Fantastic Friday: On aliens, cows, and hypnotism

Re-reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #2 introduces the Skrulls.

Once again, the issue begins with several pages of the four characters running around the city, showing off their powers. Only this time, there’s a twist — the Fantastic Four are committing crimes! No, turns out it’s the Skrulls, green-skinned aliens who can make themselves look like anyone. They’re using sci-fi doohickeys to mimic the Fantastic Four’s powers, framing them for the Skrulls’ crimes. The Skrulls are doing this because they believe the FF are the only ones who can stop them.

The real FF, for some reason, is staying at a remote hunting lodge. They’re not hiding, because the army shows up at their doorstep to arrest them. The FF surrender and are locked up in special cells, we’re told, that are designed just for them. The army already had these ready to go, did they? Once behind bars, the four escape, trashing the prison in the process (so much for that “surrender” business). They reunite at one of Reed’s “secret apartments” (?) to plot their next move.

Johnny and Ben bicker like crazy, after which it’s decided that Johnny will go undercover, letting the Skrulls think he’s one of them in disguise. Amazingly, it works, and Johnny leads the rest of the four to the Skrulls’ hideout. There, they learn a Skrull armada is in space, ready to attack. Using the same ploy, the other three FFers pretend to be Skrulls as well, and they’re taken into space to meet with the Skrull leader. Reed shows the leader pictures of giant monsters and advanced technology, to scare him off and keep him from invading. Here’s where things get real silly: the pictures are drawings from Strange Tales and Journey Into Mystery – Marvel comics.  Even better, the alien warlord actually falls for it! The armada leaves, in fear of the comic book drawings.

The FF head back to Earth, where they still have to deal with both the army and the four Skrulls who initially impersonated them. The Skrulls change into various monstrous forms, only to be defeated by the Fantastic Four. The very trusting army apologizes to Reed and just leaves the Skrulls there with him. Out of nowhere, the Skrulls announce that they don’t what to be Skrulls anymore, so Reed – get this – hypnotizes them into believing they’re cows, allowing them to spend the rest of their days on a peaceful farm. What the heck?

Unstable Molecule: This is more like the Reed I know, saving the day with his awesome smarts and not just his awesome powers. But where’d he get this hypnotism ability from? And scaring off the evil alien leader with comic book drawings? Yeesh.

Fade Out: Aside from freaking out soldiers and a few Skrulls by turning invisible, Sue doesn’t do much in this one.

Clobberin’ Time: Ben actually turns back to human for a few panels during a moment of anguish, something that will happen quite often in these early issues. He also smashes a spiked Skrull monster real good.

Flame on: Johnny gets a lot more to do, thankfully, putting himself on the line for the good of the team. We see some of the famous bickering between him and Ben get its start.

Trivia Time: The Skrulls might have been defeated by comic books and hypnotism, but they nonetheless went on to be major players in the Marvel universe. They had their wars against the Kree, Galactus ate their homeworld, they lost the ability to shapeshift for a while, and, most recently, they almost succeeded in invading the Earth. The cows from this issue even returned in a surprise twist in a later comic.

Fantastic or Frightful? What a silly story. Again, I’m left with the thought that Stan and Jack were making it up on the fly. Kirby’s art is great, though, as this issue gives him a chance to show off alien monsters and spaceships galore.

Next Friday: The Miracle Man!

Like to read? Check out my new book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH. amazon.com/dp/B00859NDJ8
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