“The Master of Flame vs. the Monarch of the Sea!!”
Cover Date: April 1963
Plotter: Stan Lee
Scripter: Larry Lieber
Penciller: Dick Ayers
Inker: Dick Ayers
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky
What’s Going On?
Upset that the rest of the Fantastic Four treats him like a child, Johnny decides to earn their respect. How? By defeating a foe that the entire team has not beaten: Namor, the Sub-Mariner.
The Human Torch sought him out, and Namor obliged his challenge.
Is It Good?
It should be, right? It’s an issue devoted to a fight between the Torch and Sub-Mariner, how bad can it be? Well…Johnny’s motivation here is obnoxious, and the pseudo-science used to keep him in the fight was frustrating and stupid. So no, not a great issue.
- Namor quickly knocks Johnny out, and is kind enough to send him home relatively unharmed.
- Johnny recovers quickly and uses his powers to attack Namor underwater, and he winds up burying Namor beneath some rocks.
- The fight ends in a draw, albeit one aided by some bizarre science in favor of the Human Torch. Johnny does not tell the FF about his adventure.
- The Torch apparently now has the ability to maintain his flame underwater.
- The Sub-Mariner displays his electric eel and blowfish abilities again.
- Johnny is defeated by asbestos again. This time, it’s a wet rag of asbestos, wrapped into a glove.
Comics Are Goofy:
- We’ve seen Sue’s photo of the Sub-Mariner before. This is a different one. She’s replaced her old one with a smiling, autographed photo. Please note that Namor appears to have signed it “Love, Sub-Mariner.”
- “Boys will be boys” = “Boys will challenge foreign monarchs to physical battles for no good reason.”
- I’m calling bullshit on this strategy. Johnny knows that Namor spends his time underwater, right?
- In every other instance of Johnny getting wet, he needs time to dry out. He gets dropped in the ocean, and now it’s no problem? Nope. That’s dumb.
- I take it back. This nonsense — the Torch maintaining his flame in an underwater chase — now, THIS is dumb.
Well, That Aged Poorly:
- It’s nice to see Marvel making an attempt to show what value Sue brings to the FF. Making her their secretary isn’t much of a step forward, but I guess it’s better than having her get captured by the bad guy again.
- I just realized that the reason Sue and Johnny live on their own, while reed and Ben live in the Baxter Building, is because she is a single woman. That has to be it, right? The writers don’t want to hint at impropriety or sexual situations, so they solve that “problem” by keeping her and her adult male friends apart.