Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FF blogging - the Inhumans

Continuing my blogging on old issues of the Fantastic Four...

I left off with the defeat of the Frightful Four. This was followed by an annual where Reed and Sue were married with nearly everyone in the Marvel Universe making a cameo. The monthly comic continued from there with a four and a half issue story. It started with a domestic scene - Reed turning his inventing skills to making a dishwasher for Sue.

The issue introduced Gorgon who could shake the entire city or cause a building to collapse with a stomp of his foot. He was chasing Medusa, the only member of the Frightful Four still at large. She carjacked the Torch and had him drive her to someplace secluded. Gorgon stole the FF's helicopter and followed.

As it turned out, Johnny drove Medusa to an area near Empire State University which had figured in one of the last single-issue stories the previous year. Gorgon found them there but the ruckus disturbed the Dragon Man, an artificial creation from that same issue. Sue had made an impression on Dragon Man in kind of a King Kong/Fay Wray way. Remembering Sue, Dragon Man took Medusa to safety.

The FF and Gorgon caught up with them on an abandoned sky scraper. Dragon Man grabbed Sue, Gorgon grabbed Medusa and caused the building to collapse.

In the following issue Reed, Johnny, and the Thing survived the building's collapse, recovered Sue, and sort of adopted Dragon Man as a pet. This caused problems since he had the mind of a child, could breath fire, and was stronger than the Thing. They finally sedated him.

Cut to the remnants of Johnny's love life. While he had his own comic he had been dating Doris Evans but she dumped him. He was wandering around a bad part of town when he saw a lovely red head. She called up a wind storm and vanished. He managed to find her again. She caused a fire but he flamed on and absorbed the flames.

It turned out that she was an inhuman and mistook him for one also. She started introducing him to her family. Things went well enough until she got to Gorgon and Medusa. The Torch summoned the rest of the FF and Black Bolt, the head of the Inhumans returned. Cut to the next issue.

The Inhumans attacked the FF. Black Bolt took on the Thing fighting him to a tie. The Inhumans were mainly trying to hide from someone called the Seeker who managed to capture the Inhuman Triton during the fight. The rest of the Inhumans escaped with the help of Lockjaw, the Inhuman's giant dog. Lockjaw could open time/space portals.

Next the Seeker invaded the FF's headquarters and took Dragon Man, thinking that he was an Inhuman.

When they returned, Reed checked his survelance tapes to see what happened to Dragon Man then used one of his gadgets to track the Seeker. The Seeker turned out to be quite reasonable. His job was to rund up Inhumans and return them to the Great Refuge where they belonged. He offered to return Dragon Man with appologies. Unfortunately, the sedative wore off and Dragon Man woke up, tore loose of his restraints, and left.

The next issue started with Reed and Sue saving Triton after Dragon Man shattered his water tank. Johnny and Ben pursued Dragon Man. In an amazing coincidence (that would be repeated two months later), they caught up with Dragon Man right outside Alicia's window (Alicia was the Thing's girlfriend). Johnny eventually subdued Dragon Man and the army took him to a deserted island off-panel.

The Seeker escorted Reed and Sue out and returned to the Great Refuge, but not before Reed planted a homing device.

The FF chartered a jetliner and followed. Johnny was obsessed with Crystal, the red haired Inhuman.

In the meantime, Lockjaw trasported the Inhumans royal family back to the Great Refuge and we found out a little more about the politics. Black Bolt was the rightful ruler but lost his voice in an accident caused by his brother Maximus. Maximus was the current ruler and dreamed of killing humanity so that the Inhumans would be the only race on the planet.

Things got a little confused. Maximus wanted to marry Medusa. She, in turn, was in love with Black Bolt which is why she left the Great Refuge in the first place. There was an implication that Gorgon had been sent by Maximus to retreive her which does not explain why he took her to Black Bolt, instead. Possiblt Stan gave Gorgon a line that he meant to give the Seeker.

Regardless, Black Bolt reclaimed his crown with Medusa speaking for him. Maximus went along with this since he intended to activate his human-killing device and reclaim the crown.

The FF finally made it to the Great Refuge as maximus activated his device.

Cut to next issue - the device was a dud. Humans and Inhumans are genetically identical. The only difference is their artificially-induced powers. This knowledge drove Maximus mad and used his machice to create a negative zone cutting it off from the rest of the world. The FF escaped with the help pf Sue's force field but the Inhumans, including Johnny's new girlfriend, Crystal, were trapped.

And that was just the first half of the issue.

These issue were interesting for several reasons. It introduced the Inhumans who continue to be supporting characters in the Marvel Universe. At four and a half issues, this was the longest continued story that Lee and Kirby did. It also marked the start of Joe Sinnott as the FF's regular inker. He gave Kirby's art an updated look.

This story arc marked the beginning of Reed and Sue's marriage, one of very few super hero marriages in the 1960s. Implied, Johnny Storm graduated from high school and moved into the Baxter Building along with Sue (they previously lived in the house she inherited from her parents). Johnny and Crystal's infatuation marked Johnny's transition to adulthood. Their romance lasted through the Lee/Kirby years.

The only problem was what to do for an encore? With issue 50 coming up fast, Stan and Jack had something special planned.