After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period, without any “enjoyably goofy” aspect to them. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!
Today we look at the classic one-off issue of Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, “This Man, This Monster” from Fantastic Four #51.
Let’s put “This Man, This Monster” into its absolutely absurd context. This one-shot story took place ONE ISSUE after the Galactus Trilogy! So right after one of the great comic book epic tales (which, itself, took place directly after the epic introduction of the Inhumans), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby delivered a brilliant character piece about selflessness and heroism.
And then the NEXT issue introduces Black Panther!!
How crazy is that, contextually?
In any event, “This Man, This Monster” is about a jealous (unnamed) scientist who hates Reed Richards because he feels that Reed does all of his exploration and scientific discoveries because he is a gloryhound (which might seem that way to an outsider – the guy DID name himself “Mr. Fantastic,” after all). He then decides to eliminate Reed by by switching places with the Thing through some power-switcher thing.
So he shows up as Thing, but he is shocked by the goodness of the Fantastic Four, especially Reed’s selflessness, so, in a moment when he could easily kill Reed (and no one would ever know it was murder)…
This is an excellent representation of the humanity of Lee/Kirby’s Fantastic Four (and the art, naturally, is excellent).
What a powerful issue.