Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #22

Credits:

Cover Date: January 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“The Return of the Mole Man”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

The Mole Man traps the Fantastic Four as part of a plot to rule the world.

Is It Good?

It’s okay. I definitely liked Sue getting a much-needed power upgrade in this issue, and seeing the team dealing with civilians was cute. Mole Man wasn’t very interesting, though, so the second half of the story was a hit of a drag.

Sub-Plots:

  • After receiving many complaints from the neighborhood, Reed contemplated moving some of the Fantastic Four’s equipment and labs to a more remote location. As luck would have it, he received an add for a private island that day!

  • The island turns out to be a trap! It was all part of the Mole Man’s plan to exact his revenge on the Fantastic Four!

  • The Mole Man’s ultimate plot is to instigate World War III, so he can conquer the survivors. He wants the Fantastic Four to watch this transpire, and be helpless to stop it.

  • Eventually, the Fantastic Four escape their prison, but the Mole Man was prepared for that. The team is re-captured and find themselves separated custom-made death traps!

  • Not surprisingly, the team escapes their various death traps. When they chase after the Mole Man, it looks like he will escape and trigger a device that will sink some major cities into the center of the Earth.

  • However, Reed found the Mole Man’s control room earlier. He had secretly rearranged Mole Man’s control circuits; when the Mole Man triggered his device, only Mole Man’s island (and all of his equipment) sank.

Continuity:

  • She’s invisibility powers now extend to projecting force fields and shapes.

  • Sue can also now make other things invisible, too.

  • This is the first appearance of the Moloids, the subterranean creatures that are ruled by the Mole Man.  They are not named in this issue, though. All we learn about them is that they are loyal to Mole Man, are willing to throw themselves in harm’s way, and apparently all own the same color underwear.

  • Mole Man survived his apparent death in Fantastic Four #1 by escaping in an underground tunnel.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • This is why you hire a PR firm when you are a celebrity.

  • If Johnny melted this sculpture just by flying past, why doesn’t he melt windows all over the city?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • In case you didn’t know, Pinky Lee was a slapstick comedian that hosted children’s TV programs in the 1950’s.  He collapsed on-camera, in front of a live crowd of small children, but he did not receive immediate medical aid because the audience and crew assumed he was joking around and not dying in front of them (don’t worry, he survived).

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