Monday, July 21, 2014

Mission: Impossible!

With the first half of Fantastic Four #11 being occupied with a nice segment that spotlights the FF in their "down time," there are only eleven remaining pages to devote to a regular FF story--and so Stan Lee and Jack Kirby give us "The Impossible Man," a short, fun bit of fluff that fills out the issue while presenting us with a brand new character (who would, astonishingly, make it into the FF rogues' gallery). The Impossible Man, while obviously a menace that needs to be corralled, isn't what you'd call a foe, and certainly no villain--simply a visiting alien who feels the thrill of interacting with beings who are so different from himself and haven't reached the evolutionary point of being able to shape-shift on the spot to any desired form. (At least that's how the story explains it. I don't know why Lee couldn't just say this is what these aliens are able to do, and leave it at that.)

Not surprisingly, no one knows what to make of the Impossible Man, who takes the slightest comment or suggestion from practically any human and runs with it. Institutional authorities are baffled by the alien's tendency to disregard procedures and/or rules--while law enforcement hasn't a prayer of containing him. The Impossible Man finds the human race to be, for all intents and purposes, stimuli--and with the number and variety of humans on the planet, and each and every one reacting differently to him, his potential for misunderstanding or inappropriate action is virtually limitless.

When the FF are called in, right away you get a sense that they'll be drawn into the humor of the story's approach, given the lack of tact with which their assistance is requested:

(Good grief--I'm surprised that inspector didn't throw in "1-Adam-12" or "Car 54" for good measure.)

As we'll see, the FF and the alien don't see eye-to-eye on his behavior. But at least we learn something of his origin, though even that conveys that this story is best taken tongue-in-cheek:

Nevertheless, in the first part of the story we've had our fill of the FF just hanging around--and so this second part gives us a generous amount of panels of seeing them in action. We'll probably have to redefine that term, however, when dealing with the Impossible Man:

Even an army regiment seems daunted by the Impossible Man's unpredictability. Fortunately, we find out that Mister Fantastic can hurl objects into the troposphere (i.e., at least four miles above sea level):

It finally sinks in for the FF that they're not going to be able to handle the Impossible Man on a physical level. But, though extremely reckless, his behavior is more childish than anything else, and so Reed puts that to the test:

You have to hand it to your adoring public--they'll turn on you like *SNAP* that. Nevertheless, everyone follows Reed's advice, and they soon find their reckless menace has become bored out of his mind.

In combination with Part One of this issue, the entire book was likely well-received by readers, a harmless change of pace that was still engaging and fun. Things with the FF would be back on the front burner the next month, when the team would have its first meeting with the incredible Hulk; but fans of the Impossible Man would see him again when he'd deal a mortal blow to Galactus, and then later invades the Marvel Bullpen. Don't look now, Stan, but the Impossible Man wants a word with you!

Fantastic Four #11 (Part Two)

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Art Simek


Kid said...

I'd read somewhere that Stan claimed response to the Impossible Man was less than overwhelming, which is why he wasn't used again for years until the 'nostalgia' factor had kicked in.

Regarding that splash page - as a boy I was smitten with the insert of Sue's head, and used to stare at it for ages - in thrall to an attraction that exercised a power over me which I was too young to understand.

Anonymous said...

A being who's only limit is his imagination? INCONCEIVABLE!!!

The Prowler (you keep using that word, I don't think it means what you think it means).

Anonymous said...

This is an amusing little tale but surely any living creature can only evolve into another living creature - not into a rocket-ship, a plastic bag full of water or a buzz-saw !

Anonymous said...

Kid, if you read this - when I just tried to look at your blog my Google Chrome browser blocked me and said your blog is infected by malware from !

Kid said...

Yup, I know, CJ. I've removed the site from my blog list, and now the warning sometimes pops up and sometimes it doesn't. The site's gone 'though, so there should be no danger from it. (Thanks for your indulgence, Comicsfan.)

Comicsfan said...

I live to serve, Kid. :)