Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #11

“A Visit With The Fantastic Four!” and “The Impossible Man!”

Cover Date: February 1963

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

In “A Visit With the Fantastic Four,” the team takes a break to open some fan mail, recount the past, and celebrate Sue’s birthday.

In “The Impossible Man,” an alien from the planet Poppup visits Earth on vacation Poppupians have evolved to the point where they can change their bodies into anything they desire with a thought.

By simply doing whatever he wants, the Impossible Man causes chaos wherever he goes! But how can the Fantastic Four defeat a foe that automatically counters any attack?

Is It Good?

This is a fun issue; I usually like “change of pace” one-off stories, and this appears to be the first Marvel story of that type. When last issue included metatextual themes, I thought it was weird, but creative. Here, they use those same ideas to directly address fan questions, and it’s (mostly) charming. The Impossible Man story introduces what is, essentially, a joke villain, and the story follows that lead pretty well.

Sub-Plots:

  • The Yancy Street Gang strikes again!

  • Sue still has not decided between Reed and Namor.

  • The Thing transforms back into a human again. Again, it is only temporary.

  • The solution to the Impossible Man problem is to have everyone, everywhere, ignore him until he goes away. And it works!

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of both the Impossible Man and Willie Lumpkin, the Fantastic Four’s mailman.

  • Reed and Ben were college roommates, which makes it strange that Ben and Doctor Doom (who also went to their college) didn’t know each other back in Fantastic Four #5.

  • Oh, and apparently Reed Richards is the son of a millionaire. Why not?
  • Ben was an ace pilot in World War II, while Reed was behind enemy lines, as a member of the OSS (the precursor to the CIA).

  • Reed and Sue grew up as next-door neighbors.

  • The Human Torch can now use his flames to hypnotize.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • It’s cute that the team takes the time to impress these kids, but don’t try come off a little dickish here? “That’s nice, kid, but look at what I can do!”

  • The idea that Reed and Sue were “kids…living next door to each other” makes their ages confusing. Reed (and Ben) had graduated from university before enlisting in WWII. Reed appears to have been working with the French Resistance, which means he was there prior to the liberation of Paris in August 1944. This comic takes place 19 years later. Even if we assume Reed was young when he graduated (he was smoking a pipe when he met Ben, so maybe he wasn’t) that still puts Reed in his late 30s, if not his early 40s. For Reed to have harbored romantic thoughts for Sue in WWII and not been a pedophile, she would have had to be in her early teens (at least! And that would still be weird!) when Reed went to Europe, which would put her in her early-to-late 30s in this comic. Maybe she is that old, but I would argue that she is portrayed as in her early 20s. We know Johnny is a teenager, and they act fairly close in age; she doesn’t mother him like there is a generation gap between them.
  • Also, since Reed was the Storm’s neighbor, does this mean that Reed grew up in Glenville, New York (Johnny’s home town, per Strange Tales #101) too?
  • Asbestos stops the Human Torch, once again, this time on a…buzz saw?

  • This civilian is quitting the hackin’ business!

  • The second Fantastic Four pinup to date is of…Namor, the Sub-Mariner? The guy who has been only a villain so far?Okay, whatever.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • The “Lincoln’s mother” defense of Sue is pretty awful. I’ll give Stan and Jack credit for tackling (totally justified) fan criticism head-on here, but it would have been so much better if they just wrote more stories where Invisible Girl was an integral part of the team, instead.

  • It’s worth noting that, after sticking up for her in the above panels, Thing later makes a sexist remark about her.

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