Episode 152: Trial By Combat (Fantastic Four #31) -- October 1964
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss the return of the Mole Man. Reed Richards was NOT lying to us, but he WAS a little incompetent, trying to seal the underground-man underground… Didn’t work so well now did it, Reed? During the encounter, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four got in a dispute that led to a physical confrontation. Mike and Ed discuss both the legal and moral implications of heroes settling their disputes with fisticuffs. Also: Should we negotiate with super-terrorists?
Behind the comic:
Sue is taken hostage… again… It is a trope now that when heroes first meet, they fight before they settle their differences and team up. But back in the early 60s the tropes did not yet exist - Lee and Kirby were making things up as they went along. Any kid who read superhero comics wants to know things like, “who is stronger, the Thing or the Hulk?” and “Who would win in a fight, Spider-Man or Superman?” These comics set things up to help answer those questions. It had been done before and it will happen again, but the mass audience does not seem to be tired of it (it was repeated again in the first Avengers film).
In this issue:
Earthquakes plague New York City, and the Fantastic Four are drawn to investigate. They discover that their original nemesis, the Mole Man, is back, and he is the cause of the earthquakes. The Mole Man kidnaps entire city blocks, and ensnares Sue “Invisible Girl” Storm. The remaining members of the team attempt to rescue Sue, but are defeated. The Mole Man informs them that if they try to attack again, Sue will pay the price. The three return to the surface, and the Avengers then arrive. The Avengers refuse to listen to Reed Richards and head off to fight the Mole Man. The remaining members of the Fantastic Four are forced to fight the Avengers to prevent them from antagonizing the Mole Man, for fear he will kill Sue. Calmer heads prevail, and Reed then has time to cobble together devices that they will need to fight the Mole Man, which they do. Unfortunately, Sue sustains a head injury in the fight, and the only person who can save her is her disgraced surgeon father, who recently escaped from prison. He performs the operation and saves his daughter, but at the cost of his freedom.
Assumed before the next episode:
People are wondering if now is the time to leave New York City, rather than stick around and see if their city block will be dragged below the surface of the Earth.
This episode takes place:
After the Mole Man has been defeated.