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Book Information:Cover Date: Apr 1963
- Blue area of the moon
in doing a comic book review of Fantastic Four #13, one has to ask themselves a few questions. First and foremost would be its long-term significance. Given that this issue introduces to us the Watcher, The Red Ghost, and the Blue area of the moon. But in doing this, we can not lose sight of the issue, in the significant items that it presents to us for the first time.
This comic however is worth every word I plan to put into its review. In part because of its historical significance, in part because of how the reality of the time affected the story. But most of all, just because Fantastic Four #13 is a great work, and deserves both a favorable comic book review as well as time and word’s spent on it.
Real History & Comic Book Events
Sometimes it is important to discuss the real history around the time of a comic book to best understand the events of a comic book story. Even by the time I was born, man had been on the moon, but in April of 1963 that was yet to be a reality.
Despite being still a dream, it was by far a focus of national importance at the time. the USSR had beaten us in many key parts of the race up until then, they launched the first satellite Sputnik 1. They also got the first human into space.
The Moon was a key objective, and the US, had a high goal of getting there first. in September of 1962 John F. Kennedy said the following at Rice University:
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Now that i talked about, and gave everyone a little refresher on history, lets move forward to the publishing of our comic book and discuss that.
In the story of Fantastic Four #13 the race to the moon plays a key part. the story begins with Mr. Fantastic performing an experiment on a test fuel to get us to the moon. with a bit of back story to it we learn that the “Reds” may also know of this fuel, and the Fantastic Four set out to have a test flight with it, to nothing less than the moon.
It turns out, that Mr. Fantastic is right, and that a “Red” Scientist named Ivan Kragoff is preparing for a space flight of his own, his is also to the moon, but with the side goal of exposing himself and his crew of primates to cosmic rays hoping for powers like the Fantastic Four.
But this story is not that simple, as unknown to anyone involved, the moon not only was once inhabited by a now long gone race, but still is by a lone Watcher.
Comic Review of the story
Fantastic Four #13 is a fine example of a good comic book. in today’s world this plot would have been a whole story arc, twist an all. But in its time, even for how it begins you can’t guess how it would end.
I have no idea if Stan Lee & Jack Kirby had any idea what they where doing when they created the watcher, and the blue area of the moon. For all i suspect they thought they where making a one time destination and character for this story. But both would work their way into the core of the marvel universe.
but beyond its long-term effect, this story is well grounded in the reality of its time. A top scientific mind like Reed Richards would likely be setting out to help with the space race, in many ways this is how the Fantastic Four began.
but it also feeds into the minds of the reader, the unknown frontier of the moon, and what surprises and secrets may await us there. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made the moon as interesting as the characters for this issue.
Review of the Comics Art
From the landscape of the moon, and the ancient city that they find in the blue area, to the design of the alien known as the watcher, the Art of this issue is Fantastic.Jack Kirby delivered all the great things I have come to expect from his work.
one of the best panels of the issue is when we are entering into part two, looking at the Fantastic Four though a view hole on their space ship, you can almost feel the weightlessness looking at them. but while i chose to feature that one here, it is far from the only great panel. We have the landscape of the blue region, and its city, we have the watcher and his design.
Originality & Continuity
Trips to space or even the moon are not at all new or original, yet this story is. Fantastic Four #13 is highly original for its great combination of all the story elements into one epic tale.
in this story we do not only have an example of the cold war conflict, and quite an amazing demonstration of the space race. But we have all the unknown of space and the moon bundled up both in The Watcher and the Blue Region.
This story is also true to the roots of the Fantastic Four, I feel it fits in well to the undoing continuity of the stories. While it does not reference any past issues or developments. this story builds upon what we have seen before.
Characters & Development
The Watcher Uatu
For me the watcher has always been a special character, partly because he is like us, the reader’s. Remaining outside and just watching. Uatu has been known to interfere some over his time watching earth. But that is for another day.
The Red Ghost
While the red ghost is the main antagonist of the story, I feel his role is minor compared to the watcher. he is a simple nemesis in design, but one whom has found a way to give himself and his minions powers.
The Fantastic Four
The Measure of a man is not how well he fights a winning fight, but how bravely he faces hopeless odds!! and beneath his grotesque exterior, Ben Grimm is indeed — A man!
Sometimes it’s not the dialog of the story, but the narrative that tells us the most. this passage about the thing, restated what we already know about him. It is a great example of what this story represents for the development of the hero’s.
The Fantastic Four, issue after issue stand up against hopeless odds! They show us that there worthy of being our hero’s, doing whats needed and what they see as right.
They launch themselves as a team to the moon, stand together against the threat, and learn about the unknown.
The watcher is by design a wise character, and in his word’s I feel was a great statement about humanity, and a comment on the course of our race at that time.
…Worst of all, We have seen once-noble races turn savage and warlike.. a fate which your own foolish breed seems headed for!…
…but now, I have broken the silence of centuries in order to save your people from savagery! …
…Sooner or later, Both your nations may engage in a war which might devastate your entire planet!
I feel in his words, there is the echo’s of the thoughts and fears of society at that time.