Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #24

Credits:

Cover Date: March 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Infant Terrible!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

A nearly omnipotent alien child arrives on Earth and starts causing problems. How can the Fantastic Four stop this creature before it does something irreversible?

Details:

  • Reporters from Life magazine came to the Baxter Building to interview the Fantastic Four for a feature. It quickly becomes apparent that they are more interested in flirting with Sue than with covering the entire team.

  • The interview is cut short when strange things start appearing in Times Square. When the FF arrive, they find a gigantic glass bottle, a giant top, and a maze. Who or what put these things in the middle of downtown, and why?

  • It turns out that an alien is responsible for these bizarre conjurings. It can change something with just a thought, which makes it extraordinarily powerful…and dangerous!

  • After observing the alien for a bit, Reed concludes that it is only a child.

  • Some local crooks realize that they might be able to manipulate an omnipotent child alien, so they befriend it with candy and treats.

  • Reed summarized some potential catastrophes that the alien may cause.

  • Meanwhile, the alien helps the crooks rob an armored truck. However, because children are sociopaths, it ruined all the stolen money as a joke.

  • The crooks threatened the alien with physical violence, but before they could act, the FF (minus Reed) arrived and captured the villains. However, the alien now distrusts humans, and it began to attack.

  • Elsewhere, Reed reasoned that the alien’s parents were probably somewhere in the area, so he transmits a message into space, hoping to bring the alien’s parents to Earth.

  • Reed’s plan worked! Just as the alien was about to destroy the Sun, it’s parents arrived and took custody of it.

Is It Good?

Not especially. This issue isn’t too far off from the Molecule Man story; there are similar abilities on display, but the perpetrators have different intentions. It’s not a bad story, it is just something that I found a little dull and trite. As a change-of-pace issue, this is nothing special, but nothing to get upset about. If nothing else, there were enough solid character moments to keep this from being actually bad.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of the Infant Terrible. This is also the first appearance of a member of the Elan alien race; the alien’s race was not named in this issue.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • This may be the most serious-looking anyone has ever looked while eating ice cream.

  • What is Johnny reacting to? Did Sue just crap her pants?

Behind the Scenes:

According to the Marvel Wikia, this issue contains Jack Kirby’s first published photo collage:

I wasn’t sure whether or not to trust the Wikia on this, because these two panels don’t seem to show up in any web searches for Kirby’s FF collage work. However, when I looked at the same panels in The Essential Fantastic Four #2, the Black-and-white image indicates that Kirby did something different on this page; Kirby’s recognizable pencil lines are missing in the black circle.

Also, the Wikia pointed out that Kirby appeared to have lifted the spaceship image from the 1953 film, War of the Worlds.

So is it a photo collage? It doesn’t look like the stuff he’s going to start doing later in 1964, but it does appear to be mixed-media, and is definitely not Kirby’s typical pencil work. So, sure, let’s call this a prototype.

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