only 17-page stories!
And how nice of Jack to blatantly rip off "A Piece of the Action" that way. A pity Stan couldn't come up with anything as funny as "Right?" "Check" or Fizzbin, though.
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 2:56 AM
Nice to see I'm not the only person who immediately thought of "A Piece of the Action" one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 29, 2015 12:04 PM
The "Boss Barker" Skrull turns up again with Torgo in an issue of Marvel Two-In-One down the line.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 10, 2015 1:45 PM
I guess i can add Boss Barker as a Character Appearing. Thanks Omar.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 10, 2015 3:04 PM
The issue where Mole Man escapes kinda bothered me. Reed says it doesn't make a difference because the authorities couldn't hold him because technically, "taking over the world" is not listed as a crime. Uh, Reed, he tried to permanently blind everyone on Earth. I'm no D.A., but I think that might be some form of assault.
Also when the Mole Man appears next in the FF book around 125-126, he intends to incinerate the surface and everyone on it. So… way to let him go there, Reed.
Posted by: mikrolik | March 3, 2016 11:28 AM
I think there might be more than one Star Trek influence here: not only is the gangster planet aspect of this story like A Piece of the Action, the forced gladiatorial combat aspect is like Bread and Circuses.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 14, 2016 4:28 AM
I wager 500 quatloos that the influence is from The Gamesters of Triskelion.
Posted by: Andrew | March 14, 2016 11:55 AM
From IMDb, these Star Trek episodes aired in consecutive weeks in early 1968:
Aired on Jan 5 1968 (US): Gamesters of Triskelion "Kirk, Uhura and Chekov are trapped on a planet where abducted aliens are enslaved and trained to perform as gladiators for the amusement of bored, faceless aliens."
Aired on Jan 12 1968 (US): A Piece of the Action:"The crew of Enterprise struggles to cope with a planet of imitative people who have modeled their society on 1920's gangsters."
Posted by: Shar | May 31, 2016 12:22 PM
It's very obvious that after FF # 87, Kirby had given up on Marvel and was just phoning it in. Any new ideas he had, he was obviously saving for his post-Marvel move. The FF had reached a general plateau of high quality for several dozen issues by this point. Not everything was great, but it was generally of the same quality. From #88 onwards though, the steep decline is very noticeable.
Posted by: Chris | May 31, 2016 1:43 PM
Just dug out my FF 93. This issue is clearly inspired by many Trek episodes,...."The Gamesters of Triskelion" with all the betting going on Thing and Torgo's fight. "Amok Time" with the weapon choice Torgo chooses with Thing. Even looks like the weapon Spock used, except with a different end piece. "Arena" with The Thing showing mercy against Torgo like Kirk did with the Gorn. And of course, "A Piece of the Action" with the aliens modeling themselves after 1930's gangsters. Cool to see that Kirby watched and was influenced by Trek.
Posted by: Andy J Patterson | August 5, 2016 6:09 PM
Derivative as it is of Star Trek, at least this shows that the Skrulls do stuff besides conquering planets and fighting the Kree. And I suppose it makes sense that a shapeshifting culture might be imitative in nature.
Beyond that...yeah, this is Kirby riding out his time at Marvel while he looks for a better deal, and Stan not being able to push the story anywhere else with his scripting.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 21, 2018 2:46 PM
I really don't get the "Ben Grimm, Killer" title for #92. He doesn't come close to killing anyone, no fake Thing kills anyone, no one accuses him of killing anyone, no one wonders that he might have. What was Stan thinking, other than following up #91's Next Issue blurb?
Posted by: Michael Grabowski | April 3, 2018 12:29 AM
If anything, I think these issues and the rest of the FF run clearly show beyond a shadow of a doubt that, while collaborative, Stan only succeeds as a passive collaborator and not a proactive one. Without Jack to channel his talents with Jack's new ideas, Stan is not very good at all. No one can be hard on Kirby- what he was going through had been demoralizing and problematic for a long time. After all he contributed, to not be offered benefits or job security? People are lucky they got *these*.
Posted by: Wis | June 22, 2018 10:03 AM
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