Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #44

Credits:

Cover Date: November 10, 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta

“The Gentleman’s Name is Gorgon!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Joe Sinnott

What’s Going On?

Medusa is back, but this time she’s not fighting the Fantastic Four —- she’s on the run from the mighty Gorgon!

Details:

  • Bored by the newly wedded Reed & Sue, Johnny decides leave the Baxter Building and blow off some steam. However, as soon as he gets into his car, he finds himself under some sort of attack!

  • But why attack Johnny? Well, the attacker, someone called Gorgon, is after Medusa —- and she’s hiding in Johnny’s car!

  • Johnny drives Medusa to a remote location where they (hopefully) won’t be found by the mysterious Gorgon. The place? The State University pond where the FF faced Diablo and the Dragon Man a while back. Medusa doesn’t seem to appreciate Johnny’s assistance, though.

  • Not surprisingly, Johnny and Medusa decide not to talk things through, and instead attack each other. Their fight awakens the Dragon Man from his sleep (I guess he was hibernating or something?).

  • Luckily for them, Medusa reminds Dragon Man of the Invisible Girl, the only person who was kind to him.

  • When Gorgon finally catches up and attacks them, Dragon Man acts to protect Medusa.

  • Dragon Man grabs Medusa and flies her back to NYC, where the rest of the FF encounter them.

  • Gorgon was right behind them, though. He quickly knocks Dragon Man away…

  • …before making some strange claims about him and Medusa belonging to a special race that is forbidden from consorting with the rest of the world.

  • Reed tries to learn more about this secret race, but Johnny and Ben attack Gorgon instead. Gorgon handles them with little difficulty, but not before Dragon Man could return. The confused monster grabs Sue and flees the scene.

  • While the FF are distracted by that, Gorgon grabs Medusa. To make his escape, he uses his powers to collapse the building they are all atop!

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

This is pretty good. It feels like a lot of things are going on in this story, but I think that is a result of splitting the team up and having them deal with things in turn. Kirby and Sinnott work well together, and I’m enjoying the serial nature of these stories.

From a craft perspective, it was odd that Gorgon’s identity was hidden for the first half of the issue. We don’t see his face in the story until page 10; before that point, we just saw his feet and the effects of his powers. This might make you think that there was going to be a dramatic reveal, but when the FF finally see him for the first time, this is what we get:

It’s not a bad sequence, but it feels weird that that first panel wasn’t a big splash page, or at least a bit larger. I wonder if that is why the story doesn’t begin on the title/credits page in this issue. That is certainly how Marvel comics usually begin (except in the anthology titles), but this issue opens with a large drawing of Gorgon, almost like a character design sheet or a pin-up.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Gorgon. At this point, all we know about him is that he is connected to Medusa as part of a special race of people. His lower legs are hoof-like, and are extremely powerful. He can cause seismic shock waves with them, and can make his attacks with precision.

  • This is also the first hint to the existence of the Inhumans. I’m not sure why Stan and Jack creates the Inhumans, when they could have simply been mutants, but I guess we’ll find out.
  • Dragon Man last appeared in Fantastic Four #35. It was presumed dead after sinking to the bottom of a lake.
  • It’s interesting to see how Kirby and Sinnott drew Gorgon in this issue. His odd eyes and elongated face give him a (lower-case) inhuman appearance, but nowadays he is typically portrayed as just a burly bearded guy.
  • Apparently, Johnny has graduated from high school, but isn’t going to college yet. We know the graduation was after Fantastic Four #35, since he wasn’t ready to enroll at State U. quite yet. Peter Parker, who is in Johnny’s grade, graduates in Amazing Spider-Man #28, which is cover-dated September 1965; Fantastic Four was in the midst of their last storyline that month. So, either he attended his graduation off-panel, or he missed the ceremony while doing superhero things, I guess.

  • Reed and Ben has been living in the Baxter Building before the wedding, with Johnny and Sue sharing a house in Glenville, NY. Now, it seems that Sue has moved into Reed’s apartment in the Baxter Building. Does this mean Johnny has a bachelor pad in Glenville, or does he live in the Baxter Building, too?
  • It’s been a while since Sue has been a damsel in distress, but she is captured pretty easily by Dragon Man in this issue.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • In case you were wondering, like I was, what this vacuum gun does, it shoots a capsule that somehow sucks the air out of the immediate area. How does this work? What happens to the air that is sucked away by the capsule? Why would anyone need to invent this gun? These are all good questions.

  • Dragon Man was basically a large model of an Android, but without the technology needed to give it artificial life. Diablo’s alchemy is what gave it the spark of life. But all of Diablo’s potions stop working after a little while. How is Dragon Man still “alive”?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Well, at least they didn’t nickname Sue something like “Hot Lips.”

  • My initial reaction to this panel was just an eye roll and a chuckle that Sue is wearing a frilly apron over her FF uniform. But then I realized that this implies that Sue is the official cook and cleaner for the team, which is sexist and bogus —- but what’s even worse is that there is no way in hell that that teapot is actually clean.

  • Green what?  Jesus, Ben, don’t be awful.

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