BLOGROLL

Namor, the Sub-Mariner

BLOGROLL
January 19, 2019

BIO

In 1920, an expedition ship, The Oracle, was exploring in the South Pole. The captain, Leonard McKenzie, ordered charges detonated in the ice floe their base was on to check for scientific evidence of anything useful. Unbeknownst to Captain McKenzie, the ancient undersea city of Atlantis was directly beneath them, and the charges they were setting off were causing destruction to it and its citizens.

The elders of Atlantis ordered an army assembled, and had Emperor Thakkor’s daughter, Fen, who closely resembled a surface white woman, to go above and be a spy for them.

Fen went above and snuck into the hold of the ship where she allowed herself to be ‘discovered’, hunched up and pretending to shiver from cold. She was brought to the captain who took pity on her and wrapped her in warm clothes, which actually nearly made her too hot. She couldn’t understand the English language, nor could she stomach the food they tried to feed her, but she came to realize that Captain McKenzie was a good and decent man. As she learned his language better, the two of them became friends, and then fell in love.  They were soon married.

But she was continuously delivering secret reports to her people. She told them that the surface dwellers were too powerful. Another bombardment from above wiped out all but a few of the Atlanteans.

When Fen hadn’t returned for a time, Atlanteans attacked the ship and rescued her, supposedly killing McKenzie in the process.

Shortly after, Fen gave birth to a son, Namor – a half white/half Atlantean mutant. Unlike the Atlanteans, Namor had white skin and could live out of water for much longer periods of time. He also had wings on his ankles and could fly. He possessed incredible strength and quickly grew to hate the surface dwellers for what he perceived as their injustices against his people.

At first, in his twenties, he tried to destroy mankind but was frequently thwarted by the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond. He did become friends with a surface woman, Betty Dean, a New York City police officer. And when World War II arrived, he joined the fight against the Axis powers as a member of the All-Winners Squad and The Invaders alongside Captain America, Bucky, The Human Torch and Toro.

At some point during that time, he became injured and disappeared.

In the sixties, he found his way to the Bowery slums of New York City and was living in a flophouse with amnesia. He was soon unwittingly found by the Silver Age Human Torch, Johnny Storm, who recognized his likeness from an old Golden Age comic book. He carried the ragged bum to the harbor and dropped him into the ocean, hoping to revive his memory.

The Sub-Mariner’s memory did return, but when he found his kingdom in ruins, the result of underwater nuclear testing, Namor once more blamed the surface dwellers. He returned to tell The Human Torch that he had renewed his old crusade of vengeance against humankind.

The Torch called the rest of the Fantastic Four and they battled with Namor. Defeated, Namor vowed to return. And he did, again and again.

He developed deep feelings for Sue Storm, aka The Invisible Girl, and she reciprocated to a degree. That became the basis for many of the repeated battles between Namor and the Fantastic Four through the years.

Namor eventually found his people. He attacked New York once again with his renewed host but was once more turned back by the Fantastic Four.

Sometimes hero, sometimes villain – Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner holds an honored place amongst the ranks of the Marvel Universe.

BACKGROUND HISTORY

In 1939, Martin Goodman was publisher of Timely Comics. He had a line of men’s magazines but he had also begun printing comic books.

National Comics had released the first superhero comic book, Superman. He was soon followed by Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s Batman. Now other publishers were looking to jump onto that band wagon.

That same year, Lloyd Jaquette started Funnies Incorporated. One the people he hired was Bill Everette. Everette created a hero based in part on Jack London’s Maritime Adventure Tales, Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and GM Bologna’s Mercury named Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

He was first presented in Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly, a free comic meant to be given to movie-going children in hopes of bringing them back the following week in order to continue the comic book tales. Unfortunately, before even one issue could be released, Motion Pictures Funnies went out of business.

But the sales agent for the company, Frank Torpy, was friends with Martin Goodman. He showed Goodman copies of other publishers’ superhero comics. He then made a deal for Goodman to publish the Sub-Mariner along with Carl Burgos’s Human Torch in a new anthology comic titled Marvel Comics.

Throughout the 30s and 40s, Namor had numerous adventures, including as part of a team of World War II heroes called The All-Winners Squad (retroactively named The Invaders) which also featured Captain America and The Human Torch.

Namor would eventually disappear as superhero comics lost their appeal after the war and throughout the 50s. In 1962, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought the character back as a sort of anti-hero in the Fantastic Four #4.

From here, Namor would pop up occasionally in the pages of the Fantastic Four, usually trying to appeal to Sue Storm to leave the team and her fiance/husband, Reed Richards, as well as starring in his own underwater adventures in the pages of Tales to Astonish, and later in his own series.

The Coming of the Sub-Mariner!

BLOGROLL
January 19, 2019

May 1962

The Fantastic Four #4, vol. 1

EIC: Stan Lee

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

Writers: Stan Lee

Pencilers: Jack Kirby

Inkers: Sol Brodsky

Colourist: Stan Goldberg

Letterers: Artie Simek

Editors: Stan Lee

Cover Date: May 1962

Release Date: February 1962

Pages: 23

Cover Price: $0.12

First (Silver Age) Appearance of:

SYNOPSIS:

Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and Sue Storm are gathered in a secret hideout planning to search for Sue’s brother, Johnny Storm – The Human Torch, who left the team after a fight with Ben, aka The Thing.  Reed blames The Thing  for causing Johnny to run off, after The Thing got mad for thinking that Johnny was getting all the credit for defeating the Miracle Man.

They speed off in their flying Fantasti-car together. But soon they decide their search might go more quickly if they split up, so they separate the sections of the Fantasti-car, and each goes off in a different direction.

As they search for Johnny, he is actually at a local garage working on engines with his friends. But the Thing remembers Johnny used to spend time at the garage and soon, spots him through the window. The Thing threatens to show Johnny what happens to ‘deserters’. He picks up a car and throws it through the wall of the garage.

But before he can grab the Torch, Ben reverts back to his human form. While Ben is joyously distracted, Johnny catches fire and flies off. Almost immediately, Ben turns back to his rock-skinned form and falls to his knees in despair over once more being a Thing..

Meanwhile, Johnny has found his way to The Bowery. He gets a bed in a flop house, and relaxes with an old Sub-Mariner comic book. One of the bums notices what Johnny is reading and points to a bedraggled man sitting alone at a table. He tells Johnny that the “stumblebum” is as strong as the Sub-Mariner. When he and some of the other tenants try to force the haggardly-looking man to demonstrate his strength, he throws them away from him as if they were fleas, telling them to leave him alone.

The man moans that he can’t remember who he is. When the other men regroup and try a second assault, this time with sticks, Johnny halts them by lighting his hand on fire. He says he will shave the man to reveal his face. Once he has burned away the man’s facial hair and much of his long, tangled mane, he is shocked to discover that he is in fact the Sub-Mariner.

Johnny flies the man to the harbor and drops him onto the ocean, reasoning that if the man is really who he appears to be, the sea water will restore his memory. And true to his theory, once the man is submerged beneath the waves, his memory does return – he IS the Sub-Mariner. He remembers his people and his kingdom, and races off undersea to find them once more.

But when he arrives at his destination, his kingdom is in ruins. Noticing a radioactive glow to the ruins, he surmises that it was atomic testing by humans that destroyed the city of Atlantis. He reemerges from the water in front of Johnny, vowing revenge on the entire human race.

Johnny sends a flare signal into the air that is spotted by the rest of the Fantastic Four. They race to him in the Fantasti-car. Johnny tells them of the recent events involving the Sub-Mariner and his threats against humanity.

Meanwhile, the Sub-Mariner dives to the depths to awaken the largest living being in the world – Giganto. He finds the trumpet-horn his ancestors buried nearby and blows it. The leviathan opens its enormous eyes and rises, like a blue whale with powerful arms and legs. The Sub-Mariner leads it with the horn.

The monster surfaces and heads toward New York. Word spreads quickly from distant ships and the military quickly sets up weapons along the shore.

As Giganto approaches land, artillery shells burst harmlessly on its hide. The Torch flies out to meet it, and Giganto sprays water on him from its spout, dousing the Torch’s flame. But before he can fall to his doom, Mr. Fantastic flies past in the Fantasti-car, snakes out a rubbery arm and snags Johnny.

Giganto crashes onto the shore, crushing buildings in its path, and falls back to sleep, spent from its effort to get to land.

The military assists in strapping a nuclear bomb onto The Thing’s back. The Thing makes his way over the rubble from the destroyed buildings and into the open maw of the monstrous beast.

As he makes his way deeper into the body of Giganto, The Thing passes the wrecked remains of entire ocean vessels in the stomach of the beast. He also encounters smaller, but still vicious, sea creatures that have been swallowed alive by the monster. As he battles with them, the bomb ticks down to detonation. Racing to get back to the oral cavity before the bomb explodes, The Thing is not fast enough.

The bomb goes off, hurling the body of The Thing out of Giganto’s mouth. Reed and Johnny find Ben and announce that he was successful – Giganto is dead.

But the Sub-Mariner dismisses the death of his pet, pronouncing that he has many more creatures that he can unleash on the surface world. But before he can blow the horn, it is mysteriously removed from his hands and carried away from him.

Racing quickly, he grasps at the horn and realizes he has captured an invisible human. Realizing she can’t escape the Sub-Mariner’s grip, Sue reappears. The Sub-Mariner confesses she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. He tells her that if she will marry him, that he will abandon his quest for vengeance against the rest of humanity.

But before she can answer, the rest of the Fantastic Four surround Namor and Sue. Reed tells Namor he will never menace mankind again. Angered, Namor tells them that now he will have Sue and his revenge.

Fearing that he might actually have the power to do it, Sue reluctantly agrees to Namor’s proposal. Namor reacts with disbelief, saying she acts as if she is sacrificing herself, telling her that she should feel honored at the prospect of marrying him.

Having heard enough of Namor’s arrogance and threats, Reed, Ben and Johnny move in to grab him. But Namor hurls them away from him in a burst of strength.

Johnny’s body bursts into flame and he flies around Namor, creating a vortex that lifts and carries Namor and Giganto out to sea where it dumps them unceremoniously.

Underwater, Namor swears he will return. As if he can hear what Namor has said, Reed vows that f he should ever return, Namor will find the Fantastic Four ready and waiting for him.

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The Menace of the Miracle Man

BLOGROLL
January 12, 2019

March 1962

The Fantastic Four #3 (vol. 1)

“The Menace of the Miracle Man!”

EIC: Stan Lee

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

Writers: Stan Lee

Pencilers: Jack Kirby

Inkers: Sol Brodsky

Letterers: Artie Simek

Editors: Stan Lee

Cover Date: March 1962

Release Date: December 1961

Pages: 23

Cover Price: $0.12

SYNOPSIS:

A stage magician called the Miracle Man recognizes the members of The Fantastic Four in his audience and calls them out by name. He then mocks their powers saying his are much greater.

The Miracle Man invites The Thing onto the stage for a contest of strength. He has two short sections of an enormous tree and asks The Thing to try and shatter one of them, which he does in three devastating blows. But the Miracle Man merely uses one finger and slices cleanly through the center of the other log.

The Thing loses his temper and slugs the Miracle Man in the chin…with no effect at all. The other members of The Fantastic Four get Ben under control and fly off in their new air conveyance, the Fantasticar. Reed muses that the world is fortunate that The Miracle man isn’t a criminal. But the Miracle Man actually is planning a criminal act. He plans to bring the statue of a giant alien monster outside a theater to life.

At the Baxter Building, as Johnny prepares to watch the live red-carpet premiere of the new giant alien movie on tv, Sue models her newly designed team costume for Reed. She has made one for each team member. Johnny spots The Miracle Man in the crowd at the televised premiere.

Suddenly, the giant statue of the alien comes to life. It begins to terrorize and destroy, but when the police prepare to shoot it with a bazooka, it vanishes instantly. The police then get a note from the Miracle Man telling them he is declaring war on the human race and intends to conquer the Earth. The police commissioner authorizes The Fantastic Four to stop The Miracle Man.

The team flies off in the Fantasticar, which separates into four individual craft so that each member of the Fantastic Four can go a different way and split up their efforts to find the Miracle Man.

A mile away, the giant alien statue monster has reappeared, smashing into a jewelry store. Mr. Fantastic arrives and stretches his rubbery body back and forth between two buildings, forming a barrier to capture the monster. But the Miracle Man hurls a brick at him and before Mr. Fantastic can recover, The Miracle Man and his monster have slipped away.

Elsewhere, the monster reappears once more, picking up a new atomic battle tank as if it was a toy. As armed soldiers shoot at it with no effect, the Human Torch shows up and begins flying fiery circles around the beast.

The monster prepares to grab Johnny out of the air when Ben and Sue arrive, Ben ripping his costume off as he complains how confining it is. The monster grabs Johnny in one enormous hand. Johnny turns up the heat of his flames and burns the statue to ashes. But the Miracle Man shoots a geyser of fire-retardant foam at the Torch, dousing his flame and causing him to fall to the ground.

The Thing approaches the Miracle Man, who makes a gesture and causes the ground to crumble under the Thing’s feet. Sue radios The Thing, telling him to order the troops back. She turns invisible and stows away on the truck the Miracle Man is using to abscond with the atomic tank.

As the other three members of the Fantastic Four plan how to find the Miracle Man and rescue Sue, The Miracle Man drives the tank to an auto junkyard and uses a crane to bury it under the hulks of old cars, effectively hiding it. Suddenly, the junkyard guard dog begins barking at something the Miracle Man can’t see. He quickly surmises that it must be the Invisible Girl. He tells her that if she doesn’t show herself immediately, he will sic the dog on her. Sue appears and the Miracle Man hypnotizes her, telling her to signal for the rest of the team to come to the junkyard, which she does.

Red and Ben arrive in a small helicopter. The Miracle Man holds a giant skeleton key which turns into a machine gun as if by magic. He fires the gun at Reed, who turns his body into a rubber ball and bounces about, making a hard target for the Miracle Man. The Thing leaps and places his body between Mr. Fantastic and the Miracle Man, his rocky hide absorbing the impact of the last few bullets before the Miracle Man is out of ammunition.

But the Miracle Man grabs Sue and races off in the atomic tank. Johnny arrives and tells Reed he saw the Miracle Man sabotage the helicopter. The three male members of the Fantastic Four leap into an antique racing car and speed of after the tank.

The Miracle Man fires a gun at them, destroying the front tire of the old car. Reed forms his body into a wheel to replace the one they lost, and they continue to give chase. The Torch flies ahead of the tank and flares his body so brightly that the Miracle Man is temporarily blinded.

Reed forces the Miracle Man to release Sue from her trance, which he does. The he tells the others that the only power the Miracle Man had was the power of hypnosis. That was how he performed all of his impossible feats. He explains that since Johnny blinded the Miracle Man for the moment, he can’t use his powers of hypnosis.

Ben grows enraged at what he perceives as Reed giving Johnny all the credit for defeating the Miracle Man. The four begin to quarrel which ends with The Human Torch telling the others that he is finished with the Fantastic Four. He flies off, leaving Reed to wonder what humanity would do if the Torch were to ever turn against them.

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The Man in the Ant Hill

BLOGROLL
January 9, 2019

January 1962

Tales to Astonish #27 (vol. 1)

“The Man in the Ant Hill!”

EIC: Stan Lee

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby

Writers: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber

Pencilers: Jack Kirby

Inkers: Dick Ayers

Letterers: Jon D’Agostino

Editors: Stan Lee

Cover Date: January 1962

Release Date: September 1961

Pages: 7

Cover Price: $0.10

First Appearance of:

  • Henry “Hank” Pym

Origin of:

  • Henry Pym’s shrinking serum

SYNOPSIS:

Henry Pym is a scientist whose colleagues have always ridiculed him because his ideas seem too far-fetched to them. But he has created a shrinking serum and a growth serum which can reduce the size of objects and return them to normal once more.  

He imagines all of the ways this new technology could benefit mankind – reducing the cost of shipping, even transporting military platoons more efficiently. In order for this last to work, Pym has to test the serums on himself. But, the results prove to work too quickly…and too powerfully.

Before he realizes what has happened, Pym has shrunken to a size smaller than an ant. He is quickly spotted and pursued by an army of ants.

Before they can catch him, however, he falls down a shaft in one of their anthills. He lands in honey where he becomes stuck. But he sees one lone ant who considers him for a moment, and then for some unknown reason, helps Pym out of his predicament.

Almost at once though, he finds himself surrounded by the other ants which were chasing him earlier. With no escape in sight, Pym suddenly spies a wooden match sticking out of the ground, obviously some treasure brought down by the ants.

He picks up a rock and flings it at the head of the matchstick, striking it, causing it to burst into flame. Distracted by the conflagration, the ants allow Pym to slip past them, and he climbs out of the anthill. Outside, he spies the test tube containing the growth serum balanced precariously on a window ledge high above, too high for him to hope to reach. And the ants are pursuing him once more.

But when all hope seems lost, the lone ant that saved Pym before approaches him. Pym climbs on its back and motions up to the window ledge…and the ant begins crawling up the wall, carrying Pym to salvation.

Pym bathes himself in the growth serum and almost immediately begins to grow back to his normal size.

The first thing Pym does when he is back to normal is pour the serums down the drain, realizing how dangerous their use could be. He tells his fellow scientists that he has given up on his wild scientific pursuits and will furthermore stick to more practical experiments. But the most important thing Pym took away from his incredible adventure was a new respect for the tiny ants who live below, one who had saved his life, and he vowed he would never step on one ever again.

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Skrulls From Outer Space!

BLOGROLL
January 9, 2019

January 1962

The Fantastic Four #2 (vol. 1)

“The Fantastic Four Meet the Skrulls from Outer Space!”

EIC: Stan Lee

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

Writers: Stan Lee

Pencilers: Jack Kirby

Inkers: George Klein, Sol Brodsky

Colourists: Stan Goldberg

Letterers: John Duffy

Editors: Stan Lee

Cover Date: January 1962

Release Date: September 1961

Pages: 24

Cover Price: $0.10

SYNOPSIS:

The Thing destroys an oil rig at sea.

The Invisible Woman steals a valuable jewel.

The Human Torch shows up at the unveiling of a new monument in the Mid-West and melts it to slag before flying off.

In New York City, a snakelike arm stretches into a power plant and shuts off the power to the entire city. It appears as if the Fantastic Four have become criminals.

But soon it is revealed that the crimes were actually committed by a group of shape-shifting aliens known as the Skrull, who are trying to frame the Fantastic Four to get them out of the way as they see them as the only true power that could stop a full-scale invasion of Earth by their race.

Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four, off on a hunting trip, hear the news of their supposed misdeeds on the radio, ant that the authorities are hunting them.

But while they make plans to clear their names, soldiers surround their cabin.

No sooner are they in custody, however, than the four heroes start looking for a means of escape. Sue turns invisible and gets free.  

The Human Torch melts through his cell wall whereas The Thing simply crashes through his. Mr. Fantastic finds a unique way of escaping, forcing his pliable rubber body through a vacant rivet hole in the steel cell wall.


Before the authorities can stop them, the four escape in a commandeered helicopter. Later, Reed dreams up a plan to fool the aliens into taking the Torch back to their hideout.

Once he’s there, Johnny signals his teammates with a flare gun and soon the other three members of the Fantastic Four arrive and together they subdue the Skrulls. Reed thinks up a plan to turn the tables on the Skrulls and their sinister plan for invading Earth.

The Fantastic Four, posing as the Skrull spies, take the Skrulls space craft and fly to the mothership. There, they show the Skrull leader pictures of horrible monsters, powerful weapons, and giant insects, all taken from science fiction movies and magazines.

The alien leader insists that they must flee for their lives, but Reed tells him that he and his ‘fellow Skrull spies’ will stay behind and sacrifice themselves to remove all evidence of Skrull presence on Earth to protect the Skrull empire. The leader commends them for bravery and the mothership flees the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Fantastic Four fly back to Earth, where they are still wanted fugitives, and are immediately picked up by the police. Reed tells them about the three Skrull they have held prisoner, so the police speed to the apartment hideout of the aliens. When the police open the door, they are met with horror. The Skrulls have shape-shifted into a giant snake and a metal cactus-like being.

The Fantastic Four leap into action and defeat them. The third Skrull changes into a buzzard, and flies out the window, trying to escape, but Reed stretches his arms and catches it. Now that the police believe the Fantastic Four, the heroes only have one problem – what to do with the aliens?

Shortly, Reed comes up with a brilliant plan.

He has the Skrulls shape-shift into cows and hypnotizes them into believing that they are cows. The Fantastic Four leave the transformed Skrulls in a pasture to live out the rest of their lives blissfully unaware of anything that has happened.

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1962

BLOGROLL
January 9, 2019

January

The Fantastic Four #2 (vol. 1)

Tales to Astonish #27 (vol. 1)

March

The Fantastic Four #3 (vol. 1)

May

The Fantastic Four #4 (vol. 1)

The Incredible Hulk #1 (vol. 1)

July

The Fantastic Four #5 (vol. 1)

The Incredible Hulk #2 (vol. 1)

August

Amazing Fantasy #15 (vol.1)

Journey into Mystery #83 (vol. 1)

September

Fantastic Four #6 (vol. 1)

The Incredible Hulk #3 (vol. 1)

Journey into Mystery #84 (vol. 1)

Tales to Astonish #35 (vol. 1)

October

Journey into Mystery #85 (vol. 1)

The Invisible Girl

BLOGROLL
January 5, 2019

BIO

Susan Storm was born and raised on Long Island, New York, with her parents and younger brother, Johnny. When their mother died, their father, a doctor, couldn’t save her. He sank into depression, alcoholism, and gambling. When he unintentionally killed a loan-shark after gambling away the family money and went to prison, Sue and Johnny went to live with their aunt Marygay at her boarding house.

There, Sue met Dr. Reed Richards, a science student at ESU working on his third doctorate, with whom she would fall in love and eventually become engaged. She supported his every scientific dream, including his biggest one – to build a starship to fly to the furthest reaches of space.

In California, Reed finally built the craft, and, adding his best friend Ben Grimm as pilot, the two along with Sue and Johnny, commandeered the ship, for the government had threatened to shut down funding along with the program itself. They flew into space but were besieged by cosmic radiation, forcing them to crash back on Earth.

Emerging from their wrecked ship, they discovered that they had gained powerful new abilities from the rays. Sue was the first to discover hers, slowly fading from view of the others. Once past the excitement and terror of this discovery, they all agreed to call themselves The Fantastic Four and to use their new powers to help mankind.

They made their headquarters in the Baxter Building in Manhattan, although Sue and Johnny would continue to live in their family house in Glenville, episodes that were depicted in the anthology title Strange Tales. Reed and Sue eventually got married.

Over the years, Sue, once considered the weak link of the group, continued to develop and find new uses and ways to manipulate her power until she actually became the strongest and most dangerous member of the Four.

At first, only being able to turn herself invisible and cast up invisible force walls or surround someone with invisible force bubbles, she eventually learned she could do many other things. She could turn other things invisible, such as the optic nerves of an enemy, rendering them blind. She could also project a force bubble into someone’s lungs, expanding it until they burst or merely holding it until they passed out, or even died. She could project invisible platforms in mid-air for herself or others to walk across empty space, as well as many more things.

While Reed was the cold, calculating head of the group, making the rational decisions over their direction and agenda, Sue was the matronly heart and conscience of the Fantastic Four, keeping them grounded even as they embarked on fantastic missions to other worlds.

The Human Torch

BLOGROLL
January 5, 2019

BIO

Johnny Storm was born in Glenville, New York, a Long Island suburb. When his mother died in a car accident and his father went to prison, Johnny was raised by his sister, Susan.

When he was still just 16, he nonetheless joined his sister, her fiancé, Dr. Reed Richards, and pilot Ben Grimm on a covert mission into space on a rocket that Reed himself had designed and built. Once in space, the crew was besieged by a barrage of deadly cosmic rays which forced them to return to Earth and crash land.

Escaping the wreckage of the ship, they discovered that they had each acquired strange new powers. Johnny himself could ignite his body on fire at will and fly into the air. He could also project fire from his hands in various forms.

The team decided to call itself The Fantastic Four, and Johnny, in homage to the 40s Timely Comics character, called himself the Human Torch.

Johnny was a 60s version of Justin Bieber. He reveled in his newfound celebrity and frequently acted like a bit of a jerk. He constantly played pranks on Ben Grimm, who had transformed into the rock-hided monster who called himself The Thing. He was terribly immature and only cared about cars and girls, each of which he seemed to have his choice of.

Although the Fantastic Four headquartered in a skyscraper called the Baxter Building in Manhattan, Johnny and Sue still lived in their little house in Glenville and Johnny continued to attend Glenville High School. These stories were depicted in his solo adventures presented in issues of the anthology comic Strange Tales.

He would have many run-ins with Spider-Man as they had a lot in common, both being teenagers. Spider-Man seemed to be the one person who could outclass Johnny, get under his skin and put him in his place.

Johnny’s long list of lady loves began with Dorrie Evans, a classmate from Glenville. Later, when he attended university at Metro College, he met Wyatt Wingfoot, a Keewazi Indian from Oklahoma, and they became fast friends.

He met and fell in love with Crystal, sister in law to the King of the Inhumans, Black Bolt. When that ended, he found love with Frankie Raye.

Johnny and Ben continued to prank each other, sometimes mean-spiritedly on Johnny’s part, but over time, they became like brothers. Johnny’s relationship with Spider-Man as well as his alter ego, Peter Parker, changed as well as the respect between them grew over time and many battles alongside, and even against, one another.

Probably the biggest change in Johnny over the course of his comic book existence is his growth from callow youth to responsible man.

The Thing

BLOGROLL
January 5, 2019

BIO

Benjamin Jacob Grimm was born on Yancy Street on the Lower East Side of New York City to Jewish parents. He lived a hard-knock childhood which toughened him into a streetwise survivor. He even joined, and eventually led, a street crew named The Yancy Street Gang. When his parents died, Ben went to live with his Uncle Jake and his wife, Ben’s Aunt Petunia, whom he referenced frequently throughout the comics.

In high school, he was a star football player which earned him a scholarship to Empire State University. There he met two people who would figure prominently in his life – two genius-level fellow students, one of whom would become his best friend for life, Reed Richards, and the other who would become one of his fiercest enemies, Victor von Doom.

Ben and Reed hit it off immediately. Reed told Ben of his plans to build a rocket ship to explore deep space. Instead of poking fun at his nerdy roommate, Ben instead told him he would pilot the ship if Reed ever built it.

Ben’s adult life involved serving in the US Marine Corps as a test pilot before joining NASA as an astronaut in early failed attempts to reach the moon.

Years later, Reed, a super-genius who had mastered all areas of science and engineering, had built his ship. He found Ben Grimm, with whom he had lost touch, and asked if he was still interested in piloting the ship for him. He informed Ben that NASA had taken control of the parameters for the flight, and that they needed to secretly commandeer the ship if they were to fulfill their mission of space flight before the communists could do the same. Reed’s fiancé, Susan Storm, who had provided some of the funding for building the ship, and her younger brother, Johnny, would be along for the flight. Ben adamantly refused, not because of the unauthorized nature of the mission, but because he knew that Reed hadn’t had enough time to fully study the mysterious cosmic radiation which existed in outer space, nor to adequately prepare the ship for protection of the crew should they encounter the deadly rays.

But, ultimately Sue convinced him of the importance to the country of beating Russia and China into space, and he agreed to fly the ship. Once in space however, their fears became real and they were blasted by the cosmic rays. Forced to crash-land the ship in a remote area, one by one, the four friends revealed startling new powers. Of them all, Ben’s was the most shocking as his body grew entirely beyond normal size and proportion, and he became a walking slab of orange rock. He was incredibly powerful, demonstrating this by ripping a tree up by its roots.

He was also found to be the only member of the group who could not ‘turn off’ his powers. Unlike the others, who could appear as normal to anyone they may meet, Ben was perpetually stuck in his mutated state, which threw him into a state of anger and depression.

He self-mockingly called himself The Thing when the quartet gave themselves their superhero code names. The group called themselves The Fantastic Four and agreed they must use their powers to help better the planet.

As The Thing, Grimm became one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe, able to lift one-hundred tons. A fierce brawler with considerable boxing skills, his oft-heard battle cry was, “It’s clobberin’ time!”

Always considering himself a hideous monster, Ben eventually found love with a beautiful, blind sculptor named Alicia Masters.

Over the years, Reed tried tirelessly to find a cure for Ben’s permanent state. Periodically, Ben would revert to his human form, but these episodes were always temporary and Ben’s depression over his seemingly incurable condition grew deeper. To overcompensate for his self-pity, Ben used humor to hide his pain.

As his appearance modified over time due to fine-tuning his look by Kirby, Ben came to have a more cartoonish look with overexaggerated facial expressions and four digits on each hand and foot like Mickey Mouse or any number of other funny animal characters. This only made The Thing more loveable and endearing to the readers, who loved the contrast of the evolved look on such a cantankerous character. This was accentuated further by Ben referring to himself as ‘the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing’ and ‘Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew’.

Ben was the godfather to Reed and Sue’s son, Franklin. Reed was his oldest friend, but as time passed, and with Reed and Sue getting married, Ben and Johnny became better friends, actually more like brothers. Their relationship was often presented with them playing practical jokes on one another and fighting just like brothers do.

While frequently presented as having a sad existence, Ben never completely succumbs to his depression and was always a fierce and loyal friend to those he cared about, showing that, however huge his body was, his heart was even bigger.

BACKGROUND HISTORY

Ben Grimm/The Thing was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961 for the comic book The Fantastic Four. His Jewish heritage, street gang background and constant cigar-chomping made it clear that he was Kirby’s literary alter ego.

As one of Lee’s counterpoints to the established tropes of comics, Ben was his alternative to the super strong hero with the lantern jaw, rugged good looks, dramatically wavy hair and well-defined musculature. Also unlike these familiar archetypes, Ben doesn’t wear a costume. In fact, he usually wears nothing more than a pair of blue shorts. He doesn’t even wear shoes!

Lee also imbued The Thing with a level of pathos not seen before in a four-color comic character before. This added a level of depth that attracted a more mature brand of reader. Burdening Ben with such real-world problems only made him seem more realistic even as his enormous rocky form defied reality altogether.

All of the heroes created in the initial 60s renaissance of the Marvel Age were unique archetypes to various degrees, but Ben Grimm was one of the most original.