Fantastic Four #26

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“The Avengers Take Over!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

Continuing from last issue, the Fantastic Four are still fighting the Hulk. The Avengers eventually show up, but can the two teams work together to defeat the mighty Hulk?

Details:

  • Despite being defeated by the Hulk last issue, the Thing and Human Torch are still trying to stop him from rampaging.

  • It doesn’t take the Hulk long to defeat the heroes again. He then takes to the sewers to quietly approach Tony Stark’s mansion, where he hopes to find the Avengers.

  • And find them he does, along with his old friend, Rick Jones. However, the Hulk is jealous that Rick was seen helping Captain America, so he tries to strike at the boy; the Hulk accuses Rick of abandoning him. Naturally, the Avengers try to protect Rick.

  • The Hulk manages to grab Rick and escape the Avengers, temporarily. Meanwhile, Reed recovered from his illness, so he and Sue regroup with Ben and Johnny.
  • Together, the FF locate the Hulk and attack at the same time the Avengers do…but the two teams do not work together, and the Hulk escapes again.

  • Both teams of heroes want to take the Hulk down on their own, but they agree to work together going forward.

  • Regardless of their agreement, the Avengers and Fantastic Four wind up taking the Hulk on one at a time when they finally find him again. This time around, it is the Avengers doing most of the fighting. Captain America fares pretty well…

  • …as does Giant-Man:

  • Ultimately, though, it is up to Rick Jones to save the day. Rick seizes an opportunity to give the Hulk some pills to transform the Hulk back into Bruce Banner. The Hulk stumbles into the Hudson River, but the Avengers don’t follow, assuming that he is using his powerful arms and lungs to swim away quickly. They don’t realize that he has transformed back into Banner!

  • With the Hulk gone, the Avengers and Fantastic Four pat each other on the back and call it a day.

Is It Good?

Well, it’s a big fight issue, so the story is pretty basic. Maybe it would be more exciting if the art team was drawing characters that they normally wouldn’t…but this is Jack Kirby we’re talking about, and he co-created almost all of these characters.  I thought the way the two heroic teams got tangled up was entertaining enough, though. For this to be a better issue, I would have wanted to see the heroes work together more (or at all). On the other hand, we did finally see the Wasp participate in an Avengers story, so that was nice —- and this inner ear attack is a genuinely smart move!

Kirby’s art wasn’t that great, though (by his standards, I mean). The fight was choreographed well, but there was something weird with how the Hulk was drawn. His head and nose changed frequently throughout the issue, and I don’t know why. It’s subtle in the below example, but he has three distinct noses in three consecutive panels. What’s going on with that?

Continuity:

  • This issue takes place before Avengers #5.
  • The Hulk last appeared in Fantastic Four #25.
  • This is the first time the Fantastic Four have interacted with the Avengers as a team. Iron Man met the FF in Avengers #3; Giant-Man met the FF in Fantastic Four #16; Rick Jones and the Hulk met the FF in Fantastic Four #12.
  • The Hulk’s hand claps have always been shown as a powerful attack, but here they actually toss the Thing through the air.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • It’s not just villains that easily counter Johnny’s flame with asbestos; even hospitals are prepared for him.

  • This sort of pseudoscience is getting so commonplace in Iron Man stories that I hardly blinked at Iron Man using magnets to blow out the Torch’s flames.

  • What exactly is “molecular leverage,” Captain?

  • I’m so happy that Rick finally got to use the gamma pill that Bruce Banner created and gave him off-panel, at an unspecified time in the past. An oral pill certainly is a practical tool when facing a rampaging monster.

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