One might think that the subtitle is just an attention-grabbing ploy typical of comic books of the silver age. But in this case, you would be wrong. The Story does live up to the “Death Of A Hero” Title. Now as for the other mystery of the story, Guessing who the Invincible Man is, that proves to be simpler, though I am aided by many years to witness what characters have become legends in their own right.
In this tale, we get the Invincible Man, who is set free in the opening act of the story from an island volcano; then, he makes his way to the prison where Franklin Storm is kept to send Franklin off to the depths of space and to take his place.
As the story progresses, we witness the Invincible man masquerading as Sue and Johnny’s father and using the powers of the Fantastic Four against them and the world to turn the world against the heroes. To defeat them directly and indirectly.
I have gone as far as I can without telling you things you may want to read for yourself, so Go read Fantastic Four #32 and meet me back here to see what I think.
Our “Mystery” Villon is none other than Super-Skrull, whom the Fantastic Four defeated and trapped in the volcano in Fantastic Four #18, and his efforts to defeat the Fantastic Four by impersonating someone they love almost pays off. He would have won if not for Reed Richards’s brilliance, which led to his hypothesis and discovery of the truth. But in the end, Reed reveals the truth and forces The Skrulls to return Franklin and take back the Super-Skrull.
The story itself is a good read, but not without its flaws, including how Reed treats the team (likely to try to help keep the reader in the dark) when he suspects (and knows) the truth.
Continuity And Character development
Yes, I am doing a section mashup this time, and you will see why. This issue picks up quite well based on the introduction of Franklin’s last issue. At the same time, it also calls back to the previous Skrull stories helping to establish Continuity. However, is it a lasting development to introduce a character as important as Franklin could be to kill him off the following month? (more time to build a bond before tearing things down would have been better)
This is Continuity but at the cost of the Development from the prior issue to return things to the Status Que that silver-age comics strive to do.
If the foe were not the Super-Skrull, it would have lost a lot here, but the approach was original and a superior use of the Skrull’s powers than the previous two appearances. It is also much less common to see an individual die in such a way or selfless act in comics up until then. Only time will show what impact this has on Fantastic Four and future comic book narratives. I should note that we have had a heroic death of a normal character in the war stories of Sgt. Fury and father figures die in the origin of other heroes such as Spider-Man.
Jack Kirby Photo Collage
I could have made this a subsection of the Art, but I put it here instead. We saw Jack experiment with the Photo Collage in Fantastic Four #29, and now we see another full-page spread (included here). He upped his game, and although I find them a bit hard to see, at least in the modern format, I have to commend the Artist for continuing to try to expand upon his technique. Jack Kirby is the king of comics for many reasons, and pushing the boundaries while also putting out more quality art than most other artists per month during his career cannot be understated.
As for the rest of the artwork, it is not my favorite of Kirby’s work, but it is still a stunning and fluid portrayal of the adventure our heroes face. We get a few impressive forms for Mr. Fantastic in the pages, but perhaps the greatest death is to the face of Franklin Richards (or his impersonating Skrull)
I will also point to something else Kirby was good at with the panel included below (and on god knows how many panels already on this site) Catching things mid-action, people while running, or fist while they are flying.
Death of a Hero
I said who died above but did not call too much attention to it. Franklin Storm throws himself down on a weapon he is returned to earth with that would have killed the Fantastic Four but instead kills him. He does this to save the lives of the Fantastic Four (perhaps most particularly his kids). But then, this is an example of the most heroic, self-sacrificing acts that can be done.
Back to the Story and Originality (perhaps)
I am all over the place on this review, but I knew I would loop back around; I talked about the cons of killing someone we just revealed the last issue. But now I want to talk about another flaw that I am still having a hard time swallowing.
In the prior issue Franklin escapes from prison, but shows up to save his daughter even though that means his capture. This issue, he as the super-skrull escapes again while being visited for the first time by his kids. That alone makes me groan slightly, but it does get worse. Given his escape how can the warden talk about his “Good Record”.
In the end, I find my internal conflict on this story strong. It is however a big development for our cast, and something that will impact Fantastic Four forevermore so it is a peace that I would encourage be read. And I find myself realizing that even with its weak points, with all the chances taken more things pay off then don’t in this issue.