When starting this new series for the Green Onion Blog the most exciting part has been going through my old comic books and seeing all the amazing covers, and stories long forgotten. To kick the series off there is no better place to start than one of the most infamous issues of one of the industries most defining books. Created by a couple guys you may have heard of, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, this specific issue showcases the iconic masters at the height of their game. This one-shot story comes directly after the unforgettable trilogy that brought us Silver Surfer and the coming of Galactus, which directly followed the introduction of The Inhumans. FF #51 is often referenced as the source Silver Age comic when it comes to comic plotting, and is easily the most recognizable image of The Thing. On a more personal note, these old Fantastic Four books were the holy grail to me growing up, finding anything written by Stan Lee himself was worth my limited allowance. This specific book is one of my most cherished single issues and I am excited to share it with all of you. Shall we begin deconstructing?
Like I stated this image of Thing pencilled by Jack Kirby himself is Fantastic Four’s resident monsters most iconic cover. The emotion of this issue- and of Ben Grimm himself- is perfectly encapsulated in his rocky depiction. Also featured is the beautiful Sue Storm in desperate need of Thing’s help as Mr. Fantastic is captured in the then untitled negative zone.
On the inside cover we find a mail-in advertisement for all the things that would blow away any kid in 1966. At first I thought the grow 7 monsters was those little sponges that would grow to twice the size, but with the promise of ‘monster hair’ it looks to be more like a chia pet. Other classic toys include the whoopie cushion, a miniature spy camera, the joy buzzer, x-ray spex, and a loud nose blower, which I have no idea why you would want that? My favourite has to be the devil ring, which describes the heavy silver ring as “real impressive”, how could you not need one?
Marvel Comics Group
Fantastic Four #51
“This man… this monster”
Price $0.12 (Todays cost: $1, todays worth: $25 – $600)
Written by Stan Lee
Pencilled by Jack Kirby
Inked by Joe Sinnott
Lettered by Artie Simek
“Occasionally, a tale needs no introduction! This is such a tale!” Oops, sorry for the lengthy introduction.
The story opens with orange skinned Thing sulking around the streets in the rain, beat down by his grotesque looks and recent break up with Alicia Masters. When he is invited into a strangers home (the man is nameless not to be revealed until Web of Spider-Man #69, 1990, as Ricardo Jones). After drugging Thing, the man reveals his plans-
The stranger uses an apparatus that he has created to steal Thing’s powers.
A friggin’ nuclear submarine! What!?! We always complain that kids today have the best toys. But in 1966 you could buy a friggin’ nuclear submarine with rockets that fire, torpedoes, and an electrically lit instrument panel that fits 2 kids for $6.98! It literally says “the most powerful weapon in the world!” can I still get one? 10 day free trial? Honestly?
Meanwhile, Reed Richards has been hard at work in his lab (of course), building a weapon to protect the world from certain villains-
When “Thing” returns after missing for days everyone seems real worried. I don’t know why Reed is like this, but I love it-
When the real Ben wakes up he finds that his powers are gone, and he is returned to his old skin and bone self. Then he returns to the Baxter Building to confront the man who stole his powers. Unfortunately, for some reason Reed doesn’t recognize his old friend anymore, and ‘Thing’ confirms he’s ‘Thing’ because he can do this?-
Conveniently, after Ben leaves the Baxter Building, Reed must put his life in the hands of who he thinks is his oldest friend (way to think that one through, Reed), as Reed begins a dangerous experiment (of course). Which when he introduces his friend and wife to, we are introduced to this beautiful Jack Kirby creation-
There’s a couple pages of Johnny Storm, who has gone off to attend college. Of course he’s not in college, he’s in a diner and he gets into a heated conversation with Whitey Mullins, when one, Wyatt Wingfoot, comes to Johnny’s aid (as if he needed it).
That’s right, it’s an accordion. This is only extra funny due to the fact that I spent the entire month of June talking about accordions.
Back at the Baxter Building, Reed has begun his experiment into what he calls sub-space, and is later renamed the Negative Zone. This is the first appearance of the Negative Zone and Kirby does not dissapoint-
Then things start to go horribly wrong for Reed, and he must tug his line so ‘Thing’ can pull him back. Unfortunately, the line breaks and hope is lost. Realizing that Reed is a scientist of true integrity the fake Thing gets over his hate and anger for Reed and jumps into the Negative Zone to help.
There’s some pretty good stuff, like hypno-coins, a homer-matic automatic pitcher, but the highlight here- and what blew me away was this-
For the low, low price of $18.95, you can get your own monkey! Not kidding, they are advertising the sale of squirrel monkeys, poor things. They eat the same food as you, they even like lollipops, aww. He even comes with a free monkey toy, aww. I love him, this made me sad.
After realizing that Reed is a good man, and a much more brilliant scientist than himself, the fake Thing tries to make things right. He finds Reed lost in the Negative Zone and uses his stolen strength to throw Reed back out to safety. Sacrificing himself to drift off alone to who knows where.
The real Ben Grimm is off to Alicia Masters home, in hopes that, because she’s blind, she’ll recognize him for his true self. Also, facing her as a normal man, he may have the confidence he needs to be with her again. But, as he goes to knock on Alicia’s door he turns back into the rock monster and he books it out of there before Alicia gets the chance to see him again. Maybe she should stick with Silver Surfer.
Reed crashes back through into the real world, but at a cost. Reed believes that he has lost his best friend, that it was his fault that Ben would be gone forever. That’s when the true Thing arrives and everything’s all love and cuddles. As for the mysterious stranger who impersonated Ben, we may never know what plans he had but one thing is for certain-
Oh ya, that’s right! The next issue of Fantastic Four is the first appearance of Black Panther! Who happens to be a big deal right now.
I want this sweater so bad. I would absolutely rock this sweater from 1966!
This fan page is full of talks about how great issues #47 and #48 are. I mean obviously, Silver Surfer and The Inhumans have stood the test of time and only gotten more popular, all stemming from those few issues back in the ‘60s. But, I really liked this fan letter of one fan who isn’t too sure about the new dramatic story telling of Marvel-
And for any of my friends or followers dealing with losing their hair- double money back guarantee-
Thanks booknerds, next up on deconstructed: the first comic my son, Zyler, ever read on his own.