Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #32

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“Death of a Hero!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Chic Stone

What’s Going On?

Johnny and Sue’s father, Franklin Storm, has somehow obtained all the powers of the Fantastic Four and broken out of prison! How can they stop him, the Invincible Man, without harming him and breaking Johnny and Sue’s hearts?

Details:

  • Reed is trying, once again, to turn the Thing back into a human. Once again, it works! But for how long?

  • When the now-Human Ben Grimm wakes up, he doesn’t recognize the Fantastic Four or his girlfriend, Alicia.

  • Reed knocks Ben out and reverses the process, reasoning that Ben wouldn’t want to be human if he couldn’t remember his love for Alicia. When the Thing wakes up, Reed lies and tells him that the experiment was a complete failure.

  • Meanwhile, an alien planet has fired some sort of ray at the Earth, hitting an isolated island volcano. A mysterious figure emerges from the volcano and heads to New York City.

  • Once there, the mystery man sneaks into the jail cell of Franklin Storm, assumes his form, and zaps the true Franklin into outer space!

  • Now disguised as Franklin Richards, the mysterious figure breaks out of prison, right in front of Johnny and Sue! He declares that he has spent time in the prison laboratory, and has given himself the combined powers of the Fantastic Four!

  • Now free, “Franklin” adopts a costume and declares himself the Invincible Man!

  • The Fantastic Four try to apprehend him, but the Invincible Man counters their powers well. Eventually, the Invincible Man escapes.

  • The general public don’t respond well to the FF allowing “Franklin Storm” to go free.

  • After doing some research, Reed realizes that the Invincible Man is not Franklin Storm. He is none other than the Super-Skrull! Reed publicly exposes the villain and demands the safe return of Dr. Storm.

  • When the Skrulls send Franklin Storm back to Earth, they plant a bomb on him. Franklin uses his body to shield to FF from the blast, and dies.

  • As he slips away, Franklin seems ready and willing to die. When the police arrive, Reed makes sure to explain how Franklin died a heroic death.

Is It Good?

This is a decent issue. Franklin Storm’s death is kind of cheap, and it prevents some potentially interesting stories. And while the plot doesn’t always make sense (how did the Super-Skrull know about Franklin?), it provides some tender moments for the Storms and for Ben.

Continuity:

  • Franklin Storm dies in this issue.
  • Before he died, we learned a little bit more about Franklin Storm’s background. After his wife died in a car accident, Storm gambled away his money until he owed heavily to loan sharks. When a loan shark threatened his family, Storm accidentally killed the man while struggling with the shark’s gun.
  • I think Stan has officially abandoned the idea of Reed and Sue being childhood sweethearts (mentioned in Fantastic Four #11). If Reed grew up next door to the Storms, and their mother died and father went to jail when they were teens, then he would at least know the Storm parents. He might not know what happened to them (which is unlikely), but he wouldn’t have assumed that Johnny and Sue were orphans (as he said last issue).
  • We have another photo collage from Jack Kirby!

  • The Super-Skrull last appeared in Fantastic Four #18.
  • While Marvel Unlimited doesn’t show the letters page for Silver Age Fantastic Four issues, the Marvel Wikia points out that this issue contains a letter from a young George R. R. Martin!

Comics Are Goofy:

  • This is just a friendly reminder that Johnny Storm is a piece of trash.

  • Yeah, making Ben feel like there is no hope of ever looking like everybody else is definitely better than letting him know that you appear to be getting closer to a permanent solution.

  • I like it when Reed randomly acts like a drill sergeant. 99% of the time, he over-explains things to the team, but when he decides to not explain himself, he expects instant subservience?

  • I can’t believe hot-headed Johnny doesn’t get upset here. He’s just like “No thinking? What a relief!”

  • Reed is willing to build a device of terrible offensive capabilities, and he is willing to threaten an entire planet with it. However, when the Skrulls double-cross him, Reed doesn’t attack them? I’m not upset —- I prefer my heroes to not be mass murderers —- but why introduce the weapon, if he’s not going to use it?

<<<Fantastic Four #31

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