Fantastic Four annual #5
Issue(s): Fantastic Four annual #5
The opening scene from this annual, with Sue having already fainted, had me checking my issues of the regular series to make sure i didn't miss something. It's an odd way to start off the story, but i guess there was a lot to cover, since this issue has the Inhumans and the Black Panther and introduces the Psycho-Man and three additional goons and makes the big announcement that Sue is pregnant.
As for the Psycho-Man, he's pretty awesome looking. He's as Kirby as you can get.
As for his three henchmen, well... one of them, Livewire, is a guy with a lasso. I think in just about every panel he appears in, either he or someone else announces that his gun and lasso are electrically charged. And to be fair to Stan, he didn't really have a lot to work with. It's like Kirby spent so much energy designing the Psycho-Man that he didn't have anything left to design the henchmen, so he rolled up some random NPCs from the chart in the back of the Monster Manual. Let's see... a cowboy (rolls dice)... a Russian (rolls dice), aaaand... whatever Shellshock is. Honestly i could barely tell Ivan and Shellshock apart or determine if they have any powers. Livewire and Shellshock will have a few more appearances, separately and together, but this is the last we'll see of Ivan.
The Psycho-Man has his Fear/Doubt/Hate device...
...but he wants to make a bigger version of it that will affect the entire world. One of the components (named, simply enough, Component 5) for the bigger version is accidentally delivered to Alicia Masters' house, and his Fear ray prevents the Thing from stopping him from getting it back.
Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl stay behind since Sue is pregnant, but Triton and Crystal were visiting the Baxter Building, so the Thing and the Human Torch go with them to follow the Psycho-Man. The Black Panther is already on the island, as are the rest of the Inhumans.
The Psycho-Man's island base is said to be in the Caribbean. The Black Panther has just recently purchased it and classily renamed it Panther Island. He'll apparently also have it moved to Wakanda later and have it terraformed into the shape of a panther, if the map in Jungle Action #6 is accurate. Unless he renames all his islands "Panther Island".
With the Panther and the Inhumans in the same issue, we'd like to have a nice "meeting of the kings of fictional countries" scene, but Black Bolt isn't much of a talker.
Something odd about the Psycho-Man's fear ray: it actually creates illusions that everyone can see. I'm glad that i can see them, because they're crazy-cool...
...but it's said that the Psycho-Man's powers work by manipulating human emotions so it's odd that everyone can see the same thing. Furthermore, when Gorgon shows up later (he had been off on a scouting mission), his hoof-stomps actually disrupt the illusions, which again implies that they are more than just mental attacks. Or maybe his stomps were just shorting out Psycho-Man's device.
The Psycho-Man reveals that he's actually from a microscopic world, and he's really just a tiny man in a giant robot suit. His goal is to clear out the Earth because his world's population is growing too fast and they'd like to move here. Psycho-Man is said to be their chief scientist. I don't think later stories usually depict him as part of a civilization. The idea here is that the emotion rays that his people developed are so powerful that he thought he could conquer the Earth on his own, so you'd think failing that, future attacks might have included actual armies of tiny men.
My favorite line in this issue is when the Thing sees Psycho-Man for the first time, and he says "We should'a guessed -- another nut!"
We're instructed to file away the following panel, so here it is:
When the Psycho-Man is defeated, it's said that he just shrinks away, leaving his robot suit behind.
Karnak wonders if he shrunk all the way back to his microscopic world or if he's "forever trapped within that now-useless suit -- the tiniest prisoner of the world he hoped to conquer!". But no one seems concerned enough to find out. That's what happens when you leave Mr. Fantastic behind.
Kind of a hectic story with lots of characters and therefore not a lot of screen time for anyone in particular, but the new villain is a cool one.
And announcing that a character is pregnant would have been a fairly unique thing at the time, even more significant than Reed and Sue's wedding. The idea that these characters have lives like real people, and they're not stuck in a permanent status quo is quite a big deal.
The back-up story is a Silver Surfer solo tale.
The Silver Surfer senses anguish and it turns out to be Quasimodo, an artificial intelligence created by the Mad Thinker and then abandoned. The Surfer gives Quasimodo a body...
...which he then uses to turn on the Surfer and go on a rampage.
The Surfer freezes the body on top of a clocktower and flies off, more disgusted than ever about being stuck on this planet.
There's also a weird humor story in this issue about how Stan and Jack came up with story ideas. It's very "zany" but not very funny. The Thing's one-liners in the main story are funnier.
And there's also a bunch of pin-ups. Most are cool...
...but the one of Crystal looks like she's been hit with Joker gas or something.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this during Fantastic Four #68. The reason for the tight fit is that Sue's pregnancy isn't mentioned in the regular series until issue #70. Issues #68-71 are all part of a continuous story. And prior to that, Alicia Masters (who appears in this annual) is kidnapped or in the hospital beginning with issue #65.
And while i'd like to keep this issue closer to issue #70, the key for me is Triton. He's with Crystal at the Baxter Building in Fantastic Four #63 and #64, but as of issue #65, he's no longer around. Triton begins this annual still visiting Johnny Storm in New York City, but he rejoins the rest of the Inhumans here, and it makes sense that he didn't return after the fight with the Psycho-Man was over. So this issue takes place between Fantastic Four #64-65, before Alicia is kidnapped and after Triton leaves New York. I believe this explains Reed's overprotective behavior in issues #65 and #66.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (22): show
It seemed weird to me that Quasimodo attacks the Surfer with little provocation, but he never tried to get revenge on the Mad Thinker for abandoning him(unless he did try in a much later comic I don't know about).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 10, 2011 5:47 PM
The Psycho-Man's generic goons remind me of Doctor Doom's Terrible Trio from, like, Fantastic Four #23.
WHAT IS UP WITH PSYCHO-MAN'S EMOTION CONTROL DEVICE?? Why is it so huge? Why is it labeled in 144-point font? Does Psycho-Man need to be able to read it when he's not wearing contact lenses? Or when he's 100 feet away?
(Also: can Psycho-Man bend his knees? Those support struts don't look very extensible.)
Posted by: James N | December 23, 2011 10:59 AM
Glad you picked up this Annual (and that you agree with me about the chronology). The story is kind of sloppy and not very cohesive. My feeling is that the lead story was intended for a new Inhumans feature(their own comic or as part of a split mag with T'Challa), but when that was put on hold, the FF pregnancy subplot and some other pages were added. And yes, that is Giacoia inking the lead story, despite the Sinnott credit--IIRC in the letter column of #71, Marvel admits to the credit mistake.
Posted by: Shar | July 14, 2012 10:56 PM
Even though they're married, I'm a little surprised that Sue being pregnant was okay by the Code at the time. And it might have confusing for younger readers and prompted talks with older siblings or, gasp, parents.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 18, 2015 12:54 PM
I was disappointed that Psycho-Man's fear projections didn't have any real psychological ramifications. Everybody was just made to fight something their powers wouldn't work on and proclaim, "Oh! I'm so afraid!!" I would've preferred to have learned something about the characters through their deepest fears.
The Surfer story is great, but at one point the Surfer says, "In all the universe, only here do wanton beings slay innocent creatures in the name of sport!" A fine sentiment, but I have to think it's one that has been retconned at some point (though I can't think of a specific example right now).
Posted by: TCP | July 17, 2015 10:16 AM
All I can think of with the "file this panel away" panel is Black Bolt feels like the guy who has to ruin the "supremely awesome badass moment" by poking his head into the camera. Heh, maybe Kirby saw the future regarding the rise of cell phone cameras.
And giant Psycho Man computer and his minions...yep, we're still in the 60s considering these.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 17, 2015 11:04 AM
That big, ostentatious "file this panel away" arrow-caption was added to fill up the blank space that resulted from erasing Crystal from that panel. As shown in an issue of The Jack Kirby Collector, Kirby originally included Crystal among the group going off to battle Pyscho Man...but then he neglected to draw her in any of the story's subsequent pages. So she was erased from that particular panel and a couple of others on that page.
Posted by: Shar | July 17, 2015 2:54 PM
The Silver Surfer backup story featured a splash panel with Quasimodo shouting "I'm changing!" that was turned into a black light poster that blew my mind when I was twelve.
Posted by: Andrew | October 20, 2015 9:43 PM
For me, the coolest part of this rather busy annual (along with the pinup of Black Bolt) is the four-page initial encounter between The Black Panther and The Inhumans. Some of Kirby's finest Panther panels are here, as well as an intriguing brief match-up between the Panther and Karnak, with the former skillfully gaining the initial advantage ("BTOK!"). Then Black Bolt shows up, breaking it up, and there are some interesting thought balloons for the Panther, who is obviously in awe of his fellow monarch.
This annual is cover-dated the same month (Nov. 1967) as the first Thor featuring an Inhumans backup story (#146).
Posted by: Instantiation | November 15, 2015 6:40 PM
I have to say that I liked this one. In my reading order, I do place it in a gap in #68 but I see your reasoning. I liked that they made use of the Microverse again and featured a lot of the characters that had been introduced in the FF's book. (In the 60's, the FF series introduced more new characters and concepts that any other Marvel title). I liked the Surfer solo story and loved the bit at the end where Quasimodo is left frozen like the gargoyles that his namesake lived among in Hugo's novel. Sue being pregnant was a cool bit as it had not been done in the comics before.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 11, 2016 9:16 PM
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