The Fantastic Four Explain What Superheroes Do For Cash
Journey Into Marvel – Part 58
Extremites, if you’re like me, and I assume you are because you follow this blog — and if you don’t follow it you should — you have found yourself sitting reading a comic wondering two things: one, ‘where do these superheroes find all this spandex’ and two, ‘how do these folks afford all of this?’ It must be expensive to keep up a multitude of gadgets. Insurance payments on crazy building collapsing battles must be through the roof.
Some characters are billionaires. Batman has endless cash to fund the latest mobile or new grapple hooks. Tony Stark is the heir to a massive military supply shop.
What about the ‘average joes?’
In today’s Journey Into Marvel these questions are dealt with; albeit not answered.
The original intention behind the Fantastic Four was to create a group of superheroes who exist in realism. Although the degree of realism in the comic can be debated until the Kree comes home, the central conflict of each early story is how the Four deal with the pressures of reality in maintaining their fantastic exploits. Issue #9’s theme is cash flow.
Reed has made some poor investments and lost all of the finances. The Fantastic Four are bankrupt. Collectors are clamouring at the door. Ben Grimm can’t even get a taxi to visit Alicia — not that he ever could get a taxi. Things are dire and it looks like the Four are forever ended.
Enter everyone’s favourite entitled kajilionaire: Namor, the Submariner.
Submariner has invested all of his money, which the Atlanteans have been hoarding for centuries — pillaged from buried pirate treasure and taken from sunken ships— and invested it in a Hollywood film studio. This is where Silver Age sensationalism takes over a hilarious premise and rides the story into tacky absurdity. Namor invites the Four to film a movie, and after countless cameos of famous Hollywood personalities — who all seem to be hanging out, you know, just posing and being famous — the Fantastic Four agree to do the film because they need the cash.
The Four are fame whores… and we love them for it.
Namor uses the pretext of filming to fool all the male members of the Four into life threatening situations. Mr. Fantastic goes up against the Cyclops from Homer’s Odyssey. It seems he’s been hiding out on some island in the unexplored Mediterranean. (Sidebar: I was under the impression that this particular sea is the most the explored water mass on the planet considering sea faring cultures have existed on its shores for around 6000 years.) Torch is abandoned in an African jungle where he is captured by a tribe that is fire proof. Thing goes up against Submariner in a titanic struggle at Muscle Beach for the “Cameras;’ all though in no frame here is any camera ever present. This complex ruse is Namor’s rapey way of courting Sue Storm who has a Stockholm syndromesque fascination with the sea monarch. All of these challenges are defeated and everything is tied up in a bow before the last page. The Fantastic Four get their cheque. The movie opens to great acclaim although I’m pretty sure Namor never shot one minute of footage.
This isn’t a great story. It makes little sense.
This first part of the issue is hilarious.
How often do you see superhero’s struggling to pay rent? There’s this wonderful moment where the Four hitchhike to LA.
However, the Namor plot is worthless. Namor, who happens to be a favourite character of mine, isn’t his witty self in this one. He is wooden.
I wish more could have been made of “poor superheroes.” The situation is far too easy for the Four to fix. Stan really is no great writer so I applaud the idea because as we all know when Stan’s writing is bad it is extraordinarily bad. One good idea needs to be applauded when it happens.
Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds
Story I Read: “The End of the Fantastic Four” (Fantastic Four #9 Dec. 1962)
Rating: 2 out of 5
Pros: Great concept. Namor is always a plus in my books. Thing vs. Namor is a great moment.
Cons: Empty film plot that makes very little sense. The celebrity cameos are as empty as the film concept. The cyclops? Come on.
Next Review: “Prisoner of the Reds!” (Journey Into Mystery #87 Dec. 1962)
Last Review: “Prisoner of the 5th Dimension!” (Strange Tales #10 Dec. 1962)
Posted on December 12, 2014, in Comics, Marvel, Namor: The Submariner, The Fantastic Four and tagged Art, Comics, Fantastic Four, Human Torch, Jack Kirby, Marvel, Marvel Comics, Marvel Universe, Namor, Stan Lee, Submariner. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.