Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #31

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“The Mad Menace of the Macabre Mole Man!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Chic Stone

 

What’s Going On?

City blocks are disappearing into the center of the Earth, so naturally this means that the Mole Man is up to no good.

 

Details:

  • The story starts with Sue paying particular attention to a newspaper article about an escaped prisoner. It doesn’t directly impact the forthcoming emergency, but it plants a seed of doubt in Reed’s mind.

  • After an unnatural earthquake in New York City, Ben, Johnny, & Reed investigate, only to find that an entire city block has disappeared into the center of the Earth!

  • The boys don’t draw any conclusions after investigating the gigantic hole. When they return to the Baxter Building, the news announces that another city block has disappeared! Worse, Sue was on that street when it happened!

  • It turns out that this is all the doing of the Mole Man! He noticed the FF investigating the first hole, and kidnapped Sue to give him an advantage over the heroes.

  • Eventually, the rest of the Fantastic Four make their way down to Mole Man’s subterranean kingdom. To keep Sue safe, the Fantastic Four have to promise to not thwart the Mole Man’s plan for world domination. What’s more, they also need to prevent any of the other surface-world heroes from interfering.

  • Once they return to the surface, this promise leads the FF into direct conflict with the Avengers, who try to enter Mole Man’s subterranean kingdom.

  • Surprisingly, though, the two sides don’t fight. They talk, and the Avengers give the FF twenty-Four hours to solve the problem.

  • And solve it, they do! Reed invents a device to locate Sue, which allows the FF to sneak into the Mole Man’s kingdom and free her, before the Mole Man can respond.  And since they don’t have to worry about Sue’s safety, that leaves the FF free to beat up some Moloids.

  • Even in the middle of a tense mission, Reed takes a moment to tell Sue that his masculinity was challenged by her reaction to the newspaper article that morning.

  • Reed managed to successfully raise the missing city blocks back to the surface. In the process, though, the Human Torch set off a chain reaction that basically destroyed all of Mole Man’s stuff (and maybe him). Sue was somehow injured in the process, though, so they have to rush her to the hospital.

  • The doctors at the hospital are pessimistic about Sue’s chances at survival.

  • As luck would have it, the only doctor with the experience to save Sue walks into the hospital at that very moment! And he turns out to be the escaped convict Sue recognized from the newspaper! And he happens to be Sue and Johnny’s long-absent father!

  • Doctor Storm saves Sue’s life and is promptly arrested.

Is It Good?

Nope. The Mole Man still isn’t an interesting villain. It’s annoying that Sue is little more than a prop. The entire subplot with Doctor Storm was downright awful. This is just…bad.

Continuity:

  • The Mole Man last appeared in Fantastic Four #22.
  • This is the first appearance of Doctor Franklin Storm, Sue and Johnny’s father.
  • The Mole Man and the Moloids have advanced technology, including missiles and metal tentacles.

  • Reed not knowing anything about the Storm parents seems contradict the fact the Reed grew up next door to the Storms (mentioned in Fantastic Four #11). And what kind of orphans can afford a house next door to a millionaire (oh yeah, Reed’s dad was rich, remember?).

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I like to refer to Scenes like this as having “outdated miniaturization.” It might have been unfathomable for a computer to be this small in 1964, but in 2018, it looks like Reed is wearing a helmet made of VCRs.

  • You could have just told her to walk, dude. You don’t have to have your creepy minions grab her to get her into the next room.

  • Who assumes that their friends are orphans?

  • I love this exchange. It’s such a cliche.

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