Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fantastic Four #20.

I landed another back issue for my FANTASTIC FOUR COLLECTION. This one is a decent copy of #20. The story features as its villain, the Molecule Man, a character who can control the molecular structure of any non-organic material. Which makes him one very dangerous fellow. The book also features another of Kirby's amazing creations, The Watcher. We had first seen him in issue #13 of the book, so this was a bit of a surprise to see him pop up again. As always, he breaks the rule that he is not supposed to interfere with the history of the human race, in this instance to explain the arrival of the Molecule Man and to give the Fantastic Four a head start in preparing to meet him.

The plot is relatively simple and does not display much of the story-telling maturity that Kirby would later use to great effect. But you can already see that he is building up a mythos, adding to it with each issue of the book. The Watcher is a great device to use to further a plot, and Kirby had already grasped the richness of being able to fall back on it from time to time.

This issue features some spectacular layouts by Kirby, and you can see that he was really enjoying utilizing Ben Grimm as a battering ram to move the action along. The inks by Dick Ayers are okay...a bit heavy for my tastes, but serviceable. There were always less capable inkers to use on Kirby's pencils, and Lee didn't hesitate to use them, unfortunately. In this case, though, Ayers did a decent job.

The cover to my copy of THE FANTASTIC FOUR #20.

I always loved this opening page. It tells so much about Kirby's ripening storytelling abilities. Reed was content to plod along, carefully, but Ben seizes the moment.

The Watcher appears to warn the team of what they are about to face. I liked this early version of the character, but the later, more human form was probably the best for the fans.

The Molecule Man makes his appearance! I love that long shot of the streets of New York City.

Absolutely wonderful action featuring Ben and the Torch at work against their adversary, who is obviously superior to them in power and abilities.


Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

I love the photos of the pages and your commentary on why these pages work for you. You could seriously run a comics-only blog.

James Robert Smith said...

Thanks. I've thought about spinning off the subjects into other blogs...but I don't have time for this one, these days. So two or three blogs is right out.

Kirk G said...

When I first read this FF #20, I thought the plot was going to revolve around that micro-organism that Ben reveals in the asteroid. What ever happened to that point, anyway? It never figured into the plot anyway, did it?

James Robert Smith said...

It may have just been used to illustrate the "seize the day" attitudes of Ben Grimm. As far as I know, it was never brought up again.