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E202: The Fantastic Three? Four?? Five??? (Fantastic Four #39 and #40) -- June/July 1965

E202: The Fantastic Three? Four?? Five??? (Fantastic Four #39 and #40) -- June/July 1965

Apologizes for the delay on this episode. Edward has been traveling more than usual for business making it difficult to record. But we are back, and we should have a few more episodes recorded in time to be back on schedule next week. Stay tuned true believers!

In this episode:

Mike and Ed skip over the tornado that Dr. Doom used to terrorize the city, the capture of the Baxter Building, and the use of Reed Richards’ technology against himself, and jump right to the shocking news that the Thing, Ben Grimm, is leaving the Fantastic Four! Why is he leaving? Is it too hard to keep egos like this together for more than a few years? What is he going to do next? Is it a coincidence that the Avengers recently lost their four strongest members? And does this mean the Fantastic Four need to go into recruiting mode now too? The “Fantastic Three” does not have the same ring to it!

Fantastic Four (1961) #39 | Comic Issues | Marvel
Fantastic Four Vol 1 40 | Marvel Database | Fandom

Behind the Issues

A lot happens in these issues: The after effects of the nuclear bomb in issue #38 cause the FF to lose their powers. Then Dr Doom attacks the team while they are helpless and they need to defeat their arch-nemesis without the benefit of powers. But all of that is secret. The FF manage to hide the fact their powers are missing while they get help from Daredevil. By the end of issue #40 they have their powers back, and Ben Grim is back to being the Thing. But in the course of the battle Ben felt un-appreciated and uses it as an excuse to leave the organization. This continuing storyline with every issue ending on a cliffhanger is Stan’s new style and we are seeing it in almost every title now, but none as connected as the Fantastic Four.

In these issues:

Fantastic Four #39:

The Fantastic Four are rescued at sea, and they have lost their powers. Reed uses his technology to replace their powers, and they keep this information from the world. Meanwhile, Dr. Doom, who had been hypnotized by Reed previously, has this spell lifted by a local hypnotist. Doom, now in a rage at being tricked, heads back to New York City and battles the Fantastic Four, who have Daredevil on their side. They have a wild battle, with Daredevil doing a lot of the heavy lifting, leading into the next issue.

Fantastic Four #40:

Daredevil continues to pull the Fantastic Four’s bacon out of the fire. Meanwhile, the Four head to their headquarters, where Doom is holed up, with the local police sectioning off the city around the Four’s headquarters to allow these superpowered enemies do battle. At just the right time, the Four’s powers return, due to the ingenuity of Reed Richards, and they are able to best Dr. Doom and reclaim their headquarters. The Thing pushes them over the finish line, and they let Doom escape. And at the very end of the issue, the Thing decides that he has had it, and quits the team.

Assumed before the next episode:

People are wondering if the team should be called the Fantastic Five.

This episode takes place:

After the Fantastic Four/Five have defeated Dr. Doom and reclaimed the Baxter Building.

Full Transcript

Edward: Mike, there is a lot to talk about.

Michael: No kidding.

Edward: We could talk about the fact there's a tornado rampaging through the city destroying buildings. We can talk about Dr. Doom using Reed Richards technology against him and against all of us. We could talk about Doom. Taking over the Baxter, Building again, and threatening the Fantastic Four.

 These are all things we can talk about, but we're not gonna talk about any of those things.

Michael: No man. We're talking about teams. We're talking about teams. Eddie, this is exciting news.

Edward: Yeah. Not just teams. We're talking about The Thing. After all this stuff happening. The Thing announcement that he is leaving the Fantastic four.

The Fantastic four have always had a challenge with their brand name in that they needed four people. Now they have to deal with that problem in a real way because the Fantastic Three doesn't have the same ring to it.

Michael: No. So let's look at who's leaving, right? It's the strong man of the group and he's leaving.

And first of all, we don't know why. And I'd be curious about that because branding alone, you're right, you need to have four people. But we should speculate cuz it's interesting. But why would he leave? It sounds like a sweet gig. I mean, the fantastic war, they went through their hard times in the beginning of their partnership, but they've been making some good money they own the Baxter Building. And through Reed's inventions, they must make still SCDs of money. And they go on these amazing adventures

Edward: And it's the status perspective. They're loved, right? They're invited to the White House and they're doing pretty well for themselves.

Michael: They're the only team where we know who they are in real life too.

They don't have secreted s I mean, it's an incredible thing that they have,

Edward: but they also, they're close-knit group. There's only four of them. And we all know, there's rock bands that break up all the time, and you're like, why did they break up? They should never have broken up. They were so good together.

But the truth is you have four people. And they're human as much as they have superpowers, they're human. And so it's not surprising that sooner or later somebody's not gonna get along. The Avengers recently broke up. We don't know why they broke up either, but I imagine personality conflicts came into it.

Michael: I think you're right. And the Fantastic Forum or a special case, because they work together and they live together. They function really as a family. And you're right, just like much like rock bands break up, familiarity does breed contempt.

Edward: And hey, if you're talking about family, Ben Grimm was already the odd man out. Right? Sue Storm and Johney Storm are brother and sister, and Sue is getting married to Reed. They're engaged like that. Mm-hmm. That's a legit family and well, who's Ben? Ben's a good friend.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. He's good old. Ben is hanging out with the fam and it's, yeah,

Edward: college roommate or something. They're college roommates from, but like college roommates aren't the same as husband and wife or brother and sister?

Michael: No, and I'm sure your wife appreciates you hearing that, talking to me, roommates, but

Edward: as my college roommate, I will tell you that you do not, you're not the same as my wife.

Michael: That's fair. That's fair. But in a way it seems unfair to speculate on what happened because I think we know what must have happened there. There's some kind of grievance that must have blown up and so he's leaving so, Now that he's leaving the fantastic bar. The question is where does a one ton Orange Rock monster super powerful. Super strong? Where does he go? And you mentioned it earlier where I think he's gonna go, he must be going to the Avengers. Clearly this makes sense. Total sense, right? Yeah.

Edward: He's probably not gonna go and start a law firm.

Not Ben Grimm thing. So security. What was Ben Grimm before he was an airplane pilot, right? I also don't think, American Airlines is looking for a new pilot Ben is not the guy. Meanwhile the Avengers have lost Thor. They lost giant man and they lost Iron Man.

And they didn't, they replaced them with, we talked about this. They replaced them with a witch and a guy who runs fast and a guy who shoot bows and arrows, they have no strong man on the team. Right. It seems like a very natural fit. If they are calling up Ben Grimm and trying to recruit him right now, then they don't deserve to be in hr.

Michael: You know what's funny? I would imagine that there would be some kind of between these groups have worked together before, right? And so I would imagine there would be some communication. So it almost looks like there's almost a trade going on. Not a formal trade, but, in a lot of ways, Ben has, The Thing has been a bit of an odd person to have on the Fantastic Four team, whereas in he seems like a natural fit with the Avengers.

 It's sort of like how so the fantastic, how so? What do you mean? Well, the Fantastic Four are kinda like these, what I would consider to be science adventures, right? They're not there brought in to, to feed the heavy physical hitters, they're actually there to solve, more challenging problems like, dealing with outer space and other dimensions, like science type problems require science type heroes. And that's why they're led by the scientists being Reed Richards. So they're more than math club.

Edward: And if again, you're, you're like, if you look at the battles the Fantastic Four has have fought. They've been won not from Bran, but because Reed Richards came up with some master plan.

Michael: That's right. And I think that it doesn't hurt to have a very strong person on the team, but you're right, it's more brain over bra. So they're like the math club, if we're using high school analogies. Whereas the adventures have always been kind of the football team, you know what I mean? Like, like they're more the jocks.

Like they're not the nerds like the Fantastic four doing with science problems and coming up with science solutions. The adventures are more like the bruisers who are going in just going in and fighting the Hulk, you know? And, and

Edward: I'm picturing Captain America, giving, Reed Richards a wedgie.

Is that what you're saying?

Michael: Yeah, but that's, that's what it seems to be. And so

Edward: you can stretch, sir, but can your underwear stretch?

Michael: So you think about it , it kind of makes sense that the Avengers need someone like Ben, like The Thing, number one and number two, it does make sense that someone like, say, Iron Man, who's a science hero when you think about it, invented his own suit or has this mechanical suit that allows him to fly through.

Edward: Oh, we don't know that. Maybe there's some dude in there, someone else made the suit. He's just along for the ride.

Michael: He might be, but if he isn't Ed, he might be another science genius that belongs on the science team. Just like giant man. I mean, maybe it's a fantastic five. We're looking at, you know, or Fantastic Six, where you get like Iron Man, giant man and the was, we were all kind of science-y kind of heroes I would say because they have science-y type costumes.

They probably could add to the bench strength of the Fantastic Four. Just like Ben, The, Thing. Could add to the physical strength of the Avengers, which they've historically needed.

Edward: Yeah, Reed, Richards scientist mind, he could probably improve on the shrinking and the growing technology and, I dunno, make them shrink even more. Make them grow even more. But we'll have giant man the size of a building next.

Michael: Yeah. So while I'm disappointed that, something clearly happened within the Fantastic Four, I'm kind of excited about the idea of having a new shake up amongst the teams because, and especially if the shake up is along the lines that I think they will do, which makes a lot of sense to me. You know, when I think of the high school dynamics that I've articulated, Kind of exciting, isn't it?

Edward: So who are the X-men then? Are the X-men the goths? Are they the weirdos, the outsiders? The guys smoking?

Michael: That's right. They're the ones cut in class and out the smoking doors at recess.

You know, they're not bad kids. They just misunderstood.

Super Serious 616 Presents: WHAT IF... Marvel was real
What If Marvel was Real?
What if... the Marvel Universe was real?
In 1961 the Fantastic Four revealed themselves to the world and everything changed. Mike and Ed discuss the in-universe implications of super powers, aliens, monsters and more. From how Avenger Insurance will pay for Thor's property damage to why Spider-man needs a new PR agency, its comic books discussions in a whole new way.
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