Bruce Castle Archives: Fantastic Four Omnibus, Part 1

Would you believe I’ve never read these stories before? Crazy, huh? Well, I recently got a craving to read some Jack Kirby comics and I figured this would satisfy that craving in a big way. I’m going to be reviewing these in parts covering about 2 issues per post.

I will not be giving any kind of rating because I feel that these are classic stories that should be read by all regardless of how I feel about them.

I’ll just summarize each issue for you and give my feedback on them. I’ll briefly comment on the format on the omnibus. This collection will cost you 100 dollars. Pretty steep huh? Well, for that you get Fantastic Four #1-30 and the first annual. Just for comparison, these issues are also in the marvel masterworks collections. These are also in hardcover format and contain pretty much the same special features and also look about the same. However, this omnibus includes the same material that are in the first three masterworks volumes, the omnibus costs you 100 bucks, the masterworks route will cost you 150 bucks. So, if you can handle the physically hindering format of the omnibus, it is definitely the best way to read these stories. Now, onto the comics!

SPOILERS!!!

The first issue begins with the words the fantastic four written in smoke in the sky. It seems someone has fired a flare gun up in the sky and this is the message the flare shows. We see an invisible woman, a large rock-like creature, and a man on fire assemble. These are of course the fantastic four! Their names were featured on the first page. We then get their origin story. The four were attempting to reach the stars. “Ben, we’ve got to take that chance…unless we want the commies to beat us to it!” This is a quote from Sue Storm which seams humorous now, but this was written in 1961 and of course we didn’t land on the moon until 1969. They made it into space but they were soon affected by cosmic rays! Their ship crashed and that is how they gained their powers.

The reason why Mr. Fantastic fired the flare earlier is because he has some pictures to show the four. It seems that atomic plants all over the world are disappearing and are being replaced by big holes in the ground. We then see one of these events occurring and it seems that a giant green monster is the culprit. The creature also seems to be controlled by a man. The fantastic four then travel to Monster Isle!

They fight some monsters and when they travel below Monster Isle they discover a valley of diamonds and the mole man! They try to fight Mole Man but discover he is hard to hit because he has developed special senses “like those of a bat!” Mole Man calls his monsters to help him out. The four escape and “the entrance to the mole man’s empire are sealed forever!” The island then explodes and the fantastic four fly back home.

This issue was fun. It included the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and Mole Man. It should also be noted that the four didn’t have any costumes. Also, Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm don’t seem to be a couple.

The issue opens with the thing destroying “a lonely Texas tower”. The Invisible Girl swipes a very rare gem. The Human Torch melts a new gigantic monument. Mr. Fantastic switches off the power to the city. My goodness. Are the Fantastic Four evil?! Nope, they’re just skrulls. It is explained how the skrulls were able to impersonate the four. The Fantastic Four are hiding out in a cabin and are puzzled as to who is doing this. We then get a retelling of their origin story.

The military captures the four and imprisons them. They break out of the prison and return to their headquarters. The torch and Thing begin to squabble. They come up with a plan to figure out who is impersonating them. The Human Torch acts as bait. The skrulls bring him back to their hideout thinking he is one of their own. Johnny shoots a flare to alert his teammates. The skrulls and the FF fight! The four win and tie up the skrulls.

It seems the skrulls were getting rid of the four to ensure plans of a total skrull invasion! So, the FF travel in the skrull’s ship to the skrull mother ship. The FF impersonate the four skrulls by just trying to act skrully and keep their same appearances. The Fantastic Four talk to the skrull leader and tells him that an invasion of Earth would be impossible. That the FF couldn’t be beaten, that Earth has giant warriors to protect the planet. The FF uses clips from Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery, a nice comic ad. The skrull is fooled and even gives Mr. Fantastic a medal. The Fantastic Four then return to Earth. On the way back though, they pass through more cosmic rays and the Thing changes back into Ben Grimm!

Sadly, the transformation doesn’t last long. The FF are then arrested when back on Earth because they are still thought of as criminals. The skrulls that were tied up have escaped and begin wreaking havoc. The FF defeat the skrulls and the cops witness the skrulls transformation and that proves the Fantastic Four innocent. The skrulls then confess that they don’t want to be skrulls anymore. So Mr. Fantastic hypnotizes the skrulls into believing they’re cows!

Wow! Superheroes fighting amongst themselves? Superheroes not wanting to be superheroes? Shocking stuff! This sounds like old news now but back in the days where every superhero had no personality, this was revolutionizing stuff. It should be noted that this is the first appearance of the skrulls and of the Thing and Human Torch fighting. Also, there were only three skrulls that were hypnotized into being cows. Apparently the fourth one escaped. This event will later be addressed in the Kree Skrull War. Lastly, at the end of the issue, there is a pin-up of the Thing.

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