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Sep 13 08 6:45 PM
Son of Storytime the Younger says about FF #26:
I liked this comic. I liked some parts. Like me show you the pictures.
Here it looks like he's fat.
[Interviewer: Uh, probably just the inking. Anything else?]
It's like a spinner thing that you throw at someone, and it could sliced through him because it's very sharp. See, it's spinning like a disc
[Interviewer: I think it's actually just a power beam that goes bzzzt and forces people back. I don't think it ever leaves the palm of his hand.]
He's like jumping and "WAAAHHHHH!!!!"
[Interviewer: So, is the Hulk a good guy or a bad guy?]
Like, this tiny good [holds his thumb and forefinger a quarter-inch
apart], and this tiny bad! [throws his arms all the way apart]
[Interviewer: So he's much more bad than good, huh?]
Sep 13 08 6:54 PM
Sep 13 08 6:57 PM
Sep 13 08 7:02 PM
Sep 14 08 7:52 AM
Sep 14 08 9:38 AM
Sep 14 08 9:45 AM
Sep 14 08 3:55 PM
Sep 15 08 3:24 PM
There is so much movement in Kirby's characters and scenes, as the images you provided clearly illustrate. This 2 parter is one of the best of the early
FF's. A great blending of action, humor and drama. I read this for the first time when it was reprinted in FF Annual # 4 back in the summer of 1966.
Sep 20 08 1:21 AM
I see there are a bunch of FF reviews to enjoy, so I'd better get mine in (uncolored by anyone else's perceptions), so I can read all those! But
I'll probably get my ToS and ST reviews in as well, and then read the whole thread.
So we're starting roughly the second quarter of Kirby FF. (Give or take the Annuals.) And I do mean roughly; there's a lot of fighting again in this
one. With this issue, I've actually reached the point beyond which I've never read in the FF (at least until the Byrne run). So everything after this
will be wholly new to me, woohoo. (Except an early 50's issue which was in Origins of Marvel Comics.)
I look at FF Masterworks Vol. 11 coming out, and I realize that the Marathon crew won't get to those until around 2014!!! Ouch. I may have to read ahead
and save my reviews for posting at the proper time, but I'd miss learning all the insights from everyone as I work through each month's and year's
worth of tales. If only we had more time to review these, like going back to a schedule of a new thread every three weeks like earlier in the Marathon. Oh
well, I guess reading ahead is my only option.
This issue really brings back memories, like #25 did, of Fireside's Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles. (This is the first time I've looked
at these panels in probably 15-20 years.) It's fitting that these two issues opened that book. And Iron Man was right when he said that the Hulk was an
Avengers problem, so Hulk's two-issue fight with the FF makes all five of them seem that much more cosmopolitan in these earlyish days of the Marvel SA.
The first thing that always jumped out at me about this book is that the cover seems poor. They look like little action figures from far away. There's not
much sense of immediacy for me or visual impact. I have to think that Kirby could have crafted an image that shows the nine major players in a medium shot with
crowded action. This is just not an exciting or stimulating cover for the first meeting of the Avengers and the FF.
I think it was prof who commented that the first half-dozen issues of Avengers, plus FF 25/26, seem like a miniseries. I haven't read Avengers 5-6 in many
years and have completely forgotten those stories, but I would say that Avengers 2 and 3 and FF 25 and 26 make a perfect old-fashioned 4-issue miniseries.
After failing to come up with a title for this miniseries, I finally stumbled across one on pg15 of this 4th and final issue: "Target H".
Sure, Avengers 1 and 4 could round it out to a 6-issue limited series, but I think Target H makes for a perfect theme for four issues. It's hard to
downplay the scope and effect of "Hulk versus everyone" (minus Spidey and Strange). It's the meatiest extended storyline so far in the Marvel
Silver Age, isn't it? In Target H #1, the festering animosity and distrust between the Hulk and the other Avengers is brought to a head by the Space
Phantom and the Hulk quits the Avengers. In #2, the Sub-Mariner aids the Hulk in his newfound fight against his former friends. In #3, the Hulk seeks the
Avengers but finds the FF, and in #4 everyone but "Namor and the Ditko's" gets it on. Avengers #1 is an okay setup and a great issue, but
it's so cozy and feel-good compared to the ill will in the four issues of "Target H", which do have the linking theme of the Hulk as outsider.
After having his series cancelled, the Hulk has really come back in a BIG way ever since his return in Avengers #1. I think it's only half a year more
until we get to read him every month in his own solo stories again.
So if Avengers 2-3 and FF 25-26 do work as one 4-issue story, it certainly seems like the first important crossover extravaganza of the Marvel Silver Age.
Compare these two FF issues to FF #12, in which it was mostly setup and suspense and only a few pages of action at the end. I can't really think of any
important crossovers before FF 25. Stan and Jack really outdid themselves with FF 25-26 (not to mention Avengers 3), and it wouldn't surprise me to learn
that they got a ton of fanmail telling them to provide more of the same. I'm guessing that these issues are where Stan and Jack learned how much their
readers loved the crossovers and heroes battling each other (as well as extended storylines). Eventually we would get Contest of Champions.
A word about the title: "The Avengers Take Over!" Doesn't this seem like an intentionally sarcastic or at least ironic title? The Avengers keep
getting in the FF's way and even tell them to get lost. So this title just exudes sarcasm in my opinion and I think it's hilarious.
Something interesting about FF 26 - there seem to be two contrasting themes. On the one hand, you have the Hulk still enduring the loneliness and bitterness of
renewed isolation, not to mention the competition and friction between supergroups, and on the other hand you have the strengthened bond among the FF
themselves. These are almost opposite themes in a way. Community vs. solitude, or cooperation vs. anarchy. The community nature of the FF and of the Avengers
highlights the solitary nature of the Hulk, which is literally a function of his own nature. But Rick's loyalty to Hulk is also ironically on
display, given the Hulk's feeling of betrayal. So in spite of himself, Hulk still has a friend, even if he won't believe it. It's like Stan is
showing that even Hulk isn't truly alone. The FF have each other, the Avengers have each other, and Hulk has Rick anytime he wants to visit Stark's
As for the bond among the FF, note how this issue completes the emotional arc begun in FF 23, in which Reed was "voted out" of leadership of the FF
and the other three members each put themselves above the team. Three-quarters of the team was sort of in motivational disarray which only Doom could dispell.
Then in #24, that theme continued, with Reed again working outside the framework of the team, and Ben at least thought Reed was acting cowardly. In #25, events
conspired to keep them apart, and only now in #26 do they really come together again physically and emotionally. Sue and Johnny echo the readers's thoughts
on pg11: "The gang's all here again!" and "It's wonderful! Just like old times!" At the bottom of the page, the full FF goes into
action together for the first time since pg9 of #24, a span of 47 pages!
There are several instances in the story which demonstrate the FF's bond and their concern for each other (fitting because they've been around almost
two years longer than the Avengers, and anyway they're a family by blood and love, which the Avengers aren't). On pg3, Reed deliriously "plasses
out" in his determination to come to Ben's aid (I love the dramatic red background for that panel). Johnny, in a great illo on pg4, flames on:
"Ben needed me! I can't fail him - " On pg7, the Thing virtually begs Johnny to stay out of harm's way: "Now you stay put, kid!
You've done your share! The rest is up to me, hear?" Both this issue and the last one make clear that Reed is willing to sacrifice
his own life to experiment with dangerous chemicals which could return Thing's humanity to him. And it takes Reed in a hospital bed to make Sue finally
forget about Namor. (This makes up for the fact that her uniform is missing the "4" logo at top of pg3.)
Since FF 25/26 is the first overtly two-part continued story of the Marvel Silver Age (except maybe for a couple shorter Thor stories with Mr. Hyde and
Zarrgo), the opening action, on pages 1 and 2, really jumps out at me. I mean the fighting begins with no sign of preamble. You hit the ground running on the
splash page. I can't think of another Marvel Silver Age story so far that used this technique. And the splash page is really really good and memorable -
good faces and postures for both Hulk and Thing. Even though most of Thing's face is hidden, his eyes convey a sad, resigned determination.
On pg2, how is the Thing able to throw a thick cylindrical stream of powder? Even if the manhole created the cylindrical shape, how is the Thing able to propel
a big cloud of powder in the first place?
In the next panel, he gets in his first punch since the bottom of the previous issue's pg18 (a stretch of almost 6 pages, which was used to good effect for
the dramatically emotional cliffhanger). Thing keeps Hulk occupied until Torch regains consciousness. There's drama from the retention of Torch's
bandages on his head and arm, and also when he falls to earth on pg4. Torch reenters the fray in a nice illustration at top of pg5. Good posture for Torch and
Hulk, and a good face for Hulk. Torch shows smarts in order to use his flame conservatively. The entire right side of the Hulk is highlighted yellow to show
the glow of Torch's flame. I really like that effect, I'm not sure I remember seeing that before in FF or Strange Tales. The Hulk gets a great line -
"Don't you fools ever know when to quit?!!" But the Thing suffers at the hand of Artie Simek. "Ixnax"??
On this page, how is the fire hydrant able to bend 90 degrees without breaking? The Hulk uses it to demonstrate that he's "as smart as any of
you!" This is Stan's way of informing new readers, who might think that Hulk is "just a mass of muscle - think I haven't any brains!"
Even the Hulk's grammar is intelligent: "haven't any".
Thing tries diplomacy, which is nice characterization and dialogue for Ben. "Look, big fella! You proved your point!...Now why don't you calm
down and let's talk this over...??" This is probably a combination of inherent peacefulness and...practicality. This leads to what I think is the best
moment in the story. "The Hulk will never trust anyone ever again! I've been betrayed by everyone I've ever known - but no more!" When you
think about it, this is pretty deep psychological drama for 60's Marvel, at least outside of ASM and Thor. The invulnerable Hulk is really hurting.
"Betrayed by everyone I've ever known." "Never trust anyone ever again." On pg16, he continues, "I trusted you,
kid! You know all my secrets! But you deserted me - teamed up with Captain America!!" He's made a sympathetic figure (new readers again) and
also implicitly indicates that he isn't against reason or diplomacy per se. This reminds me that Hulk's persona is presumably still a lingering, if
diminishing, combination of Banner's normal brain and his pure Hulk brain - the mysterious state he entered into in Incredible Hulk #4. (The
reference to "my secrets" would entice readers to pick up The Incredible Hulk, if there was such a mag still hitting stands.)
Then more action as the concussive force of the Hulk's handclap makes the earth tremble and shudder for miles around, and sends even the rocky
Thing into the air. This is really the exclamation point showing how deep the Hulk's emotional wounds are.
On pg7, there's a nice illo of the Hulk catching a shell, and the caption likens him to a baseball outfielder, a simile useful for kids and adult readers
alike. In the next two panels, as he completes a 360 and uses the shell's momentum to throw it back in to the cutoff man, it's unclear to me how he was
able to bring his left leg around to the front in time.
It's also hard to believe that the media contingent shown on pg3 could lose sight of the Hulk. Maybe he ducked down amongst the rubble from the collapsed
building. The Hulk likes to use manholes and travel underground. Did he also do this in a previous issue, maybe in Avengers 3 or FF 12? Maybe it's my
imagination. Anyway, I'm not sure why the Hulk would leave the Thing now. On the splash page he had promised, "This time I'll show you no
mercy!" Could he be underestimating the Thing a second time?? Or maybe he is actually merciful at heart and his splash page sentiment was in the heat of
anger. But he certainly doesn't seem overly merciful in the next scene. It begins with one of Kirby's trademarked 3-panel zoom sequences at the bottom
of pg8. It's a visually great sequence, only let down by Roussos, who makes the Hulk look unshaven. But what I love most about this scene is the
"incredible" changeup Kirby throws. You could be forgiven for thinking that the subway train was going to CRASHHH!!! into the Hulk after the pageturn
("BUNG!"). The action zoom gave me that impression. Instead, the Hulk stops the train and...takes over as the driver??? Seeing the Hulk with his hand
on the wheel (and watching the track ahead) is a novel image and contrasts with IH #1, in which the jeep Banner was driving crashed when the newly-changed Hulk
either couldn't steer or lost interest. You could say he was merciful to the innocent subway riders here, but apprarently he will hurt them if they
don't follow orders. "Take all the passengers with you - while you still can!!" Whoa. Shades of IH 1 and 2. He really is pissed
off at Rick and the Avengers.
The bottom of pg9 features the issue's first appearance by the Avengers, at nearly the halfway point (fitting in an FF mag), in a pregnant pause tableau
akin to the one near the end of IH 2 where Ross and the army walked in on the Hulk and Betty (every father's nightmare).
Page 10 features the resumption of hostilities from Avengers 3 (issue #2 of "Target H"). The first two panels are really colorful and great action
illos. That's to be expected, as everyone but the FF are squeezed into each of these panels. The second panel is the better of the two. Hulk lands a good
uppercut on Iron Man, and there's good posture for Hulk, Cap, and Thor. I don't understand how Giant-Man can say, "Get back!! Don't
all rush him!" as Hulk is in the process of grabbing a defenseless boy and is, for all they know, about to kill him. Hulk even tells
Rick,'You won't get away with it!!" Do the Avengers really know Hulk well enough in their short association with him to know that he
wouldn't hurt Rick? Apparently they didn't read Incredible Hulk 1-3. (Even a teenager like Johnny Storm does his homework - he read
Incredible Hulk in FF 5). Speaking of this, Rick is surprisingly sure on pg16 that Hulk won't hurt him! And again on the last page: "I was
always safe! The Hulk would never hurt me! No matter what! I know it!" Maybe that's because the Hulk has stopped trying to
kill him since Banner's brain started exerting more influence in IH 4. I would say Stan is just softening the Hulk from his early character of a would-be
murderer, but even in this issue, the Hulk threatens to kill innocents on the subway train, so I still think Rick is taking a big chance with the
"betrayed", revenge-minded Hulk.
With page 10, you could almost forget that this is an FF mag, and so of course the pageturn brings us Reed and Sue, who finally join the action for the
aforementioned "FF reunion show", just in time to begin the second half of the story.
The Wasp teases the Hulk: "Why are you hitting yourself? Huh? Why are you hitting yourself??"
The Hulk's replacement attacks him in a show of thematic symmetry, and this short fight brings to mind that classic Steranko issue of Captain
America. This scene also ties in with Avengers 4, since it shows Cap to be Rick's first line of defense, which unfortunately probably cements
Hulk's impression that Rick and Cap are best pals. I especially like the illo of Cap spreadeagled to avoid Hulk's punch. But how and why is Cap able to
engage Hulk for so long before the rest of the Avengers appear? "Leave him, he's mine"?? I guess Cap ran faster than everyone else because he
cares so much more for Rick. Anyway, "Thing vs. Hulk" was only the first of a succession of mano-a-mano tussles here. These may not add to the
Hulk's cache (he doesn't exactly simultaneously fend off the combined might of the Avengers and the FF, as one might expect from the cover),
but at least they fill up the pages. I think either Thor's hammer or Torch's supernova heat could put the Hulk on the mat, and I can understand why the
Avengers wouldn't want to hurt him, but why does Johnny hold back?
Finally the FF meet the Avengers. And they argue. And get in each other's way. (This reminds me of some previous story, maybe the end of FF 17 where Doom
escapes because Reed and Ben collide?) Cap argues with Torch, and brainy Tony Stark argues with brainy Reed Richards. Why would Cap and Iron Man not
want the FF's help against Hulk? Pride? Odd. "The Avengers can handle this alone! Keep out of it!" This is even more ballsy coming from
Cap, who has only shared one battle with the Avengers so far (intentionally sitting out most of that battle), and who's never met the Hulk before to gauge
A Hulk/Thor throwdown is again put off for another day (as in Avengers 3). I can't wait for JiM 112 next summer. I imagine readers were clamoring
for such a fight by this point. But at least we sort of get "Thor vs. Thing". Apprarently the Thing "got in the way" of Thor's hammer,
which had already missed the Hulk, and at a 90 degree angle of Hulk's leap. What a poor effort by Thor. Get someone throwing in the bullpen. Thor can't
be seen to lose Asgardian face, so he proclaims, "Foolish one! Why did you not heed the warning of Thor???" While this sounds good, and is aided by
count 'em three question marks, the fact remains that the Thing was not actually in the way. Thor is pretty new to this crossover thing. And panel 4 is
pretty bad - only the Thing's feet and the back of Thor's head? But we do learn that the hammer's enchantment allows it to pursue someone as if it
has a mind of its own, regardless of its original trajectory. That's cool.
Some fun dialogue on pg15:
"Sorry about this, Iron Man, but you shouldn't have gotten in the way!"
"Trouble with you, Richards, is that you're used to giving orders to everybody!"
"Boy, did we all make a mess of this little caper!" I like Torch's posture there. It reminds me of Doc Doom on the cover of the original Bring
On the Bad Guys.
Thing to Thor: "You've even got muscles in your voice!"
Reed: "The Thing carried most of the fight so far! If he's willing to join forces, so be it!"
Even though Iron Man agreed to work with the FF, he had his fingers crossed. Only a page later: "Look - when I say that's enough, I mean
it!" And if not for Reed's and Ben's rescue of Torch (the solitary example of teamwork in this entire issue, and a defensive action to
boot), IM would have killed the Torch by...underestimating his own armor??!! I just think he's pissed at the pounding he kept taking from Hulk in
Avengers 1-3, and now he wants a piece of green all to himself, and it's making him lose his head and cut corners. But still, this is pretty
uncharacteristic of the usually level-headed Tony, who even risked his own life to save the Angel not so long ago.
And anyway how does Iron Man's "magnetic repellent power" affect the Torch? Does fire have ionized particles? (You can tell how bad my science
is.) The Torch also has flaming strands of hair at the end of this page? Kind of a bad illo.
The final round of "Hulk vs. Thing" breaks out on pg19. "I'm tired of your taunts, Thing! Now I'll end them forever!" A pretty nice
second panel there, needing no sound effect, just using force lines. Great expression on Thing's face. Then after another page-long skirmish with Cap,
it's "Hulk vs. Giant-Man" to round out "Target H". Well, not really. Giant-Man's size-changing capsules contain the fastest-acting
chemicals in the history of mankind. I guess this is the only advisable strategy for GM; his increased size doesn't bestow nearly enough enhanced strength
to let him grapple with Hulk. But why was the Hulk trying to punch GM's foot?? Kind of unsporting. The "Banner influence" is taking a coffee
This is topped off with a pretty disappointing climax. An "emergency gamma-ray treated capsule which Banner gave me months ago"????? When your
embarrassingly convenient surprise "out" requires 10 words to explain, that's never a good sign. I was kind of let down by this sudden
development, but I've probably seen much much worse. It works okay to end this fracas in another draw, but it just seems too convenient. And why
doesn't Banner take these capsules whenever he feels his change commencing? Presumably because it functions the same as the gamma-ray machine. The infusion
of gamma radiation makes him change form, so if he's still mostly Banner enough to pop a pill, it would only work to change him fully to Hulk.
Also, the Avengers leave the scene pretty quick. Favorite TV show starting? I guess I can see their point if they really thought the Hulk was fleeing and they
couldn't follow him underwater and had no way to track him by sight. But isn't Thor strong enough to swim after him for awhile? Thor hardly did
anything in this whole issue; he should be pretty rested. And the FF's own Torch could have vaporized the water to reveal the Hulk, we've seen him
vaporize a section of water before. But it was time for the issue to wrap. I would have at least liked to have known which of the Avengers or FF said,
"We've got to go after him!" and who said, "No! It will be hopeless!" and who said, "We'd never find him!"
Having all these statements come from off-panel means that we can only guess who thought what. At least we do get a glimpse of Banner. That's a good panel
and helps new readers understand more about the Hulk.
I guess this climax has its silver lining, the irony being that amid the Avengers and the FF, only Rick Jones and Bruce Banner were able to defeat the Hulk.
The denouement features Cap relating emotionally to the Hulk. "I can't help feeling sorry for the Hulk, Rick. It's a tragic thing to lose
a partner! Perhaps I, more than anyone else, realize what a loss it can be..." This would sound slightly disingenuous (i.e. Cap isn't telling Rick to
go back to Hulk) if Cap didn't think that Rick is in obvious danger from the Hulk at this point. And Rick, for his part, can't feel too good
about Cap's motivation, as stated by Thor: "That's why Captain America has taken Rick under his wing - because he reminds him of his own lost
partner!" That must make Rick feel so...unique. He's probably thinking about a train ticket back to Arizona. (I think Stan included this dialogue from
Cap and Thor in order to bring readers up to speed in case they decide to start buying The Avengers with issue #5.)
Some rousing pronouncements to end the double-length tale:
Reed: "Perhaps our battle was not in vain! It gave us a chance to meet - to get the measure of each other! And I for one am pleased with what I have
seen!" (He is?? I wouldn't be. The Avengers didn't show any teamwork or efficacy in this issue.)
Thor: "I pray that the Avengers can make a record as unsullied as that of the Fantastic Four! I hardly did anything this issue, so I'll step forward
and speak on behalf of the Avengers! Because I'm holding this hammer!"
That last panel is pretty sweet. The FF are in the foreground, walking together, to visually reinforce the bond and cohesion that's returned since the
events of #23 and #24, and a blue chip stock like Thor alludes to the FF's longevity compared to the new kids on the block. This panel does a lot to
reinforce the interconnected nature of what has become the Marvel Universe. And I'm pretty excited by the final caption which promises both the return of
Namor and the first crossover by Doctor Strange!!
But there still remains the spectre of disunion in the FF in even this final image. Three of them are holding hands. Why are the Thing and Torch not
Sep 20 08 3:39 AM
Sep 23 08 11:41 AM
Sep 23 08 12:27 PM
By the way, I liked the Widow better as a redhead in ToS 52. Here she has grayish hair instead. Was this because Pepper is red and there ain't room
enough in this town for two? Natasha was much better served by red hair. I wonder if this is just one of those Masterworks changes.
Sep 23 08 3:13 PM
Sep 23 08 4:35 PM
Sep 23 08 6:03 PM
Sep 23 08 6:50 PM
Sep 24 08 12:48 PM
For me, this issue represents a huge jump upwards in the quality of the series. We had already moved to Chic Stone's inks, which were a definite
improvement over the inks by Roussos, and here Thor faces two adversaries, who are in his own class. I mean, Thor's a god!! So it's good to see him go
against Executioner and Enchantress. Again, Loki is behind it all, but using Enchantress was an inspired move. What a character! (And look at her on pages 4-6!
Don't let anyone tell you Jack Kirby couldn't draw attractive women...) Of course, in the end Thor succeeds in tricking the Executioner and is also
able to resist the wiles of Enchantress. Go Thor! And Don Blake is making definite progress with Jane Foster as well. Things are looking good, right? Nope, all
this makes Odin even madder!
Yep, things are really hopping now, this is so much better than the vast majority of Thor stories so far. Really inspired. Tales of Asgard was great too. Here
we get slightly different take on the birth of manking as in the Bible. I wonder how did this play with the more religious readers? The splash with Thor and
the dwarfs is GREAT.
Sep 26 08 11:55 PM
Sep 26 08 11:57 PM
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