The staples continue in this stretch, with Tales to Astonish and Strange Tales bookended by some pretty big Fantastic Four issues. Looks like we’ll be introduced to the Puppet-Master, The Protector, and Zemu of the 5th Dimension, while seeing a welcomed return to the Sub-Mariner himself, Namor. A solid lineup, no doubt, but before we dive in:


 

 

Last Time on DRMU: Dean and Ant-Man unravelled the mysteries of Comrade X in Tales to Astonish #36, then, with the help of the mighty Thor, thwarted the dastardly plans of The Tomorrow Man in Journey Into Mystery #86. As if that wasn’t enough, he followed the Human Torch as he narrowly avoided his demise at the hand of The Wizard in Strange Tales #102, and to wrap it up, witnessed The Hulk master his trademark thunderclap, and defeat Mongu the Gladiator in the Incredible Hulk #4 double-header. It was quite the week in the Silver Age of Marvel. 

 

 


The Fantastic Four #8 Fantastic Four #8 (v1)

Title: Prisoners of the Puppet Master!
Date:
 November 1962
Writers: 
Stan Lee
Pencillers: Jack Kirby

Another staple Fantastic Four villain makes his debut in this one. The Puppet-Master (along with his blind daughter, Alicia Masters).

Overall this was another bizarre story. The Puppet-Master wants to become the supreme ruler of the Earth, and has a radioactive (psychic) clay puppet of pretty much everyone in his lab. His master plan – to pit Mr. Fantastic against his friend and teammate, The Thing. …Why? With miniature replicas of literally everyone, how could he hope to keep order with only 2 hands? Also, he has a flying mechanical pegasus…? Oh, and Invisible Girl’s role, yet again, is the damsel in distress. C’mon 1960’s!

While I enjoyed reading the story, it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I suppose that fits these Silver Age comics pretty well. Give it a read if you want to hear the origins of Puppet-Master and Alicia Masters. I think with the right finesse – and once we start getting into some more modern issues – this villain could actually be pretty menacing.

 


Tales to Astonish #37 

Tales to Astonish #37 (v1)Title: Trapped by the Protector!
Date:
 November 1962
Writers: 
Stan Lee, Larry Leiber
Pencillers: Jack Kirby

The next comic on the list was another Tales to Astonish – and that means, more Ant-Man! Hopefully they can avoid the Communist twists that seem to be a mainstay in these issues.

This time, our hero is up against a mysterious villain known as “The Protector“. He’s been shaking down jewellers for money, and it’s up to Hank Pym to stop him. Not quite the fate of the world stakes like in The Fantastic Four #8, but still a semi-exciting read. With Larry Leiber at the helm with Stan, it was more Scooby-Doo-style antics of course, which made for a pretty obvious plot-twist, but a light-hearted, fun read nonetheless – disintegration gun and all.

The more of these I read, the more respect I have for Marvel thinking that they could pull off a successful live-action rendition. This is about as ‘Silver’ as it gets.

 

 


Strange Tales #103

Title: Prisoner of the 5th Dimension!Strange Tales #103 (v1)
Date:
 December 1962
Writers: 
Stan Lee, Larry Leiber
Pencillers: Jack Kirby

Commies or Aliens? Which will it be this time? …Alien Commies!

So this issue featuring the Human Torch, we dive into yet another dimension, this time, the 5th Dimension (which still uses asbestos….). The story revolves around our flaming hero who stumbles across some oddities and finds himself captured by dictator Zemu. Hilarity ensues – and he obviously escapes, but not before befriending Valeria, an alien girl (and leader of the rebellion) who begs him to stay. Wonder if we’ll ever see her again. Would be nice if we returned to the 5th Dimension at some point – I’m a sucker for continuity.

Still not fully sold on Torch’s solo outings. Hoping they get better with time….or just stop all together.

 



The Fantastic Four 
#9 

Fantastic Four #9 (v1)Title: The End of the Fantastic Four!
Date:
 December 1962
Writers: 
Stan Lee
Pencillers: Jack Kirby

Don’t worry! The name is just a tease – there’s lots more Fantastic Four to enjoy. The premise of this one was actually pretty funny. Sounds like the Fantastic Four have fallen on hard times, and they’re forced to sell their equipment in order to pay the bills. In fact, they get “evicted” from the Baxter Building (despite having returned it to Earth from its launch into space way back in Fantastic Four #6). So what do they do? Sign a Hollywood deal to star in a movie!

Alicia Masters is back from the previous issue (Remember? She was the Puppet Master’s daughter), and Namor (the Sub-Mariner) returns from back in The Fantastic Four #6. There’s some creativity with how each F4 member uses their powers. Sorta the norm for these early issues, but not sure I ‘love’ some of these. Human Torch being able to create duplicates of himself, in particular, rubbed me the wrong way. And why the heck would he need a parachute!? Also, Namor suddenly having some pretty wild powers from ‘the animals of the sea’….that was a little much.

I suppose it’s more Silver Age cheesiness at its best. That hitchhiking scene cracked me up. Sucking it up and reading on!

 

 


 

That about wraps up this set of my reads. Would LOVE to hear what you guys think of these issues, or if you have any suggestions on other lineups I should read. Let’s chat about all that and more right here, or over in the Cartridge Club forums.

 

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