Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #8

Credits:

“Prisoners of the Puppet Master!”

Cover Date: November 1962

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

The Fantastic Four face the mind control threat of the Puppet Master! If he can mold a puppet that resembles you (or anyone else) from his radioactive clay, then the Puppet Master can make you do his bidding. Do the FF stand a chance against such power? Short answer: Yes.

Is It Good?

Well, Puppet Master is a lame villain, and Sue has been captured yet again (that’s four times in eight issues!), but it’s a fine one-off story. Having Alicia be more interested in the Thing than Ben Grimm is a clever touch.

Sub-Plots:

  • Reed has been working on a way to transform the Thing back into his human form. It works for a few moments, but Ben Grimm eventually transforms back into the Thing.
  • Alicia seems smitten by the Thing. The blind woman even prefers him in his monstrous, rocky form.
  • The Puppet Master appears to have fallen to his death. Was it an accident, or was it because the puppet representing him was dropped?

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of the Puppet Master and Alicia Masters (although her last name is not given here).
  • Puppet Master is unkind to Alicia at every opportunity, going so far as to emphasize that she is his step-daughter, not real daughter.
  • This issue includes a page explaining the Human Torch’s powers.
  • Apparently, according to that feature page, Johnny sprays his bedroom with a chemical vapor every day.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I will never get tired of Mr. Fantastic stretching to his limit, falling short, and not moving closer to reach his goal. He’s like, “If it’s not within my immediate grasp, then it wasn’t meant to be.”
  • I like that Alicia can hear Sue’s heartbeat. I get that it is due to her non-vision senses being more acute than most people’s, but there is a hulking rock person in the room, presumably making loud noises. But no, she hears Sue’s heartbeat, sure.
  • Alicia is essentially a red-headed doppelgänger of Sue? That seems weird, right? Does that ever come up again?
  • I don’t get how some of Puppet Master’s puppets work. The ones that look like people, I get those; he controls the puppets, and the people follow his orders. It’s stuff like his flying horse puppet that confuses me. It’s clearly identified as a puppet, so…sometimes his puppets obey him, instead of what they represent? Why wouldn’t his miniature FF puppets follow his commands as 3-inch super-heroes, instead of controlling the people they represent?
  • This is a good use of Reed’s powers, but come on…one of those bullets had to have hit someone after bouncing off Reed.
  • Puppet Master’s ultimate goal is to…force world leaders to be his attentive waiters?
  • No, wait — his ultimate goal is to be pulled around town in his special wagon, like a toddler after getting ice cream. I love the “Puppet Master Rex” sign and parasol, too.
  • I just don’t get how making a puppet of himself will make the Puppet Master control other people.

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