“The Fantastic Four Battle the Mad Thinker and His Awesome Android”
Cover Date: June 1963
Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
What’s Going On?
The Mad Thinker and his supercomputers have figured out a plan to defeat the Fantastic Four and, eventually, become ruler of New York City, which would become its own powerful nation.
His plan is to give each Fantastic Four member an offer they can’t refuse, which would lead to them taking a break from superhero-ing. Then, he will take over the Baxter Building and utilize all of Reed’s inventions for his own criminal purposes! The Mad Thinker has everything planned out to the second — how can the FF defeat an enemy that has predicted their every move?
Is It Good?
There’s a lot of silliness in this issue, but it was still pretty fun. It’s a little weird that the Awesome Android isn’t featured more (it’s on the cover and in the title), but I still enjoyed it.
- The Fantastic Four have become well-known and feared by criminals, so they make some good arguments against challenging the heroes:
- The Mad Thinker convinces criminals to support him by giving examples of all the other times his plans have been perfectly timed.
- Per the Mad Thinker’s plans, the FF receive their can’t-refuse offers simultaneously. Reed goes to work for General Electrics, Johnny joins the circus, Ben becomes a pro wrestler, and Sue films a Hollywood movie.
- The team quickly realizes that their “can’t-refuse” jobs are far less interesting than being members of the Fantastic Four.
- The team fought their way through the Mad Thinker’s underlings, precisely as he planned. However, Reed introduced an unpredictable variable that caused the Thinker’s master plan to ultimately fail.
- We have the first official appearance of the Yancy Street Gang, and the Thing doesn’t overreact at all.
- The Mad Thinker makes his first appearance, and explains his schtick: he is a master planner, and he predicts events down to the exact second.
- Sue and Johnny have a cousin named Bones, who owns a traveling circus. Will this ever be mentioned again?
- Sue filmed a movie in this issue. Was the movie finished? Did she quit during production? Was she sued for breach of contract? I eagerly await this to never be mentioned again.
- The Awesome Android makes its first appearance. It’s abilities sound tough — it can mimic any ability, I guess? — but it is taken down, thanks to a failsafe designed by Reed.
- There’s another pin-up this issue, and it highlights the new hairstyle Sue received in this issue.
Comics Are Goofy:
- Geez, guys! Reed was having fun playing god! Do you think he wants to quit now?!?
- I really like the pyromaniac monkey example the Mad Thinker gives to convince crooks to follow him. “Yes, I knew the papers were there. No, nobody was looking for them. Yes, I could have gotten rid of them myself, BUT I got a monkey to do it, using planning!”
- Every teenager’s dream is to run away with the circus!
- “Cool circus chicks” makes me think Johnny’s into tattoos.
- Johnny has an unhealthy obsession with the circus. He is also very, very wrong.
- Notice that Sue mentions a broadway show in that last panel. In every other scene, it’s a Hollywood movie.
- Speaking of Sue’s movie, it is Sue’s “first starring role” presumably because the Fantastic Four movie released by the Sub-Mariner’s film company only gave her a co-starring status, and certainly not because Stan Lee forgot about that.
- That does not look like “every known circus stunt at the same time.” Also, what “unknown” circus stunts are there?
- You can tell that Stan and Jack are trying very hard to make Invisible Girl a more effective team member — and that is good! — but Stan’s dialogue makes the efforts look a little clumsy.
- Reed developed a way to rob Johnny of his power permanently? Who knew Reed was such a hardcore villain?
- So… not knowing what the Fantastic Four were going to face, Reed had the mailman enter the previously impenetrable building (that had a hypnosis thing going on to make normal folks ignore it) at an exact time, and press a button on the ground floor that triggered a failsafe in Reed’s inventions up on the 30-ish floor? Okay, fine. Weird, but fine. How is that any less predictable than a pyromaniac monkey?