TITLE: Fantastic Four vol. 1, Issue #32
YEAR: November 1964
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
Written by Stan Lee
Illustrated by Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone
Letterer: S. Rosen
For those who have read early issues of the Fantastic Four, there are two personal storylines that involve Ben Grimm and the Storm siblings.
For Ben, he has always had issues with his new rocky figure and is always hoping Reed would find a way to make him human again.
While Sue and Johnny Storm had to deal with their father, a brilliant doctor whose life went downhill due to his wife’s death and has got into drinking and gambling and tried to inflict pain in himself. When he borrowed money from gangsters and had to pay it back and had no money, they threatened his children and Dr. Storm ended up accidentally killing the gangster during a struggle. And now he is serving time in prison.
Sue and Johnny still love their father but struggle with his incarceration.
And now with issue 32, we have an issue that deals with Ben and the Storms issues head on!
The story begins with something from another planet crashing into a volcano and something emerging.
Meanwhile, in the Baxter Building, Reed has another experiment to rid of Ben’s rocky exterior and while experimenting, Reed was able to remove the rocky formations and make Ben Grimm human again. Unfortunately, it left him with a violent temper and also amnesia where he recognized no one and started attacking his friends.
Reed has no choice but to return him back to normal, but he realized he was close but yet the adverse reactions from the experiment brought out a bad side of Ben Grimm which Reed dared not want to happen to him, especially as it may affect his relationship with his girlfriend Alicia.
Meanwhile, the ominous figure that emerged from the volcano heads towards the US and wants revenge on the Fantastic Four. The being puts on a disguise and also kidnaps Sue and Johnny’s father from prison. Possesses him and makes the police and civilians think he is a super-powered individual.
While the Fantastic Four fight against the individual, the mysterious being shows that he has the same powers of the Fantastic Four. And each time Reed and the Thing are about to beat him, Sue and Franklin stop them, as they don’t want their father hurt.
As the mysterious being escapes, the civilians watched what had happen and Reed is angry at Sue and Franklin for what they did and knew that public perception will now be negative for the Fantastic Four.
The newspapers are relentless in their attacks on the Fantastic Four, making it seem as they have aided Dr. Storm in escaping prison.
But Reed has found something about the mysterious individual and he has a plan. But as he has a plan, Sue and Johnny see how bad the media and public perception has been towards the Fantastic Four and are considering quitting the group.
Can Reed find out who this mysterious individual is and also find a way to retrieve Sue and Johnny’s father?
If anything, this is an issue indicative of how Stan Lee was an awesome writer by showing the superhero side but also the personal side of these characters. From Ben’s low self-esteem about his looks and wanting to be human, to Sue and Johnny dealing with their father’s incarceration and his escape.
But this issue is no doubt tragic as someone loses his life in order to protect others.
It’s no doubt one of the best early “Fantastic Four” stories that I’ve read from the early 1960’s and I definitely recommend it!