Forty years ago, I was just about to start high school (Pinkerton Academy, 1970-74). On the newsstand, the penultimate issue of the Fantastic Four (#101) that would be produced by the legendary team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kirby left Marvel due to creative differences with Lee at this time.
I will soon be getting ready to head out for a sabbatical, after next term is done, to teach organic chemistry at Peking University during all of 2011.
Forty years ago…
By 1970, the distaff member of the FF (check out the etymology of the word distaff, a generally regarded as arcane, if nor pejorative, term that had begun to fade in the 1960s), the Invisible Girl (sic… and you can write a few dissertations on the concept of women in the early 1960s being invisible, and the creation of this character embeds a portrait of a prevailing ethos… hell, for 25 or so issues all she could do was fade away – go figure!) was no longer always portrayed as the damsel in distress.
These pages contain the longest sequence ever of Susan Storm Richards kicking ass. The inherent sexism is still present in the overall arc of these pages, but eight years after the first appearance of this character, things had come a long way. Face it… everything changed, or was changing, after 1969.
As a collector, I am just so pleased to have the pages from this sequence. Solid and strong and clear storytelling in the basic 6-panel format.
The following day the Fantastic Four are spending time in Central Park. The Thing becomes depressed seeing Reed and Sue, as well as Johnny and Crystal enjoying themselves. He decides to try and cheer himself up by entertaining some children by lifting a car. As he does so he watches as a ship makes a landing on top of the Baxter Building. Realizing that the Maggia are making their move, Reed tells the Torch to go up there. Johnny flames on and battles it out with the Maggia goons that are on the roof, but they prove impervious to his flame, managing to tranquilize him and take Johnny prisoner.
Before the Fantastic Four can act they are caught by the Maggia and gassed. When they finally pass out, the four heroes are loaded into crates and then dumped into a river in New Jersey. Crystal revives first and breaks free from her make-shift coffin with her elemental powers and then helps free the others. Having escaped their watery graves, the Fantastic Four then try hitching a ride back to base.
Back at the Baxter Building, the Invisible Girl is lurking around invisibly, but a Maggia device detects her presence leading to a fight. The Maggia’s field commander Gimlet forces Sue to stop when he explains that they found Franklin and will harm the boy if she doesn’t surrender. Before he can make good his promise, the rest of the Fantastic Four return to base. While Gimlet is distracted by the Thing, Sue encases him in a force field forcing him to stand down. As they are questioning him as to the identity of the Top Man, Gimlet is shot by the lobby attendant.