Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Fantastic Four #45. The Inhumans make their debut: Part 2!

Fantastic Four #45, the Inhumans
It's time to shake ourselves from our subterranean hideouts because I'm flinging myself head-first into part two of my favourite Fantastic Four tale of them all, as the FF finally get to meet the rest of the Inhumans.

Having survived the collapse of the building they were stood on at the end of last issue, our heroes manage to capture Dragon Man by the simple ploy of no longer trying to fight him, instead letting Sue use her feminine charms to keep him in line.

While the others try to work out what to do with the brute, the Torch goes for a walk, meets a mysterious girl called Crystal - who has superpowers - and is taken by her to an underground lair where he meets her family, who include Gorgon and Medusa.

Gorgon's none too pleased to see him and, with the aid of an Inhuman called Triton, tries to kill him but the Torch escapes and, signalled by him, the rest of the team descend on the site to deal with his would-be assassins.

Fantastic Four #45, Crystal flees from the Human Torch
But that's when the issue's great no-frills climax gives us the last-panel sight of a man known only as Black Bolt smashing through a brick wall to confront them. Now they're in for it!

Perhaps what's best about the issue is that, although it's packed with incident, including the resolution of last issue's cliffhanger, the scenes with Dragon Man, the introduction, one at a time, of the Inhumans, and even the first appearance of the group's flying motorbike, the tale doesn't neglect to fit in the all-important human drama, with the Thing ruminating woefully on how similar he is to Dragon Man, while the Torch fails to get a date with Dorrie Evans and suddenly finds himself someone new to lust after in the shape of Crystal.

Fantastic Four #45, Triton, Medusa, Gorgon
The tale's still hopelessly confused and confusing in its portrayal of the Inhumans. It's still not clear whether they're good guys or bad guys, what their motives are or why Medusa - whose clearly now a prisoner of the others - was running from Gorgon.

It's interesting that, at this stage, it's still Medusa who seems most worried about the Torch's well-being while Crystal expresses no concern at all when the others try to kill him. Could it be that, even at this stage, the plan was for Medusa to become Johnny Storm's new love interest rather than her sister? That had certainly been hinted at the last time Medusa'd appeared as a member of the Frightful Four and it's questionable whether the plan had yet been changed.

Fantastic Four #45, the Human Torch meets Crystal and Lockjaw
Just as with last issue, the fact that none of its events make sense when subjected to any kind of scrutiny doesn't matter because the thing bowls along at a pace that stops you asking any awkward questions, and there're some nice subtle touches to the tale too, such as the way Jack Kirby blacks out the Torch's face at times in his early scenes with Crystal, in order to capture a sense of how threatening his presence is to her.

And how can you not love a comic that features the Invisible Girl tucking the sleeping Dragon Man into his bed?


bliss_infinte said...

Issues 44 & 45 (and 46) are indeed the transitional issues of the Fantastic Four, with Joe Sinnot beginning to ink the strip and the move into more cosmic realms. As you read these stories you can feel shift and the pressure building which culminates in issue 47 and then the Galactus trilogy. These were the birth-pains of something new in comics!

Kid said...

I'm afraid I'm a bit of a party-pooper. I never much liked the more 'cosmic' aspect of the FF, preferring instead the 'flavour' of the earlier issues. It's clear that Jack Kirby had much more direct influence in the pacing and plotting in later issues, and if it hadn't been for Stan tying everything together with his dialogue and captions (as well as his editing), I feel that the ol' FF would have been much more hit and miss. Probably on a par with his much less satisfying DC work, which was (in the main) never on a par with the stuff he did at Marvel.

In regard to my preferring the earlier FF tales, there were exceptions of course. I loved the 4 part Doc Doom issues where he steals the Surfer's power cosmic, and the 4 part 'The Skrull Takes A Slave' issues. They were brilliant.

Boston Bill said...

Well Kid, I can't fault you for liking the early, slightly more madcap FF - they are the FF at their most fun!

But Steve's reminiscing makes me long to find some 2nd hand copies of the Marvel Masterworks FF volumes that contain these stories!

Boston Bill

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