Hello and welcome to another week in Ye Olde School Café! Over the next two weeks, I’ll be showcasing a few issues from a Marvel Masterworks edition of The Fantastic Four vol. 6! Why this particular volume? Well, let’s just talk about that for a minute. The biggest and best reason I can think of is because of the iconic covers. Anybody out there ever see a cover with Ben Grimm that reads, “This Man, This Monster”? Yep, that’s one of them in this volume, along with a slew of others that most Silver Age fans will gush over when they see them. The architects of these great stories are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four #51-60, and Annual #4- 1966-1967). Without further adieu, let me present Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four!
In the first issue, Ben Grimm is walking down the street, and having a tough time dealing with his condition. He can’t shake the feelings he has about what he’s become physically. A couple of cops try to cheer him up, but he’s not having it. He stumbles around for a while, but then feels attracted to a certain house. The home of a scientist named Ricardo Jones is where Ben ends up, and this man acts as though he’s concerned about Ben, but in reality, his only concern is to trump the scientific acumen of Reed Richards in the eyes of the scientific community. The man uses sleeping pills to put Ben out of commission, then uses a device to turn himself into the Thing, and change Ben back to normal. He then infiltrates the Baxter Building and acts as if he’s the real Thing. In mere moments, though, Ben shows up and tells his friends that that’s an imposter. After a lot of confusion and arguing, Ben leaves, angry that his friends don’t believe him. Reed then tells Sue and the “Thing” that he needs to test his latest invention immediately. He tells them that he’s invented a time machine of sorts and he means to test it out right now.
Meanwhile, over at the university, Wyatt Wingfoot and Torch are chilling at the cafe, and then a bully tries to pick a fight with Torch. Wyatt steps in and faces down the bully, and things are cool. Back in the lab, Reed enters the machine and is sent off into the space-time continuum. He soon encounters trouble, and tugs on the line that is anchoring him back in the lab, but it breaks. The fake Thing feels an urge to help the man that he came to “show up,” and dives into the continuum to help him. The two men realize that only one of them is going to survive, and the fake Thing knows that his strength is the only way Reed will get back alive. He helps Reed return to the lab, but in turn dooms himself. He remarks that now he knows what it feels like to have a friend. At the moment of Jones’s death, Ben returns to his rocky, orange persona.
The next issue brings the team headed to Wakanda for a meeting with the Black Panther! As they meet up with the chiefs of Wakanda, another group is preparing for something, as well. The Inhumans are trying to escape from a mountain prison. The only one who knows how to escape is Maximus, and he’s locked up for his most recent crimes. Back in Wakanda, the team is attacked in the jungle by the Black Panther. He has the entire jungle booby-trapped and succeeds in capturing the Torch, Thing, and Sue, but as he tries to capture Reed, Wyatt Wingfoot sets the Torch free and then they both free Ben and Sue. The Panther is shocked to see that they’ve escaped and is caught off guard by them, so he surrenders. After he takes his mask off, he explains to them that he is the rightful heir of the throne, and that he will tell them why he attacked them.
The next part of the story shows the Fantastic Four gathered around a throne, while T’Challa tells them a story. He tells them about his father, T’Chaka, who was a great and mighty chieftain years ago. Ben isn’t really impressed, but then the Panther tells them that they are sitting on a bench worth twenty million dollars. They’re stunned, but upon closer examination, they realize that the bench isn’t marble like they had thought, but a strange metal. T’Challa tells them that it’s called vibranium, and that not only can it absorb vibration, but it’s also the most indestructible metal on Earth. He shows them a mountain in the distance that is basically all just vibranium covered by some soil. As he is explaining this, he tells them how a mad man named Klaw used a technology that he’d never seen before to try and steal the vibranuim away from the Wakandans. About how he killed T’Chaka years ago, and then a young T’Challa used one of his own weapons against him and incinerated Klaw’s hand. As they talk more about it, alarms ring out to signal that something is approaching.
Well, that’s it for now, but be back here next week for the conclusion to the tale about the Black Panther, and then, Dr. Doom! See you next week!