08 April 2008

The First Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #2 (Marvel, 1962)

So you think Secret Invasion is original, do you? Wrong! It's been done. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby wrote the Skrulls' first ever "Secret Invasion" in Fantastic Four #2 back in 1962. And it only took them a single issue to tell the story. How's that for compressed storytelling?

FF #2 opens with members of the Fantastic Four causing mischief all over New York. Sue Storm steals a gem, Thing destroys an oil rig (or a military installation, I can't tell which and Stan doesn't elaborate), the Torch melts down a solid marble monument and Mr. Fantastic cuts the power supply to the entire city, the cad. All this is done in front of the unbelieving eyes of the public and we soon find out why. It was a quartet of Skrulls who what done it!

So where are the real FF? They're hanging out in an "isolated hunting lodge" where they find out what happened from the radio.

Check that out: The Torch is packing heat. He knows how to take care of a threat...just shoot the buggers. Also, "the Torch is packing heat"? Ah-hah! Ah-hahaha! Oh, my ribs!

But young Master Storm also comes up with a plan. "Since there are four no-goodniks out there imitating us", he says, "why don't I create a ruckus around the city as the Human Torch to flush the other three out and I could infiltrate their secret headquarters." There is a flaw in this plan of course that any 5-year old can see. How can the FF be sure that only three bad guys will come out when they find out there's a Human Torch out there causing havoc? Won't the evildoers sit around together in their hideout and when they see the Torch in the sky, won't they say, "Well, all four of us are here. So that must be the real one. Leave him alone. The human soldiers will shoot him down."?

But introducing logic and common sense into a super hero comic book is a silly thing to do. In fact, it is to laugh. So Johnny's plan worked. He is soon picked up by his fake sister and her boyfriend and brought to their hideout...where he is immediately exposed.

The fake Torch manages to subdue the real one but not before Johnny alerted his teammates with the FF flare. The cavalry arrives, they fight the Skrulls, they win. But there is still the matter of the invasion fleet up in space. How to defeat them? Reed Richards comes up with a plan of his own. The mother ship doesn't know the advance unit has been defeated, so why don't we claim to be them, fly into the ship and convince the general to cancel the invasion. Simple, really. And exactly how does Richards plan to convince the Skrulls that the invasion is a no-go??

He shows the Skrull leader pages from a Marvel comic book!! I think I know why the Skrulls are invading the Marvel U. again now. It's to pay back for the humiliation they suffered back in FF #2. I mean, how dumb can you get? "Here, look! Earth's defenses are too strong. They have monsters and creatures from the Black Lagoon. There is no way we can defeat them. Run away! Run awaaaayy!! Hmmm? What? Who is this guy Jack Kirby who signed his name at the bottom of each page, you ask? Oh, no one. Just ignore it and abort mission!"

With that problem solved, the FF goes back to New York and have to figure out what to do with the three Skrulls from the advance unit that they captured. Again, Mr. Fantastic comes up with a plan:

Force them to change into cows, hypnotise them so they'll forget their true identites and then put them to pasture. Brilliant!

But wait...three Skrulls? Didn't they disguise themselves as the Fantastic Four
? Where's the other one then? No one noticed this goof back in swinging '62 and the question was never answered until a decade later.

More on that soon.

No comments: