Finally, the best tagline in all of anything and everything everywhere, “The Greatest Comic Magazine in the World!!” Both exclamation marks are totally necessary. Also, it would later become the more flowy and therefore more catchy, “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.” Regardless of the exact wording, this is where the awesome hyperbole of Stan Lee that defined Marvel for decades began.
Before page one, page negative one, often referred to as “the cover,” we learn of the Fantasti-car and new costumes. This is a big issue, the bad news is, it’s all downhill from the promise of the cover. This is certainly the weakest issue thus far, it is number 3 and it ranks 3rd (honestly, if I had to rank them, I’d probably rate them 2, 1, 3… but I don’t have to so I won’t). Another quick note on the first three covers, issues 1 and 2 tell a story with the cover, this just sells you on the cool new toys the FF have.
On actual page one we are greeted by our first truly lame FF villain, Miracle Man (which to me is a good guy’s name, just ask Jack Kirby, he’d say, “Yeah, like Scott Free, Mr. Miracle”… Stan Lee wishes he came up with that name!). From the audience, the FF watch the Miracle Man who is sort of a slightly more devilish Dr. Strange. Miracle Man shows up the Thing in a feat of strength. Poor Thing, he’s just one angry dude. I know his transformation was unfortunate, but I think he’d be ticked off regardless.
A bit later, there’s a marquee for a great looking monster movie, “The Monster from Mars!” Oh, the 1950s. I know it was the 60s, but clearly, that movie title belongs to the 50s (and another callback to Marvel’s 50s monster comics). The giant replica monster is brought to magical life! Good thing the premier is televised and the FF are watching, I mean, what else would they be watching, there were like 3 channels back then.
The team gears up and this is where we get the cool stuff the cover promised us. First, the costumes, actually made by Sue Storm, very kind of her. However, she also makes a mask for Thing. Her heart is in the right place, I swear. The Fantasti-car (Stan’s spelling, not mine) breaks apart, showing for the first time, why Reed Richards is awesome and his awesome James Bond-like tech.
The team dispatches the Monster from Mars, by melting it. The Miracle Man then steals an atomic tank (the deadliest of all tanks). Sue does her invisible thing and sneaks on. With Act 4, the team regroups, the Thing is haunted by his transformation, so Johnny and Ben fight for some reason. The greatest line I’ve ever read in a comic results, “A dog never growls for no reason.” True, just ask my dog.
Sue sends the signal, that flaming 4 from issue 1. These guys need radios or something, then again, Nah, that’s way less dramatic. The dysfunctional team comes together because that’s what the Fantastic Four do! I hope, I’m not sure if this book will last, after all this is the third comic and it’s already not as good as the first two.
Returning to the story, Johnny flashes a flame to blind Miracle Man and somehow only him. It’s cool to see the team using their powers in various and new ways as we get deeper into the comic’s run.
Sue is hospitalized and we learn that Miracle Man isn’t performing miracles or magic of any kind, he’s just hypnotizing people! How he manages to do this on a massive scale is never explained. Reed points out that he’s not a real magician, just a hypnotist, that’s a master of illusion. How does he know this? Well, Reed says “A real magician wouldn’t steal.” Huh? Not even an evil one? Moving on. Actually, not quite yet, so is he permanently blind? Because I’m pretty sure he is now permanently blind and that’s why he can’t hypnotize so he’s no longer a threat. That’s kind of unintentionally dark.
Anyway, the end of the third-ranked out of three FF issues, Johnny gets angry and takes off! Why is Johnny mad? I’m not sure, I hope he rejoins the team. We’ll have to wait until next time to find out.