Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #34

Credits:

Cover Date: January 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“A House Divided!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Chic Stone

What’s Going On?

The world’s richest man, Gregory Gideon, wants to take over the world. To do this, he needs defeat the Fantastic Four!

Details:

  • The obscenely wealthy Gregory Gideon wants to use his fortune to take over the world. At his current rate, he should accomplish that in the next three years, but that is not soon enough! To convince his competitors to give in to him early, Gideon makes a bet with them: if he can defeat the Fantastic Four within a week, they will all sell their companies to him.

  • The next day, Reed finds some workers dismantling and repossessing some of the FF’s most valuable machines —- allegedly at Ben’s request! And Ben believes that Reed is a Skrull! These are weird things, so naturally, the two begin to fight…

  • …while elsewhere, Sue is led to believe that Johnny is a Doombot, and Johnny concludes that she is being mind-controlled by the Puppet Master.

  • Obviously, this was the work of Gideon. The FF allowed themselves to be pitted against each other, and they fought each other to a standstill. But that’s not good enough for the purposes of Gideon’s bet. He wants them utterly crushed. Unfortunately, his son —- who worships the Fantastic Four —- overhears his plan and runs off.

  • Gideon’s plan to defeat the FF is to transport them through time to an unspecified point in the past.

  • Gideon’s son tries to warn the FF of the trap, and accidentally gets transported to the past, along with the Thing.

  • With his son lost, Gideon realizes how important his family is to him. Luckily, Reed is able to save Ben and the kid, and they return to the present, with no harm done.

  • In the end, Gideon decides to forsake his fortune and dedicate the rest of his life to his family.

Was It Good?

While this certainly isn’t a good issue, it succeeds on a craft level.  The art looks good, I appreciate making the villain a ruthless capitalist (during the Cold war, too!), and there are some solid character moments in this issue.

The story, though, just isn’t very good.  The Fantastic Four acted like idiots throughout, and Gideon was neither interesting nor charismatic.  His life-changing declaration at the end of the story just cements this as a mediocre (at best) and corny story that is easily forgotten.

It’s too bad, too.  A villain with unlimited resources and a thirst for power could have been a major player in the Marvel Silver Age.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Gregory Gideon, whose “superpower” is extreme wealth.

  • This is also the first appearance of Thomas Gideon, Gregory Gideon’s son. He’s not all that important here, but he will eventually (in 1982!) gain superpowers and be known as Glorian.
  • Sue’s control over her invisible force fields is improving.

  • We have a pin-up! Does this mean that Doctor Doom is part of the Yancy Street Gang?

Comics Are Goofy:

  • The Yancy Street Gang sent Ben a “Beatle” wig.

  • That would be silly enough, but Stan and Jack decided to have Ben put the wig on, too!

  • Sue is more than willing to immediately believe that her brother has been replaced by a Doombot. Is it weird that the FF doesn’t have safe words or phrases to indicate that they haven’t been replaced? They’ve faced shapeshifters and robots enough to make that a reasonable precaution.
  • Fatherhood: where you find out your child’s passions and ruthlessly try to crush them.

  • Yes, this seems like Reed. He finds a gun on the street and, without knowing what it does, fires it at his friends.

  • I love Gideon’s desk.  Eight land-line phones, lined up so close together that they are practically unusable?  Desk lamps the size of car headlights?  An office chair that is the size of a sofa and clearly would not be comfortable to work in?  More counter space than can possibly be functional?  This desk has it all!

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • If nobody else is going to say it, I will: lady, get a lawyer and file for divorce.  Your husband has been a bad spouse and father for years, and now he’s a criminal.  Get out now.

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