Fasten up your seat belts, check your oxygen tank and hit that booster because it's time to dip once more into the 1972 Fleetway Marvel Annual, for the Fantastic Four's big day out in Space.
Confronted with the inevitable destruction of his world at the hands of a stray asteroid, Planet X's ruler, the beach-ball headed Kurrgo sends his own personal robot to Earth to turn mankind against the Fantastic Four so they'll consent to flee to Planet X where Kurrgo hopes Mr Fantastic'll be able to concoct a plan to save his world.
When they get there, Reed Richards, being Reed Richards, takes just hours to invent a potion to shrink the entire population of Planet X, so it can climb aboard the planet's only spare space ship and flee.
As they flee, Kurrgo - refusing to leave behind the potion that'll make him full-size again and thus leave him dwarfing his fellow X-ians - is left behind to die, a victim of his own megalomania.
I complained in a recent post that Jack Kirby seemed to be basing his later Fantastic Four tales on whatever he'd seen most recently on TV - but clearly there was nothing new about that because, with its giant robot and its abducting of our heroes to a doomed world, it's pretty obvious this tale's inspired by the 1950s movies The Day the Earth Stood Still and This Island Earth. And it's great, filled with splash pages and divided into chapters, just to really add to that feeling of a 12 cent epic.
Batman, Superman and the Flash of this era fighting amongst themselves about having to attend a dinner engagement? Marvel's heroes simply had a life and a character that DC's more socially adept stars couldn't match.
Of course, in the end, it's a very silly tale. The idea that a super-advanced civilisation needs the scientific know-how of an Earth-man to solve their problem - and the idea that Reed Richards can knock up a shrinking potion in a few hours - is ludicrous. But then silliness is half the fun of a Silver Age comic book. And, if you don't want fun, why are you reading about people in spandex?
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