Holy freaking crap! We are 20 issues into the Fantastic Four! We are just under 20% through Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s historic run. Jack would leave after issue 102 (though his actual final issue was 108 as there was unused material utilized that issue). Since I have been amazed this run, it has yet to be beat and likely never will. Now, let’s take a look at Fantastic Four no. 20. The cover sells us on a team dynamic and with Stan’s wonderful huckster nature coming through, this is after all, THE MARVEL AGE OF COMICS!
The issue kicks off with the team doing science, pretty much everyone, save Johnny who is just hanging around. Reed tried to be careful in his attempt to see inside the strange alien device, however, Ben cuts to the chase and breaks it open. You just can’t be careful around an impatient rock man.
It’s a nice open, however, it has no impact on anything else to come as a strange globe of death is floating around outside. It isn’t really doing anything other than freaking people out, but the team still decides to attack it.
In a twist that threw me off for a second and required a second reading of the page, the globe is actually a transportation device. The team finds themselves before the Watcher! He, of course, cannot interfere but keeps doing so. He informs the team of the latest greatest threat in the history of time and space, The Molecule Man. Yeah, I have no idea who that guy is. I’d save the dramatics for someone like Galactus (we’ll see him in about 30 issues).
Returning to Earth, the team finds the Baxter Building moved to Times Square. Why? That part isn’t explained, but the Fantastic Four clearly have their work cut out for them with this dude. The team attacks. They do that quite often, attack without a plan, only to later regroup to come up with a plan. Which they’ll do, but not before a few pages of wonderful action.
Molecule Man has his way with the team. So, they leave to regroup, and people freak out. If the FF are running away, we must be really screwed.
In my favorite panel in the comic, the team takes the subway to escape.
After some unexpected help from a member of the Yancy Street Gang, they head to Alicia’s apartment to formulate that aforementioned plan. There, Reed figures the Molecule Man’s weakness. He is unable to manipulate living molecules. The FF give up their location and Molecule Man slides, yes, actually slides, to get them.
Alicia presents Molecule Man with a gift, life-sized sculptures of the FF. Molecule Man decides to show for the blind beauty and says he’ll manipulate the statues. I assume he was going to pose them in funny ways. One problem, it’s the Fantastic Four encased in Alicia’s molds. The living tissue creates a painful force feedback for Molecule Man.
The team doesn’t need to do much else, as The Watcher and his globe show up to take Molecule Man away. Forever, hopefully. He also points out that he returned the Baxter Building, tying up loose ends. That’s it for issue 20, next issue, our first Annual!