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Getting In Touch With “The Doomside” of Mr. Fantastic

Journey Into Marvel – Part 66

Stan and Jack cower at the face of Dr. Doom.

Stan and Jack cower at the face of Dr. Doom.

Extremites, since his first appearance, where he was upstaged by pirates, Doom has never felt like a decent threat to the Fantastic Four. Although in later years he became that way, Doom began as just another comic villain. However, it’s clear that Dr. Doom and Reed Richards have a special conflict that transcends  personality clash. They personify the battle between magic and science. Read the rest of this entry

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Examining The Human Torch’s Paste Pot Pete

Journey Into Marvel – Part 65

Look at this guy...Gimmick.. gimmick, gimmick.

Look at this guy…Gimmick.. gimmick, gimmick.

Extremites, the costumed villain is an absurd idea. A criminal coordinates a theme and then commits said theme into a plan of criminality. Although megalomaniac serial killers like San Francisco’s Zodiac or New York’s Son of Sam do resemble this in their crimes, most crime is faceless and brutal. Comic books embellish criminal acts and put an absurd character behind them. Strange Tales #104 has one of Silver Age Marvel’s most absurd villains at the centre of its story.

Modern Marvel readers will know the name Trapster. He’s a character that has featured in some story in each of the modern flagship line, with the exception of X-Men. In 1963, he went by the name Paste Pot Pete. Pete got his name from the fact that instead of using a fire arm he opts for a hose the shoots paste. This guy threatens people with a gigantic glue dispenser. Read the rest of this entry

Inside the Hierarchy of the Avengers

Journey Into Marvel

The Story I read: “The Coming of the Avengers” (The Avengers #1 Sept, 1963)

Even the cover seems reverential.

Even the cover seems reverential.

If there are checkpoints in this quest, the premiere of the Avengers would be the first. This is the moment that a loose knit group of ragtag characters became beings that inhabited a whole far reaching world. Sure, there had been crossovers before this, but they always seemed to be special events that were often hastily written exhibitions stemming from fan requests. This issue, however, is the moment that showed Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the other Marvel creatives wanted to construct a vast comic gallery that would be able to compete with the massive and older DC counterpart. Reading this story felt almost like a religious moment; if comic fandom could be considered such.

This story reveals a glimpse into how the Silver Age Marvel world works. On the face of  this issue, it resembles a caper flick, not unlike The Dirty Dozen. A group of rag tag Superheros come together to defeat a common enemy.

Thus enters the Incredible Hulk. 

…Wait a minute. The antagonist is actually Loki. Never mind that, neither Ant-Man, Wasp, or Iron-Man can pose any threat to the trickster god so only Thor confronts him. The rest pursue the supposed villainous Hulk only to find out that he is not such a bad guy. He’s just a circus performing monster who was the victim of an Asgardian plot.

I wasted 20 pages on this?

This is the problem of Hulk and probably the reason for his lack of success in the period; he is too believable as the villain. He is a selfish, violent monster, who is out for his own survival. Not to mention he is a malady to Bruce Banner. Hulk is difficult to spin as a legitimate hero, for he lacks humanity and a moral code, the two prerequisites for a superhero. It is telling that the Disney Marvel film franchise has had such trouble translating the character to film, till Joss Whedon of course figured it out by making Jekyll and Hyde one: “I’m always angry.” – Says Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce.

In the Silver Age, Hulk was not the result of rage as depicted in modern Marvel but is a character that bares more resemblance to Jekyll/Hyde. Perhaps, it was the pages devoted to Thor’s solo adventure that hampered proper development for Big Green.

Thor’s contribution to this story bares more similarity to an issue of Journey Into Mystery then as a team up with the Avengers. The moment he found out that Loki had a plot to capture him he flew away to Asgard to fight. The three others duked it out on Earth. This is not the actions of a team mate. There is no group cohesion in this story and I blame it on haphazard writing. The group comes together out of happenstance which results in a themeless issue. This is not the case with the film, which was vaguely inspired by this plot, because of the creation of the S.H.I.E.L.D. assemblage.

I felt empty at the end of what should have been a fantastic experience.

I also wonder why it was these five characters that were chosen to be a part of the first Avengers crew. It makes sense that Dr. Strange is not included as he has only had two stories devoted to him, by this point, and, frankly, they were very odd. I doubt Stan Lee intended the good Doctor to be a common fixture. The Fantastic Four, though creatively mentioned in the story, have really nothing to do with the creation of the Avengers. This is strange as some time has been spent making the Four (particularly Jonny Storm) the flag ship line. Perhaps, their was a fear that the Four’s egos, the topic of my last review, would over power these less established characters. I for one would have enjoyed a Tony Stark comic lashing of Thing. I know it will come in the future.

Overall, this is a very messy issue with some really great action with Hulk, and some brilliant use of Ant-Man and Wasp, also some wonderful art by Kirby. Yet, there

The Teen Brigade gets bombarded by help.

The Teen Brigade gets bombarded by help.

is an absence of Iron-Man, wasted focus on Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade, and confusion as to the plot. I give this one a 3 out of 5. I flirted with a lower mark but it felt sacrilegious as this issue is so important and a gamble of an undertaking. This makes the endeavour as a whole, respectable.

<— Preceding Review: “A Skrull Walks Among Us!” (Fantastic Four #18, Sept 1963)

—>Upcoming Review: “Marked for Destruction by Dr. Doom” (The Amazing Spider-Man #5 Oct 1963)

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