Saturday, 14 January 2012

Fantastic Four #44. At last - The Inhumans!

Fantastic Four #44, Gorgon, Medusa, Dragon Man
As I roam the deserted tenement blocks of Sheffield, that're earmarked for clearance, strange young women sitting on bits of rubble often ask me, "Steve, what's your favourite ever Fantastic Four story? Is it that one with Galactus, or that one where Dr Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers?"

And I say, "No. It's the one where the FF first meet the Inhumans."

"Then you're like us!" They say. "Come with me to our underground lair where I can introduce you to my bizarre family and their paranoid ways!"

I say, "Thanks, luv, but I get enough of that at home."

That aside, it's all true. The first Inhumans story is indeed my favourite Fantastic Four tale of. And it all kicks off with the magnificent issue #44, surely as random and meaningless a comic as there's ever been.

Fantastic Four #44, Medusa holds the Human Torch at vacuum gunpoint as she hijacks him in the back of his sports car
Foolishly unexcited by Reed Richard's invention of the dishwasher, the Human Torch sets off in his sports car, looking for some action but gets more than he bargained for as he's hijacked by Medusa - still in her villainous phase.

Gun in hand, she forces him to help her flee a mysterious figure called Gorgon who likes kicking things. While the Torch and Medusa are chin-wagging, they bump into Dragon Man - freshly revived after his last appearance, and up for doing a King Kong with Medusa.

It all leads to a rooftop confrontation, involving the FF, Medusa, Gorgon and the Dragon Man, before Dragon Man abducts Sue, Gorgon abducts Medusa, and everyone else finds themselves trapped in a collapsing building.

Fantastic Four #44, Gorgon in pursuit of his sister Medusa of the Inhumans
There really is no rhyme or reason to this tale, it's carried along on a lunatic energy that sees ideas and actions flung into the pot for no purpose you can see. When Dragon Man suddenly appears by bursting out of the ground, you do wonder by what process this story was planned, and have to conclude it probably wasn't planned at all. Jack Kirby probably just made it up as he went along.

This feeling's especially strong if you've read later instalments. Given what we know about what happens in those, nothing that Medusa or Gorgon do or say in this issue makes any sense at all.

But who cares? What we're seeing is a strip approaching the peak of its creativity, one that means all sense and logic become irrelevant. It's pure escapism and it's great.


Boston Bill said...

My brother and I a fans of the classic King Kong. He later watched the Jackson version with his wife, who pointed out the many plot holes in the story. Yet when she had seen the first version, with the same plot holes, she said nothing. Why? The pace of the first movie is so much faster you don't have TIME to nitpick, you just want to enjoy the action.

Much the same with the FF at it's best. Who has time for plot holes when you're having so much fun!

Super-Duper ToyBox said...

i also dug this story! the Inhumans are interesting

Kid said...

I always found the Inhumans kind of boring. Apart from Medusa and Crystal perhaps.

Steve W. said...

They were certainly not great when it came to carrying a strip of their own. But, as supporting characters - and as a concept - they always grabbed me.

Lazarus Lupin said...

I do think they were improvising on the fly with many of their comics. I think that the genius lies in that they were able to take these pieces and make them meaningful. In this day in age of overarching "mythologies" in shows like "Alcatraz" or "Lost" I truly appreciate that they were to after the fact find an interesting niche for the Inhumans.

Lazarus Lupin

dbutler16 said...

I loved this story. Actually, I think FF #44 is where this comic really started to click.

John said...

Lazarus, of course one of the main criticisms of Lost was that they were 'making it up as they went along'. In fact, they weren't, but I never saw the problem with improvising a story. It often brings a kind of dream logic into play, that sense that anything could happen next - and that's what you get with these freewheeling Fantastic Four tales when Stan let Jack off the leash.

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